Guide to writing letters to the government

So, you’re pissed off about Conroy’s idiotic mandatory “Clean Feed” Internet filter and want to tell him your thoughts? Perhaps you’re angry about the shambles in Copenhagen and Australia’s bully-boy attitude to some other counries? Or heck, maybe you just want to have a c’est la vent moment against the government in general because, like some of us, you’re over all politicians and the mandarins of the civil service.

Usually I’d bang out some snide email or fax to the minister in question, often with cc’s to other ministers and the PM to boot. I’m sure many of you have done the same.

Well, guess what – while doing that may help vent some anger, it is very likely that it won’t have much impact on the idiots in question. Sad but true.

If you really want to get noticed and cause a problem, follow Bernard Keane‚Äôs guide to writing to Ministers over at Crikey. It’s so essential for everyone to read this that they didn’t put it behind the pay wall. Excellent.

So, please go and read this now, learn its simple key points and then use them in all your letter writing to the Government. It’s time to make the bastards honest and do the work we elected them for (you know, listen to the electorate, think beyond their own selves, make decisions that are for the greater good rather than the next election, etc :)

Internet Filtering is just plain STUPID!

For those of you who may not have heard just yet, the Australian Government wants to filter the Internet. This is bloody ridiculous and makes them look even more idiotic than normal. Once again our government is pandering to the moral minority in an attempt to “protect the children.”

Why is it that we educate children about talking to strangers and safely crossing roads but when it comes to the Internet, our government goes straight to legislation and a filtering system? What guarantee is there that, once established, such a system will not be used to block opposing religious, governmental or sexual freedom sites? (answer = NONE).

The proposed filter will not work for a variety of technical, legal and ethical reasons. That our government is pushing this lunacy after so recently telling China to not be afraid of the openness of the Internet is pure hypocrisy.

If you are concerned about the impacts of this Australian Internet Filter (and you should be!) then get off your arse and do something about it. Don’t sit there and think “I’m OK, my views are aligned with the government” ‘cos they won’t always be (and may not be in ways that might surprise you). Don’t leave it to someone else to do make it happen for you. If you care about your freedoms, get out there and make your voice heard.

I called Conroy’s office (comms minister) yesterday and voiced my concern. I also sent him an email (see below) and cc’d it to Albanese (infrastructure minister) and Rudd (prime minister). Through this blog and others I’m involved in, I am getting the word out to people about this latest piece of governmental crud. Will you do the same?

Dear Senator Conroy,

I am writing to you as a concerned citizen of Australia. I am deeply worried about your proposed Internet Filter that I see as dragging Australia down into the depths of censorship along with China, Iran and other repressive regimes.

The proposed filtering system is broken in many ways, including functional (it will slow down packets, may break some applications and be relatively easy to work around), legal (there is no legal foundation for this) and ethically (your definition of questionable content no doubt differs from mine).

Further more, reports of your office attempting to silence critics of your plan leads me to question whether this filtering system will not be used to block other content once it is in place. Who will ensure that your office does not start preventing us from accessing reports that are critical of your government?

My son is allowed to use the Internet but I have taken steps to educate him about safe sites and the “dangers” of the ‘net, much as I have already educated him about walking down dark alleys and talking to strangers. We also have his computer in the lounge so we are aware of what he is doing online.

Why is it that we have education programmes for children about crossing roads and not talking to strangers but we have to have a “protection” system for the Internet. Education is required here, not legislation.

I have used the Internet for personal and business needs since 1986 in the commercial and human rights spheres. Never in all my experience would I have imagined a supposedly progressive, intelligent government such as yours even considering implementing a filter like this. This proposal is making you and your entire government a laughing stock around the world. If you really want to stamp out child pornography, don’t implement a broken, unethical filtering system. Instead, put funding towards those who track these sick people down (even when it’s discovered that they’re policemen, pastors or MPs).

To help you get an understanding of how impossible attempting to filter the Internet is, please check out this web cartoon from User Friendly.

As I hope you are realising, attempting to push this plan will make you appear an idiot and further erode support for your government. There are better ways to help the Australian people have a safer online experience and I strongly recommend that you and your government invest in them.

I am happy to discuss this further with you and help provide you with a better understanding of how the Internet works, why filters just don’t work and what I believe are better ways of addressing your concerns.