Can the blogosphere topple a government? Lets find out.
15Dec09

The Internet, Twitter especially, exploded with indignation today when the Australian government announced it will proceed with controversial plans to censor the Internet.

The Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy, said today he would introduce legislation just before next year’s elections to force ISPs to block a blacklist of “refused classification” (RC) websites for all Australian internet users.

While the Australian government may be proposing an Internet filter with the best intentions of protecting the youth of our nation against “immoral content”, most experts agree that this is easier said than done and could do more harm than good.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald:

An earlier version of the Government’s top-secret list of banned sites was leaked on to the web in March, revealing the scope of the filtering could extend significantly beyond child porn.

About half of the sites on the list were not related to child porn and included a slew of online poker sites, YouTube links, regular gay and straight porn sites, Wikipedia entries, euthanasia sites, websites of fringe religions such as satanic sites, fetish sites, Christian sites, the website of a tour operator and even a Queensland dentist.

The torrent of objection on Twitter has been nothing less than astounding. The #nocleanfeed Twitter hash-tag quickly started trending globally and many people started calling for strong action against the government.

As I type this #nocleanfeed is the third biggest topic on Twitter internationally. Nonetheless, it will likely spike for a short time in the aftermath of the announcement then fade away as we collectively settle down (and the US population wakes up tomorrow and takes over the Twitterverse).

But for me it does beg the question: could the blogosphere topple a government?

I’m no anarchist or political agitator. I rarely talk politics online but…Think about it for a minute? There are a LOT of educated, influential people blogging and tweeting in Australia. And these people reach a LOT of other people. The Australian media also love a great online story and are very active online these days (including Twitter).

The Australian blogosphere is in a position to spread the message about the Internet filter and reach further than the noisy geeks that make up most of its population. If we all made a BIG, BIG effort could we force change?

Or will we just lay down and take it?

I propose we take the fight to the government via the very medium it proposes to censor.

You can start by blocking @KevinRuddPM on Twitter. Tell him repeatedly how you feel. At the very least we could topple him from the top of Aussie Twitter.

Make sure that you consistently use the #nocleanfeed hashtag on Twitter.

And if you have any other great ideas that might help change the government’s mind, let us know.

Learn more about the No Clean Feed

Update Wed 16 December

More coverage here:

Do these people have no idea? The folly of the Internet filter Acidlabs

IN the name of MY children Tea Brennan

Report Card #nocleanfeed God’s Will

Australia 2.0: from cyber-safety to “clean feed” Public Opinion

Internet blackout to protest Australian Internet filtering Be the signal

No clean feed 2 Design 4 Learning

Kevin Rudd wants to filter your Internet Crikey

Australia plans to filter the Internet. Again Mashable (US Coverage)

Online protests begin to rage against RuddNet censorship The Orstrayhun

Posted under Online, Uncategorized, Weblogs

Written by Craig Wilson


14 Responses to “Can the blogosphere topple a government? Lets find out.”

My daughter and I have started an online petition on our blogs already. Could you please go and sign it.

http://somedaywewillsleep.com/sign-the-no-clean-feed-petition/

http://frogpondsrock.com/2009/12/sign-the-no-clean-feed-petition/

I don’t think blocking @KevinRuddPM is a good idea. I propose that we bombard him with @replies voicing our displeasure instead. I have made a new twitter list http://twitter.com/frogpondsrock/the-thought-police especially for Kev.

Comment by frogpondsrock on December 15th, 2009

The short answer: No. The limit of the blogosphere’s power was shown 3 years ago in the USA when ” Netroot” activists stopped Joe Liberman from being the official Democratic Party candidate for Senator in Connecticut – but he won the election anyway, running as an independent.

But we may be able to stop this censorship plan.

We won’t defeat it if we stay online though. We need to reach some of the people who agree with censorship and change their minds. We need rallies where hundreds and thousands of people can talk about how best to win. We need to explain to people that their only choice is to deal with the modern world and not hide from it, partly because useful guides like http://bit.ly/beatcensorship explain exactly how to get around attempts to control what we see.

Comment by David Jackmanson on December 15th, 2009

It will be interesting to see. Twitter is still exploding with indignation and there is a petition doing the rounds as well.

(Petition Link: http://bit.ly/7x9bHK )

Comment by Veronica on December 15th, 2009

[...] Craig Wil­son, who spec­u­lates the intel­li­gent folk of the Aus­tralian blo­gos­phere might just bring the gov­ern­ment down [...]

Comment by Do these people have no idea??—?the folly of the Internet Filter | acidlabs on December 15th, 2009

Wrote my first letter to a politician tonight. Conroy is the recipient. My local representative got one too. People in Victoria can call his electorate office directly on 1300 131 546 — then *he* pays for it? (Victorians only though).

Comment by Not happy Jan on December 15th, 2009

by all means try and change the government’s mind if you think it is bad policy.

In the grand scheme of issues facing the world I hope you will apply your passion to really first order issues like climate change tackling global poverty and the disgraceful failures of government policy in delivering housing and health services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

These are issues of life and death for real, not virtual people.

Please keep a sense of perspective and proportion.

Comment by Doug on December 15th, 2009

Doug, this is about a vital issue that threatens Australia’s very democracy and our right to freedom of speech and expression about all those issues you mentioned above, and get the opinions of others without being blocked by some filter, so that we can see alternate views other then the governments on issues like climate change. Australia is not China or Iran.

Comment by Julie on December 16th, 2009

Comment by guy on December 16th, 2009

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Comment by Is the Internet Filter Australia's Berlin Wall - GreenPassion.org - Dedicated to Medicinal Cannabis Cultivation and Education on December 17th, 2009

[...] Can the blogosphere topple a government? Hello there! If you are new here, you might want to subscribe to the RSS feed for updates on this topic.Powered by WP Greet BoxThe blogosphere may have reacted with the predictable explosion of outrage and vitriol at the announcement of the Government’s plans to filter the internet, but is Australia’s Twitter Army strong … Read More [...]

Comment by Can the blogosphere topple a government? | Twittermazing on December 18th, 2009

I think it’s very telling and coincidental that a few days after the Bilderberg meeting in Sitges with the global elite including many Telecomms companies CEOs and Media Moguls, there is a sudden concerted effort by the Pentagon to bring down Wikileaks.

Comment by James on June 14th, 2010

[...] The Australian government plans to introduce an Internet filter to “protect” us from the less morally acceptable material that can be accessed online. This is meant to refer to things like extreme pornography and militant bomb making sites. [...]

Comment by Is government censorship of the Internet inevitable? | Media Hunter on June 14th, 2010

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Comment by Internet – it’s a wicked world out there… « Melbourne Chatterbox on June 14th, 2010

[...] Wilson wonders can the blogosphere topple a government (or at least a [...]

Comment by Is the Internet Filter Australia's Berlin Wall | wikileaks on November 15th, 2011

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