Why a combined online and offline protest?

It may seem cheesy to turn your website or profile picture black for an online protest, but it can form a part of a good online and offline campaign… and that’s what we’re aiming to do with the Great Australian Internet Blackout.

The New Zealand Experience

In early 2009, many Internet users in New Zealand turned their websites and profile pictures black to protest a proposed “guilt upon accusation” copyright law (Section 92A), providing massive online support to the broader Creative Freedom Foundation campaign. Plenty of others around the world also participated.

The most important bit: New Zealand media took notice, bringing a level of awareness to an Internet / copyright / online rights issue that would otherwise never have materialised. Ultimately, the new government chose to review the entire bill, and while the issue is still being fought, at least one battle was won… and now, there are more people informed about the issue to keep fighting.

Our Turn

Now it’s Australia’s turn, because our own government has adopted a terrible policy of mandatory Internet filtering based on a secret blacklist. A technical report about the feasibility of the filter has just been released, which (on first glance) appears to validate the policy against technical challenges, and the government has announced that it is pursuing the policy to legislation.

We’re not suggesting that turning stuff black will have a direct impact on government policy… However, we can use online protest actions to increase awareness of the problem, and help those attempting to fight the good fight offline.

If news outlets — including talkback radio, breakfast news television and newspaper editorials — note that “Australians are turning out the lights in protest against the government’s Internet filter”, that’s awareness value we’d never be able to raise by marching in the streets alone.

Remember

This is only useful as part of a broader campaign to raise awareness of the issue and pressure politicians to put a stop to this filter. That’s why we’re supporting offline efforts such as EFA’s No Clean Feed and GetUp!’s Save the Net campaigns.

The best thing? Write in your own words by snail mail, call by telephone or meet with your local MP.