Filtering the Internet



I don’t usually get political on this blog. But an issue was been sneaked by the Australia public by the Federal Telecommunications Minister Stephen Conroy. Nice timing new year’s eve, when most people are not media focused.

Today it was reported on the ABCConroy announces mandatory internet filters to protect children. This is from the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.

Senator Conroy says it will be mandatory for all internet service providers to provide clean feeds, or ISP filtering, to houses and schools that are free of pornography and inappropriate material.

Okay the labor party did talk about this in their usual pre-election promises list. Most people expected it to be lip service only.

Filtering of the Internet is a very hard thing to do. If Stephen Conroy has found a way to remove the kiddy porn, then I’m behind him 100% percent on that issue. No question. I give no quarter with pedophiles.

However my main concern here is where does this stop. You will note use of “inappropriate material”. What is “inappropriate material” is that research on breast cancer or some such, is it political protests against China.

While you think on that, a number of questions for Conroy:

  1. Like Duncan Riley I have a concern as to who is going to pay for this service, will it be forced (legisilated) or be slid in as telecommunications policy for ISP’s forcing a flow on in pricing structures?
  2. What happens if you don’t sign up for the opt-in filtered feed, are we going to be automatically branded as pedophiles because we required an unfiltered internet to do our jobs?
  3. How’s it going to be administered, who determines what is appropriate? Sounds like this is going to be at Ministerial whim. This is not a good idea. Ministers often have purely emotional responses on this type of thing, especially inexperienced ones, there is just no accountability. Does Conroy and his advisor’s really know what is appropriate and not. Worse yet the list of what is appropriate maybe administered directly by the Australian Communications and Media Authority. Not going to take much to add to the list is it. Add a few fringe religious groups, maybe some sites protesting against a government policy.
  4. That brings me to the point, who is going to provide the list of sites to filter? ACMA, the public, the Australian Federal Police. Or are they going to use a blanket keyword filter?

As Kathryn Greenhill has pointed out this is as expected from an inexperienced Minister policy on the run. There is no official media release or any details of the policy of how it will work and how it will be controlled on the relevant government web sites.

So I ask this: “Conroy show us the detail of this proposal, not the spin”.

Want to ask him directly, here is his feedback form. Want to show support against this proposal in its current form there is a facebook group.

Funny how the Minister for the Digital Economy is not using the digital media to tell us of all this, that speaks volumes.

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