Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Dirty Deed Of Australia's "Clean Feed" mandatory internet filter

There’s a great deal of debate going on right now over mandatory internet filtering, or the “Clean Feed” proposed recently by our PM, Mr Illustrious KRudd.

I’ve been happily coughing curse words at my TV over this issue for the last few months, but there’s only so many times you can hear a “Think Of The Children” argument before you lose the plot and just want all the children to fucking die.

Having reached that point, I made myself a cup of tea and upon reflection, less-homicidal me had a few things to say.


(First, an obligatory disclaimer.) The sexual exploitation of children is abhorrent. I find the idea that any person would sexually harm a child, offensive. I am offended by it. I am offended that people like that exist; I am offended that we share oxygen and genetics and they are a part of a world I inhabit. I do not believe sexual predators can be rehabilitated, nor do I believe they should be granted leniency or exception under any rule of law.

But then, who does? I mean, realistically, who is going to stand up and say, “Think of the Paedophiles”?

Which is partly why the “Think Of The Children” argument annoys me so much - it’s redundant and inflammatory. And in this situation, it is being used to imply that anyone opposed to the Clean Feed is a kiddie diddler.

And that’s offensive.


It is a hard truth that every society will contain individuals who perpetrate injustices and commit crimes so heinous, that we as a people are horrified and repulsed. We wish this was not the case; we dedicate a lot of time and money to making it not so but at the end of the day, the hard truth stands:

We are but human.

Mandatory filtering of Australia’s internet feed will not remove the internet as a means of dissemination for child pornography and sexual exploitation materials. Nor will it stop the demand for, or creation of, these things. Child-rapists are more likely to use email and Peer-to-Peer fileshare programs for their vile undertakings and the proposed “clean feed” won’t change that.

Stupid criminals make for good clip shows, but in reality, paedophiles are not stupid. To perpetrate their crimes and share their exploits with like-minded predators, they have to be cunning. They do not blunder into kindergartens and fall blindly into children. They are not proudly displaying their wares at childpornforyou-dot-com.

The proposed method of internet filtering will not save exploited children. And it will not prevent predators from reaching your kids - only parental supervision can do that.

The filter may catch a handful of idiots who google the words “kiddie porn”, but as it stands today, most of us are aware that every word we search for, or sentence we post in a public electronic forum, is possibly reviewed by law enforcement and security agencies.

I submit to this - but more than that, I support it.


(Yes, you can add this to the long list of things that make me a terrible lefty, along with the fact I would happily drive my car to the toilet – environment be damned.)

I support the fact that I have the right to say whatever the hell I want, but that someone is keeping an eye on things in case something less ranty, more “I’m actually a person who rapes children,” comes along. To do that job effectively, I understand that my words have to be scrutinised as equally as any other.

If I thought I could post a blog entry like this one, with several hundred mentions of “child pornography” and not have some government agency red-flag it for review, I’d be seriously pissed.

HOWEVER, if my government was automatically filtering this blog post so you couldn’t read it, because it may contain “questionable content”, I would riot my way to the door of parliament and start eating people with unadulterated, anarchical glee.


See, a structured society walks a fine line between the protection of the so-called “Greater Good”, and the rights of the individual. As such, it is governed by two things: Collective Rule and Personal Responsibility.

Collective Rule is marked by a society’s broader acceptance of, and adherence to, certain fundamental values and ethical standards determined by the general majority. I.E. we are not down with shooting people willy nilly, and we (collectively) hate paedophiles.

Personal Responsibility rests solely with the individual, and a lack thereof is why sometimes a person will scream “fuck the collective” and run at you with their cock out.

Humanity is a vast and awesome collective, but we are individuals. Sometimes, our choices result in chaos of the most terrible kind. Sometimes, they result in unimaginable beauty.

Religion and philosophy call it Free Will: the idea that every person can act with self-determination. In science, it is reflected in the irreconcilable difference of cosmology and quantum physics: the laws that govern the vastness of space do not always work at an atomic level. The very stuff our universe is made of refuses to behave as the cosmos says it should.

A man of faith would say the devil is in the details; a man of science would essentially agree - it's all about scale.


Despite being a “structured” society, we each chose the rules, laws and values that we will or will not adhere to every day. That’s just the way it works. We create laws, we decide what is socially and morally acceptable, and then we have to hope that people choose not to abuse children (or run about with flying genitalia).

If they break laws, we punish them.

But you cannot persecute the many to prosecute the few.

The proposed internet filter will not stop paedophiles. If it did, I would demand one was attached to every child from birth. I would hold it a parade and rename my kitties “glory be to Clean Feed” - but it will not.

What it will do, is slow internet speeds for the average, non-kiddie-fiddling person. It will give the government the opportunity to create internet content “blacklists” - the details of which we won’t know. And it will effectively censor the greatest source of shared ideas we have.

No matter how it’s sold by the government, a blanket internet filter is policing at its most heavy handed, and our legal system is not built on a pre-supposition of guilt.

You cannot persecute the many to prosecute the few.

Filtering the entire, mostly harmless, often tedious, knowledge base of humanity; the overabundance of Star Trek fanfiction and shit-my-cat-does-videos we call the internet - is not “Thinking Of The Children”.

Policing paedophiles has to be done in the real world, because broadband doesn’t rape kids, people do. Pictures and videos, while shocking, are merely documents of crimes already perpetrated against tiny humans. Forcing these offenses deeper underground, further from view, will not stop them from occurring. It may make them harder to find.

So yes, hyper-vigilance in regards to the most vulnerable members of our society is an admirable idea. But mandatory internet filtering is shithouse execution.

Please, Think Of The Children.


  1. One of the biggest issues with the way Conroy is marketing this to the masses, is that if the filter comes into place, with his "this filter is 100% accurate" line, will give parents a false sense of security, which is so far from the truth its basically a lie.

  2. "You cannot persecute the many to prosecute the few" Pretty big overstatement - how are the many being persecuted? The MASSIVE many won't even know the filter is there....

    You'll still get your knowledge base, your fanfiction and the shit-my-cat does videos.. unless someone is performing an act apon that cat which shall be unspoken here!

    Kinda confused as to how this is such a big deal - All that I've read on it suggests it won't affect many people at all.

    Yes that poses the question why do it at all then - but shouldn't that be the argument - instead of the scare campaign?

    just thinkin

  3. I have never hated a politician as much as I hate Stephen Conroy

  4. Anon, 11:53am - the concept of "persecute the many to prosecute the few" is actually very just need understand the context in which the word "persecute" is used in this instance. The proposed internet filter WILL have an effect on all internet users in Australia - you may not notice the effect, because more than likely, you are not seeking to view the material the filter is seeking to block. But the costs to you - (in terms of the operational costs of the filter passed onto to you by your ISP, and the drop in speed - despite what Conroy will tell you) - are real. In this context, the "persecution" we will suffer is that this internet filter will operate under the assumption that everyone is out there searching for kiddie porn - (or bestiality, or whatever Conroy is into this week). This assumption imposes a degradation - (performance, usability) - upon the internet, even if you're not searching for this rubbish. Ask yourself when was the last time you accidentally stumbled upon ANY kind of porn on the internet? Never? This demonstrates the minute scale on which the filter will have any effect on its stated goals. We will all suffer (read: be persecuted) due to a tiny problem as identified by a small, influential lobby group, with no understanding or acceptance of the real problem. The real problem is that kiddie porn is PRODUCED - not that it is available. Although not ideal, its "availability" makes it easier to track down whoever PRODUCED it, because the trail is there for authorities to follow...

  5. "I would happily drive my car to the toilet – environment be damned."
    This is why you're a unicorn.