How To Protest Against Internet Censorship Laws

How To Protest Against Internet Censorship Laws
CensorshipGraphicIt’s clear Lifehacker readers think the plan to make Internet censorship mandatory in Australia in 2010 is a deeply stupid idea. While there may be ways of working around the filter, not having the filter would clearly be a better idea. How can you effectively make your views known?

We’ve assembled below some ideas on what to do to protest the law, which is still some months from hitting Parliament. Many of the ideas come from the No Clean Feed site’s Take Action page, while others come from Twitter or reader suggestions. (On Twitter, the #nocleanfeed tag is especially useful.)

Get informed on the issues

Pro-censorship argument often seem to boil down “people who disagree with this concept are pro-child-porn”, but there’s no reason to sink to that level. Over at Gizmodo, Nick’s rounded up a heap of useful reading on why the proposal is so flawed, which is good ammunition if you do run into someone who wants to have a sensible discussion on the topic.

Protest to your local member of Parliament

They’re your representative, so make sure they know your views. For maximum effect, try calling and sending a (snail mail) letter as well. You can find contact details for all current parliamentarians via this link. While there are lots of online petitions doing the rounds, grass-roots activism remains an important step.

Protest to relevant Senators

Any legislation will have to pass both houses of Parliament, and (as recent climate change developments have shown) is where any legislation is likely to get held up or ignored entirely. The No Clean Feed site lists the relevant Senators on all sides of politics covering communications issues. Crikey has some useful extra advice on how to write to politicians.

Talk to family and friends

Chances are that your non-geek friends and rellies either don’t know the law is proposed, or think that anything that’s designed to crack down on online child abuse is worth trying no matter what the consequences. Explaining exactly what the issues are — in particular, that the proposed regime would give the government a means of shutting down access to views it disagrees with on any topic — makes it harder to characterise opponents as a nerdy minority and/or perverts.

What other protest tactics are you exploring? Share them in the comments.


  • Where a t-shirt or a badge with #nocleanfeed on it – you non-geek friends will ask you about it and you have a chance to watch eyes glze like a Xmas turkey.

    *In the interests of not self-promoting the tees and badges I will not post the link for the tees and badges that I sell that have #nocleanfeed on them, but you can probably find it if you really want to 😎

  • protest to your local MP and tell him how much you want your kids to have access to bomb making websites, or how much you like looking at kiddy porn. lifehacker, not so balanced journalism!

    • Dear Dick,

      1 – When DVD’s were released, the copy protection was broken in weeks. The same applies here.

      2 – What happened to parents bringing up their own children? I just cannot believe that parents are THAT stupid/ignorant/negligent that they “don’t know what their kids do on the internet”.

      3 – The tax payer is paying millions of dollars for a scheme that
      a) makes us look like China
      b) is run by as yet unnamed persons
      c) seems like a really good idea to everyone EXCEPT those who know a bit more than how to open Outlook
      d) mostly because people like you Dick, get all emotional about the subject, thump the desk and scream “SOMETHING MUST BE DONE!”

      Well, it’s about to be done, it wont work, you’re going to pay for it, and really, what is it that we’re trying to achieve here that a parent couldn’t achieve by moving the computer to a public area of the house?

      • Unfortunately a lot of the Social Services groups tell parents that their children should have a computer, a tv and a stereo in their bedrooms, away from the public areas of the house.

        I personally don’t agree with this and my children will not be having their computers in their room and their internet will be monitored as well. I trust my children, but curiosity will raise it’s head.

        No system is fool-proof and work arounds will happen quite quickly (I believe there are a number of them already in existence). We don’t need a nanny state, we need to educate people more on how to monitor their children’s internet and applying filtering software on their home computers rather than being like China and screening at the ISP level. This is also only the thin edge of the wedge for filtering, Family First has already stated that they are going to try and get more things added to the filter in a couple of years, where does it stop? Where do we draw the line in the sand and say no more?

        I say we draw the line in the sand right now, before it is instituted.

    • Dick,

      If you truly believe that this is about stopping access to CP, then perhaps I can interest you in a bridge near Kirribilli? There’s this music hall nearby I’d be willing to sell cheap too…

      It will not stop bad people being bad, nor will it in anyway impede their access to what they want to see. (Won’t stop kids seeing it either, most of them are smart enough, or have smart enough friends, to know how to bypass it).

      They are going to spend a whole heap of money that could have been used to fight CP, on a vote grabbing scheme that will achieve nothing.

      All it does is empower a new department of thought police to control what the voting masses are able to see.

      If you have any business interests with an online presence, the possibility of that presence (and maybe your business) being wiped out with one departmental mouse click just became very real.

      All a malicious person would have to do would be to start talking about something deemed “bad thinking” in a comment on your blog/review/feedback page, then let their local fundamentalist nut know about it.

      But don’t worry, governments have never got anything wrong. Ever.
      Corruption. Never happened, never could. Don’t even speak of it.
      Now don’t you worry about that…

      KRudd KRudd uber alles … dare we dissent?

  • Honestly I think we need to go back to old fashion people on the ground protests.

    Also since the State Governments are the ones charged with managing censorship, etc – we should be including them in our protests as well.

    Finally, if someone has the money and the time, launching a legal challenge based on the Federal Government stepping on the State Government’s toes as well as investigating if this is a breach of the UN Basic Human Rights that Australia is a Signatory of. Both of those would take a large fighting fund to research and lodge with the relevant courts.

  • I’ve heard the basic formula MPs uses is this:
    an email equates to 1 voter
    a (snail mail) letter equates to 10 voters
    a phone call equates to 100 voters
    a personal visit equates to 1000 voters

    At least that’s the general idea. The latter two are difficult to organise, particularly if your local MP has a portfolio, but worth trying to organise anyway.

    • Perhaps he even thinks the Government are going to control what he can and can not see, read or be informed about – without question or notification. Oh wait Dick, that’s what they are planning to do. This legislation doesn’t mean they will only block child pornography or illegal content, they can block whatever they damn well please.

      If you don’t care about your freedoms good for you, ignorance is bliss as they say – but don’t try to attack others with informed opinions on this issue, tends to make you look foolish.

      • Its actually not unnamed who is going to be in charge. The filtered list will be maintained by the classification board. A preliminary list was used for the trial of the filter. This said list got leaked to the internet and showed some legit sites that got caught in the process.

        You are right its not just CP, its any material deems to not fit the classification boards criteria (dubbed RC content). so this will be most types of exlicit porn, or material which would not be admitted through the classification system.

        This list however will be kept private and the criteria won’t be as easy to access as say a DVD or Game as there wont be a submission process. The fear being that its not hard for policitially unwanted material to appear suddenly on this list. I.e. public outcry causes a site to disappear, or some message that opposes a government view.

        Fear not though, during the trial the filter only stopped 16% of attempts to get around it 😉

  • They plan to implement this horrible filter and block legal material?

    All it will do is slow down Internet speeds, speeds which are already slow and expensive – in a time where the desktop begins to integrate with the web – they want to slow speeds.

  • I feel like the R-Rating for games being prohibited was just a stepping stone for this.

    That prohibition essentially stated “You cannot be trusted to police your children appropriately” and met with outrage only from gamers having their personal liberties denied.

    Thusly, without national opposition, they can say “Well then, since you agree you obviously cannot be trusted to police your children – or yourselves – on the internet. We shall police them/you for you.”

  • Every child will experiment. Didn’t we?
    Did we become morons or weird mutts ‘coz we felt our sex organ at a developing age?
    Trust your children to be responsible, speak to them truthfully.
    Our parents failed to speak to us on ‘sex’ ‘coz they were influenced by old ways of our churches.
    A home with centrally placed computer will be far more well informed — including ‘sex’!

  • For those of you at school, TAFE or university – talk to your teachers/lecturers/professors/whatever job title they have.
    It’s pretty likely that they already understand the technology behind the Internet well (if they’re in IT), and that they would be against the filter. Legal Studies/Law teachers would know about all the legal aspects too, and would understand the politics behind it.

    I know for a fact that most of the IT faculty at my high school are dead against it, for the sheer fact that they can’t see the point in having the Internet at all if access is going to be slowed so much.

    @Missy they are hard to organise and expensive nowadays. Public liability insurance is a pain in the butt, and local councils can be very recalcitrant when it comes to permits. With that being said, if you could get everyone to donate some money towards the permit and insurnace, it might work.

  • Never do I aproach children on FaceBook or look at child porn . There are plenty of naked ladies over 20 years of age for me to have a good time looking at . What worrys me is cencorship of truth , I deeply admire Ralph Nadar and Pauline Hanson and enjoy reading the New Zealand magazine ” UNCENSORED ” . And with Political Correctness gone mad the only laugh you can have these days are racist jokes on the internet ……. many of which are about Australian Aborigines . A policeman I know has told me plenty and it’s fun to see them on the internet . PS You’re not allowed to have a Gollywog .

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