I’ll put this mildly: it’s not often the Left comes out in favour of liberty. But there are a number of issues that they get right. Online censorship is one.
When then Communications Minister Stephen Conroy proposed an internet filter in 2008, the Left-wing activist organisation GetUp! campaigned against the policy.
Now it appears Australia’s political Left is getting ready to take up arms again. In a piece for ABC’s The Drum today, Guardian journalist Asher Wolf outlines the problems with a Coalition proposal to create an “e-safety commissioner”:
Australia already has laws dealing with online bullying. S474.17 of the Criminal Code Act 1995applies a penalty of three years imprisonment for using a carriage service to “menace, harass or cause offence”.
The Coalition’s “Enhancing Online Safety for Children” policy was announced just two days before the 2013 federal election, along with mandatory opt-out internet filtering of all adult content.
While the Coalition backflipped on their mandatory opt-out internet censorship plan just hours after the policy became public knowledge, the “Enhancing Online Safety for Children” policy lived on, unnoticed for the most part. Until last week, when the Commonwealth Department of Communications released a discussion paper.
It’s a welcome development. There are significant free speech implications of the Coalition’s policy in this area. FreedomWatch will be following the debate closely.