It’s arguably true to say mandatory ISP filtering is an unpopular measure among many Australians. Protest coalitions have risen against it and even child protection groups have joined with librarians to condemn it as a step too far down the censorship road.
Unfortunately for them, the anti-filter crowd is largely a sea of disparate voices that rise and fall with each media cycle. It’s the pro-filter Government Communications Minister, Senator Stephen Conroy, who continues to drive momentum and headlines time and again.
Independent software vendors and major non-Government factions such as The Australian Greens have spoken out in strong opposition, as have thousands of users throughout comments pages and blog sites. But most label Conroy in terms that alienate mainstream Australia – the very people that decide whether or not the filter should be implemented.
Empty threats of violence against the Government by Internet trolls on forum sites like 4chan are nonsense. More to the point, the majority of readers are shocked voters that don’t understand the world of online smack talk.
The result has been a sea of white noise, through which Conroy’s message sails smoothly. Key phrases like “child sexual abuse material”, “bestiality”, “sexual violence during rape” and “terrorist acts” stream loud and clear over major networks.
Conroy’s story is clear and compelling: If we don’t install and implement every measure we can, children and social values are at risk. Bad things will happen – and they may involve our families.
So against this backdrop, are plans by groups like the Electronic Frontiers Australia’s to teach people how to hack wise? Or will it simply further alienate your average “working families”, which normally equate “hacking” and “bypass” to crime?
With the Coalition still unsure as to which way they’ll jump on the issue, the main opponent Conroy faces is Labor Senator, Kate Lundy. She is strongly against the filter and is fighting within her party to have an opt-out option. Dedicated to using the party’s internal politics, Lundy has made it perfectly clear she’ll vote for the filter if that’s what her party wants.
This means unless anti-filter rallies gain many more attendees from a greater cross-section of Australia, and groups like the EFA become much more successful at bringing protestors together, Conroy will get the mandatory Internet filter installed throughout the country for better or for worse.