By Darryl Mason
If That Net Censor Guy, Stephen Conroy, wants to stop all Australians from visiting websites that sell games that are not allowed by law to be sold in Australian shops, Stephen Conroy will have no choice but to block web access to both Amazon and E-Bay, which ship thousands of R18+ games to Australian gamers every month.
Asher Moses :
The Federal Government has now set its sights on gamers, promising to use its internet censorship regime to block websites hosting and selling video games that are not suitable for 15 year olds.
Australia is the only developed country without an R18+ classification for games, meaning any titles that do not meet the MA15+ standard - such as those with excessive violence or sexual content - are simply banned from sale by the Classification Board, unless they are modified to remove the offending content.
So far, this has only applied to local bricks-and-mortar stores selling physical copies of games, but a spokesman for Senator Conroy confirmed that under the filtering plan, it will be extended to downloadable games, flash-based web games and sites which sell physical copies of games that do not meet the MA15+ standard.
Sites like Amazon and E-Bay.
That should go down well.
The average age of an Australian gamer is 30 years old.
Conroy should be careful. He doesn't want to get millions of Australian gamers and daily internet users offside anymore than he already has, particularly if an election is drawing near.
If the Rudd government doesn't already know this, they should, but they don't want to make internet censorship and the way they constantly fuck with gamers into election issues, because they can easily be made into Big Election Issues, particularly for Labor voters in their 30s and 40s.
The Greens already know this.
Likewise, Labor has to be careful in their plans to crack down on so-called online piracy and peer to peer file sharing. Cutting off the internet access of, or pursuing prosecutions against, some 40 year old single mother who downloads a digital copy of an album she has already brought on vinyl and/or CD will be the kind of Big Ugly that no-one in Labor wants to find themselves associated with.
They won't even have to go that far. There's a few hundred thousand Australians who regularly use file-sharing sites like The Pirate Bay, and they will be extremely displeased if there comes a day when they visit those sites (to download games that they're not allowed to buy in Australia) and they find that Stephen Conroy has blocked their access. Everyone will know very, very quickly that the Rudd government is responsible.
An independent running in the early 2010 federal election fighting against internet censorship and for the rights of gamers and file sharers, might find themselves a particularly large and surprising number of former Labor voters giving them the big tick.
That's if The Greens, by then, aren't already all over those fundamental issues of digital reality rights. And they probably will be.