Saturday, January 10, 2009

The website reappears!

The big news this morning is: we're back up. The domain came back online in bits and pieces -- some functions appeared twelve hours before others -- and various proxy servers around the world took their sweet time updating, but ...

If you were to click on this right now, you'll get ...

...and a great sigh of relief is being heaved by all. Oars are back in the water. We were down for about three days, or less, and I'll tell you, it felt like months. Shows you how web dependent we've become -- and how much it's going to smart when the Internet filtering starts, "the Great Aussie Firewall," and the www is suddenly close to inaccessible due to its grinding slowness and the probability of everything, everywhere, timing out before it can be loaded. It's scheduled to begin in a few days now.

There's a story running on Crikey!-dot-com today:

The world smirks at Conroy's censorship plan
The rest of the world has been smirking at Stephen Conroy's ill-conceived plan to censor Australia's Internet for a while now, but a new study published by Brooklyn Law School entitled "Filtering in Oz: Australia's Foray Into Internet Censorship" is a serious embarrassment.

This report is important. Not only is it authored by a reputable and neutral foreign observer but it also focuses more on the legitimacy of the scheme than the technical concerns, and it finds some serious problems. Despite the sober language, phrases like "troubling", "worrisome", "politically motivated" and "unaccountable" are common.

Contrary to persistent claims by the Minister, the study finds that Australia "will likely become the first Western democracy to block access to on-line material through legislative mandate."

The world smirks at Conroy's censorship plan

Here's the abstract of a report published just before Christmas:

Filtering in Oz: Australia's Foray into Internet Censorship
Derek E. Bambauer Brooklyn Law School
December 22, 2008
Brooklyn Law School, Legal Studies Paper No. 125
Australia's decision to implement Internet censorship using technological means creates a natural experiment: the first Western democracy to mandate filtering legislatively, and to retrofit it to a decentralized network architecture. But are the proposed restrictions legitimate? The new restraints derive from the Labor Party's pro-filtering electoral campaign, though coalition government gives minority politicians considerable influence over policy. The country has a well-defined statutory censorship system for on-line and off-line material that may, however, be undercut by relying on foreign and third-party lists of sites to be blocked. While Australia is open about its filtering goals, the government's transparency about what content is to be blocked is poor. Initial tests show that how effective censorship is at filtering prohibited content - and only that content - will vary based on what method the country's ISPs use. Though Australia's decisionmakers are formally accountable to citizens, efforts to silence dissenters, outsourcing of blocking decisions, and filtering's inevitable transfer of power to technicians undercut accountability. The paper argues Australia represents a shift by Western democracies towards legitimating Internet filtering and away from robust consideration of the alternatives available to combat undesirable information.
Bambauer, Derek E.,Filtering in Oz: Australia's Foray into Internet Censorship(December 22, 2008). Brooklyn Law School, Legal Studies Paper No. 125. Available at SSRN:

It's an incredible waste of time and money, at a moment when the climate is crashing, people are out of work and losing their homes, whole populations are starving, and disease is on the rampage worldwide. Against all this, we're going to throw better than a hundred million dollars at doing a job which parents could be compelled by law to do for themselves. Buy and install bloody Net Nanny. It's that simple. But nooooo, we have to be The Righteous Christian Nation, waddling along in the footsteps of the American religious right loonies like an arthritic little lap dog.

The fact is, we've been toadying to the White House for so long, one would have thought a change was due; but we elected ourselves a clueless, self-confessed "cradle Catholic" who is more interested in placating the religious lunatic fringe downunder than in making adults (parents!) take responsibility for the children they conceived by accident, and are now so wantonly neglecting that these kids could cruise porn sites all day long, if the little monsters wanted to ... and it turns out, the little monsters do!

All that is needed is legislation, making illegal the "wilful supply of pornography by parents to minors." If it were a motoring offence, it would be termed "driving without due care and attention," the kind of driving that leads to fender-benders, flattened gateposts and roadkill pets. This would be "operating a computer without due care and attention, in the presence of minors," the kind of surfing that leads to sex, coarse language, violence, hate, racism, sexism, drugs and underage models in compromising situations, all being freely displayed.

Make it a law. Slap a $5,000 fine on it. Hit the parents, hit them hard where it hurts -- the pocketbook. It's clobbering time. But leave the Internet alone. The business community depends on it to work and trade, and the rest of us depend on it to communicate. You know, they're looking into ways to filter chat?! What comes next, censored emails?

Still on the subject of the Internet -- I've been invited to take part in the class action against Google Book Search. Glance at this: I can't say I've been directly affected, since I write niche fiction rather than whopping great research text books. But I'm looking into it, with an eye to seeing what The Goog intends doing with ebooks and so forth. I'm still reading, without much real idea of how this involves Keegan at this point, but you have to admit, it's interesting!

But today's big news is ... Mel Keegan OnLine is back on line!

Still waiting for the proof copy of Harbendane. Still waiting for Google to explain why they zeroed out the page rankings of this blog, and maybe rectify the situation. *sigh* Patience.


1 comment:

kiwisue said...

Thanks for the links. I've become involved in the campaign against filtering, but this is the first post I've seen about the Brooklyn paper.

TBH, I think the initiative started under Howard rather than Rudd, but I'm extremely disappointed that the Labor government is pursuing the same course.

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