This letter from a concerned Christian parent is a quality read. While Senator Conroy would like to make out only illegal porn peddlers and terrorists are opposed to net censorship, it’s letters like these that show no matter what your religion, race, age or sex, mandatory ISP filtering will have a negative effect on you and your family.

“I am a mother and a long term writer of a leading Christian magazine. As a woman who holds ethics and social cohesion very highly, I would like to express my concern for the new governmental policies regarding a national mandatory internet filter.

I have had many years experience with people involved in Christian missionary activities abroad, and know first hand the problems faced by people with concerns for freedom of religious practice. The internet is a very important tool for putting forward sound, ethical information to the general public. The problem is, in almost all situations, benign and benevolent proposals for media control have ended up in censoring the very freedoms we hold dear. As agencies such as Amnesty International can assert, censorship is often the thin-end-of-the-wedge. Stringent censorship, for whatever purpose, has an ugly way of limiting the very people it is meant to help.

While it is admirable to think that censoring ‘evil’ on the web will do great good, the truth is that evil always finds a way to leak through the cracks. Pornographers and perverted souls have a way of finding the loop-holes and slipping their filth through the slivers of any information system. These people will not be substantially inhibited by this work, because, as every computer scientist knows, protections such as these are not impervious, they just count on those combating it to find it too costly in time or finances to find a way through. (Filters do not impair the flow of information Peer-to-Peer.) On the other hand, this sort of severe restriction proves almost crippling for those of integrity, those who dare to do what is right. These people will not put their mind to perverting justice; rather they will suffer the restrictions imposed. In other words, bad people will continue to prosper, while good people suffer the limitations imposed upon them.

The value of our social freedoms is imperative. During this horrible war on terror, again and again we have seen civil freedoms pared back. When will this stop. When will our government choose to relinquish its paternalistic hold upon our intellects, and allow us, as citizens, to demonstrate our maturity and diversity? The internet is an amazing vehicle for creativity, intellectual development and community building. There are valid concerns that a national firewall will undo much of the great good that is being made available by this media, both because the restrictions imposed and the limitations and impositions of the programs that will be used to institute these restrictions. Such limitations include a drastically reduced bandwidth (interfering with multi-media transfers) and huge error rates, which will see many innocent sites banned by accident. Who can know what these sites will be? Who can be sure that he or she will be safe from censorship, despite his/her innocence?

And there is real reason to be concerned that censorship will be excessive. The NSW Government Department of Education web-filter is noted for its severity. Students are unable to access peer reviewed articles, educational material and their own personal mail servers, as these sources are seen as being dangerous for the development of our young minds. Rather, we are to expect the substandard sources offered to our students will promote the creation of a population capable of solving the extremely difficult problems of the future: not just scientific and environmental problems, but problems of social justice and equity.

Thus, I point you to the thoughts of Thomas Hobbs, who wrote that the freedoms that we relinquish in order to have a civil society ought to be the minimum freedoms required in order to maintain a reasonable peace and tranquillity. Just as we would stand against Plato, and say that the benevolent philosopher tyrant is not the option we would choose as the best form of governance, we must say that vesting our intellectual freedoms in the hands of a short lived leadership, or any leadership, is a dangerous thing to do. As citizens, we need to be careful about the liberties we relinquish. These liberties were once won at great cost, and to regain them will cost even more.

There is a difference between protection and constriction. I believe that the measures currently suggested are poorly conceived, and will result in the constraining of our intellectual, ethical, cultural and religious freedoms. These freedoms are necessary in building and maintaining a first world nation. Thus, I adjure you to vote against any such reforms, as there is a fine line between good policing and a police state: protection of thought and the Thought Police.”

Originally posted on WhirlPool

Luke Stevens, a moderator at the discussion forum, also has concerns. Luke writes:

If the govt wants to blacklist child porn sites, which is done in some parts of Europe, then that’s one thing. The Minister likes to point them out as examples, but what the Govt is proposing goes far, *far* beyond that into very dangerous territory. It’s not a simple blacklist, it’s extremely draconian ISP-level filtering which you will not be able to opt out of. For the reasons outlined above, I think we should all be opposed to it.

It’s easy to take our freedom of speech for granted, but it’s quite worrying (in my view) that the Govt is proposing to interfere in such an extreme way in online communication.

Of course, The Australian Christian Lobby, being the fine up standing citizens they are, are in favour of filtering.