The Ultimate Coalition Filtering Betrayal

At 12:00am this morning, the election advertising blackout commenced.

This morning on television, Opposition leader Tony Abbott confirmed that all of their policies for the 2013 election had been released, in preparation for the long awaited release of their costings.

Yet, this afternoon a serious piece of policy was released.

An old foe of the internet. A plan for internet filtering.

There has been no indication that such a policy was coming. The opposition were vehemently against the previous ALP mandatory internet filtering plan.

Yet here we have it again – controversial, and it is firing up the social media scene this evening.

Given the advertising blackout is now in force, there is no chance for opponents of such a scheme to bring it to the attention of the public. We would have to rely on the mainstream media – and we know they won’t follow that through.

It is dirty and underhanded. It is disingenuous, and it is deceitful.

It is a bloody disgrace.

The average schmo on the street will have no chance to understand the issue, and form an opinion on it before polling day on Saturday.

While this filter will be “opt-out” – meaning if you don’t want it, you can call your ISP and have it turned off – how many of the average schmo’s will actually know that?

What happens to you when you call up to “opt-out”? Does a note get put against your file?

Do you end up on a watch list, as suggested by Greens Senator Scott Ludlam?

“Tony Abbott has actually proposed that anyone who wants to access uncensored online content will have to put themselves on a watch list by opting out of the filter.”

Hot on the heels of Abbott’s promise to defend free speech too:

“The Opposition Leader said that, if elected, he would work with his attorney-general, George Brandis, to require the commission to champion, instead of restrict, the right of free speech in Australia.”

By trying to hide a policy to restrict rights, by burying it in a last minute, late in the afternoon policy release?

Spare me.

Opposition communications spokesperson Malcolm Turnbull used to complain that an internet filter would slow the internet down:

“Mr Turnbull, the Opposition’s new communications spokesman, says the filter will slow internet speeds and give parents a false sense of security.”

Apparently, the filters don’t do that any more. Or provide a false sense of security either.

The last minute announcement of the policy was later confirmed by former Optus executive and current Member for Bradfield, Paul Fletcher:

“Fletcher confirmed to ZDNet tonight that the reason the Coalition had decided to go down this path was to take out the confusion for parents who are unsure who or where to get filtering products from.”

Take out the confusion for parents? How about these comments from Fletcher rubbishing the previous ALP mandatory filter:

“Labor’s filter threatens to create a false sense of security in parents. In reality there is no quick fix for online threats – safety requires a combination of filtering software on home PCs, educational guidance about appropriate internet usage and parental responsibility. Home-based filters can assess and block a wider range of content than a static ISP level filter.”

Apparently when he posted this statement – (unprofessionally, it is undated) – such a filter that they proposed today creates “a false sense of security in parents”, even though today it’s a case of taking “out the confusion for parents”.

Apparently filtering is now a quick fix, and will provide no confusion for parents.

Also apparently, such a filter takes away resources from more effective methods:

“Labor’s filter will divert resources from high quality police work. Ultimately, the best way of stopping internet crime is to give resources to enforcement agencies such as the Australian Federal Police. Every dollar spent on an ineffective filter is a dollar that could have been spent on those agencies.”

While I actually agree with that sentiment, apparently it is now fine to divert those resources.

In my home, we have free and open internet. Any device that my seven-year-old daughter uses, is filtered for “bad” things. This is my choice as parent, and solution I have implemented for myself.

The concept is actually quite simple.

We don’t need a government controlled and mandated – (and potentially government abusable) – mechanism in place to do this. Parents should be parents, and not take the lazy path to looking after their kids online.

I’ve taken a strong stance on internet filtering in Australia – (including walking away from being a Telstra customer on principle) – so this disgusting attempt to bully such a plan into law, after being staunchly against it for so long makes me sick.

We’ve been had. We’ve been betrayed.

While I haven’t always voted for the Coalition, I have never voted for Labor in my life. My vote for this Saturday remains undecided.

One thing that has been decided is that the Coalition can stick it up their ass now – no vote for you.

For the record, that doesn’t mean I’m voting Labor either.

If you want to bring in a policy – given this is a democracy, let the people see it up front and decide.

Don’t try hide it like cowards.

** UPDATE: 06/09/2013 06:43 ==========

So okay, apparently – (if you believe the Coalition) – this is not their policy. Abbott stated last night that they are not for an internet filter, and never have been for an internet filter. Turnbull said as much too. They described it as a “badly worded” announcement, and that such filter would be implemented on the user’s own equipment in their homes.

This simply doesn’t add up. If it is implemented in their homes, why would they need to call their ISP to opt-out? Frankly, if the filtering exists at all, and only the ISP can turn it off, even if it implemented on the end user “customer premise equipment” (CPE) – it is ISP level filtering.

Turnbull said it wasn’t even a policy he was involved with, despite being the communications spokesperson, and likely communications minister come Sunday morning.

But if this wasn’t policy, who was it that took the time to draft it, have it vetted, and then published? Where are the controls? Who went rogue and released this policy? Turnbull even went on Triple J and spoke about it – (skip to 26:20) – before the furore.

And why has the policy now been deleted? It’s all good though, here it is anyway, and here is Paul Fletcher even speaking about it with ZDnet when asked to confirm it.

No, frankly, what happened here is they got caught out and forced into a backflip.

It must be wonderful living up high in the clouds on bullshit mountain.