Arizona -(Ammoland.com)- -I have been writing while traveling about Australia. While working on an article, I searched for AR15 style pistols. The search found the information I wanted to access on ar15.com. I attempted to access ar15.com, but repeatedly received the error message:
It seemed odd. I contacted a source I have in Australia, and asked them to see if they could access the site. They verified the lack of access and more. They sent me a link to a news article about telecommunication companies acting in concert to censor information from Australian customers. From smh.com, 21 March 2019:
Dozens of websites have been blocked this week in an effort to stop the footage being shared, including 4chan, gun websites ar15.com, bestgore.com, zerohedge.com, liveleak.com, darkweb.tokyo, anonfile.com and lulz.com. These sites are being unblocked when the video is removed.
Telcos typically do not have staff moderating content or websites and usually block websites only when provided a court order or given instructions by government agencies. Mass blocking of websites by internet providers to stop the sharing of a piece of content is highly unusual.
While telcos were yet to be shared an agenda or detailed information about the plan for the Tuesday roundtable, multiple businesses said they hoped it would bring clarity about the government's expectations about how they would react to any terrorist material being shared widely in future.
In this case, the censorship was of the video of the Christchurch terrorist attack on Muslims at mosques in New Zealand.
Ordinarily, it is governments who have been considered as those promoting and relying on censorship to preserve their power. In the United States, the government is prohibited from censoring the media, although censorship has been rigorously enforced during wartime.
The control of information is power, significant power to shape opinions and control options through the control of information.
This case illustrates that censorship need not be a construct of governments if there is ideological conformity in a few telecommunication companies.
Further investigation revealed that in April, the Australian government passed a bill (Criminal Code Amendment (Sharing of Abhorrent Violent Material) Bill 2019), which gives government sanction to the actions of the telecommunication companies.
Now, ar15.com is banned in Australia, along with several other channels that provide alternate information sources. These include 4chan, 8chan, and LiveLeak.
Australia does not have a bill of rights. Freedom of speech and of the press is not guaranteed but is mostly upheld as traditional by the courts.
New Zealand has an official government censor.
In effect, Australia and New Zealand have freedom of speech that the government allows. Governments do not like the idea of their subjects having access to unapproved information. The Australian state, New South Wales, has banned information on how to make guns.
The United States need not feel much superior. In the United States, freedom of speech is under attack as “hate speech.” If speech that offends can be censored, there is no freedom of speech.
Speech in the United States is not legally allowed if the speech is promoting a violent overthrow of the government, pornography, libel, or slander.
About Dean Weingarten:
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30-year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.