Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: Making a List, Not Bothering to Check It

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  • Rich of Observationz,

    So is a couple appearing with offspring "a scene which is cut so that it is clearly implied that two of the characters had sex".

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Sam F,

    So is a couple appearing with offspring "a scene which is cut so that it is clearly implied that two of the characters had sex"

    Better filter out all those Brokeback to the Future YouTube mashups then...

    'Clearly implied' is a wonderful phrase too.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1609 posts Report Reply

  • JackElder,

    Is it just me, or is "clearly implying" sex what 15-year old boys do? "Yeah, we totally did it last night, man. Like, with the sex and everything. Yeah."

    Wellington • Since Mar 2008 • 708 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    The daily fine is a risk once you've been informed that you're linking to banned material, and fail to remove the link. It's still a stonking great sum of money, but it's not quite as ridiculous as the hysteria has portrayed. You're given a chance to fix the problem before they start whacking you with enormous penalties.

    Indeed. I've distilled this down from six pages of notes, skimmed a lot of stuff, and still ended up a bit longer than I normally like to run. Because of that I'm perfectly happy to expand on things in comments, and sorry if anything comes out as slightly misleading.

    I also had a long discussion with my partner today (we keep ending up discussing child pornography in cafes) which may result in me rolling out my 'solution to teh internets' in comments here. In the meantime, here's a little watch:

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    And Australians are prepared to put up with that?

    Lots of 'em are really quite angry about it. Nobody much seems to really want it. But they just had an election, so what are you going to do?

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Sam F,

    Is it just me, or is "clearly implying" sex what 15-year old boys do? "Yeah, we totally did it last night, man. Like, with the sex and everything. Yeah."

    More like "I'd sure engage in brief and unsatisfying sexual relations with her, if you know what I mean."

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1609 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    So, let me see if I've got this right: If you expect any degree of transparency or accountability from a government agency (an agency, as far as I can tell, that alternates between bullying and lying about its activities), you're virtually dishing out kiddie pron to every teenage boy in Australia?

    All together now!

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew Stevenson,

    Leaving aside the issue of internet censorship, what are the chances of this actually working?

    Working meaning all 'bad' sites blocked, all 'good' sites not blocked and a well managed process around the whole thing that allows for updates and doesn't annoy people.

    Is the best thing we can hope for that the good citizens of Australia will become so batfuck crazy after the filter affects their use of the internet so much it will be removed? Then this will be a learing experience for other governments, like prohibition in the USA.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 206 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    So, let me see if I've got this right: If you expect any degree of transparency or accountability from a government agency (an agency, as far as I can tell, that alternates between bullying and lying about its activities), you're virtually dishing out kiddie pron to every teenage boy in Australia?

    I have lost count of the number of times Conroy has implied that his opponents are paedophiles.

    "If people equate freedom of speech with watching child pornography, then the Rudd-Labor Government is going to disagree."

    Leaving aside the issue of internet censorship, what are the chances of this actually working?

    Working meaning all 'bad' sites blocked, all 'good' sites not blocked and a well managed process around the whole thing that allows for updates and doesn't annoy people.

    Nil.

    Hence my revamped Plan for the Internet, for which the base assumption is this: net filtering cannot be done well. It's not being done well anywhere, but it is being done badly in a whole bunch of places. Britain, Sweden, Denmark, Finland - all their lists have sites on them that shouldn't be, and sites not on them that should be. Those lists were all ostensibly drawn up to combat child pornography, but they've all had mission creep right from the start. Australia has just joined two other countries in being the only ones to censor WikiLeaks - China and the UAE.

    Australia's even demonstrated that filtering doesn't really affect paedophiles. They busted a paedophile ring there last year, and Conroy trumpeted it as the kind of stuff that would be stopped by the filter. Only they were trading images solely by peer-to-peer file-sharing, which the filter doesn't filter.

    Filters also create a false sense of security. They get used instead of supervision and education.

    So here's my plan to deal with rude things on the net.

    There is no national ISP filtering at all. None.

    Any parent who wishes to filter their internet connection can access free home filtering software. This is the scheme Australia used to have. Trouble was no-one could be bothered using it. All filtering software companies, however, must produce annual public lists of all the legal sites they block. This can't be used as a shopping list for paedophiles, because it doesn't have child pornography on it. But if you want to filter the Peaceful Pill site or the AIDS Quilt site, you have to be prepared to say so.

    Producers of child pornography are aggressively prosecuted. (That's actual child pornography that involves harm to actual children, not fiction or drawings.) This might sound like a no-brainer, but in Finland, if a child pornography site is detected, it's added to the black-list. The end.

    Same goes for producers of any material - sexual or not - which has involved the commission of a crime in its production, but not material which looks like it might have, but actually didn't.

    IT instruction in schools includes education on how to use the net safely. That would include what to do about avoiding content you don't want to see, but also how to deal with bullying, and issues around disclosure of private information. I'm against aggressive filtering in secondary schools, because you can't teach kids how to cope in the real net if you keep them in a sandbox all the time.

    We have to get over this fixation on the medium. My son goes to school a block from Chch's sex district. That doesn't mean pron is going to ooze out of shops and brothels and destroy his childhood. Likewise, there's sex on the net. But if you want the net sanitised, then how can you not apply the same standard to the real world?

    Likewise, we need to get the paranoia out of the issue. (Oh, thank you press releases from Watchdog reproduces verbatim by Stuff every school holidays, your shrieking helps so much.) I've been using the net for twenty years and I have NEVER run across child pornography, even though I spend a reasonable amount of time around sexual material.

    I know there must be a bunch of flaws in my ideas, but I can't think of a better place to test 'em.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Stewart,

    Sounds good to me, Emma, but I don't think it will go down well with the "all care, no responsibility" parents that fail to talk to their kids about the interweb, fail to provide any guidance about using the net and just see the computer (like the tv) as a means of keeping 'the bratz' quiet.

    I suspect that that demographic will still be shrill in their demands for the whole thing to be sanitised & steam-cleaned.

    Te Ika A Maui - Whakatane… • Since Oct 2008 • 577 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    I suspect that that demographic will still be shrill in their demands for the whole thing to be sanitised & steam-cleaned.

    And you know what really doesn't go down well? Suggesting that if they don't want their kids to ever encounter sex the first thing they should do is stop having it right in the house where their kid lives.

    My potential career in the diplomatic service was never really a goer.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Stewart,

    And by continuing to stigmatise sex with all their hysteria they not only make it more attractive to the cussedly contrary young 'uns, but they also make it less respectable and available for those of us who don't stigmatise it.

    (Sounds like you're suggesting that they limit themselves to single-child families, because having sex outside their house might risk exposing other children to the horror!)

    Te Ika A Maui - Whakatane… • Since Oct 2008 • 577 posts Report Reply

  • Ian MacKay,

    But parents don't have sex in the house or anywhere else--do they???

    Bleheim • Since Nov 2006 • 498 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew Stevenson,

    Emma for teh Interweb Czar!

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 206 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    I'm pretty sure that's still Russell's job...

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew Stevenson,

    Would you settle for Czarina, or Czarette?

    All filtering software companies, however, must produce annual public lists of all the legal sites they block.

    how do you define a legal versus an illeagal site? Eg filering company defines a site as illeagal, so not on the list up for inspection.

    Same goes for producers of any material - sexual or not - which has involved the commission of a crime in its production, but not material which looks like it might have, but actually didn't.

    How do you manage this, investigate everyone?

    Not arguing, just kicking the idea around a bit...

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 206 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    But parents don't have sex in the house or anywhere else--do they???

    I believe that rule only applies if they're married. Parents living in sin... well, probably sin I guess.

    how do you define a legal versus an illeagal site?

    Legal would be 'legal to view in the country of the filtering software company'.

    Illegal would be... well not legal.

    So illegal would include beastiality, child porn.

    Legal would include stuff that is legal but which you might want to restrict - legal porn, er, anarchist handbook etc.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew Stevenson,

    Legal would be 'legal to view in the country of the filtering software company'.

    Illegal would be... well not legal.

    Sorry, I was unclear, how do you know that what a filtering company has put on their illegal list is in fact illegal?
    I thought Emma's plan was to have the legal list up for inspection but hide the illegal list so it wasnt used as a shopping list.
    The first thing that lept to my mind was to put things on the illegal list so no one could check them.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 206 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    My impression of the Emma System would be that illegal sites would be targeted by the law. So the list should stay pretty short over a long period of time (possibly places that are illegal in one country but not in another?).

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    How do you manage this, investigate everyone?

    Not arguing, just kicking the idea around a bit...

    Exactly what I'm after, dude.

    This is what the ACMA does: investigates sites it receives complaints about. Anyone can lay a complaint, including an employee of the ACMA. But instead of black-listing the site, the ACMA-like body would, if the complaint seemed warranted, refer it to the police in the appropriate jurisdiction. This would require the cooperation of the ISP, but not that the ISP assume the job of dispute resolution or law enforcement.

    It wouldn't be easy, it'd be heinously complicated, but it is now. It'd be simpler if there were some over-arching international agreement - a sort of International Whaling Commission for porn.

    And yes, the illegal list. There are two ways to go about this that spring to mind. One, the illegal list isn't public, but it is subject to private audit. Two, the illegal list is produced centrally by an agency like the ACMA, and filtering companies have to publish anything they add to it.

    It'd be incredibly tricky to determine if, say, a film clip featuring a man appearing to be strangled was real or simulated, consensual or non-con. But I don't think that means that you take the easy way out like the British have and ban and prosecute simulation or consensual rough sex.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    My impression of the Emma System would be that illegal sites would be targeted by the law. So the list should stay pretty short over a long period of time (possibly places that are illegal in one country but not in another?).

    Indeed. Sites should come off it because they're shut down, except if it's something that's illegal in one jurisdiction and not in another. Eg the age of consent in the US is 14, or 15, or 16, or 18.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew Stevenson,

    Kicking the tires again...

    Funding for the ACMA-like body, any heinously complicated process is going to cost money to administer, where is it from? Modem tax, levy on ISPs based on traffic volumes, from the general tax fund, wave a magic wand?

    Location of the ACMA-like body in government? Is it an independant body like PCE, not independant but seperate like the Electricity Commission, part of the Ministry for Odds and Sods (sorry - Internal Affairs), a division of the Police? How will this choice affect its operations?

    Given dealing with the whole technology/content/ internet thing is a fairly dynamic process, how confident are you that a government body can police the Emma Solution effectively? Reference to earlier PA discussion on the public service here

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 206 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Location of the ACMA-like body in government? Is it an independant body like PCE, not independant but seperate like the Electricity Commission, part of the Ministry for Odds and Sods (sorry - Internal Affairs), a division of the Police? How will this choice affect its operations?

    I would suggest that it should have similar status and guidelines as the office of the censor, which seems to me to typically do a fairly good job balancing individual rights and concerns of the state.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Funding for the ACMA-like body, any heinously complicated process is going to cost money to administer, where is it from?

    Well, any kind of monitoring or policing body is going to cost. I feel that if you're policing for less it should be cheaper, but I strongly suspect that's not what happens in practice. I don't know why it would be more expensive.

    I would suggest that it should have similar status and guidelines as the office of the censor, which seems to me to typically do a fairly good job balancing individual rights and concerns of the state.

    Here it does, but there've been cases over the years in the US and Australia where the Censor has become politicised. How aggressively certain material (gay porn vs straight porn, for example) is sought out and prosecuted can vary with the current governing ideology.

    (Also as an aside I find it weird that the people who come into your house and seize your PC are Customs .)

    In the interactions I've had with the NZ Censor's Office I've found them helpful and cooperative and reasonable. I'm not sure what ensures that they stay that way. That would push me in favour of an independent body like the PCE.

    Except for this. Maybe censorship should be politicised. If voters decide they want a United Future government or whatever, shouldn't that government then be able to dictate that censorship is conducted as those voters apparently want? I'm not sure I know the answer to that.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    I presume that the censors office is governed by legislation (the er... can't remember what the Act is called now), and is largely at arms length from the government in terms of their decisions as a result.

    Which would seem to me to be how you'd want this to work too. Obviously in other parts of the world it doesn't work too well, but we seem to still be able to maintain independence in some parts of the civil service here.

    I think the censors office takes account of evolving sensibilities and changing attitudes as part of their consideration. To have a change of government suddenly make your movie/computer game whatever illegal would be foolish. Same with what you can/can't view on the internet.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

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