Moving on from his scathing review of Google, Minister for Telling Us What’s What on the Internet Stephen Conroy gives Facebook a well-deserved thrashing in the hope that he can make his filter look decent by comparison:
”What would you prefer,” Senator Conroy said, ”a corporate giant who is answerable to no one and motivated solely by profit making the rules on the internet, or a democratically elected government with all the checks and balances in place?”
If the latter is meant to refer to you, Stephen – neither.
You might be “democratically elected”, but only in a system which is greatly stacked against anyone but the two incumbent old parties. Remember, unless because of this one issue all progressive Australians suddenly abandon a century’s habit of voting for the big old parties and start voting for the Greens, your replacements are likely to be the conservatives – who are just as hostile to civil liberties as you are. Hardly a “check” when both of you are pandering to the same people, and the only party that stands against you on this has to fight its way through a single-member electorate system designed to make it almost impossible for them to win. (Fortunately we can vote for them without helping the conservatives, but it’s realistically a limited “check” until there’s electoral reform.)
And you’re proposing a filter in which the banned list is hidden. How are these “checks and balances” supposed to work?
Your filters block not just “refused classification” content, but material that is lawful in Australia that either hasn’t been and won’t be offered for classification here by people overseas, or that has been wrongly caught in the filter. You’ve never solved the problem of the filter either having a huge number of false positives or picking up hardly anything. You’re now conceding that leaving the dodgy sites up “for a short time” is better for law enforcement to catch the child abusers than just blocking them – but your expensive compromise is still no better than the status quo.
Seriously, Stephen, just because we don’t like Facebook doesn’t mean we’re going to like you. There’s a reason the only people enthusiastically backing you on this are Fundies First.
PS: If Conroy is concerned about privacy protections on Facebook, that is something his government can effectively regulate and enforce. We do have a Privacy Act – if he’s concerned that it doesn’t adequately restrain “corporate giants” then that’s what he should be tackling.