The Great Australian Internet Blackout WordPress Plugin

Normally I stick to posts about science and technology on this blog. Like most Australians, I vote in elections, try to remain informed, but otherwise stay away from getting involved in politics. However, occasionally certain things become important enough issues that they need to be advertised more widely.

As you may know, the Australian Federal Government is attempting to censor the Internet within Australia by forcing ISPs to block a list of websites. This proposed internet filter will not be optional; it will effect all Australians, and the blocklist will compiled by a small group of people. The list of blocked sites will remain secret, so the Australian public will find it difficult to determine if this power is being abused. It will not prevent the spread of illegal material, which is typically shared via peer-to-peer networks that will not be blocked by the internet filter. If it is not already self evident why this approach to internet censorship is both an ineffective, a waste of resources and a potential threat to the freedom of information flow required for a healthy democracy, you can read more at the Great Australian Internet Blackout site and the Electronic Frontiers Australia site.

The Great Australian Internet Blackout is a combined online and offline demonstration against this imposed online censorship. For one week – January 25-29th – Aussie websites will “black out” to inform an even wider audience about the threat of imposed censorship.

This is what it looks like right now. I'm guessing that on January 25th something exciting will appear inside that popup box !

This is what it looks like right now. I'm guessing that on January 25th something exciting (or educational) will appear inside that popup box !

I’ve created a simple WordPress plugin that makes it a little easier to participate in the demonstration and spread the word. It uses the ‘blackout.js’ script written by John Ferlito to display a popup box that tells the user about the Great Australian Internet Blackout, while “blacking out” (significantly darkening) your website in the background. Once the user closes the box things go back to normal – it uses cookies so they only see the popup once.

Download the Internet Blackout WordPress Plugin

(version 0.9, md5: 16522abb4d492f445a4c5ffccd845c73 )

git rm path-of-file-to-kill

Install it as you would any other simple WordPress plugin – eg, unzip the archive in your wp-content/plugins/ directory on the server. Also, online demonstrations are all well and good, but that shouldn’t be where it ends. Finish the installation by Contacting your Member of Parliament.

This is my first WordPress plugin, so it may be sub-optimal (or even contain bugs !). I’ve put the Internet Blackout plugin  source on Github so that programmer-types can fix it, if need be.

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