Last week’s decision to cancel laws aimed at controlling commentary on forums in South Australia seemed like a sensible move to most Lifehacker readers, but that doesn’t mean it was universally welcomed. Does the rejection of the law mean there’s an Internet double standard?
Mark Day pushes that argument in an opinion piece for The Australian, suggesting that the law merely would have made the Internet subject to the same rules as everywhere else. The fact it has been shouted down means, he says, that the “Internet generation” now wants a massive double-standard in place:
It is apparent the standard of the net generation is that imposing limits on what can be sold in a newsagent or a sex shop is acceptable, but imposing limits on anything to do with the net is not, especially if it can be cast as censorship.
The big flaw in this argument is that it presumes that there was already a consistent model in place. Of course, you don’t have to look any further than how computer games are rated to realise that inconsistency in these kinds of regulations is rampant (and that it doesn’t necessarily favour the users of advanced technology). Nor does Day remotely address the fact that censorship laws for the Internet would be entirely different to other media, since the list of what is banned would itself be banned material.
More generally, while there’s no doubt that consistency would be a worthwhile goal, that doesn’t necessarily override the notion that introducing a law that can’t be enforced serves no useful purpose other than wasting parliamentary time and government money. From that point of view, Day’s piece doesn’t seem like much more than “damn these young Internet whippersnappers” trolling.
Net-gen forces state-sanctioned double standard [The Australian]