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Category Archives: Letters to the MP’s

Sent: Wednesday, 15 October 2008 8:10 PM
To: Stephens, Ursula (Senator)
Subject: Government’s proposed internet filtration

Dear Ursula,

Thank you for being one of the few Senators to have an email address
rather than an online form.

As Senator for NSW, I hope you will act on my behalf in this matter.

Why is the government and your party sponsoring the censorship of the
Internet in Australia?

Surely you know the tradition of using censorship to attack the
labour movement and the ALP?

Is it the intention of your government that it be remembered for
implementing freedom of access to information at the same level as
the Chinese government, much like the former government is remembered
for implementing respect for international law at the same level as
the government of the United States?

Please inform me with great urgency:

*What bills or regulations is your government introducing to make the
intended censorship of the internet legal?
*When are these being introduced?
*What policies does the ALP have regarding freedom of speech, and
freedom from government surveillance?
*Why is the government seeking to prevent through technology which
prevents action, acts which are already criminal and prosecutable by
the correct established police and attorneys general?

yours with disgust at this betrayal of the labour movement and its
ideals,
[Name]
[Address]

* * *
Date: 21 October 2008

Dear [Name],

Thank you for your email concerning internet service provider (ISP)
filtering.

I am aware that the proposal for ISP filtering has attracted some
criticism from those, like yourself, who are concerned that it will lead
to censorship of the internet. However, the Australian Government has no
plans to stop adults from viewing material that is currently legal, if
they wish to view such material.

The Government regards freedom of speech as very important and the
Government’s cyber-safety policy is in no way designed to curtail this.

The internet is an essential tool for all Australian children through
which they can exchange information, be entertained, socialise and do
school work and research. The ability to use online tools effectively
provides both a skill for life and the means to acquire new skills.

However, while the internet has created substantial benefits for
children it has also exposed them to a number of dangers, including
exposure to offensive content. As such, parents rightly expect the
Government to play its part in the protection of children online.

A key part of the Government’s plan to make the internet a safer place
for children is the introduction of ISP level filtering. The policy
reflects our community’s growing belief that ISPs should take some
responsibility for enabling the blocking of illegal material on the
internet. Filtering would only cover illegal and prohibited content
using an expanded ACMA blacklist of prohibited sites, which includes
images of the sexual abuse of children.

Consideration is being given to more sophisticated filtering techniques
for those individual families who wish to exclude additional online
content in their own homes.

The Government wants to ensure that Australian parents can access a
‘clean feed’ internet service. This will be informed by the technology
adopted in countries such as the United Kingdom, France, Sweden, Norway,
Finland and Canada where ISP filtering, predominantly of child
pornography, has been successfully introduced without affecting internet
performance to a noticeable level.

The Government’s ISP filtering policy is being developed through an
informed and considered approach, including industry consultation and
close examination of overseas models to assess their suitability for
Australia.

ACMA recently completed an extensive laboratory trial of available ISP
filtering technology. The trial looked specifically at the effect of a
range of filter products on network performance, effectiveness in
identifying and blocking illegal and inappropriate content, scope to
filter non-web traffic, and the ability to customise the filter to the
requirements of different end-users.

The laboratory trial indicated that ISP filtering products have
developed in their effectiveness since they were last assessed in 2005.
The Government will now proceed with a ‘live’ pilot in the second half
of 2008 which will provide valuable information on the effectiveness and
efficiency of filters installed in a ‘real world’ ISP network. An
Expression of Interest will be released in due course seeking the
participation of ISPs in the pilot.

The Government is committed to working closely with internet industries
to address any concerns, including costs and internet speeds. These
concerns will be carefully considered during the pilot and will further
inform the Government’s cyber safety policy.

Thank you for bringing your concerns to my attention. I trust this
information will be of assistance.

Yours sincerely

Dr Ursula Stephens

* * *
Date: 21 October 2008

Dear Ursula,

many thanks for your prompt reply. Of all of my members of parliament
I have written to regarding this issue, yours was the first
substantive reply! I was very pleased with the depth of information,
though I do have continuing disagreements with some points. I
thought, however, that I might wait to raise those points after you
had the opportunity to answer the questions in my original letter
which seemed to have gone without reply:

*What bills or regulations is your government introducing to make the
intended censorship of the internet legal?
*When are these being introduced?
*What policies does the ALP have regarding freedom of speech, and
freedom from government surveillance?
*Why is the government seeking to prevent through technology which
prevents action, acts which are already criminal and prosecutable by
the correct established police and attorneys general?

Am I to assume from your first reply that: no bills or regulations are
necessary; that the ALP has no policies regarding freedom of speech or
freedom from government surveillance (unusual given as you write, that
the Government regards freedom of speech as very important.

While you answered in passing my final question, by pointing to the
issue of child internet access, you did not answer the substantive
component: why is the government seeking to technologically prevent
what is already illegal and a matter for the AFP and state police?

Many thanks again for your prompt reply, and I hope you have the
opportunity to answer the questions I put regarding bills or
regulations, ALP policy, and the difference between Crime Prevention
through technological restriction and Crime Policing through police
services.

yours,
[Name]
[Address]

To Stephen Conroy and Kevin Rudd.
Thank-you very much for your planned Internet Filter.
You cannot understand how much us Australian residents are anticipating the introduction of the filter.
You cannot understand how much we are willing to receive half speed internet for the same price.
You cannot understand how long we have been waiting for our freedom to be stripped from us.
You cannot understand that parents are monitoring what their children do on the internet and that you are promoting that they do this.
You cannot understand how long we have waited for safe sites to be wrongfully blocked.
You cannot understand how long we have wanted our privacy to be preached.
You cannot understand how long we have wanted our decisions to be made for us.
Finally, Stephen and Kevin, you cannot understand how much Australia wants to be so much like China.
Thank you, Stephen Conroy and Kevin Rudd, for stripping us from our freedom.

~ Concerned Australian Citizen.