Forward: I’ve taken the liberty of focusing on Australia and China in order to express my thoughts on this subject matter concerning the use and abuse of the Internet. By doing so, it is not my intention to demean any villager DownUnder or ‘netizens’ beyond the Great Firewall of China.
Should Internet pornography be made the scapegoat by politicians in order to interfere with the lives of people?
The Internet is loosing ground as the free marketplace of ideas.
The demise of cyber space is twofold.
First, it allures to sexual perversion, especially child pornography. Secondly, the Internet offers the ultimate platform for ‘true democratization’ (freedom) where ideas run wild (unrestricted)!
More and more powers in the West, for example a country like Australia is considering emulating a type of ‘sovereign’ China-style Internet censorship.
The philosophy of China’s attitude towards the World Wide Web is mystical.
Beijing’s White Paper on the Internet intends to put out the ‘facts of the Internet situation in China’ in order to inform its citizens ‘and the peoples of the rest of the world of the true situation of the Internet in China.”
The White Paper’s Forward section praised the Internet as “the crystallisation of human wisdom”, but Internet users inside Mainland China cannot get access to all of that wisdom. Why? The true situation of the Internet culture in China is that the Chinese government’s obsession with ‘guarding’ instead of ‘guaranteeing’ its citizens’ freedom of speech on the Internet.
“The Chinese government is determined to unswervingly safeguard the freedom of speech on the Internet enjoyed by Chinese citizens in accordance with the law.”The Internet is perceived as a major threat to Chinese monopoly of power and homeland security but China cannot be without it. China’s Internet users already far exceed the population of America, which makes China an attractive destination for foreign investment. According to this BBC News article “by the end of last year  the country had 384 million Internet users… The government hopes that nearly half the population will have access to the Internet within five years. That figure is nearly 30% at the moment.”
(III. Guaranteeing Citizens’ Freedom of Speech on the Internet)
Chinese officials offer no apology for their authoritarian approach to censoring on the Net. Any enterprise on China’s Internet is done according to the terms set by the Party. China even insists on controlling a major player like Google in its own backyard and with success! Google is desperate to make inroads into China’s vast marketplace, but tactfully withdrew to Hong Kong where media censorship by law is of no consequence. Now from this vantage point Internet services on Google.cn are redirected to Google.com.hk because Google was kicked out of Mainland China! The question is will Google ever return to China? The Chinese Google-like search engine – Baidu.com by comparison dwarfs Google. Baidu.com holds 77% market share among search engines in Asia.
China’s revolutionary philosophy towards the World Wide Web and sovereign control over the information super-highway might just rub off on to other power hungry countries. Even so, the commercialisation of the Internet is hailed by Beijing’s White Paper as “a significant technological invention of the 20th century.”
Here, we must be mindful of other significant ‘20th century technological inventions’ that quickly end up under the control of governments. Think about the Wright brothers’ first powered airplane flight that took off in December 17th, 1903. Soon pilots could not fly at will over international airspace! Cyber space free range, as we know it is perhaps over. The Hippie or yuppie Internet era is gone. Wandering spiders are out to control your cyber space.
Communication policies in the West already propose to act, as ‘gatekeepers’ by guiding public opinion in what is appropriate to view on the Net. The Australian government unapologetically proposes to ban “pornography and inappropriate material” from reaching public schools and private homes. Good luck!
Australia’s controversial Telecommunications Minister Stephen Conroy thinks the Internet is ‘nothing special’ and like books and films should be censored. Conroy in 2007 defended his government’s actions for the sake of protecting children even if it means going down the Chinese road.
"Labor makes no apologies to those that argue that any regulation of the Internet is like going down the Chinese road,” he said. If people equate freedom of speech with watching child pornography, then the Rudd-Labor Government is going to disagree."The Australian government associates ‘freedom of speech’ with child pornography! Perhaps, mate, Aussie politicians reason like that DownUnder, but surely many will disagree with Conroy’s thinking.
(Conroy announces mandatory internet filters to protect children)
Obviously child pornography is repulsive. However there is no need for governments to step in other than continuing to fund police departments in order to track these criminals down. Regulating the Internet will lead to enormous abuse of power where real freedom of speech will be at stake. Some would argue there is no need for nationwide filters because of available software that can achieve the same results without the government’s interference. Here parents can take full control over their children’s Internet activities rather than giving Big Brother control over their lives, which in the end will undermine a parent’s ability to make decisions for their family. More so, nobody can ever dream of safeguarding the Internet. It is as if one is trying to safeguard on individual’s very thoughts from harming someone else! Parents will have a false sense of security thinking government will take care of children’s safety in cyber space, while it is not true.
"Censorship will not catch a single pedophile, will not cause a single image to disappear from the Internet, and will not protect a single child."It seems true, all politicians preferred to enter the debate on regulating the entire Internet through the back door of child pornography. China too vigorously regulates the Internet under the same disguise to look after the interests of little children.
(Mark Newton, an engineer with ISP internode)
We should never think paedophiles under the cover of ‘freedom of speech’ have a right to engage in their evil activities. If we do then any crime imaginable can be committed under the pretence of ‘freedom’, which is absurd. Here people like Conroy feel justified going after paedophiles but in order to get to them they need to create new laws for a platform that thrives on freedom of information and speech. This is where the one-dimensional spectrum of a political white lie leads to multi-layers of lies, convincing masses that the government is the real Nanny.
Perhaps we’ve enter a time where governments opt to challenge the free marketplace of ideas in order to test their political will over the mighty system put in place by people for the people?
Nevertheless what does the Australian government mean by intending to filter and block inappropriate material? Does this imply protecting ‘leadership’ from political scandals, cover-ups and hidden agenda’s?
People empowered with attitudes of true democratisation are able to expose any villain via websites, blogger sites and chat forums. The freedom of using the Internet should not be sacrificed in the war against paedophilia.
If Conroy wants to protect the Australian children from a few paedophiles in cyber space he should consider his own governments track record of protecting the young and innocent. Which is shocking to say the least.
An old African proverb states: “It takes a village to raise a child.” But what if the entire village abuse children? Think it is not possible? Think again.
Australian children were exposed to the worst kind of state interference known in the free world. Not even South Africa’s apartheid laws had ever discriminated against children in any way as Australian governments went about the business of educating indigenous children and welcoming non-indigenous children to its shores.
Every country in the world has a dark spot.
Aboriginal children were forcefully removed from their parents and placed in the care of the government and church missionaries. A shameful policy instituted by white Australians. In New South Wales, at least 8000 children were removed from their parents from 1885 and 1996!
In April 1997 the official Bringing Them Home Report was released. John Howard, former Prime Minister turned his back on it, “Australians of this generation should not be required to accept guilt and blame for past actions and policies.”
Remarkably former Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, was the first PM in Australia’s history to formally apologise to the Aborigines saying “sorry” to a “stolen generation” (February 13, 2008). Australia has yet to recover from past actions and policies.
Rudd followed up his stunt the following year (November 16, 2009) by apologising to the “forgotten Australians” the thousands of institutionalized children and child migrants shipped from Britain to rebuild Australia after World War II. Many were abused physically, emotionally or sexually while in care. Survivors to this day still suffer the effects of the child abuse.
The Mullighan Report “Children in State Care Commission of Inquiry” found abuse and death occurred between 1910 and 2004!
The source of these atrocities is the United Kingdom. Former British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, issued an official apology in February 2010. In total 130 000 children were sent to former British settler colonies from the UK to Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, and Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia).
It is hard to belief that the world took any notice of these white men’s atrocities but knew all about Nelson Mandela’s incarceration! Even today conversation about the Aborigines disadvantages and painful memories of the settler’ past is not considered polite conversation in Australia.
But the Internet does not care! A person encountering these incredible truths about Australia’s settlers’ history can hardly believe that it actually happened so recent considering advances made by Australia.
Conroy’s Internet policy in the name of protecting Australian children and his reckless speeches endanger Australia’s freedom of speech. Will he censor such historic “inappropriate material”? Only time will tell.
There once stood a wise man in a certain village. The villagers pressed him for an answer – ”Who is the greatest?” But he knew their evil intend. He called a child and had him stand among them. “Here he stands!” the wise man left for another village. His profound insight into humanity is yet to be discovered by us all.
My next article in the SP series: SP4 – The Lion on the Web Never Sleeps