Jon Seymour, in a guest post on the blog Somebody think of the Children, talks about what he feels is the real purpose for the proposal of a mandatory internet filter: it’s to impose a middle-class sensibility on society; to take us back to an era when Lady Chatterley’s Lover was banned, where certain things were not said and done in “polite society” and where hypocrisy and ignorance ruled the nation. No mention of “alternative lifestyles”; no ability to find out about safe sex; euthanasia and gambling exist in the twilight at best, if the political conservatives get their way.
Here’s how Jon explains it:
Suppose you are an adult who occasionally hits the net in search of a porn fix. Perhaps your particular interest is â€œSouth American Dancing Girlsâ€. It is certainly possible that while Googling for a fix you may come across links to material in the more extreme category. Feeling aroused and against your better judgement, perhaps you click through one of the more questionable links, rationalising that a pay-wall will stop you before you get to the seriously sick stuff. However, suppose that instead of delivering a more salacious image, your browser displays the following message:
Access from 10.10.2.2 blocked at 2008-12-03 00:45:00 GMT according to Schedule XXX of ACMA Act 2009.
If you believe this URL was blocked incorrectly, please e-mail [email protected].
What do you do? If you complain to ACMA, they know where to send the boys. If you really care, you can find a way around it via an encrypted tunnel, but that will label you a criminal if caught. There’s always the option to write a letter to your MP or the paper, but that’ll just confirm in the world’s eye that you’re a sicko who downloads hard-core porn. Jon says, and I agree, that most people will just let well enough alone.
Like little sheep we’ll follow the herd and not make a fuss. What we end up with is a chilling effect on free speech. More and more sites can be added to the filter and we’ll be prevented from knowing what information, however innocuous, we are being prevented from seeing. Anything that doesn’t meet the most middle-class viewpoint; anything that offends the moral sensibilities of the people with the biggest mouths open in complaint (but think of the children!) will be removed from our sight.
Society will stagnate. All art, which by its very nature must push boundaries and offend the boring and the mundane, will vanish from view and the wowsers will win. The filter isn’t aimed at protecting children. It’s aimed at controlling adults. Exactly like the Great Firewall of China.