[Linux-aus] Seeking feedback - EFA Citizens Not Suspects campaign

Russell Stuart russell-linuxaus at stuart.id.au
Sun Jun 9 23:17:02 EST 2013

On Sat, 2013-06-08 at 11:06 +1000, Linux Australia Secretary wrote:
> From time to time, Linux Australia is approached by various
> organisations to seek support for campaigns or initiatives. Many of
> these fall into the category of grants and sponsorship - cf. the
> recent work we have been doing with the Australian Internet Governance
> Forum and GovHack. In this case, we've been approached to support a
> political campaign being run by Electronic Frontiers Australia called
> 'Citizens not suspects'. We warmly welcome the approach from EFA, and
> now would like to gauge community feedback to help guide our support
> actions. 

LA, is despite it's name, is Australia's Open Source peak body.  I am a
member of LA because of that.  If I was passionate cyberspace liberal
(in the sense of a John Stuart Mills liberal), then I would be a member
of the EFA [0].  When it comes to advocacy, I think LA and indeed the
EFA are more effective if they restrict their commentary to their core
principles.  So even if the LA executive believes most of their members
want to protect children, that isn't the reason they joined LA.  I'd
hope the LA exec would reject any approach by Brave Hearts to comment on
banning Simpsons cartoons.

A good illustration of why it is the recent IP blocking by the ASIC.  It
was roundly condemned by the usual talking heads, mostly banging on
about not how this was not only a block list, it was a secret block list
administered by anonymous bureaucrats who did own up when subjected to
an FOI.  The only problem will all those rants from the peanut gallery
is they were wrong [1].  The way to avoid this trap is to only comment
on things you are as expert in.  LA is populated by the countries
experts in Open Source.  It is not populated by experts in how law
enforcement agencies work.

In other words, if LA can link the EFA's "Citizens not suspects"
campaign to a statement about Open Source, then by all means make a
statement.  Otherwise avoid the temptation.  It's not that there aren't
overlaps between the EFA and LA where joining forces would be both
parties best interest.  DVD Jon demonstrated that, as does the Microsoft
EFI bootloader case, provisions in the TPP, patents - the list goes on
and on.  But in this case I've tried to find a firm link between Law
Enforcement Agencies archiving data and open source, and I can't see

And it's not like there aren't issues in the political arena LA could
issue public statements on.  The recent moved towards ODF by the Federal
Government [2] should prompt some comment, as indeed their rejection or
it [3] earlier should have.  I should not complain I guess, as I recall
the executive asking for a media representative earlier and I think it
remains unfilled.  Still, don't take the easy way out and let somebody
else do the work. Either do it yourself and ensure every public
utterance of LA is an worth listening to, or don't do it at all.

[0]  Well OK, I am a passionate cyberspace liberal, and so I am a member
     of the EFA.

[1]  From http://delimiter.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/transcript-ludlam.doc
     "ASIC had already blocked access to these websites. That is what
     the press release said. They indicated on 22 March that they are
     blocking access to these websites."  Translation: before the ASIC
     blocked Melbourne University, they has issued a public press
     release saying so.  Whether the ASIC should be engaged in a nanny
     state like activity of censoring Australian citizens from sites the
     government believes are illegal, like this scam site or euthanasia
     is valid question.  My point is I don't believe it is in LA's
     best interests to engage in a debate about that question.

[2]  http://agimo.gov.au/2013/05/28/views-sought-on-annual-review-of-the-common-operating-environment-policy

[3]  http://broadcast.oreilly.com/2011/01/australian-whole-of-government.html

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