Hey geeks, stop the whining and build a better filter
Computer nerds hate Senator Stephen Conroy’s plan to filter the Internet so that material which is refused classification (RC) becomes harder to access. But instead of moaning about how it might slow the Net or limit freedom of speech, they should just build a better filter that actually works.
Don’t doubt that geeks can do it. Napster, the late-90s phenomenon that shocked the music industry by enabling music piracy on a vast scale was written by a lone teenager. BitTorrent, the protocol currently used by millions of people around the world to share illegal copies of films and TV shows, was also created by a lone geek. Twitter was whipped up in few days of frenzied programming.
Sadly, some of the tools that geeks have created are now favourites of the perverts, criminals and hatemongers who want to access the vile material that Senator Conroy wants Internet Service Providers to block. Perverts uses these tools because they are far harder to detect than other methods of finding Internet nasties, leading to entirely justified criticism that the filter is a largely futile exercise that will drive creeps underground.
Critics are also right to ridicule Conroy’s very sketchy promise to create a mechanism whereby a secret blacklist cannot be abused by regulators who wish to block access to content they do not like.
But arguing over these niceties misses the point, because technology always moves faster than government. Any legislative response to a problem like RC material will therefore always be imperfect and inefficient.
Yet geeks seem to want to counter Conroy’s imperfect plan through a long, drawn-out fight in the slow-motion arena of politics. By doing so, they play by their enemy’s rules instead of playing to their own technical and creative strengths.
And that’s why I believe the computing community needs to drop its opposition to the government’s Internet filtering plan and get on with making a better filter that actually does the job of keeping RC material out. As Napster and BitTorrent demonstrate so amply, clever people with strong technical skills can sometimes create tools that tackle problems with wonderfully brutal efficiency.
So instead of complaining that Conroy’s laws are stupid or unjust, geeks should use their collective talents to make these laws irrelevant and obsolete. By building a better filter, and doing so faster than any legislator can ever hope to move, Geeks will erase their own objections to filtering’s many downsides and improve our community at the same time.
Read all about it
Up to the minute Twitter chatter
The latest and greatest
Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…
I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…
In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…