Street protests planned over internet filtering

The street protests are planned in all states for Saturday December 13 and are being organised by the Digital Liberty Coalition.

The site set up Digital Liberty Coalition is being used as a central organising point for the protests which have been set to take place in CBD locations at lunchtime in Sydney Melbourne Brisbane Perth Adelaide and Hobart at 11.00am.

The group promises various interesting speakers will be addressing the rallies — including  members of parliament and a Greens senator.

Similar protests were organised by Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) back in 1996 to protest against plans by the then Liberal government to try and block illegal content via new Internet censorship laws. While that legislation went through its impact has been decidedly muted in part because of the comparatively minute number of addresses that have ended up on the blacklist used for illegal sites. The newly-proposed scheme is much broader in scope.

Exact plans and implementation dates for the government’s so-called “clean feed” remain uncertain but testing is due to take place with a number of ISPs. Chief amongst the arguments against the plan are the detrimental effect it will have on connection speeds (doubly ironic given the government’s plans to fund a massive increase in broadband speed) and the lack of clear information on just what will be blocked.

The online Save The Net petition set up by activist group GetUp has already attracted more than 55000 signatures according to organisers. However online petitions are often ignored by governments and don’t guarantee a berth on the evening news – a much more likely prospect on a slow news Saturday.

Senator Stephen Conroy the minister charged with implementing the plan has consistently dismissed protestors on the grounds that they are not interested in helping protect children but has failed to answer any of the criticisms of the proposal. Conroy’s claims that similar schemes are already in place in Europe have also been extensively criticised with an EFA analysis highlighting numerous differences in approach.