Bondage In A Virtual World

By | October 27, 2008

Australian Internet Censorship

I came across this article on the BBC last night.

It raises a number of questions about the Australian government in particular, but also about the role of governments in general when it comes to the filtering of content on the Internet. We’re all aware of the Chinese government’s aggressive filtering of what its citizens can view on the web. Anything that is judged to be potentially harmful by the Chinese authorities is blocked by the “Great Firewall of China”.

In one sense this is actually a good thing, in that it will stop one hell of a lot of content such as child porn being viewed by Chinese Internet users. The problem is that by using methods such as proxy servers and by the fact that it’s impossible for any government to keep up with the paedophile pornography sites, some consumers of this heinous filth will always find a way to access it. That of course ignores the fact that P2P networks are almost immune from such filtering and make the whole exercise a joke anyway.

Of course I’m not condoning the Chinese attitude towards filtering. Their whole policy is at best patriarchal, at worst Orwellian, sinister and oppressive. Right, That’s got us banned in China, LOL, back to Oz.

I am quite obviously a great advocate of freedom of speech, but I readily agree that freedoms come with responsibilities. That I can accept and try to remember every time I commit my thoughts to metaphorical paper.

What the Rudd government seems to be advocating is the nightmare scenario envisaged by Ray Bradbury in Fahrenheit 451 where freedom to think is suppressed to ensure that nobody can think impure thoughts or be damaged by any ideas that may be harmful to them.

But of course you hit the problem of who decides what the apparently hapless and sheep-like should and shouldn’t be exposed to. The second problem is that in a world where nobody has to exercise their mind to distinguish between ideologies that are fair and just and those which lead us into oppression and the persecution of the innocent they will lose the ability to make those distinctions.

Tags: Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451, Internet censorship, Kevin Rudd