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

johnboy 23 March 2009 50

[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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50 Responses to The March in March – protest against censorship goes to Parliament House
ant ant 5:05 pm 24 Mar 09

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).

Purpleax Purpleax 4:49 pm 24 Mar 09

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

Purpleax Purpleax 4:48 pm 24 Mar 09

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!!

jakez jakez 4:45 pm 24 Mar 09

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).

Purpleax Purpleax 4:40 pm 24 Mar 09

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.

jakez jakez 4:25 pm 24 Mar 09

Purpleax said :

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

Go to 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.

Purpleax Purpleax 4:15 pm 24 Mar 09

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

Go to 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

p1 p1 6:24 pm 23 Mar 09

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.

jakez jakez 1:09 pm 23 Mar 09

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.

Grail Grail 12:48 pm 23 Mar 09

@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 🙂

caf caf 12:28 pm 23 Mar 09

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.

Jim Jones Jim Jones 12:09 pm 23 Mar 09

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.

Pseudo Nym Pseudo Nym 11:53 am 23 Mar 09

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.

caf caf 9:58 am 23 Mar 09

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.

caf caf 9:54 am 23 Mar 09

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.

dosomethinguseful dosomethinguseful 9:31 am 23 Mar 09

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

justin heywood justin heywood 9:29 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.

deye deye 9:16 am 23 Mar 09

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

justin heywood justin heywood 8:27 am 23 Mar 09
deye deye 1:21 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.

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