Australia is to try the same whack-a-mole strategy to piracy that's failed in other countries, and let the content sector ask for court orders to block allegedly-infringing sites.
Because neither the federal government nor the opposition can muster half-a-yard of clue-by-four between them, the bill isn't going to be subject to a cost-benefit analysis before proceeding, cost recovery is still to be worked out, and it remains unclear how collateral damage (the blocking of innocent sites) is to be avoided.
Opposition to the bill by the opposition was always going to be muted since, as with telecommunications data retention, the Labor party had its own version of the legislation in the pipeline before it lost government.
If Australia's tech sector is paying attention, the lesson is clear: either get good at lobbying (unlikely since it's had 30 years trying and failed), or shut up and pray that government never tries to formulate any tech policy again.
Option two seems by far the best, because trying to get the attention of government is a vast risk to any business sector.
If you don't believe me, take in the statements made by the prime minister, Tony Abbot, regarding his determination to put an end to wind energy in Australia.
In a frankly-startling interview given to radio shock-jock Alan Jones, the PM said among other things:
- “What we've managed to do through this, admittedly imperfect ... is reduce the growth rate of this particular sector as much as the current Senate would allow us to do”.
- “What we did recently in the Senate was reduce, Alan, reduce, capital R-E-D-U-C-E the number of these things that we are going to get in the future.”
- “I would frankly have liked to have reduced the number a lot more.”
- And, in spite of there being no scientific research that wind farm noise endangers health: “I do take your point about the potential health impact of these things; when I have been up close to these wind farms not only are they visually awful but they make a lot of noise”.
It's one thing to believe that the government's decisions have nothing to do with evidence and everything to do with feelings, but it's rare to see it so clearly articulated from the very top.
That, tech sector, is how the pinnacle of government drafts policy – that, and the liberal application of donations and lobbying. And the content sector is still willing to out-spend Australian IT companies a hundred to one.
Do you want to be subject to the next breezy whim that turns the PM's head?
You're nuts. Barking, bonkers, foaming-at-the-mouth, tree-seducing, unicorn-riding insane.
Do you want to get a promise from government, only to find that it can't muster either the goodwill to get it through parliament, or the organisation to execute it?
You're nuts; see above.
If it has a spoonful of brains, the tech sector will hide under the table, make as little noise as possible, and pray that the government does nothing to try and formulate tech policy.
Far better to try and insulate yourselves from government, than to attract its gaze. ®