Monthly Archives: June 2011

United States policy is at odds with Australian politics.

The United States government is funding the development of systems that will allow citizen in foreign countries to evade government internet censorship. However meanwhile in Australia the government is moving ahead with it’s draconian plan to censor the countries internet service. So we are left in an interesting situation where our own government is gearing up for a massive assault on our human rights while an allied nation is seeking to develop tools to mitigate such an attack.

THE US Government is reportedly financing the development of “shadow” internet systems to enable dissidents abroad to get around government censors.

Financed with a $US2 million ($1.9 million) State Department grant, the suitcase could be secreted across a border and quickly set up to allow wireless communications over a wide area with a link to the global internet.

So how will this work with the proposed internet censorship here in Australia. Will we be able to import this technology from the US to help Australian citizens evade the governments censorship?

You would think that with all that’s been going on in the middle east recently, that our government would be taking a pro-democracy and pro-freedom of speech stance. Unfortunately it is not and senator Conroy remains as committed to the filter as ever. How can our government persist with it’s ideology of censorship and control while one of its closest allies (at least in the public spotlight) is developing tools to thwart such control.

The United States stance against internet censorship is incompatible with Senator Conroys desire for control. Is it wishful thinking for me to hope that the United States will take an agressive stance against this policy?

SensaSlim sues Dr Ken Harvey

SensaSlim a highly suspicious product has recently caught my attention after news of a lawsuit being filed against Dr Ken Harvey.

Dr Ken Harvey, adjunct senior lecturer in the School of Public Health, La Trobe University, and a regular campaigner against nonscientific products and services, has been put under great personal and financial pressure by a ‘SLAPP’ suit (a strategic lawsuit against public participation) over a complaint he has made concerning a slimming product.

Dr Harvey complained to the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) over promotion by SensaSlim Australia Pty. Ltd. for its weight-loss product that uses a spray to supposedly ‘desensitise’ taste buds and reduce hunger pains. The promotion claims that a research study of over 11,000 people had substantiated the company’s claims for the product.

Australian Skeptics

SensaSlim is suing Dr Harvey for libel because he dared to file a complaint against them with the regulator. The beauty of this is that the Therapeutic Goods Administration is powerless to investigate the complaint while it is the subject of a lawsuit. This means that SensaSlim can continue flogging it’s questionable product without intervention from the TGA so long as they can keep this lawsuit alive. You have to wonder why SensaSlim would be afraid of a complaint if their product works as claimed.

A Current Affair recently ran this storey about SensaSlim. It’s definitely worth watching.

Australian Skeptics is currently running a pledge drive to support Dr Ken Harvey should the need arise.

Dr Harvey is a particularly busy activist against dubious claims by suppliers of self-proclaimed ‘therapeutic’ goods, in particular those associated with weight loss. Over the last few years, all of his complaints to the Therapeutic Goods Administration and assessed by the Complaints Resolution Panel have been listed as justified. He is also a self-confessed “stubborn bastard”.

In support of his action, Australian Skeptics has instituted a program for individuals to pledge financial support for Dr Harvey should it be required. Anyone interested in pledging support should write to, with their name, phone number, and how much they are pledging.

Australian Skeptics has undertaken this pledge drive because we are concerned at the burden put upon one who has continually called to account those who promote and sell unproven and disproven products that have no basis in science. The suggestion that Dr Harvey could be stymied by such promoters and sellers’ resorting to legal action, and thus protect them (if even for a short time) from due process, must be countered at every opportunity. Australian Skeptics

This is about more than just shonky products, this is also about Freedom of Speech because SensaSlim are attempting to silence criticism with a lawsuit. If SensaSlim were to win such a lawsuit it would have devastating consequences as it would mean that criminals and frauds are now free to sell bogus products without fear of reprisal. Nothing enforces self censorship better than a lawsuit.