Liberal Party member Chris Abood on the internet blacklist

23 03 2009

From his recent Online Opinion piece:

So how does one get blacklisted?

Quite easily.

There are two ways to end up on the blacklist, either through direct channels or inadvertently. Currently, if I come across a website that I do not approve of either because I believe it is illegal or does not suit my ideological bent, I can make a complaint to the ACMA. In order to make a complaint, I must be an Australian resident or a company that carries on activities in Australia, provide the internet address and/or sufficient access details to enable ACMA to access the online content and provide reasons as to why I believe the online content is prohibited. The ACMA will then make a determination as to whether that site is added to the blacklist. It is not clear how the ACMA makes this determination. It has also been reported that other bodies such as filter software companies can also add websites to the blacklist. It is not clear how this is policed.

So how does one inadvertently end up on the list? Imagine that Big Buba from the Buba crime syndicate published a websites called However this is a front for an illegal website publishing unsavoury pictures. The site is found, a complaint made to ACMA and rightly added to the blacklist. A few weeks later, Big Buba closes down the site and moves to a new domain called to try and keep ahead of the authorities. This site is also added to the blacklist and a few weeks later the site moves again and again.

Meanwhile, Jan who has been working for a large multi-national for 20 years is called into her manager’s office and told that she is being made redundant. With her large redundancy cheque, she decides to pursue her dream of running a tour business. She calls her business Friendly Tours and finds that the domain name is available. She registers the domain name and has a nice website built.

Jim, a dentist, decides to have a website built for his practice. His Internet Service Provider assigns his domain to an IP address that was previously occupied by Both Jim and Jan are friends of mine. I offer to help them increase their Google rankings by linking to their sites through my website, my blog and my Facebook page.

A few weeks go by and Jim and Jan start getting emails from people saying they cannot access their websites. They don’t know why. They try to contact me for an explanation but cannot get hold of me. That is because I am in court being fined $11,000 a day for linking to a banned site. The people who emailed Jim and Jan are also in court facing jail terms of ten years for trying to access a site contained on the blacklist.

This blacklist is to form the backbone of the government’s mandatory filtering regime. The leaked list apparently contains 2,395 websites. The Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy wants to expand this to 10,000 websites. Will the ACMA be under pressure to find sites, any sites, to reach this number? The legitimacy of the blacklist will always be in question while owners of websites on the blacklist have no means of recourse especially if that site is legitimate.

Something I am curious about is whether this policy is unanimously supported or even popular among members of the ALP. If not, what are dissenting ALP members doing about it?

Quote of the week: Malcolm Turnbull

8 11 2008

Liberal Party leader Malcolm Turnbull gave a speech to the Australian Christian Lobby, evidently peppered with enough “marriage and families” references to suggest that the post-Howard Libs are still not completely above pandering to the fundagelicals. But he does deserve kudos for maintaining a firm stance on abortion and gay rights. On the latter, this gem:

“If you think about it, if you discriminate … against a gay couple, between two men living together, do you really think that they’re going to say ‘oh well, that’s no good, we’ll go off and get married to a woman’?” he asked the audience. (ABC News Online)

Apparently they do. (See also: “Is it Just Another Lifestyle?“)

Appeal to tradition fail

27 10 2008

From ABC News Online:

The Federal Government and Opposition have both given the thumbs down to calls to change or abandon the Lord’s Prayer recited at the beginning of each day of federal Parliament. [. . .]

A spokeswoman for Mr Rudd said the Prime minister viewed the prayer as an important tradition that should not be broken. [. . .]

Australian Christian Lobby managing director Jim Wallace said Christianity had had a profound impact on shaping our laws, culture and democracy.

“It’s appropriate that we open parliaments with the Lord’s Prayer for its cultural and historic relevance,” he said. [. . .]

I have never yet heard a non-fallacious argument for the retention of this particular artefact of religious sectarianism in a constitutionally secular democracy, and as you can see, we are still waiting for one. Malcolm Turnbull claims that the opening prayer “is an important reminder of our shared humanity.” Whose shared humanity, Malcolm? Large numbers of humans don’t share your religious beliefs. Do they not count as human?

For the fundies, the issue is crystal-clear. The ACL’s Lyle Shelton opines: “we need to decide, do we appreciate the values of our society, (or) are we saying we want to reflect a different set of ethics in the way that we run our country?” Got it? Take God out of the parliament, and the result is fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling! Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes . . . The dead rising from the grave! Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together… mass hysteria! And whatever one thinks of the merits of Jim Wallace’s bald assertion that Christianity (whose Christianity? Jim’s Christianity?) had a role to play in “shaping our laws, culture and democracy,” why does it follow that Parliament should open with a Christian prayer? What does one thing have to do with another?

In a liberal democracy, the legislature should open to all believers and non-believers. Opening parliament with a Christian prayer grants a Most Favoured Religion (TM) status to a particular religion, and there is no place for that in a liberal democracy. Nor do I really see a need for the “moment of quiet reflection” proposed by Bob Brown. MPs sitting in nervous silence while their colleagues mutter incantations to their sky-daddy is a waste of taxpayer’s money. Just get on with it. Parliament House is not a church.

See also: Matt’s Notepad.

International Day Against Homophobia

17 05 2008

  1. The loving Christian news website OneNewsNow claims, on the authority of Holocaust revisionist Scott Lively, that the Nazis were ruled by a clique of “masculine homosexuals,” ergo gay = Nazi, Nazi = gay, gay gay Nazi, Nazi Nazi gay, gay gay paedophile Nazi, Nazi Nazi paedophile paedophile gay gay.
  2. In California, loving Christian conservative groups the National Organization for Marriage and the Alliance Defense Fund are gearing up to fight the state Supreme Court’s recent ruling legalising same-sex marriage. (AP)
  3. In Moldova, a gay pride parade was thwarted by an alliance of (and I’m sorry to harp on this) loving Christians and neo-fascists, who surrounded and stormed a bus of Pride marchers and shouted “Beat them to death!” and “Don’t let them escape!” while the police stood by and did fuck-all about it. The marchers were trapped inside the bus for hours. (Pink News, Tiraspol Times)
  4. A Canadian study suggests that gay men in Vancouver are “twice as likely as straight men to be victims of violent crime.” (AOL News)
  5. John Heard, self-styled spokesperson for the nation’s gay and lesbian community, asserts that gays want to be discriminated against in marriage law. (Melbourne Herald Sun.) Via An Onymous Lefty
  6. Meanwhile, Jim Wallace of the Australian (loving) Christian Lobby is celebrating the ACT Government’s decision, in the face of Rudd Government bullying, to water down its civil partnerships legislation. (ABC News Online)

By the bye, homosexuality remains a crime throughout the Islamic world, and is punishable by death in Iran, Mauritania, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen. It also incurs the death penalty in Bangladesh.

How homophobic are you?