Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Load of bullamakanki

Bullamakanki.  It took me a while to work out the pronunciation, but what a cool word.  Say it aloud.  I like it.  It sounds Australian.  No-one should apologize for using it.  Google can't find the word anywhere, but this post should fix that.  Although there is an Australian country music group called Bullamakanka...

This post is a response to 'Observer' who commented on my last post with the suggestion that I over-stated the reaction of the general public to the Governments plan to censor the Internet by describing it as a 'massive uproar' and saying that I was making 'misleading, incorrect and exaggerated claims'.

Well, I have to say, I stand corrected.  The fact is that the general public are not even aware of this scheme.  The general public won't know about it until they're paying more for an Internet service which runs slower and prevents you from accessing sites deemed unfit by the Australian Government.  And even then most will only notice when they can't reach their favourite porn site anymore.

'Observer' goes on to explain that there has been an Australian censorship authority which has been censoring all other media for one hundred years and that there has been no uproar about that at all.  To quote: "Nothing, nada, nichts, zero...".

Well, if I'm to understand the gist of the word correctly, that right there is a load of bullamakanki.  Censorship has created an uproar in Australia many times.  A lot more than zero times, I can assure you.  The Office of Film and Literature Classification formed in 1970 is the "censorship authority" which is responsible for deciding what you can and can't see on television, DVD's or videos, what video games you can and can't play, which books you can and can't read and what music and audio you can and can't listen to.

There have been many calls from people who play video games for an (R) classification for video games.  Currently in Australia, any video game that exceeds (MA 15+) cannot be sold in Australia.  As someone who has worked as a software salesman in a retail store, I witnessed an uproar among the gaming community whenever a new game comes out and Australians had to wait for a 'dumbed down' version to be especially made to comply with our (MA 15+) rating.  This damages commerce and increases piracy as gamers seek other means of acquiring an un-cut version of the game.

It's not only members of IT related industries that are complaining about censorship in Australia.  Art exhibits, for example, are often under fire with some exhibits being put in sectioned off rooms with warnings and others being banned entirely.

I could go on further about how censorship in Australia has caused 'uproars' - from Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen's days as Premier of Queensland having police beat and arrest student demonstrators to books being pulled out of our school libraries by people who have never even read them, but I think I've made my point.  Anyone who thinks there has never been an uproar over censorship in Australia should perhaps do some research of their own.

Don't get me wrong.  Censorship isn't always bad.  I have very little issue with the way censorship works on the television for example, with adult themed content restricted to late night viewing and proper warnings for content that is particularly gruesome or disturbing.

The reasons that Senator Stephen Conroy give for implementing the Internet censorship scheme are honourable.  He tells us he wants to implement his Great Barrier Firewall to protect our children and teenagers from child pornography and other "unwanted" content.

The reasons that George W. Bush gave for invading Iraq seemed pretty honourable at the time too.

Senator Stephen Conroy tells us that other western countries like the UK and Sweden already have an Internet blacklist and IP blocking scheme just like the one he's proposing.  This is a lie.  This story reveals the truth about how Internet service providers in Europe handle their blacklists and it's a far cry from the plan that Mr. Conroy is proposing.

An Australian Senator lying to the public to win support for a scheme that restricts what websites we visit should be cause for alarm.  An Australian Senator lying to the public should be cause for alarm for every Australian citizen.

But don't just take my word for it that this Internet censorship scheme is a bad idea.  Here are some of the things that the leaders of three of Australia's biggest Internet service providers have to say about Senator Conroy's plan.

"...the idea that ISPs could filter the Internet is technically impossible... and is a bad idea anyway." 
-Telstra Media's Justin Milne

"...the Internet is full of anonymous proxies - none of this stuff actually works."
-Internode's Simon Hackett

"...I do worry that this is the thin end of the wedge, that the government will come in with a small list of sites for the ISP to block and that just includes the real stuff that everyone agrees on like child pornography and bestiality.   And so we say 'We're willing to comply with that', but it becomes an area which can then be used for so much more.  So you might see the next step as an attempt to block out XXX sites or hate speech sites, and you think 'maybe, we can live with that', but then after that, it could be to block out competing political positions, or to block out sites about religion or sexual orientation that the Government says is no longer suitable for children in Australia"
-iiNet's Michael Malone
You can see these people saying these things on a video interview that you can watch on ZDnet.com.au.

So I thank you, Mr Observer, for pointing out the inaccuracy in my previous post.  Australian citizens are not in a massive uproar.

But they should be.  

This scheme will needlessly cost Australians money by raising the cost of our online access.  It will damage the performance of our Internet connection resulting in slower network speeds for everyone.  It is not possible for it to do the job it is intended to do because of the open nature of the Internet.  Anonymous proxies, encryption techniques and tunneling networks make it impossible for ISPs to monitor the content of data being transferred .

So I ask all my readers to join with me in creating a massive uproar against this ill-fated, costly and useless attempt to censor our Internet.  Let your friends, family and work colleagues know what our Government is trying to do and educate them about pitfalls of such a plan.  Sign the petition at GetUp.org.au with your e-mail address.  This is important to us all.  We must be heard.


Jinjirrie said...

"Observer" certainly gets around ... remarkably similar content on my blog ... see comments here: http://www.kadaitcha.com/2008/12/11/minister-for-digital-obstruction/

Also spotted here: http://tinyurl.com/45v3b9 and http://is.gd/cCoA

JonDgar said...

Observer e-mailed me to inform me that he has started his own bullamakanki-filled blog.


JonDgar said...

And indeed, now a search of 'bullamakanki' in Google brings up one result - D'gar HQ!