23 March 2009

The March in March - protest against censorship goes to Parliament House

| johnboy
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[First filed: March 21, 2009 @ 18:56]

Protesting in the negative is a tricky, tricky thing. So at today’s protest against Labor’s plans, to end freedom of speech on the internet in this country, the speakers would often warn of horrendous possibilities, to wild applause.

On the other hand there was a large contingent of stunning blondes in shorts and white tank tops, so no-one really minded.

The crowd could have been bigger and there was an extremely unpleasant nutter there with her own agenda hurling abuse at people but when you’re protesting for free speech what are you going to do?

The above video has some of the better made points from the speakers, all condensed for your instant gratification.

August Winters has also done a much shorter video montage which you can check out on YouTube.

If you’re wondering why RiotACT is so passionate in its support of this cause it’s because as a small outlet which frequently says things government’s don’t like we see this proposed black box censorship as a direct threat. A faceless bureaucrat could cut us off in a moment with no means of appeal, or statement of reasons.

If you ever think it’s possible you might want to say something which upsets any future government, or read something which upsets any future government, you need to start joining in this nascent protest movement. This is serious stuff.

You can start by subscribing at the March In March website.

Slideshow below:

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I was pretty sure than online gambling was already illegal? It’s just that enforcing it was “too hard”. I vaguely remember the gov’t canvassing whether they could choke the sites by making the CC companies refuse to give them money (which is how the US gov’t choked the russian mp3 sites).

of course I meant to say poker online, not poker inline 🙂

I could care less about the US.

I want to be able to play poker inline in Australia, and as far as I can see, this will be taken away from me!!

Don’t get me wrong Purpleax, I absolutely agree with you that it is not right. I encourage all US citizens to engage in civil disobedience by gambling online (which I am sure is not hard even though it’s against the law).

that doesnt make it right!!

It isn’t far off being overturned in the US as well.

Is there an actual Australian law prohibiting Online Poker? I dont know of any.

Purpleax said :

Has anyone noticed that the proposed clean feed will also ban online poker?

Go to wikileaks.org and have a look – all the major poker sites are included in the banned URL list!!!!

pokerstars, fulltilt – all gone if this thing goes forward. grr

Online gambling has been banned in the US for a while now actually Purpleax. I’m shocked it hasn’t happened here sooner.

Has anyone noticed that the proposed clean feed will also ban online poker?

Go to wikileaks.org and have a look – all the major poker sites are included in the banned URL list!!!!

pokerstars, fulltilt – all gone if this thing goes forward. grr

I think that it is sad that on a subject totally concerned with a specific media, which has resulted in vigorous and passionate debate (by any fair measure) within that media, people would think that protest and publicity in a totally different media should be necessary for the elected representative to take notice.

I am not saying I don’t think this is the case, just that it is $hit.

I went with three of my mates. All in all I found it disappointing. The crowd numbers were low, the thing seemed a little unprofessional, and although I get the whole ‘internet culture’ part of it, there are only so many times you can play Rick Astley before it isn’t funny.

I think someone above may have made a good point about this protests natural constituency not being inclined to go to a physical protest. However, there were the ‘Anonymous’ protests against Scientology all over the globe though.

I thought the speeches were a little unpolished. I did not find Patten compelling and having secured a policy platform of the Sex Party I can finally write them off. They have some great ideas but they have some truly abhorrent policies as well (gender based quotas in the Senate being an example). The VP of EFA was probably the best speaker.

I don’t know how speakers got on the bill but I was disappointed that the Liberal Democratic Party didn’t take the opportunity to put up a stall (as the Sex Party did).

The whole thing struck me as a little too /b/tard. Don’t get me wrong, I love b just as much as the next pervert who lives in his parents basement, but when the goal is political action, professionalism is a must.

As Thumper also said, it was not advertised enough.

I guess if I could sum up my thoughts I would say that the protest couldn’t decide exactly what it wanted to be. It’s lack of direction was a negative.

All of the things I have said though are from the mouth of an armchair quarterback who has never organised a protest himself. This issue is very important and I’ll still be working hard to knock this thing out.

@alice27 – now I understand the costumes. I was too shy to approach you in person and ask about your message, but you did add a pleasant brightness to the occasion 🙂

As it is us (adult Australians) that are being denied access to the speech of others, our Government certainly needs to be accountable to us for this. When I am told that I cannot see Ken Park, I am least given specific reasons why. The internet filter on the other hand simply gives me a catch-all “prohibited or potential prohibited content”. Prohibited why? Because it’s an online poker site and the government would prefer I lose my money in licensed Australian casinos with massive table rakes than to play online poker with Americans?

The argument that it’s only being used because content outside Australian jurisdiction can’t be addressed through other means falls down because the filter is also being used against sites within Australian jurisdiction. If that were true then they could promise never to block any Australian site, and instead use existing channels against them. This would, at least, give the owners an open public hearing.

Further on the ‘standing on the street corner selling child pr0n’ angle: Apart from everything else, the filtering case is being sold by Conroy via moral panic. He continually labels anyone who disagrees with his plan as an apologist for child pr0n.

The fact of the matter is that there’s very little child pr0n on http, as it’s generally distributed via p2p. The filter won’t have an effect on it whatsoever. Child pr0n is a red herring.

Just to play devils advocate, my understanding is that the filter is a about detection and enforcement not prior restraint.

Censorship under the proposed filter requires undesirable material to be detected, either by an appointed authority or reported by the public, prior to assessment and (if the case so warrants) enforcement. Further, if the site in questions were within the right jurisdiction, then the next course of action would be to pursue legal action against those reponsible for the content.

Remember that the case for the filter is built upon the idea that there is material accessible by australians against which we the government can not effect take down notices, they already have a range of powers against material originating in Australia. Note here that as the material to be blocked originates overseas and is not directly targetted at Australians, there is little cause for the government to be accountable to the content providers for their decision to ban.

Of course, this is under the assumption that what is being blocked is strictly illegal material as opposed to (politically or otherwise) undesirable material). Given the evidence to date, this assumption is not valid and forms a significant part of the case against the filter. Especially as we are giving this power to ban without recourse to future governments whose make up we do not know yet, and given that we are amoung the most censored of western democracies.

tl;dr: There are numerous cases against the filter, but be careful to pick one which is solid and irrefutable to avoid getting picked apart by the save-the-children brigade.

And here’s the difference with your “standing on the street corner selling child pornography magazines” example. In that example, we rely on detection and enforcement rather than prior restraint. The internet filter, on the other hand, is all about prior restraint.

You’re not allowed to sell child porn on street corners, but equally you aren’t required to submit all magazines you wish to distribute on street corners to a government censor beforehand. You’re told what the rules are, and face consequences if you break them, but you aren’t pre-emptively prevented from communicating.

Here’s one of the reasons why the proposed internet filter differs from the existing classification system. Say you agree with the decision to ban the film Ken Park (I don’t, and yes, I’ve seen the film). At least in this case the decision is a public record – we can all see that it’s been banned, and the film’s authors know it’s been banned, and they can appeal against the ban.

When a web site is blacklisted, on the other hand, there is no public record, no notification, and no avenue of appeal. No transparency at all, in fact.

dosomethinguseful9:31 am 23 Mar 09

I was plannig to go but ended up going to Yum Cha

justin heywood9:29 am 23 Mar 09

deye said :

…all nations within the world have different rules. How do you choose which to follow.

Of course it is impossible to censor the internet deye. But that is not what I am arguing. I am saying that in Australia we largely accept some censorship already: thus arguing against that this plan on the basis that we will tolerate censorship in any form is flawed.

Because it covers the world and all nations within the world have different rules. How do you choose which to follow.

justin heywood8:27 am 23 Mar 09

imhotep said :

I have no issue with your moderation policies Johnboy, nor freedom of speech, or porn. (I don’t have a website or a facebook either btw)

My pointing out the irony of you, effectively the censor on this site, protesting against censorship in general, was a perhaps clumsy way of pointing out that the issue is not black and white. Surely most people agree that if a way could be found to shut down free and universal access to certain sites, (child porn, terrorists beheading hostages etc.) then it would be a worthwhile, if impossible, aim.

Think of it this way. An individual website is a private home or business and as such the website owner can impose whatever moderation rules they like. The net in general though is like your town or country and I prefer to live in a country that treats me like an adult and lets me make my own decisions as to what I want to read or watch.

As for your last point, that’s impossible because as soon as you find a way, the people who want that information out there will find a way around it.

It’s like those annoying little CAPTCHA things that abound across the net as anti-spam measures. They annoy legitimate users more than the spammers because the spammers already have ways around them.

GottaLoveCanberra11:54 pm 22 Mar 09

I-filed said :

Patten has illustrated just why it’s necessary to monitor the web,

Uh no, it’s not necessary for any group to monitor the web for content some might find unappealing, it’s up to the user to determine themselves whether or not the image in front of them disturbs them or not. Parents should supervise their childs’ access to the internet, not let the super nanny federal system do it.

The mere thought of ANY kind of mainstream filter system on the Internet is utterly appalling and I’m amazed it’s even gotten to the testing stage. I don’t give a crap about the speeds or no porn, but the idea that the Govt can then possibly slip in sites they don’t agree with a few years down the track is disgusting.

Woody Mann-Caruso said :

(WMC) “What’s passive about it?”

lol, Internet tough guys. You KNOW you have issues when the only offence you take to being called passive/aggressive is the passive part.

(From WIKI.) Censorship is the suppression of speech or deletion of communicative material which may be considered objectionable, harmful or sensitive.

There has been occasions when I have seen posts from this site removed or modified, usually rightly so.

The rest of your post is not worth commenting on. You get your ass kicked here often enough.

Woody Mann-Caruso10:28 pm 22 Mar 09

How is masturbating with a gun ‘violence’? Is masturbating with a cucumber cookery?

WMC, I suggest you re-read my post with passive/aggressive mode toggled off.

What’s passive about it? You know I think you’re a twat. You were wrong in your definition of irony, your definition of censorship, your claim that JB is a censor, and later in your claim that stopping people from seeing some things on the Internet is universally desirable. Was that direct enough for you?

Until a few days ago the Sex Party donations page featured a very, very nasty cartoon of Sarah Palin masturbating with a gun. Presumably Patten removed it only because Conroy was starting to fish around her web activities. The Sex Party wanted us to believe that it actively disendorsed illegal porn – but the image was entirely contrary to the Sex Party and Eros Foundation’s push for “non-violent erotica”. It does make you wonder about the “standards” actually in play a little further into the dark matter of Patten’s sex industry activities.

It’s unfortunate that, by posting the afore-mentioned image, Patten has illustrated just why it’s necessary to monitor the web, and just how much of an inconvenience the irresponsible sex industry has caused for the rest of us.

Spectra said :

And there’s no way it could even get through the Senate if in some moment of madness Conroy choose to stick with it….

Maybe. But you’re presuming legislation will actually be required – I’m yet to hear a conclusive statement saying that it can’t be done under existing legislation (again, it seems likely, but by no means a sure thing).

That’s a very good point. When I first heard this “Senate will block it” thing, and then someone else said it could be done without going through Parliament.

This happend to the CES too. The Union and labor sat back as the tumbrils rolled, confident that they’d be able to block it in the Senate. Well, the government out-manouvered them, they used executive powers and it never went to the house or the senate.

So don’t rely on the “it’ll be blocked in the Senate” thing.

WMC, I suggest you re-read my post with passive/aggressive mode toggled off.

Woody Mann-Caruso9:17 pm 22 Mar 09

Did you learn about irony from Alanis Morissette?

Moderation at the RA is nothing more than requiring that people carry some semblance of civility and stay loosely on-topic. It isn’t the same thing as censorship at all. I’ve disagreed with JB more than enough times to know he wouldn’t block something just because he didn’t agree with it.

I have no issue with your moderation policies Johnboy, nor freedom of speech, or porn. (I don’t have a website or a facebook either btw)

My pointing out the irony of you, effectively the censor on this site, protesting against censorship in general, was a perhaps clumsy way of pointing out that the issue is not black and white. Surely most people agree that if a way could be found to shut down free and universal access to certain sites, (child porn, terrorists beheading hostages etc.) then it would be a worthwhile, if impossible, aim.

The protest around this filter appear to centre around the issue that (a) it won’t work, and (b) it could be a ‘back door’ to less desirable censorship by the government.

In other words, in my view the problem is not censorship per se, but the methods the government is using to achieve its aims.

Less irony than you would think as we support your right to go say whatever you like on your own websites and grotty little facebook groups.

We’re not asking for a .gov.au domain.

(This is not an invitation to discuss moderation policies, you’re free to email me if you have an issue there)

On the subject of the filter’s defeat:

Would you prefer to live in a country that decided it didn’t wanted a government internet censorship regime? Or just one that couldn’t organise it?

There is some irony in the fact that the OP for this thread (on censorship) is our dear leader Johnboy, who is often called -in his professional capacity -to moderate (censor) comments on this very board.

I don’t for a moment think that Conroy’s idea will work, but nor do I see some Machiavellian agenda behind it. I’m sure that most people agree that there are some things in cyberspace which should not be seen or shown to everybody, and this is I’m sure is the intent of the proposed filter.

In my view criticism of this proposal should focus more on the fact that a filter will be a useless failure, rather than waving the ‘censorship’ banner. It isn’t book-burning, but it is money burning. Spend it on something that will work.

I don’t know why anyone would bother showing up to protest – Conroy will kill it dead as soon as the trial results come in.

You’re probably right, but I’m sure as hell not willing to entrust a decision as important as this to a belief that a politician will make the right decision on his own.

And there’s no way it could even get through the Senate if in some moment of madness Conroy choose to stick with it.

Maybe. But you’re presuming legislation will actually be required – I’m yet to hear a conclusive statement saying that it can’t be done under existing legislation (again, it seems likely, but by no means a sure thing).

I don’t know why anyone would bother showing up to protest – Conroy will kill it dead as soon as the trial results come in. And there’s no way it could even get through the Senate if in some moment of madness Conroy choose to stick with it.

This thing will be dead as a dodo within a few months, mark my words. Insurmountable technical problems will be the likely excuse.

Woody Mann-Caruso6:44 pm 22 Mar 09

You can see the list of sites currently banned by the ACMA here. Read more about it here.

I was there. Thought the location stopped people who may have been passing by the find out more about the issue. At least in garema, you’re not just lecturing people who already know the issues.

I made it. Apart from that one nutter, it was a good group of people – a good sense of community.

Yet most protests are dismissed as rent a crowd hippies and pointless.

JB did say there was looney screaming out whatever 😉

A tip to young players, people have busy lives and only one weekend a week. More notice is needed if you want greater numbers.

I would have been there, but had some serious Warhammer to do.

I wish i could have been there, unfortunately i had a compulsory field trip.

Where to start…again…no fark it…this is one of the burn the book scenarios. You choose…a line.

Perhaps you shouldn’t…meh, a fool promoting a fools reality. Next vote…fail….please?

Was going to attend, but was too short notice, had a golf game to go to. 😛

So if the internetz gets banned, I’ll just go play more golf…

I was also disappointed in the turnout. I expected more from Canberra.

@Bigfeet & @caf:
I was one of the oddly dressed girls with parasols – the clothes are from a Japanese street fashion known as Elegant Gothic Lolita or EGL. Given the key word ‘lolita’, websites and communities dedicated to this fashion are likely to be banned under the proposed filter. May I emphasise that it is a street fashion, with the main consumers being 15-25 year old girls. It is simply clothing and has nothing to do with illegal or pornographic material.

ant said :

bigfeet said :

So from that comment…I assume that you were there?

I was going to be, but our ski club AGM was today at the same time and I hoped to help someone become president.

I was going to be there also. But I decided that arranging my packets of cup-a-soup in alphabetical order was more important. But I guess your reason for not going is much more important than mine, so even though you didn’t go, you have a bigger commitment to the cause than anyone else who didn’t go.

I salute you. We should all aspire to your level of dedication.

bigfeet said :

So from that comment…I assume that you were there?

I was going to be, but our ski club AGM was today at the same time and I hoped to help someone become president.

However, my point, to labour it for your benefit, is that there is huge fury on the ‘net and in some parts of the media (fairfax mainly), but it doesn’t translate into people marching in the streets for the TV cameras to film. because most of the peopel who care about it are more likely to have their say on the ‘net, and to email letters to papers and politicians, than to attend rallies. It is the nature of the medium.

does that make it clearer for you?

Not by me, they aren’t. Always good to see people engaging in the political process.

The girls in parasols were cosplayers I think.

The oddly dressed girls with the parasols were just oddly dressed girls with parasols there for the same reason as everyone else. Clothing has no significance beyond us liking it.

I was really disappointed that there was very little mention of censorship as the main issue. The issue shouldn’t have been porn or internet speeds, what really matters is that legal content is going to be censored when we were told the filter was only for illegal content.

Funny how when the issue is one people support, then suddenly protesting is a good idea that may educate the masses and gain media and govt attention.

Yet most protests are dismissed as rent a crowd hippies and pointless.

ant said :

I guess it’s the nature of people who are into computers to prefer to rant on-line than to turn up to a demo. Shame. A big demo would get the mainstream media’s attention, and perhaps the cattle who don’t think this is a bad thing would have a think about it.

So from that comment…I assume that you were there?

I guess it’s the nature of people who are into computers to prefer to rant on-line than to turn up to a demo. Shame. A big demo would get the mainstream media’s attention, and perhaps the cattle who don’t think this is a bad thing would have a think about it.

I made it along to this. Disappointing that the crowd probably numbered only about 150.

The girls in parasols were cosplayers I think.

JB, a couple of questions

How many people do you reckon turned up?

The oddly dressed girls with parasols…was there a significance to that?

What was the agenda of the “extremely unpleasant nutter”?

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