EXCLUSIVE: Aust Gov’t bans political comment on Twitter
RIP Freedom of Speech, Australia, 2013. A little known policy slips quietly under the radar in January 2012 as our friends at Twitter announce they will censor tweets, if a country’s government requests them to do so. A year later, Australia becomes the first modern democracy to identify, filter and ban free speech whilst not in a state of War.
In recent weeks, the censoring of tweets by Australian conservatives, or, indeed anyone who dares to either engage in political debate or offer opinion on the ruling Labor-Green alliance, has become so pervasive many have thought it was a bug with Twitter. You can read Twitter’s well hidden censorship policy here.
But now I can reveal that Twitter is actively censoring Australian tweets at the direct request of the government.
The evidence is in Twitter’s own censorship policy. Released to the press on 26 January, 2012, the company says:
Starting today, we give ourselves the ability to reactively withhold content from users in a specific country — while keeping it up in the rest of the world. We have also built in a way to communicate transparently to users when content is withheld, and why.
This was followed up, extensively, in on-line marketing specialist site MarketingLand (read the article) and tech guru site Gizmodo (read the article), but received very little main stream media play. Most probably because the limited imagination of journalists would not allow them to envision such a thing happening in industrialized democracies.
Australia, it turns out, has turned its back on the rest of the first world, deciding to embrace the culture of its banana republic regional neighbours, such as Fiji and Mobutu of the Congo.
Since I originally suffered suspension and the threat of being terminated by Twitter for asking a simple, open, non-abusive question of the Greens political party (read the story), literally dozens of others have come forward to tell of how they too have been suspended.
More common, now, is active “filtering” of content: where certain terms or certain tweets sent to certain people are banned from the Australian public.
And herein lies the definitive proof that the Australian Labor-Greens Government has requested this censorship.
The content is only blocked from Australian sites, and can be seen when viewing Twitter from the US or anywhere else in the world. This is exactly in line with Twitter’s publicized policy.
What is NOT in sync with this policy is that in the Australian context, the promised notifications to both the user and Chilling Effects (an independent copyright monitoring agency) is not being undertaken. Most, if not all, infringement in western countries relates to copyright infringements.
Not so in Australia. Here, the local Twitter representative (Mike Brown) and someone yet to be identified in the Australian Labor Government has been invoking political censorship.
The ramifications of this are beyond imagining. Literally.
Firstly, it reveals that an Australian Government has taken it upon itself to censor political commentary on a free and open platform. It has done this without informing the public, and, due to the fact Australian’s are not seeing the censorship notification, in contravention of Twitter’s own policy.
Secondly, it indicates that this is in breach of the rigid Australian privacy act and, possibly, the Wire Services & Carriage and also the Personal Surveillance laws which forbid eavesdropping or manipulation of a carriage service, even a private one, without a court order. Many recent court cases in Australia have enforced that the Internet, Intranets and Extranets are maintained under this law.
Thirdly, and most importantly, it is the manipulation of commentary and opinion with the express intent of identifying and neutralizing dissenting voices.
The same techniques used in Stalinist Soviet Russia, Nazi Germany and the dreaded Stasi.
Such a flagrant violation of basic human rights contravenes numerous United Nations conventions, and every known convention of the Australian one.
I fully expect that in the next few days or weeks, an Australian Federal Police officer will be knocking on my door, possibly to take me away for daring to speak against the Government.
This is not my country. This is no longer a country I even recognize. I wish it were not so, but the facts are evident.
Freedom has died in this country: it died not on the battlefields of the Somme or the muddy trenches of Villers-Bretonneux, nor on the desert sands of El Alamein, or in Auschwitz. Not in Pol Pot’s killing fields, or in the jungle of Long Tan, or the wind swept plains of Chosin.
No, our freedom was assassinated, quietly and ruthlessly, by a seedy Labor Party hack in the air conditioned confines of a Canberra office.
And the blood of those Australian that died on muddy, bloody, distant battlefields to keep all of us free today stains the hands of those faceless, gutless assassins.
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