Saturday, July 25, 2009

Political letter - freedom questionnaire

Dear Mr. Georgiou,

I am a constituent and I would like to know what are your plans for
tackling the federal government's plans for instituting a mandatory
internet filtering scheme, which would unnecessarily restrict the
freedoms of all of our citizens, without achieving its stated aim of
stopping child pornography.

I have many issues with the proposed plans:

  • I am a software engineer, and it is my professional opinion that the filtering scheme will not work.

    • It will only block a small subset of the ways that people communicate on the internet.
    • It will cause paedophiles to resort to more secretive ways of communicating and will therefore result in them being harder to catch.

  • It will restrict freedom of expression
    • The secret list of blocked sites, which has been leaked already, contains sites that have nothing to do with child pornography.
    • Some of the sites, such as anti-abortion sites and
      pro-euthanasia are clearly on the list for political reasons, which
      leads to the assumption that sites could be blocked based on the
      political belief of the party in power on any given day.
    • The majority of people, who will not know how to get around the
      filters, will feel a chilling effect due to the possibility that
      upsetting the wrong person will cause their site to be made
      inaccessible to the public.
    • In the cases where sites are made inaccessible, it is blatant censorship.

How do you feel about each of the points raised here?

Where do you stand, in general, on the topic of human rights, and
specifically freedom of speech? Where do you draw the line? Most people
agree that yelling "fire" in a crowded theatre should not be protected,
due to the immediate harm it could cause. People vary on what hate
speech should be allowed. Others believe that anything controversial,
or anything that disagrees with their personal beliefs should be
banned. What do you believe?

What are your core beliefs around the right to privacy? Some people
believe that we should always have the right to be left alone, and that
only with a court order, issued on the grounds of probable cause,
should anyone from the government be able to infringe on that right.
Others believe that any official should be trusted, no matter what, and
that they should be cooperated with, independent of whether they have
cause for a given investigation. Where do you stand?

Benjamin Franklin is often quoted as saying: "Those who would give up
Essential Liberty to purchase a little
Temporary Safety deserve neither Liberty nor Safety" and security
expert Bruce Schneier often speaks about the concept of security
theatre, which is where security procedures are put into place without
regard for their effectiveness, in order to maintain an appearance of
safety. An example of this is at one of the London airports I have
travelled through, there was a procedure where:

  1. People put their belongings, excluding shoes, through the x-ray machine.
  2. People collected their belongings
  3. Some people were herded through to have their shoes x-rayed as well.

To most people, it would seem that this allows suspicious-looking
people to have extra screening in case something is hidden in their
shoes. In reality, however, anyone trying to do anything nefarious, who
might have been caught by having their shoes screened, would just take
anything bad out of their shoes and place it in their luggage at step 2.

How do you feel about security theatre? Are you happy enough for people to lose some freedoms, not be any safer, but feel safer, or would you oppose such measures?

If you think that airline security measures are reasonable, and
considering that many aeroplanes hold no more than a crowded bus, and
far less than a train, would you ever consider instituting the same
kind of screening on those modes of transport as exist on aeroplanes?

Do you believe that people have inalienable rights?

If so, what do you think they are?

I would like to know your opinions, and how you would vote on related
issues, because I have not lived in this area during an election, and I
would like to know whether your beliefs will conflict or align with
mine, and therefore, whether or not I should vote for you at the next

Thanks for your time, and I look forward to your answers.


David Crafti

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