Aussies hoping that their government might share a few details about its plans to store personal information on them will be a bit stunned to find that a key consultation document has been censored to the point of non existance ..
It seems the Australian government's obsession with censorship has forced it to cut more than 90 per cent of the words of a "consultation document" on web filtering. The report, which was obtained under freedom of information laws, was censored because the document could cause "premature unnecessary debate". In other words people might talk about the document and do something about it.
Call us mad, but we would have thought that was what a consultation document was for.
The Aussie government is consulting with the internet industry over a plan to force ISPs to store certain internet activities of all Australians, regardless of whether they have been suspected of wrongdoing. But all all the parties to the consultations have been sworn to secrecy.
So this document is not so much a consultation, as much as chatting to the "right sort of people" before we let the great unwashed know.
Attorney-General Robert McClelland denies that the plan could go as far as collecting the individual web browsing history of every Australian internet user. However the consultation documents is censored so no one can be sure of that.
The Attorney-General's Department legal officer, FoI and Privacy Section, Claudia Hernandez, said that the censored material was connected to material the deparment was "currently weighing up and evaluating in relation to competing considerations that may have a bearing on a particular course of action or decision".
"There is a strong possibility that the policy will be amended prior to public consultation," she wrote.
Surely the idea of the great unwashed having a point of view on something that will effect their daily life is a little important. Apparently not to Hernandez who said that the premature release of the proposal could, more than likely, create "a confusing and misleading impression".
What? Like your privacy is being sold down the river by a government which is hell bent on controlling its citizens by knowing every detail about them. Yes, we can see how that would confuse people when you are trying to appear to be nice.
She added such documents would not make a valuable contribution to public debate. We beg to differ - they are exactly the sort of documents that do create debate. It is just the sort of debate that the Aussie government does not want.
By the way you know when a ship in distress when it flies its flag upside down.