The Second Parable of Michael Kirby

At his address to the IIA in February this year, Michael Kirby shared some prescient, relevant insights:

“We are moving to the point in the world where more and more law will be effectively expressed, not in terms of statutes, solemnly enacted by the Parliament and sent to the Governor-General for the royal assent – but in the technology itself. What Lessig calls, “Code”. Embedded in the Code, on a multinational basis and effective across borders in a way that could not have been dreamt of in the past, will be effective regulation, expressed in the technology itself.

This is a very important and new development. It’s a development that is not initially in the hands of democratic legislators. They don’t set the balances and adjust the competition between free usage and fair usage, free expression and protection for copyright. This is not going to be done in that way. It’s going to be done in big corporations, protecting their own interests.”

Colin Jacobs from the EFA echoes Kirby’s concerns commenting on Conroy’s internet censorship plans:

“It could go either way. Either this is the last gasp of government attempting to censor the internet – and it is going to run into the same sorts of technological and legal brick walls previous attempts have – or the Government will have succeeded in getting their hooks into the internet.”

“And then you can be absolutely sure that every special interest group will be lining up to have their particular bugbear dealt with. The copyright lobby will be first in line to have file sharing websites banned. Then you’ve got two gentlemen with significant influence due to the balance of power in the Senate – Senator [Nick] Xenophon, who is against internet gambling, and Senator Fielding, who would be against all adult material on the internet. It’s not panic mongering to say that; these people are on the record.”

To date the most enthusiastic participant in Conroy’s filter “trials” is Primus, whose CEO Ravi Bhatia said “It’s easy for us to do it”. Optus will trial filtering of the ACMA blacklist “limited to a specific geographic area, with customers given the option to opt out of the trial.” iiNet is participating “to make sure the public, media and political players are well informed and realise that it is bad policy. We hope that the outcome of this trial will be the final nail in the coffin of this misguided approach, which seems to re-surface with every new minister.”

The trials are expected to start on December 24 and run for a 6 week period.

Under Conroy’s proposed cybersafety plans, $44.m is set aside for ISP based filtering.

How can we, the public, ensure *our* interests are protected, when our access to information on the internet is under attack by government, religious groups, moral panickers and business interests?

UPDATE Dec 21 scoops the pool with a stunning interview with security expert Matthew Strahan, whose precise knowledge, if it was understood by Rudd and his minions, should alone cause Conroy’s net censorship plans to be canned as an extremely tasteless, dangerous joke.

The interview is in three parts – Exclusive: White hat hacker tears apart flaws in Aussie net filtering scheme, Interview with a white hat hacker, Part 2: The filters’ vulnerabilities and Interview with a white hat hacker, Part 3: What machines can’t judge and why.