Conroy's Folly

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It's not enough to bash in heads
You've got to bash in minds

It's been burning up the blogosphere, somewhat. It's had the tech community tittering for more than a week, and it hit the mainstream media with a vengeance today. Of course, I'm talking about "Conroy's Folly", the "Great Australian Firewall" - the plan to provide a "clean feed" to all Australian homes, businesses and schools. I am going to assume that you all know what it is, and at least most of the technical reasons why it won't work (false positives, slow speeds, all the rest). The push is on for all people who are feeling the least bit miffed by all this (and, let's face it, the word "miffed" does not even come close to how it makes most of us feel) to write a letter to dear Mr Conroy, advising just what a stupid idea we think it is. Many letters are available to read online (either in their entirety or in part), and I have been reading along with interest. I find it fascinating that most writers have begun with their technical qualifications - "As a [system administrator|senior programmer|web developer]" and continued on with all the technical reasons why a filter is Not a Good Idea. While the technical reasons are all valid, and for the most part have been explained very well, I can't help but think we're fighting the wrong fight. To me, it really does not matter how the filtering will work, what they want to filter, will I be able to get around it, what percentage of false positives will there be, how much slower will my connection be. The thing we need to be fighting is whether or not we will have a filter. That's it. Simple. I worry that if we get too bogged down in the technical details we'll end up in a compromise - we'll accept the filter if this isn't blocked, or if it's done with this technology, or if there's an opt-out. And then when this issue is handballed to the next communications minister, we start from a weaker place of negotiation. In short, once we have the filter in place, it's only going to get tighter; and with every crank of the wheel, we're another step from personal freedom.

I will be writing a letter. But I won't be listing my technical credentials, and I won't be discussing why the technology won't work. I'll be writing as a mother, and why it's bad for my child. I suggest you consider doing the same.

I'll leave you with a quote I've used before:

Better ugly speech than enforced silence

Thanks must also go to Brian for coinage of the term "Conroy's Folly". Cheers Brian!


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