Despite nearly losing an election over the matter, Aussie Prime Minister Julia Gillard still thinks it is a jolly good idea to censor the Internet, Chinese style.
The matter has gone quiet down under after the Government said it did not want to press the case for an Internet filter.
Now Gilliard is bringing the plan back claiming it was necessary because it was driven by a “moral question”.
The proposed filter will block access to material such as rape, drug use, bestiality and child sex abuse, and will be administered by ISPs.
Speaking during a press club meeting, Gillard said that it is unlawful for an adult to go to a cinema and watch certain sorts of content.
“It’s unlawful and we believe it to be wrong. If we accept that then it seems to me that the moral question is not changed by the medium that the images come through,” she said.
Generally when politicians talk about morals it means that we are getting a first hand taste of hypocrisy. To a politician, evoking morals is good. They are unmeasurable and those that go against you are immoral. It is usually tried by a government that has run out of ideas and is trying to rally support to it, and not what ever moral cause it is banging on about.
The downside is that it is always a two edged sword. As John Major’s tired and hopeless government found out in Blighty, if you bang on about “family values” it pays if your cabinet is not shagging around.
Gillard is also talking about selective morals. It is not immoral to rate films so that kids do not get the poo scared out of them from an adult movie. However it is immoral to censor material because an unpopular government finds it embarrassing. A film censor has to justify his or her cuts. The Australian internet censorship list is entirely secret. Where details have been leaked it has been found to contain sites which are tame, or just embarrassing to the government. This is immorality by government.
The filter is also technologically impossible and easily navigated around by the “bad guys”. This means that the use of censorship to protect children will only end up censoring the unwashed and not the criminals.
Gillard has admitted that the problem of how to set up the filter “is more complicated, but the underpinning moral question is, I think, exactly the same”.
The moral flag being waved to cover yet another hole in the policy.
It looks then like the internet filter will be back on the agenda in a year’s time. When it does, opponents cannot argue on the grounds of technology, or censorship, Gillard has put them on notice that they will have to argue for it on moral grounds. Let’s just hope that a few more of her cabinet get caught with their hands in the cookie jar or in the wrong bed after dark. It is harder to argue the moral high ground from that position.