Dale Clapperton

Manager, Blackbird Systems, Brisbane

Speech given at Brisbane anti-censorship protest, May 28, 1999.

Hi everyone. As Adam told you, my name is Dale Clapperton.

My name won’t mean anything to most people here, and it wont mean anything to the politicians in Canberra. But I can tell you, and I’m telling them, that there are three point two MILLION other regular Internet users like me in Australia

Dale Clapperton It makes you wonder whether the government has considered the effect that three point two MILLION very pissed off people will have on their re-election chances?

Actually, it makes me wonder whether the government has considered a damn thing about this bill!

There would be very few businesses in Australia today who wont be affected by this bill. Even if THEY don’t use email or the WWW, chances are that their suppliers do, or THEIR suppliers do.

Speaking for myself, I use email for ordering products from my suppliers and talking to clients. I use the web for product research. I use FTP for downloading drivers, BIOS updates, and pricelists. I design websites for my clients. I advise them on Internet related topics.

Interference in any aspect of these services will threaten the day-to-day operation of my business, and a lot of other businesses, not just in IT, but in every area!

As Terry told you earlier, Internet Service Providers will be hit harder than most. The extra demands on them in terms of equipment and staff to handle the edicts from the net police will cause prices of Internet access to skyrocket, and send a lot of small ISP’s to the bottom.

This legislation is nothing but BAD NEWS for Australia!

The Australian IT industry is well respected globally. The senate has this week ruined that reputation, and made Australia a laughing-stock before the entire world.

The Peoples Republic of China. Saudi Arabia. Australia. Singapore. Iran. Iraq.

Which is the odd one out? None of them. Put these countries together and what comes to mind? Governments that don’t allow their citizens a lot of freedom. Australia is now on the list. The Peoples Republic of China, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Iran and Iraq are all trying to censor the net, and Australia now joins their ranks.

Do we WANT Australia to be grouped with these countries on issues of civil liberties and freedom of speech? NO!

There’s a lot to be said for having an INFORMED OPINION. Unfortunately, I don’t think the people pushing this bill qualify.

Quoting Senator Harradine in the Senate this week:

He goes on to say: Does Harradine actually believe this trash? If he had the capacity or the inclination to do some meaningful research, he would KNOW that his claims are rubbish. “And then, of course, you are hooked” – Give me a break! Does Harradine expect us to believe that pornography is ADDICTIVE? That after a weeks free trial one becomes HOOKED? Give it up Harradine!

It is an undisputed fact that the government will NEVER BE ABLE TO FIND ALL THE PORN. Even the porn that the government DOES find can be moved to avoid IP address based blocking by simply changing the IP address of the server.

So to try and “stop the porn” the government will use a glorified version of Net Nanny. As much as Senator Alston may like to throw around his phrase “guessing engine”, what he’s talking about is indiscriminately blocking Internet content based upon words contained in the page.

The overkill from this will be HUGE. Lets examine a few words that are blocked by Alston’s favourite filter, iFilter.
Amateur– Say goodbye to researching your favourite hobby!
Anarchy– Politics on the chopping block
Beer– oooo.. Cant have the kids reading THAT, can we?
Breast– gee, sorry if you want to research breast cancer!
Binaries– download Linux while you still can!
Chat– It’s full of paedophiles, didn’t you know?
Conception– Heaven forbid that children should have access to sex education!
Condom– Would Senator Harradine also have resources on safe sex banned?
Gothic– Lets hope you’re not into Architecture.
Hash– cryptography look out!
Kissing – Cant have our children doing that!
Leather– No more info on motorcycle safety gear
Mafia– Yep. They’re recruiting children.
Melons– Fruit shops look out!

We have here FOURTEEN words, which just by themselves will indiscriminately block tens of thousands of pages of legitimate internet content! And we haven’t even looked past the M’s yet!

Not only do they want to BAN porn, they would LIKE to throw people accessing it in jail as well!

Quoting the Senate Select Committee on IT in 1995 :

If Harradine had his way, the thought police would be kicking down the doors of anyone trying to access ANYTHING on the net that HE finds offensive! Do we REALLY want this geriatric puritan defining the acceptable standards of morality for our country?

Despite assurances to the contrary, censorship of email is on the agenda as well. Alston claims that “some of the worst sources of paedophilia have been those contained within closed user groups” and that “Mailing lists, assuming that they are posted and archived, would be caught by the definition of Internet content”

They can’t censor mailing lists without censoring INDIVIDUAL EMAILS. You wouldn’t someone hanging over your shoulder while you composed a personal email, so why should the government be able to read it!

The last time I checked, Australia was a democracy. NOT a dictatorship. NOT the Peoples Republic of Alston and NOT the Peoples Republic of Harradine.

The lower house is scheduled to vote on this bill on Monday. When you get home, or back to work, pick up the phone, and ring your federal MP, and tell them that this legislation is a joke. Tell them that it is bad for our country as a whole and TELL THEM TO VOTE AGAINST IT!

The government is dreaming if they think that the Internet users of Australia support this measure, and they’re dreaming if they think they are our moral guardians, and they’re dreaming if they think they can sit in Canberra and dictate what is best for us instead of representing our wishes!

It’s time for a big wakeup call for the Government, and that’s why we’re all here today!

This bill is a JOKE, it is WRONG, and it HAS TO BE STOPPED!

We're giving the government a message! THE MESSAGE IS: HANDS OFF THE NET!