The No Clean Feed campaign has exploded on Twitter, received extensive coverage on the tech blogs, several independent campaign sites, and has spawned its own “Glenn Beck” style domain registry controversy.
Unfortunately, much of the commentary, especially from “Pirate Party” officials, is shrill and near-hysterical in its pitch. Simply put, the majority of Australians, even if they don’t support the filter, aren’t going to buy into the idea that Australia is becoming a fascist-state or going down the Iran/China/North Korea totalitarian route.
Furthermore, it’s my view that most Australians do not believe that slow Internet equates to censorship. The things on the “Refused Classification” list include movies that feature either real s-x acts, violent s-x acts or depict underage s-x (e.g. Baise Moi or Ken Park). They also include Jihadist literature, fetish p-rn, and books on euthanasia. None of these things are “family friendly”. (I’ve written about my views on the classification system in this post.)
In discussion with some friends, I’ve prepared some key message ideas that are alternatives to the ones getting air play at the moment.
My contention is that the No Clean Feed campaign needs to not just oppose the filter, but propose an alternative.
The Government has clearly laid the ground on which the media debate is being had. Every time they get questioned about the filter, they frame the debate as one about “cyber safety” for families. In that context, it is near impossible to defend open access to fetish material, jihadi literature or movies with violent s-x scenes. I suggest avoiding commenting on the refused classification – most Australians aren’t going to be sympathetic to an argument that wants to allow free access to Jihadist propaganda, fetish images or advice on euthanasia. The civil liberties line sounds a lot like “geeks are complaining about not being able to download freaky p-rn as fast”.
The two areas that I think are strong arguments against the filter are:
Economics and productivity: The filter will destroy the productivity gains sought in the $43 billion National Broadband Network; and
Real cyber safety: The filter won’t stop or catch a single pedophile, whereas the $44 million spent on the filter could hire up to 300 new Federal Police who will actively hunt down and stop child s-x offenders.
To this end, I’ve prepared some key messages based around these two key themes.