This election, online issues finally got the attention they deserve. And the situation is here to stay.
I’m not talking about which party had the most Facebook followers or made the most gaffes on Twitter. (Julia Gillard and Family First, respectively). Serious issues around internet governance and our internet future came into play, and by all accounts will continue to be significant as the situation plays out this week.
The first issue that affected the election Labor’s mandatory internet censorship policy, which is 3 years old and counting. Throughout that time, I believe the accepted wisdom amongst the scheme’s proponents – the most notable being of course Senator Conroy – was that it would be unpopular with a handful of geeks but would appeal to the wider audience of mums and dads in the electorate.
If this was indeed the strategy, I think it backfired. Although it’s based on mainly anecdotal evidence, I believe many internet users had their political consciousness awoken by this attempt to slap censorship on the country’s net connections. When this issue was important to people, it didn’t just put them slightly off-side, but made them hopping mad if not lifelong skeptics of the ALP. Over time I have spoken to MPs and parliamentary staffers of all stripes, and I’m pleased to report that many people did indeed contact their elected representatives and let the opinions be known. For some MPs, this amounted to a veritable flood, and the issue was absolutely on their radar…