Does anyone remember the ‘cleanfeed’?
The ‘cleanfeed’ was an attempt by Senator Stephen Conroy in 2009 to enact legislation that would apply ‘filters’ for access to the internet that would be enforced by Internet Service Providers through mandatory ISP filtering. The filters were proposed as a means of preventing harm to children by limiting access to specific content on the web: preventing harm to children online by blocking websites with adult content and preventing harm to children off the web by increasing moderation of child pornography websites. Senator Conroy proposed a filter that would block all adult content including legally accessible adult websites. A secondary filter would allow users to volunteer for access to legally accessible adult websites. The problem was that many innocent sites, such as breast cancer related websites, would be caught up in the filter. There was also the ‘small’ problem of public outcry against obstruction of civil rights and liberties.
This information begs the question: What place does censorship have in a democracy?
Well, censorship does have a place in democracy. Regardless of which system of government you participate in there will always be people who will violate laws without regard or concern for other members of society. From standards, which are theoretically set by equal and fair representation of everyone, arise parameters of right and wrong. It is from these parameters that laws are rightfully dictated. As an example in most modern societies child slavery has been deemed immoral and wrong and therefore laws have been created as preventives against and punishments for those who breach these laws. Censorship is a preventative measure to protect the victims of these crimes and to stop further crimes being committed. In some circumstances censorship is appropriate particularly when protecting civil rights. An example of when censorship is not appropriate is when it violates civil rights such as the right to free speech or the right to freedom of assembly. When civil rights are violated through censorship the act of censorship is seen as unethical as long as members of a society deem this unacceptable and continue to enact their right to have civil rights.
The key point there being “continue to enact their right to have civil rights”. To continue to have rights you must be active in maintaining them. One of the best ways to maintain these rights is to be informed. So do some reading on the Trans-Pacific Partnership before history repeats itself again.
Conroy, S, Carlisle, W 2009, Conroy’s Clean Feed, Radio interview transcript, viewed 02 September 2015, <http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/backgroundbriefing/conroys-clean-feed/3138034#transcript >
Electronic Frontier Foundation, Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, viewed 04 September 2015, <https://www.eff.org/issues/tpp>