Monday, 17 November 2014 19:45

Will the Great Firewall of Australia block pirate websites? Featured


The slippery slope to Australia becoming an authoritarian capitalist state with restricted Internet access like China is looming with the excuse being that pirate sites need blocking, even though VPNs can easily get around government enforced restrictions.

First they came for the iPhone Jailbreakers, and I did not speak out - because I was not a iPhone Jailbreaker.

Then they came for the hackers, and I did not speak out - because I was not a hacker.

Then they came for the content pirates, and I did not speak out - because I was not a content pirates.

Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.

Ok, so we’re not there yet, but a must-read report in Fairfax Media suggests that Australian Federal Communications Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, and Attorney-General, George Brandis are considering the recommendation that ISPs be required to block websites ‘hosting infringing content’.

There’s also the possibility that ISPs will be required to forward letters to households who are alleged to have downloaded infringing content.

Yes, anyone can pay for a VPN to hide their online activities, which we examined in this recent article, which itself was an observation on a different Fairfax Media article examining how to hide pirate activities, but what happens to the family who hasn’t set up their Wi-Fi properly and it has been used by your kids' friends to download infringing content?

What happens to cafes or other places that have easily accessed Wi-Fi with purchase, or even free?

Sure, websites with alleged infringing content could be blocked.

But doesn’t that open up the slippery slope to online tyranny and ISPs forced to enforce a form of “Great Firewall”, one step removed from the Government as ISPs are doing it instead of the government?

Fairfax Media reports that Malcolm Turnbull naturally declined to share any information from within or to be presented to Cabinet, and that some content providers want to force ISPs to slow down the connections of people who are alleged to be serial infringing content downloaders.

But as we examined in this article entitled “Yes, people will still pirate stuff even with cheap legal prices”, the onus is on the content industry to consolidate its various distribution methods to provide content on a global basis at affordable prices to everyone on the planet, thus going a very long way towards using the carrot to get people to pay for content, rather than the stick, which only further encourages ways to get around it.

Why is it that the last Labor Government wanted to implement Internet filters which the Liberal and National coalitions railed against vehemently, only for the Liberal and National coalition when in power to then seek to implement its own form of Internet filtering program?

What kind of power mad hypocrites have we got in power?

At least they are trying to repay the hundreds of millions of dollars of debt the last government left the country, but why do they have to sully their reputation by engaging in a similar kind of underhanded Internet power grab that only ends up pissing people off?

After all, everyone knows that when governments get the power to do something, they very rarely relinquish it.

And that’s when the true tyranny starts, that’s where tyranny comes from.

Australia does not need Emperor Turnbull nor Emperor Brandis to screw up the Internet any more than has already happened with the entire NBN shamozzle.

But don’t worry. First they came for the hackers. Pretty soon, they’ll come for you.

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

Alex Zaharov-Reutt is iTWire's Technology Editor is one of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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