Q and A from my thoughts on the internet filter

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010 @ 11:21PM

With parliament back in session I have been able to continue my conversations with my Labor colleagues about my ideas for improving our internet policy by introducing a ‘mandatory choice’ (providing an opt out for adults and businesses) approach to the proposed mandatory filtering on RC classification content on the internet.

My understanding is that the bills are not going to be introduced this week and next week is Senate Estimates so it will probably be in the following sitting fortnight in February or later in March.

Once again thanks to those who have taken the time to make considered contributions to this blog on the range of complex issues that form part of the debate around this policy. I have tried to keep up with the conversations and am ever grateful to Pia for helping clarify issues as they emerge.

With this in mind I thought it would be helpful to try and do justice to the specific questions put to me via the blog over the last month or so. I am very conscious that in doing so I will probably generate more contention so I urge that you view my responses in the spirit they are given: Trying to clarify misconceptions about the policy, its origins and attributes and at the same time describing how my preferred approach of an opt-out could assist addressing the concerns conveyed or implied in the questions. There are some I don’t have the detailed information on and will, as Pia has said, refer them to the Minister. As always, let me know your thoughts.

Kate

UPDATE: Please note, all the questions below have been put to Senator Lundy through the comments on the previous two blog posts she has posted: My thoughts on the Filter & Further thoughts on the Filter

Is Senator Lundy for or against a filter and why?

I do not believe a mandatory filter will achieve the policy goals stated and I agree that mandatory filtering creates an issue around free expression and business confidence. However, I know there are many Australians, particularly those with children who would choose a filter option given the choice and I think the low uptake of such filtering solutions in the general community to date has largely been an issue of education and that people have to know the option exists to seek it out and enable it through their ISP. Unfortunately we currently have quite a low level of technical knowledge in this country and it has been very disempowering for many parents who want to know what to do.

I believe that the best path forward is one of mandatory choice where as part of their normal interaction with an ISP all subscribers are provided information about filtering so they can make an informed choice (to filter or to not filter), and at that point we have a fantastic opportunity to provide further information and resources about general Internet safety best practices. This option ought to be changeable at any point and re-asked at subsequent service renewals.

Why does Conroy keep on saying that Australia will be like other democracies who have a filter like Italy and Finland however fails to mention to the public that those countries have an opt in filter not mandatory.

Italy is the closest to the proposed model, as it is mandatory, is filtered at the ISP, however the scope is limited to child pornography. Below is a brief outline of what is happening in some other countries compiled by Liam Tung from ZDNet (ref). The information was compiled from the NSW Parliamentary Library Research Service paper on Internet Censorship and Mandatory Filtering which is a useful reference.

  • In Norway and Sweden, the ISP filtering of all child pornographic material had been implemented at Telenora from 2004. Other ISPs had not followed suit.
  • Since 2005, Germany imposed filtering requirements on search engines rather than ISPs.
  • Italy had passed a decree in 2007 which required all ISPs to block access to child pornography websites within six hours of being notified by the National Centre against Child Pornography.
  • Attempts in the US to extend the Child Online Protection Act, which requires federally funded institutions, such as libraries and schools, to block material that is harmful to minors, have been contested on the grounds of free speech.
  • New Zealand’s ISPs voluntarily filter content and those that do tend to market themselves as family-friendly. David Cunliffe, the relevant Minister in the outgoing New Zealand Labour Government, said New Zealand would not be following Australia’s mandatory ISP filtering scheme.

Why can’t Senator Lundy just cross the floor on this issue?

As a Labor Senator, I am bound by the Caucus decision unless a conscience vote applies under our Federal Labor Party rules. In practical terms this means I can work internally to try and convince my colleagues and gain Caucus support for changes to policy, whatever the outcome I am part of the Labor caucus and we vote as one in the parliament.

For all the criticism this model attracts, I believe that it usually works quite well and has contributed to the achievements of the Labor Party in over century of participation in the Federal Parliament.

Why are websites on abortion, euthanasia, sites where gay people can talk about their sexuality/problems etc are being blocked?

The current proposal is for RC content to be blocked, and what falls under the RC category is determined independently by people with experience, with additional transparency and accountability measures to be applied. As previously noted, my view that there ought to be an adult opt out would resolve these concerns.

Does the Government have any evidence that inadvertent access to refused classification material is an actual problem? Is there any evidence that “inadvertent access” to refused classification material causes lasting harm to either the viewer of such material or to society at large? Where is the evidence that implementing this sort of filter will make the Internet “safer” for children? Or anyone for that matter? Given the enormous amount of focus on protecting children was there a study that conclusively proves that internet filtering will protect or save children? A clarification on how will the filter go about and protect children would be appreciated by the tech community.

As an elected representative I receive a lot of correspondence from people who are concerned about their children using the Internet and accessing (purposefully or by accident) inappropriate content.

There is research that talks about the long term effects of child exposure to violent or graphic sexual content. However, I am unaware of any study that looks specifically at the long term effects of content that is specifically Refused Classification in Australia. (please post any useful references if you have any). And we can’t forget the Hamilton – Flood Paper from Feb 2003.

  • UPDATE: I have referenced the Hamilton paper because at the time it was released it had a big impact on the thinking within Federal Labor.  Labor had maintained a stance of opposing mandatory internet filtering (I was shadow Minister for IT throughout this period) It was in the term following the 2004 election, when I was no longer the shadow minister for IT,  that Labor’s policy changed to one supporting mandatory filtering. The Hamilton report assertion the technical capacity to filter was now feasible made a significant contribution to Labor changing its policy in my opinion.  That said I need to acknowledge Michael Flood has since clarified his position and I think Hamilton has been trying to explain himself too.

For general interest, we found one research literary review that spoke about the known negative effects of children’s exposure to violent and graphic media (not limited to the Internet), but also showed through analysis that family engagement in how children use the Internet reduced such exposure and potential negative effects. Children’s Exposure to Internet Content: Effects of Family Context, Chang-Hoan Cho & Hongsik John Cheon, 2005.

Why is Labor pushing for a broader Internet filtering solution when the NetAlert program had such low uptake? Why not just stick with an opt-in system?

The low uptake of NetAlert was a sign of its failure as a policy to protect children, and indicates that more effective policy is needed. There are many Australians who are completely unaware of the ‘scheduled filter’ or optional filtering that all ISPs are currently required to provide (see page 2, NSW Parliamentary Library Research Service paper on Internet Censorship and Mandatory Filtering). So basically the “pull” or opt-in approach to Internet safety when presented passively and with poor promotion is seen as being failed policy.

I think creating a ‘mandatory choice’ (of a filtered internet service or an open internet service) to all Internet subscribers along with supplementary education information about Internet safety addresses the issue of saturation by raising the level of awareness for all Internet subscribers. It gives them the information they need to make an informed choice about their particular circumstances, and arming them with other information that will help them create a safer environment if they have children in their care.

Will the filter give parents a false sense of security in protecting their children?

I think there is a risk of this, yes. Note the Government has always promoted this policy as paart of a suite of measures designed to improve internet safety.

Why did the Labor policy change from an optional clean feed in the last election to a mandatory clean feed? (Ref: http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2007/12/31/2129471.html). My computer is not used by children, Australian or otherwise, and is not public. Why will my connection be censored?

The policy is mandatory for everyone and although the documentation and some media reports available from 2007 specifically mentioned children, it was always meant to be mandatory for everyone. It has been a point of some debate that the policy has changed in the last couple of years from opt-out for adults to mandatory for everyone and my second blog post reflected on the how the policy was expressed in media reports around the time of the last election.

In this regard I need to take issue with the way Crikey reflected on my view about this in their article http://www.crikey.com.au/2010/02/02/filtering-the-facts-conroy-slips-up-when-hitting-back/ It is important to me to clarify that the policy was always intended to be mandatory and it would be disingenuous of me to suggest that it wasn’t.   Most of the confusion stems from media reports of references by the Minister to adults opting out but these were in relation to earlier consideration of an additional aspect of filtering for X classified content, for which adult consumption is not illegal. There were other media reports that referred to an adult opt-out without the full context and I am frankly not surprised there has been some confusion (as the example in the question clearly demonstrates). The clarification by the Minister that the filter would only apply to RC removed the need to make a distinction of an adult opt-out component. Here are some additional media references that will hopefully clarify this point. Note the link may not be able to supply the actual article.

Australian, IIA ready for new internet censor battle, 19th December 2007 “Senator Conroy said that if elected, Labor would introduce laws requiring ISPs to provide “clean feeds”.”

Herald Sun, Porn filter may slow internet. 31st December 2007 “Under the plan, all internet service providers will be required to provide a “clean” feed to households and schools, free of pornography and other inappropriate material. Any internet users who want to “opt out” of the clean feed will have to contact their ISP.” (Senator Conroy)

Courier Mail, Opinion: Nanny Rudd censors net. 1st January 2008 “As the then Labor opposition’s communications spokesman Stephen Conroy said in August: “We have an opt-out provision, so for X-rated (content) they can opt out, but for child porn and violent sites, they’re completely blocked, there’s no opt-out.””

Canberra Times, Opinion: Beware creeping wowserism in internet controls. 2nd January 2008 “Conroy said. “We will work with the industry to get the best policy. Labor is committed to introducing mandatory ISP filtering.”

Stephen Conroy came out on radio and stated that he will be filtering individual urls, which means page by page. Please confirm?

This is correct. It is not necessarily ‘blanket’ blocking entire websites, but rather specific URLs/pages that are classified RC. Some sites may be completely blocked if they are all RC.

How will the lack of an R18+ classification for games be impacted by the filter policy?

This issue is already being looked at, and a public consultation was launched December 16th 2009. Submissions close 28th February 2010 so make sure you get in and help finally resolve this issue. http://www.ag.gov.au/www/agd/agd.nsf/Page/Consultationsreformsandreviews_AnR18+ClassificationforComputerGames-PublicConsultation

When will the public see a copy of what actual legislation is being proposed?

This is a question best answered by the office of Minister Conroy, however I expect it will be late Feb or March.

What I would like to know is, how do you think you and the previous government differ in your attitude to participatory democracy?

I think this question, while asked within a forum on Internet filtering is a much broader question. In terms of participatory democracy, this government, some departments and agencies have worked hard to improve participatory democracy through better consultation, online engagement, collaboration on policy development and much more. The Gov 2.0 Taskforce launched by Minister Tanner and Minister Ludwig at my Gov 2.0 Public Sphere event last year was a great success and yielded a report that starts to build our path forward to more openness, accountability, transparency and engagement in government. Our Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd has on many occasions spoken about the importance of open government, and I have been working on public engagement projects. All of these initiatives will hopefully lead to many more opportunities for participatory democracy. I am actually very proud of the steps we have made as a government, but also keenly aware of the concerns people have expressed that this mandatory filter policy seems to contradict our commitment to pursuing open government. I hope through my proposed amendments to ease these concerns and enhance our overall commitment to openness and transparency in government.

As Pia said Kate “intends to bring these concerns to the attention of her colleagues.” How? When? Kate, can you please provide an update on your response to Labor’s Internet censorship plans? The lack of response from local MPs and relevant ministers, apart from copy-and-paste press release style emails, is deeply worrying. Is there nobody in the Labor party even slightly concerned about the proposed legislation?

I have already started taking my ideas to my colleagues, and as I’ve said, plan to amend our policy through our internal Labor Caucus processes. You can be confident that the lobbying efforts of all sides of the debate have created awareness about this issue.

Could you tell me whether the one-sided response on this forum is an accurate reflection of public feeling as perceived by your office (and indeed Senator Conroy’s) in general, or are you receiving thousands of snail mail letters saying “please censor the internet” that those commenting on this forum are not aware of?

About ½ of the correspondence I’ve received on this topic has been pro-filter, and ½ been against.

UPDATE: Please note, this statistic refers only to the letters and emails I have received which has totalled about 110. The 800+ comments received on the three related blog posts on this website have been overwhelmingly against the filter, with less than 2% being pro filtering. We can’t judge the technical knowledge of contributors and it would be inappropriate to publish the letters/emails of people without their consent. The letters/emails against the filter have generally been more detailed and referenced.

Why not make the RC content list absolutely public? Why the blacklist have to be kept secret? Wouldn’t it be more beneficial for it to be open and widely available so the concerned parent can check for themselves whether their ISP do the proper job of filtering those nasty sites. It will also give parents the opportunity to implement the filter in their own home network and get alerts everytime the children tried to access the site on the filter so they can actually educate the children.

If the list is public it would mean the government is publishing web site addresses that may be for illegal content. While not all RC is illegal, this is not appropriate for government to do which is why the Minister is going to such lengths to improve the transparency of the management and maintenance of the blacklist. I acknowledge much of the concern relates to the secrecy of the blacklist and the nature of the internet filter:  if its filtered, we just won’t know it exists and there will be none debate of the nature that occurs about books, films that constitutes an ongoing check and balance on the community standard of what consitutues RC. Again, an opt out for adults removes this concern and creates a public check and balance for the application of the RC rating in the internet filter.

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    129 Comments to "Q and A from my thoughts on the internet filter" add comment
    Anthony_
    February 2, 2010 at 11:29 pm

    What are you views on the fact Conroy is not being honest with the public regarding the trials?

    http://www.bigfooty.com/forum/showpost.php?p=16794645&postcount=832

    “These problems were fixed by the URLs being removed from the trials for the affected filters. So yes, the Minister was truthful when he boasted of the 100% accuracy rate. It was just 100% after the URLs that didn’t work were taken out.”

    Michael Cordover
    February 2, 2010 at 11:46 pm

    Senator Lundy, I am once again impressed by the way you have handled this issue. Your statements are always comprehensive, calm and clear. I am still in vehement opposition to the filtering plan as it stands. Despite this, I really appreciate the work you are doing on this issue and the stream of communication you have maintained with the #nocleanfeed crowd, even when it gets ugly.

    Trevor
    February 2, 2010 at 11:46 pm

    Could you tell us who will be deciding what gets blocked? Not just the name of a panel, but who it is made up of and what qualifications they have to be making these decisions for me? Thanks.

    Ken McMaster
    February 3, 2010 at 12:15 am

    Senator Lundy,

    You say that you “receive a lot of correspondence from people who are concerned about their children using the Internet and accessing (purposefully or by accident) inappropriate content.”

    Please advise whether you receive correspondence from people worried about their children accessing RC material only. Is this “inappropriate content” they speak of regular, legal pornographic/violent material that is not RC and will not be blocked by the filter any way?

    If your correspondence is related to such content that the filter won’t address, it is ridiculous to use it to support the proposal.

    Ken
    February 3, 2010 at 12:22 am

    I, as a web publisher, can circumvent the filter for all of my readers. They don’t need to use a VPN, they don’t need to install any special software. It will just work.

    Given that any web site operator is likewise able to produce ‘unblockable’ web sites, effectively rendering filters useless, how do you justify the expense of this plan?

    (For more information about how such publisher-level circumvention can be achieved, you’re welcome to contact me.)

    Sandra Watson
    April 4, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    Dear Ken..I read your comment with agreement and interest. I would like to know how to circumvent this proposed “Filter” in the way you suggest.
    I am a normal sensible, everyday Australian. It is deeply disturbing to me that such a half witted proposal by this man Conroy,can find it`s way to legislation.We here in Australia suffer from “Too much government” and said proposal is another example of this. Freedom, is such a hard won and fundamental pillar of a Democratic Society.
    The “Arguement” for making a start at chipping away our freedoms is of the usual half baked and ill conceived variety.It is the lazy mans dangerous way of thinking: We are all potential Pornography and Violence viewers on the Internet.It is the same thinking that bans a parent from occasionally giving a child a little smack on the bottom.It doesn`t address the fundamental truth that the vast majority of parents are patient and caring and will never become child beaters..There is a small minority who are abusive and whatever laws a government brings in will never stop those people. It never has and it never will.It is the same on the Internet. Those who want to access that sort of thing will continue to do so,including young people who probably already know how to circumvent this filter. As to children “accidently” coming upon a Pornographic site, I have never in the 20 years of being an Internet user “accidently’ come upon such a site. Have you? none of the people I know have either..
    Anyway thank you and I look forward to hearing from you
    Sincerely
    Sandra

    Justin
    April 5, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    Sandra,

    Don’t make the mistake of thinking this is Conroy’s proposal. It is Rudd’s, Conroy is merely the delivery boy.

    - Justin.

    Irene
    February 3, 2010 at 12:30 am

    “always meant to be mandatory for everyone”

    Since when has “always meant to be” equated to what’s written in media “reports” after a Party has been elected to government, rather than what was stated in official Labor Party pre-election policy?

    Mark Newton
    February 3, 2010 at 10:47 am

    Indeed.

    One can see how it was “always meant to be mandatory” by reading the announcement of the policy from the Beazley opposition when it first came onto the scene.

    The announcement has been scrubbed from the ALP’s website, but the Internet never forgets:
    http://web.archive.org/web/20060422120043/http://www.alp.org.au/media/0306/msloo210.php

    As you can see, the policy document said its justification was to “protect kids from internet pornography,” and that ISPs would be “required to offer a filtered `clean feed’ internet service to all households, and to schools and other public internet points accessible by kids.”

    The “clean feed” system would “prevent users from accessing any content that has been identified as prohibited by the Australian Communications and Media Authority,” referring to the existing definitions in section 20 of Schedule 7 to the Broadcasting Services Act — The same URLs which ACMA provides to the IIA Family Friendly Filter vendors, the same URLs which appeared on Wikileaks on 19 March 2009.

    The policy also said, explicitly, “Through an opt-out system, adults who still want to view currently legal content would advise their ISP that they want to opt out of the `clean feed’, and would then face the same regulations which currently apply.

    That doesn’t look like “always meant to be mandatory for everyone” to me; It looks like the ALP’s official platform prior to the last election was for an optional system, with “… the same regulations which currently apply…” for people who didn’t want to use it.

    Right, Ms. Lundy?

    In 2007, five days before the election, the “Labor’s Plan for Cyber Safety” document was released. It was a fact sheet which tied together lots of pre-existing but notionally unrelated policies into one bucket, and it referred to the same language used in the 2006 policy document. “Required to offer”, “prohibited”, “households, schools and public internet points.” The 2007 document wasn’t a new policy, it was a restatement of the 21 March 2006 policy that had already been released… You know, the explicitly optional one.

    In December 2007, after the election, Conroy confirmed its optionality:
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2007/12/31/2129471.htm
    “Senator Conroy says anyone wanting uncensored access to the internet
    will have to opt out of the service.”

    So:

    * A year before the last election, the ALP brought forth an optional filtering policy

    * Five days before the election they confirmed it

    * A month after the election Conroy confirmed it again

    Then some time during 2008 the policy changed, and now all of a sudden it was “always meant to be mandatory.”

    Bovine excrement.

    The ALP’s currently policy is a breach of an election promise:

    * It no longer aims to “protect kids from pornography,” because it makes no attempt to stop X18+ and R18+ porn.

    * The promise was for optional filtering of ACMA Prohibited content for children; Now it’s mandatory censorship of RC for adults.

    * It’s no longer optional.

    Please reconcile this, Ms. Lundy: How does an official ALP announcement prior to the last election which says, “Through an opt-out system, adults who still want to view currently legal content would advise their ISP that they want to opt out of the `clean feed’, and would then face the same regulations which currently apply,” translate into, “always meant to be mandatory”?

    – mark

    Kate Lundy
    February 3, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    Hi Mark (and all),

    I am trying to clarify the intent of the policy, whilst also acknowledging that how it has been expressed and reported may not have closed down expectations that there would an opt out when it there wasn’t. In relation to your request to reconcile my comments on the “optional” vs “mandatory” nature of the original policy, even the very line you have quoted is consistent with my assertion.

    The policy also said, explicitly, “Through an opt-out system, adults who still want to view currently legal content would advise their ISP that they want to opt out of the `clean feed’, and would then face the same regulations which currently apply.”

    Note they could still view “currently legal content”, inferring they still could not view “illegal” content if they opted out. There is some inconsistency even within this given the second part of the sentence. I recall at the time it was a demand to the Minister to clarify what was meant by “illegal content” and this was resolved when RC was identified.

    In addition, in clarifying the intent, I am not trying to attribute fault or saying the public should have always been crystal clear because obviously there has been cause for confusion as any quick read of the assembled media will show.

    The real issue is there is serious opposition to Labor’s policy as it is currently expressed and I will be approaching the challenge of amending it within our Caucus processes on the basis of the policy as currently expressed.
    For you to continue to explore the evolution of the policy through an analysis of statements or media report there-of since the policy was released to build a case for changing the policy, ignores the substance of the arguments against it, which are built on principles of openess and freedom. I wouldn’t have a chance of being successful if my arguments were based on a theory that the Minister had somehow pulled off some slight of hand in defiance of the party’s policy and it is just not the case.

    It is fair to assert that Labor should stick to the election promise that was communicated, but the problem is it was communicated a number of ways, so asserting that Labor should stick to one version of the election promise communicated just because it is the preferred version is not nearly as powerful as simply putting forward what the policy should be.

    I am working on amending the policy within Labor to one which better satisfies the policy goals of child protection (through active engagement of the community and education), satisfies the concerns of free speech (by protecting the openness of the Internet through a legitimate choice not to have a filter) and satisfies the concerns of the business community (by not forcing use of a filtered service which they fear will affect speed and hence suffer economically and competitively).
    Kate

    Ben
    February 3, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    Kate, with respect to pushing for a policy which better protects children online, then the government already announced it – ISP filters for ISPs which are persuaded to offer a filtered service.

    The government can focus on that, emphasise this policy, and then sell that to the electorate. There’s just no need for mandatory censorship for adults, when they already announced a policy directed to children. There’s the ‘election promise’ right there.

    Sure it’s not mandatory for ISPs, but it’s a lot closer to the ‘election promise’ than the policy everyone here has problems with.

    tardis_42
    February 3, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    Thank you Kate for participating so openly in this discussion – It’s a breath of fresh air compared to Senator Conroy’s repeated pronouncements and protracted silences.

    No, clarifying “illegal” as meaning “RC” does not resolve the question. “RC” as I’m sure you’re aware, is not the same as “Illegal”. RC is a *Much* broader range of material – material which would be illegal to *publish or sell* _if_ it was a film (as that is the classification guidelines used for internet content). This is considerably more restrictive than if the filter was only proposed to block material which it is illegal to *view* – a category of content which is basically only Child Pornography (despite Senator Conroy’s continued and frankly ridiculous assertions concerning first “Prohibited” then “RC” to the same effect “Our proposition has always been a modest one – to block child pornography”) as in basically every other democratic country held up as an example by both Senator Conroy and yourself.

    the continued confusing of RC as Illegal, (which at the beginning of this debate even had Senator Conroy making statements to the effect that “prohibited” = “illegal”!) represents in my view a continuing tactic of spin, which does not endear me to ever vote Labor again.

    Your continued engagement on this topic, however, gives me at least *some* hope that there can be at least some continued discussion on this and other issues.

    Mark Newton
    February 3, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    Hi Kate, thanks for getting back to me.

    You’ve said “even the very line [I] quoted is consistent with [your] assertion,” and highlighted “currently legal content” as the limitation on optionality. But even your own blog post points out that “currently legal content” falls within the gamut of the RC content which the ALP wants to block, so perhaps both of us are unwittingly supporting the other :-)

    Pointing out that the current policy is a violation of an election promise isn’t only highlighting poor communication, it’s also part of a wider interplay about the ALP’s bad faith over several years of progressing this policy.

    No matter where you look, the proclaimed benefits of this policy are completely made up, the suggested justifications are based either on unfounded superstition or downright fabrication, and the testing that Conroy spent most of 2008 and 2009 telling us would determine the outcome of the policy was actually a heavily politicized grandstanding exercised designed to produce a predetermined outcome.

    We’re not talking about mere differences of opinion here; We’re talking about no-nonsense facts which the responsible Minister has knowingly refused to take in.

    (and he isn’t exactly helping himself either: http://www.crikey.com.au/2010/02/03/conroy-weve-didnt-claim-filtering-was-a-silver-bullet-solution/#comment-56615 C’mon, he’s just taking the piss now, isn’t he? He can’t seriously believe any of what he’s saying anymore, can he?)

    Anyway, in one sense it’s fascinating to hear about how the policy has evolved, and the processes within the party that have driven it.

    But on the other hand it’s monumentally disappointing to see that movers and shakers within the ALP are so gullible that they’ve actually been taken in by all this stuff. I mean, how silly do they feel about nailing their colours to the Hamilton/Flood thing? And do they have any attacks of internal credibility over the not-bothering-to-test-faster-than-8mbps thing? Or the easier-to-bypass-than-netalert bit? Not even a slight bit of cognitive dissonance over the we-promised-it’d-be-optional-before-the-election thing?

    Not even a bit?

    I really want my political leaders to be smart, and where they aren’t smart I expect them to consult with smart people so that they can come out with smart outcomes.

    And despite your admirable efforts on this blog, there’s very little evidence that that’s been happening with this policy.

    I really hope I’m wrong about this. Best of luck with anything you can do to fix it. There are so many issues out there where judicious intelligence is required. If caucus has enough random ignorance in it to make up a majority that lets something as crazy as ISP censorship go through, we’re in a whole heap of trouble.

    – mark

    Beste
    February 3, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    Kate,

    I think you might be suprised by what recently happened to Michael Atkinson.

    http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/victory-atkinson-loosens-gag/story-e6frea6u-1225826104175

    Hopefully, he also change his mind on the R18+ games issue.

    Almost Anonymous
    February 3, 2010 at 4:21 pm

    A thousand thanks, Mark, for being consistently sane and sensible about this, and for keeping up the good fight despite the dirty pool of some players. I marvel at the calmness of your words when all the words I can think of using are profane.

    You have done me the service of highlighting the underlying cause of my anger and dismay: this policy is so clearly and obviously bad and yet so tightly clutched to the bosom of Labor that I must conclude that idiocy and insanity are prime ingredients of the Labor mix. If one has proof that madness or maliciousness are inextricable qualities of a political party, how could one in good conscience support ANY of their goals? As one who used to support Labor, this is a bitter pill indeed.

    Steve
    February 4, 2010 at 1:34 am

    Some consistency please Kate!

    Near the end of your blog post you write

    “While not all RC is illegal…”

    yet in your response to Mark Newton you reiterate the quote

    “Through an opt-out system, adults who still want to view currently legal content would advise their ISP…”

    and then continue…

    “I recall at the time it was a demand to the Minister to clarify what was meant by “illegal content” and this was resolved when RC was identified.”

    So is all RC material illegal? You say no, and then you say yes — which is it? And if all RC content is not currently illegal, shouldn’t we (as your quoted clarification by the Minister seems to suggest) be able to opt out of its filtering?

    You also reference claims that associate children’s viewing of violence with poor future outcomes (yet precious few linking the viewing of RC material). If the viewing of violent content is less controversially linked with poor outcomes, why doesn’t the government act on that? Why indeed are the current censorship rules written to allow far more violence than sex? Is it inconsistency or hypocrisy?

    Pia Waugh
    February 4, 2010 at 6:58 am

    Hi Steve,

    Please note, the quote you are using is not from Kate, but from the Labor statement issues by former ALP leader Kim Beazley as per Mark’s comments. The link he posted (just after the quote) for your reference is http://web.archive.org/web/20060422120043/http://www.alp.org.au/media/0306/msloo210.php

    Cheers,
    Pia
    Office of Senator Lundy

    Steve
    February 4, 2010 at 10:08 am

    Odd that I can’t reply to your posts Pia, however I’m sure you’ll figure out which one I’m replying to.

    You note in your reply to me that:

    “Please note, the quote you are using is not from Kate, but from the Labor statement issues by former ALP leader Kim Beazley as per Mark’s comments.”

    I am very much aware of that. That is exactly why I noted that Kate was “reiterate[ing] the quote”. I was not suggesting they were her words.

    Let’s look at a wider quote of what she says to put it all into context shall we:

    [quote]

    In relation to your request to reconcile my comments on the “optional” vs “mandatory” nature of the original policy, even the very line you have quoted is consistent with my assertion.

    The policy also said, explicitly, “Through an opt-out system, adults who still want to view currently legal content would advise their ISP that they want to opt out of the `clean feed’, and would then face the same regulations which currently apply.”

    Note they could still view “currently legal content”, inferring they still could not view “illegal” content if they opted out. There is some inconsistency even within this given the second part of the sentence. I recall at the time it was a demand to the Minister to clarify what was meant by “illegal content” and this was resolved when RC was identified.

    [end quote]

    Kate is pointing out that even this quote suggests that the previous (but apparently unchanged) policy would prevent the viewing of illegal content. And she equates this with RC, because Stephen (in one of his many policy-on-the-run statements) said that the filter would now only include RC material.

    However, as many (including Kate — AND THIS IS MY POINT) have pointed out. RC includes material that is currently not illegal. Kate herself, on this very page, says “While not all RC is illegal, …”.

    Hence my call for consistency. Pia, please ask Kate whether all RC is illegal. A yes or no answer will suffice. Better yet, get her to ask Stephen (good luck on that).

    If all RC is NOT illegal (and we know that this is true) then the filter is proposed to block material that is currently legal. That cannot be reconciled with policy which states that adults would still be able to view “currently legal content”.

    Pia Waugh
    February 4, 2010 at 11:13 am

    Hi Steve,

    Ah, I understand you. In relation to RC, Kate knows it is not all illegal in all circumstances, and doesn’t equate illegal with RC. The point you are drawing from was from a quote many years ago, and I was making the point to Mark that it was not clearly a full opt-out statement. From what I understand the policy around that time changed to be about RC content when the Minister was pressed to define “illegal content”. There appears to have been a shift (from pornography, to illegal content, to RC content) when you look back through the official statements, but that is not to say that RC and illegal content is the same. We can agree that the interchangable use of these terms at times has been problematic, as has been much of the messaging on this policy over the years.

    Cheers,
    Pia
    Office of Senator Lundy

    Mark Newton
    February 4, 2010 at 11:41 am

    Hang on, Pia/Kate:

    That just isn’t credible.

    The explicit statement from the 2006 policy announcement was that those not using the “clean feed” would, “face the same regulations which currently apply.”

    Not, “a different set of regulations which blocks material that some bureaucrat has decided is illegal.”

    Not, “a different set of regulations which blocks RC.”

    No, it was, “the same regulations which currently apply.”

    You can’t possibly look at that in 2010 and tell me that the policy has ALWAYS been mandatory, non-opt-out ISP censorship. That’s a concept which didn’t appear in any public announcements at all until it was hinted at in the July 2008 Enex lab trial press release from Conroy’s office, and expanded upon by his long-suffering media contact in response to questioning from Darren Pauli in October 2008.
    http://www.computerworld.com.au/article/263637/no_opt-out_filtered_internet/

    This isn’t a mere “inconsistent messaging” problem. It’s a problem where the actual explicit statement of intent from the ALP in 2006 was “the same regulations which currently apply.” How can that imply anything else?

    – mark

    Pia Waugh
    February 4, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    Hi Mark,

    The concept of mandatory has appeared many times before 2008, as a few of the media clips and media releases Kate already linked to showed. Plus, surely as a member of the party throughout that time she would be in a good position to clarify what the intent has been. Surely you can’t imply anything about the intent of the policy when the intent has been communicated directly to you.

    She has also acknowledged that the communication has been inconsistent. You are taking the top and tail of the sentence from 2006 whilst ignoring the “currently legal content” part of it, keeping in mind the language at the time was about illegal content rather than RC. The sentence *in itself* is inconsistent and when there has been so much inconsistency in the messaging, picking certain parts to make an argument defeats the purpose of acknowledging that the inconsistency has been a problem.

    Cheers,
    Pia
    Office of Senator Lundy

    Steve
    February 4, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    Pia, you can’t point to media clips and releases when we point to your policy documents, then point to your policy documents when we point to Stephen’s or Kate’s own words.

    One has to be right — and that’s the policy document, right?

    Or is the Minister making policy on the run?

    Or is he totally flummoxed and just says what seems will get him out of trouble at the time?

    You assure me that Kate knows that not all RC is illegal, yet you continue to equate RC with illegal by suggesting that Mark Newton was somehow ignoring the phrase “currently legal content”.

    Either RC is ALL illegal (and both you Pia and Kate acknowledge that it’s not) or you’re supporting the notion that the filter block material which is “currently legal content”.

    Pia Waugh
    February 4, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    Argh!

    OK, as I said in the comment to Mark, the policy at the time of the comment that had “currently legal content” was talking about illegal content and was *before* the whole RC content blocking bit was added to the policy. It was a single old comment from 2006, and only relevant in that Mark was trying to use it to say that Labor had not always had a mandatory filter.

    All she has done (and I’ve tried to point out) is that yes there are inconsistencies. It feels like violent agreement :)

    Cheers,
    Pia
    Office of Senator Lundy

    Steve
    February 4, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    Aah, so you’re saying that you and Kate agree that Conroy’s current position of filtering all RC content is against the ALP’s policy as it was going into this election?

    Mike Atkin
    February 3, 2010 at 12:59 am

    Kate,

    There has been much discussion about this over recent months in my workplace tearoom with, for what it’s worth, both men and women present. Someone asked me a question a while back. I couldn’t answer it so maybe you can:

    Q. The planned filter will block “fetish” content. If there is a depiction of a consenting couple indulging in some “fetish” activities would there be a difference if:

    a) It was the real thing.

    Or:

    b) A staged scene.

    Both images would look identical. An analogy would be, say, a TV crime drama that includes an actor being “killed” compared to a footage of a genuine murder. The latter rightly wouldn’t be shown but cop dramas, war films, westerns and so on depict acts of violence and death every day on our TVs. How does the censor board intend to differentiate between fact and fiction when both look identical in a photograph?

    Lastly, opt-out is not an option. People will just bypass the filter rather than add themselves to a “porn-lovers” list.

    Almost Anonymous
    February 3, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    I agree that “opt-out” is not a solution. “Opt-out” will disappear soon after the infrastructure is in place. The imposition of censorship is the goal, “think of the children” is the excuse, and “opt-out” is a sugar coating that may get it past non-thinking people.

    Just ask yourself: how long will it be before the AFP asks for and receives a list of all “opt-out” people? Just to check on them, of course. A handy use of the recently expanded internet snooping laws. Demanding your rights is just an excuse to hide deviancy, isn’t it? They’re bound to catch SOMEBODY up to no good who opted out, and that will be the kernel of the next irrational moral panic.

    No central filter is the only rational result. Any filter that is not controlled 100% by the end user is unwarranted government interference in our personal lives.

    Mike Atkin
    February 4, 2010 at 9:20 am

    I couldn’t agree more. In any system with options, voluntary opt-in should always be the default.

    bookbuster
    February 3, 2010 at 1:07 am

    Is your statement regarding the R18+ games consultation paper indicative of a commitment by Federal Labor, should the consultation paper indicate a need and desire for it, to find some means to override the State Censorship Ministers and forcibly introduce an R18+ classification for videogames? At present, the introduction of such a rating requires the unanimous agreement by the State Censorship Ministers, one of whom, South Australian Attorney General Michael Atkinson, is long-standing and very public opponent of any such move.

    If Labor is not committed to forcing the introduction of an R18+ rating then it must answer the question of R18+ games and the filter before the legislation is presented. Aktinson, you see, considers the paper itself very biased, and says he is “unlikely to change his stance soon.”

    Tony
    February 3, 2010 at 1:18 am

    Hi Kate,

    Thank you for your reasoned responses under difficult circumstances.

    A few points:

    The example of the proposed Italian legislation is a telling one. Under Berlasconi’s notorious media ownership dominance and consequent position to manipulate public opinion amongst the poorer and less educated it is hardly a democratic ideal we should aspire to.

    Your receipt of roughly 50/50 pro and against correspondence is interesting. With due respect to the democratic process it would be interesting to see what levels of technical awareness the ‘against’ group have demonstrated in their support of the filter. The opposition is a loose coalescence of socially/technically aware persons drawn together by an inherent distrust of being manipulated by populist rhetoric masking more dangerous/ignorant precedent. Many pro positions I have seen tend to be influenced by the generalised catch phrases of some fundamentalist lobbyists and ‘family’ orientated individuals and groups who tend to dismiss the technical aspects as being insignificant or pro filter bluster.

    Interesting that Mr Atkinson has tonight bowed to media and public outrage at the imposition of an embarressing assault on personal freedom by flawed legislation supported by the opposition at the time. Its not really that hard is it?

    It may have ‘always meant to be’ mandatory in cabinet, the cloistered halls of the big house on the hill and in media releases ignored by the media. Sure wasn’t obvious to this little lifelong Labour Party supporter who is strongly considering signing up with the reviving Democrats purely and simply on this matter of principle.

    Good luck in your ongoing battle to revise the most abhorrent aspects of this plan, and thank you for standing out as a beacon of disclosure and fair debate.

    Remember, roast lamb tastes nice, is supported/consumed by a large proportion of the population and gives a warm sense of relaxed contentment. It may also contribute blockage of arteries, weight gain and issues of the heart. I would prefer a choice re consumption despite the commercial pressure to consume! Now you know I’m right, don’t you!

    Eddie
    February 3, 2010 at 1:41 am

    Legislatively mandated optional filtering is a bad idea due to the “voluntary today, mandatory tomorrow” trigger that would hang over it. Not to mention some technical problems caused by filters will still be prevalent.

    The whole filter policy needs to be dropped, full stop. It’s damaged Australia’s image and reputation, and has caused nothing but embarassment and humiliation for Conroy and the Government. The embarassment and humiliation will continue if the policy is implemented due to filters’ shortcomings, Conroy & the Government’s technological incompetence (Conroy can’t even set up a simple digital TV box), and the fact that filters can be bypassed in seconds (thereby making an absolute mockery of the policy).

    Conroy’s despicable behaviour has done the policy no favours either, so it’s no wonder people have no faith or confidence in it.

    MS
    February 3, 2010 at 1:42 am

    It is wonderful to hear that there is a Labor MP opposed to this mandatory filtering plan. Please give it your all in convincing your colleagues to follow suit.

    I’d like some clarification on the topic of whether RC is illegal. I understand that it is illegal to sell/hire RC material in Australia but it is not illegal to own or view RC material. Is this correct? If so, then how can ‘free’ RC material (that is, not sold/hired) online be subject to those laws? It would require a rewriting of the laws saying what can be done with RC material, wouldn’t it?

    Deciding whether a site should be blocked or not based on RC is highly concerning, given the apparently arbitrary decisions that the OFLC have made in the past. Repealed decisions or allowing video games (that really should be adult-only) to be shoe-horned into an M15+ rating just because there is no R18+ rating seems to mock the entire system.

    The recent claims by the ASP that the board have refused classification for female ejaculation videos (based on scientifically incorrect assumptions), or that they have banned pornographic depictions of small-breaseted women because (despite them being over 18) they *could* be construed as child pornography shows that the classifications board can be flippant, wrong and contradictory. They also seem to change what should be classified RC based on their very vague guidelines. Could a filtering list even catch up with such frequent and sometimes incorrect definitions of RC?

    Martin
    February 3, 2010 at 2:09 am

    Thanks for the frank answers to these questions. I wish Conroy would engage as honestly as you do.

    Brian
    February 3, 2010 at 7:31 am

    Kate, while I understand that you believe that the Labor Government believes that it is serving constituents well by mandating an ISP level ‘clean feed’ (which may be opted-out of by those who don’t want it), the technical reality is that filtering accomplished at the ISP level is much more easily circumvented than a filter installed on the PC that children will use.

    While the home PC-based NetAlert software was famously circumvented by Tom Wood, that was made rather easy for him by a poorly configured PC with an easily guessable ‘administrator’ password. If that machine had been configured intelligently, Tom would have had significantly more trouble disabling the filterware.

    With ISP level filtering, all one need do is use any sort of proxy (i.e. Tor or web-based proxies) to access the blocked material, which is not only a very trivial thing to do but the technique is already common knowledge amongst teens who want to circumvent school network blocks on Facebook, MySpace, etc.

    Worse, many (if not most) of the free ‘MySpace’ proxies you can find through a simple Google search are ‘honeypots.’ Unscrupulous free proxy operators harvest usernames and passwords that are run through the system and exploit them to take over the Facebook, MySpace, Gmail or even internet banking accounts which are accessed through them. Free proxy sites also can serve up malware, installing trojans, keyloggers and other nasties on machines which access the proxy site, exploiting kids’ general ignorance of these hidden technical threats.

    As such, ISP level filtering both will give parents a false sense of security that children are actually limited from accessing age-inappropriate material and through honeypot and malware exploits, cause more problems than they solve.

    Yes, asking parents to install local PC filtering software yet leaves filtering as an optional choice and requires a VERY small amount of technical know-how, but it remains the best way to limit access to age-inappropriate material.

    A yet better way to deal with kids accessing inappropriate material is to put the home PC in a common area of the household where parents can visually monitor what they’re accessing. Superior to the visual monitoring solution is to install monitoring software which allows parents to inspect a browsing history, even if the history has been deleted from the web browser by the kids.

    At the end of the day, ISP level filtering, whether a mandatory choice when setting up an ISP account or not, is inferior in every possible way to filtering and monitoring applications installed on the local PC.

    Alex
    March 7, 2010 at 11:08 am

    Thanks Brian, good points well made.

    Geordie Guy
    February 3, 2010 at 8:29 am

    Quote: “Why are websites on abortion, euthanasia, sites where gay people can talk about their sexuality/problems etc are being blocked?

    The current proposal is for RC content to be blocked, and what falls under the RC category is determined independently by people with experience, with additional transparency and accountability measures to be applied. As previously noted, my view that there ought to be an adult opt out would resolve these concerns.”

    Senator, you haven’t answered the question, you’ve just expanded on it. I understand this is a pretty common thing in politics but YOU ASKED YOURSELF THE QUESTION. It’s pretty silly to avoid yourself isn’t it?

    Why ARE the parts of the very wide RC classification which are not illegal for adults to view being blocked? Why is material that is not out of line with community standards set to be blocked?

    Keep in mind the answer may include who decides what is blocked and what their experience is as you’ve already stated, but needs to address WHY, which you haven’t.

    Richard
    February 3, 2010 at 8:35 am

    Hi Kate,

    I notice you quote the Flood report as evidence for why internet censorship is needed – yet Michael Flood himself has come out against internet censorship:

    http://newmatilda.com/2009/06/05/original-net-nanny-advocate-does-back-flip

    It hardly seems like Michael Flood literature is any reason at all to base your filtering policy on.

    Richard

    Dave H
    February 3, 2010 at 8:43 am

    Kate,

    Glad to see someone is thinking about these issues and i find it unfortunate that the labor caucus would stop you from moving with common sense and your conscience on this issue.

    I would ask for comment on the following:
    a) The false sense of security this provides. Not with regard to content blocking, but to virri. I have met and spoken with numerous people who believe the filter will block viruses. As this will block the content some virri serve (porn popups). Will the government officially clarify this? As this misconception would make for a serious security breach and could potentially cause more harm that the filter is aimed at stopping.

    b) Refused Classification material blocking.
    I would point out that given many websites are based within the US, and the united states having significantly different content laws many US websites that serve a broad range of content would be blocked. Current cursory evaluation suggests that Google would be blocked (for its caching feature, video feature and image feature) along with popular video and image crawlers such as YouTube.

    The easiest way to explain this is that all these sights actively serve content that is RC within Australia, for example movie ‘Ken Park’. Along with this social sites such as Facebook would not be obliged to comply with the same laws regarding content and could be serving similar content – say a ‘Ken Park appreciation page’ which displays material that is RC.

    This would mean that all these popular sites, Google, YouTube, MySpace, Facebook even Wikipedia (graphic depictions of Abortion, Gay Rights, Euthenasia, Drug Use Methods) would be RC and then Banned.

    If these sites are excluded then the legislation serves no purpose but to impinge on freedoms of non-select groups as has been stated, as it does not fall upon all equally. Has your government considered this? What are your responses to this issue? Will the government consider that these extremely high traffic business sites actively and by aim designed to serve content which would be RC under Australia law and censoring in the manner proposed would certainly require them to be blocked.

    An internet with no Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Google or Wikipedia is an internet without content.

    c) As has been stated by all, the recently published technical reports were run on speeds BELOW what is currently available from ISP’s and SIGNIFICANTLY BELOW what is expected to be provided by the NBN. Does the government wish to hobble Australia’s technological growth and the NBN it has proposed? Will there be a response to the short comings of the technical appraisal?

    d) Finally, someone has mentioned democracy. The ideals of a system of majority rules. Where elected officials are required to have the best interest of those they serve.

    Given that you as a minister have severe doubts and the learned community (IT Professionals, ISP’s, relevant industry analysts and relevant psychologists) all agree that the filter is a miss-step and the large majority of the population is against it why will you support it? This outcry has not come lightly and the Senator responsible (Conroy) has been tight lipped on responding to these issues and normally comes back with sound-byte and hyperbole (“Its for the children, anyone who is against it is against children”) not answers.

    If you will not cross the floor and follow your conscience then please, tell us which labor Senators and Ministers of the Caucus need convincing so that we as Australians can remind those ministers of the views of those whom they serve.

    Basically Kate, since you cannot be moved, lets us move them to you.

    All i would ask is answers to these questions. If you can answer them honestly then you would allay the fears of many and dispel common misconceptions. I am sure everyone would also support you in a move to change the direction of the Labor Caucus and you would be applauded if you were to cross the floor in a move of conscience.

    Stuart Anderson
    February 3, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    Point b) could logically be expanded to any site or service that includes user generated content – eg. On YouTube, it wouldn’t merely be the actual video that required classification, but all the comments on the page as well. Since RC books are publicly documented, one would merely need to post an offending excerpt from one as a comment response to a perfectly innocuous YouTube video, report it to ACMA, and then wait for the page to be blocked. The scope for abusing the system is huge.

    Russ
    February 3, 2010 at 9:08 am

    Kate,

    There were many Australian, also those particularly with children who were able to chose to use the free filter put in place by the previous government.

    Fact – They weren’t interested in it.

    Cameron Watt
    February 3, 2010 at 9:32 am

    “This is correct. It is not necessarily ‘blanket’ blocking entire websites, but rather specific URLs/pages that are classified RC. Some sites may be completely blocked if they are all RC”

    Kate, surely you are kidding aren’t you? Although blocking individual URLs is cumbersome it is the ONLY way government mandated censorship could work, if it did at all.

    You can not be serious when you say an entire site could be blocked and ALL FUTURE CONTENT based in it’s content at the time ACME reviewed it. It is bad enough that URLs with dynamic content will be added to the blocklist. All it would take is RC content in a widget that appears on every page, or footer etc. might only be there for a short time.

    You must acknowledge that RC is not necessarily illegal or offensive to a reasonable person.

    The discussion about accountability seems to stop at what gets added to the blocklist, there is an equally important discussion about what stays on the blocklist. Proposals like this make it imperative.

    How long would the dentist or dog kennel site have been on the blacklist if it didn’t leak? Why did it take the leaking of the list to force it to be scrubbed?

    Alex
    March 7, 2010 at 11:24 am

    Furthermore it is not possible to intercept the requested URL in an HTTPS session, unless the ISP does a “man-in-the-middle” attack and breaches security – this would require interfering with public key cryptography infrastructure.

    Otherwise, any RC page on an HTTPS site would imply blocking all pages served using HTTPS at that IP address ie the entire secure portion of the site.

    As a software engineer I often encounter software “problems” that have been “solved” with convoluted and idiotic “solutions”. Conroy’s filter is the greatest of all software engineering WTFs, in the vein of http://TheDailyWTF.com

    Ben
    February 3, 2010 at 9:34 am

    Hi Kate,

    You note that we should have a ‘mandatory choice’ between a filtered and unfiltered Internet, which presumably means ISP filtering. That means that (dynamic?) filtering will have to be installed in every ISP. It’s still mandatory filtering, given how legislative amendments would be much easier to occur once the infrastructure is in place. Of course the government is aware of this and we are too, which is why as long as the policy is mandatory for ISPs or consumers, there will always be heavy opposition to the plan.

    Also, when referring to the broken election ‘promise’ of filtering for children which changed to censorship for adults, you quote news articles instead of the actual policy document which clearly implies that filtering does not apply to computers not accessible by children.

    “Some sites may be completely blocked if they are all RC.”

    I assume that means that once ACMA receives every single URL from a particular website, and every single URL is rated RC, then the entire website is blocked. If a new page is added after the fact which is not rated RC…

    Points to you in being upfront about this policy, but even your ‘least worst’ solution is 99% of what the government wants, and those desires severely clash with a substantial number of even your party’s previously die-hard supporters.

    Owen
    February 3, 2010 at 9:41 am

    Hi Kate,

    Thanks for your continued effort but the major question I have still never seen any sort of answer on that isn’t just someone stating thier opinion is.

    What evidence does the government have that there is need to spend millions of tax payer dollars on “fixing” this so called problem of accidental access to RC material by children?

    I as an internet user for 15 or so years, have never come across anything that I beleive is RC, but some of the things that have been added to the list lately are a complete joke. The itunes and bigpond movie fiasco is one of them where V for Vendetta was taken down from teh iTunes store as it was classed RC, in other media forms this is rated MA15+ so why on earth on the internet is that any different? Easy answer really, because the policy was written by people that do not understand what the internet is. As these things are RC because of a poorly written policy many things I have seen on the internet are RC, as it seems anything rated MA15 that does not have an australian gov “approved” age verification system can be added to the RC list.

    Making the filter opt-out while a step forward is still 5 steps backwards in my view and being a labor voter for as long as I have been legally able to vote, this policy alone is enough to make me look elsewhere.

    Grant Mckinney
    February 3, 2010 at 10:39 am

    Is Senator Lundy for or against a filter and why?

    With all due respect, you do not answer the question. You provide a 3rd option but avoid stating your stance.

    Why can’t Senator Lundy just cross the floor on this issue?

    Which puts the caucus above the electorate, no?

    Why are websites on abortion, euthanasia, sites where gay people can talk about their sexuality/problems etc are being blocked?

    Alterately we could remove the taboo’s on these things and classify them R18+ (or just don’t classify them at all).

    Does the Government have any evidence that inadvertent access to refused classification material is an actual problem?

    So the evidence is entirely anecdotal at this point. No one has sat 100 kids in front of uncensored computer terminals with no supervision and recorded where they browsed to, whether they did it deliberately or accidentally etc.

    Curious though, many people present the anecdotal evidence that they have never laid eyes on illegal material accidentally, is this pool of ‘evidence’ given any credence?

    Why is Labor pushing for a broader Internet filtering solution when the NetAlert program had such low uptake? Why not just stick with an opt-in system?

    Your answer is disengenuous, dismissive and quite frankly insulting.

    There are a number of options for parents to filter their childrens internet personally at the PC. The former governments program, ISP’s like Webshield who offer filtered feeds, 3rd party applications.

    It would seem the most appropriate course of action, rather than picking a direction and running in it based on questionable information at best, is to hold a referendum on the issue. Although I imagine it will become a contest of conservatives braying about child porn vs tinfoil hat conspiracy theorists with the average joe in the middle left ill informed and confused about what is really going on…

    Why did the Labor policy change from an optional clean feed in the last election to a mandatory clean feed?

    However much Labor ‘intended’ the policy to be mandatory, the phrasing states quite clearly that is not. This is not the fault of the electorate for viewing the policy at face value (perhaps we should have included the knowledge that anything a politician says unfortunately comes with a very broad margin of error).

    To try and shift blame for a very common perception/interpretation of the language used. The media is not to blame for Labor’s cockups. The electorate is not to blame for Labor’s cockups. Labor is.

    How will the lack of an R18+ classification for games be impacted by the filter policy?

    How will a rogue AG who continues to try and enforce his will on SA generally (and Australia incidentally) be dealt with? Just yesterday a fiasco ensued re: Atkinson attempting to remove anonymity from all SA online commentary.

    What I would like to know is, how do you think you and the previous government differ in your attitude to participatory democracy?

    I was lucky enough to catch Sen. Xenophon on ABC senate coverage yesterday afternoon talking about the disturbing lack of transparency the ALP is showing, particularly re: NBN documentation, but in general refusing to be answerable to the public (excuse the poor paraphrasing). I believe he was proposing an independant review to make sure that government was in fact answerable to the Senate which acts as the critical eye, representative of the people of Australia (rather than the political parties of Australia).

    Labor and Rudd talk the talk, but do not walk the walk. We know so little about the NBN now, the filtering trials and filtering in general are still a mostly foggy issues (the electorate sure as hell won’t understand until they are either cut over involuntarily or offered your ‘mandatory choice’).

    Could you tell me whether the one-sided response on this forum is an accurate reflection of public feeling

    So perhaps your staff could publish this corresondance online? It would be interesting to see if it was reasoned and reasonable viewpoints or the same quasi-hysterical rantings, ad hominem attacks and outright lies we’ve come to expect from organisations such as the ACL.

    Why not make the RC content list absolutely public?

    Although it is a debate for another time, why have refused content at all?

    RC is not illegal. Illegal is also RC. Conroy and his supporters have continually tried to conflate the two and make them inseperable, but they certainly are not. Further, if someone wants to read about euthanasia, or view fetish pornography between consenting adults, they should have the right to do so.

    I also find it continually hilarious/hypocritcal that the ACT should have some of the most liberal laws in Australia regarding sex workers, XXX retail etc and yet the rest of Australia is yoked under various degrees of Victorian era convservatism… I hear the busiest week for brothels in Fyshwick is when the religious conventions are in town…

    http://www.tntdownunder.com/article/2444463562.html (NSFW only for some of the language, it’s a review of a trip to Canberra)

    Labor’s seat of power on a fetid swamp of rampant RC content? Say it ain’t so…

    While I again appreciate greatly the fact that you are bothering to even discuss with the community, this policy is a turkey with little imperically demonstrated demand. Conroy saw NetAlert wasn’t popular and instead of working out why just jumped to the assumption that it was because of ignorance rather than people not wanting/needing it.

    An opt out option is better than mandatory but is still half way there. The next government who decides to axe opt out now already has the systems in place to do it. The death of a thousand cuts. We give up a little. Then a little more. Then a little more. One day you wake up in a country where you, as an adult, can’t play 18+ games, can’t express yourself anonymously on the internet and could soon be forced to have your internet connection filtered by a secret blacklist…

    Sound familiar?

    NickT
    February 3, 2010 at 11:51 am

    Nice reply Grant.

    I’d be interested to know, of the 50/50 split for and against the filter, what their religious biases and experience are? Many technical-illiterate people, will just agree at face value that we have to protect our children, but they don’t really know what from? They’ve fallen for the ‘internet is full of porn’ comments, and feel that their children may be exposed to this material without really knowing the facts. As for the religious, many of them will vote for the filter purely out of principal.

    At almost 43, I don’t think the government should be telling me I can’t look at gay, euthanasia or abortion/teenage pregnancy related sites. I’ve raised this before, but should my step-son tell me he thinks he’s gay, or my daughter tell me she’s pregnant, then I want to be able to research this. I want to be able to communicate with people in similar situations. More so, I would feel much more comfortable knowing that my step-son or daughter have people they can talk to, rather than keeping it all inside and risking their mental health. By cutting out these sites, you are cutting off a ‘support network’ for people in these situations. If they can’t talk to their parents, friends, and now people they CAN relate to, then what happens to their state of mind? Could this, heaven forbid, lead to an increase in suicide rates?

    The one big problem I see, aside from all the great technical & non-technical issues already raised, is that material will be put into the RC classification just to have it filtered. It’s already happenings, small breasted women and female ejaculation are two examples in the last week or so. The government continually state it’s RC material only, so what do they do? Just make it RC, easy. Political dissent? yeah, RC that!

    It’s nice that you are still interacting with the public on this Kate, it’s a lot more than Senator Conroy is doing. He’s supposedly open to discussion with the public, but either labels people as being pro-child porn/child abuse if they don’t agree with him, or holds his hands over his ears if they point out the technical downfalls of the filter.

    A voluntary filter would be a better option, but considering the constant risk of future governments messing around with that, I’m basically in the “I’m not voting for labour again” camp if the filter goes ahead. This policy, to me, is the single focus of where I will cast my next vote.

    Arved von Brasch
    February 3, 2010 at 10:58 am

    “mandatory choice”

    I still do not think this is good enough. It still forces all ISPs to purchase the necessary equipment. This will kill competition in the market.

    I think the two best options are:
    1. Cost offsets for ISPs that wish to provide optional or mandatory filtering for their customers. The offset should be enough to cover the equipment and running costs of censorware but no more. This would allow all ISPs to compete on service and quality, and people would not have to pay extra for filtering.

    2. Reinstate the NetAlert system, but perhaps extend it to also provide low cost or free experienced technicians to do the installation and set up and a general check on the security of the customer’s computer. This would also go someway towards the government’s cyber-security policy.

    In both cases, I would be open to ISPs being forced to explicitly indicate what kind of service they are offering at the time of sign up. Being forced to ask “This is not a filtered service, do you still wish to go ahead?” would be a way of ensuring the benefits of the ‘mandatory choice’ you’re proposing would be felt without the myriad of problems associated with a mandatory for ISPs situation.

    “The current proposal is for RC content to be blocked, and what falls under the RC category is determined independently by people with experience, with additional transparency and accountability measures to be applied.”

    This is not true. Senator Conroy’s recent media release originally made the same claim. It was later corrected when it was pointed out that the government has forced the Classification Board’s hand on some material.
    http://www.minister.dbcde.gov.au/media/media_releases/2010/006
    The government took direct control in this legislation:
    http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/cfacga1995489/s9a.html

    If the government has taken direct control before, there is nothing to prevent it doing so again in the future.

    “As an elected representative I receive a lot of correspondence from people who are concerned about their children using the Internet and accessing (purposefully or by accident) inappropriate content.”

    The reality is that this is no different to previous moral panics of times past. Rock ‘n’ Roll, Heavy Metal, sex books, video games, even the uncensored edition of Anne Franks’ diary have all been sources of public outrage that children could access them.

    The internet has been publicly accessible for 2 decades. There needs to be much stronger evidence of a society on the brink of collapse for this to go ahead. The burden of proof is clearly on those who wish to change the status quo. As has already been pointed out, Michael Flood has already distanced himself from his previous calls.

    The child who has unrestricted internet access is in no worse position than the child who has unrestricted access to MA, R or X rated movies. No worse off than the child who has unrestricted access to television.

    This is a problem of lack of education more than anything else. No parent would let their child run free unsupervised around Fyshwick. The internet is very much like a city, with its different districts, and no parent should be letting their child run free online either.

    “I think there is a risk of this, yes. Note the Government has always promoted this policy as paart of a suite of measures designed to improve internet safety.”

    I think it is much more than a risk; it is a certainty. Especially in the mandatory choice but mandatory for ISPs scenario. Here you would be explicitly telling parents that their connection is filtered. The assumption will be that is all ‘inappropriate’ material. The internet will then be used as a babysitter for children, as it will now be assumed to be ‘safe’. This will exacerbate childhood exposure to age inappropriate material. More children with unsupervised access means more opportunities to encounter material they aren’t equipped to cope with yet.

    “In terms of participatory democracy, this government, some departments and agencies have worked hard to improve participatory democracy through better consultation, online engagement, collaboration on policy development and much more.”

    This is hard to accept as genuine given that Senator Faulkner’s Freedom Of Information push has pretty much stalled since he was moved to defence.

    “About ½ of the correspondence I’ve received on this topic has been pro-filter, and ½ been against.”

    I too would like to know more about this break down. Both of your previous blog posts were very clearly one-sided. This implies that the majority of the lobbying you are receiving that is pro-filter must be coming from letters, telephone and personal meetings.

    After Senator Conroy’s announcement on the 15th I tried to arrange meetings with Bob McMullan, Senator Humphries and yourself. Both McMullan and Humphries got back to me, and we have discussed this issue in depth and detail. You never got back to me. If this is because you know what my stance is, then does this mean you are not meeting with people who are known to be anti-filter? Given that Senator Conroy is giving audiences to the likes of the Australian Christian Lobby, you can see why I might be suspicious.

    At any rate, the implied large volume of telephone and physical mail you are getting that is pro-filter versus the obvious volume of electronic mail and blog responses suggests that this is exactly what I said: an education problem. The more experience people have with the internet, the less they fear it. We shouldn’t be letting fear dictate policy.

    I certainly agree that there is distasteful, even abhorrent, material on the internet. Censorship lessons of the past show that it is counter productive. Even before the masses of the internet shone a light on material that some didn’t want anyone to see, censored books and films always had huge black market penetration. Bob McMullan himself told me how he put his own time and money into printing a publication that had been censored in his youth. Later realising that the book wasn’t even that good. The point is that censorship gives undesirable material a much louder voice than it would otherwise have.

    Additionally, censorship is used to suppress minorities. Sexual minorities can legally engage in acts that many might find offensive. That is their right. However, the presence of a camera makes these legal activities automatically considered Refused Classification. Recently, light has been shone on how women are particularly discriminated against by the classification system. While male ejaculation is considered a staple in pornography, female ejaculation is apparently regularly labelled Refused Classification. There was a big deal made about distorted female body image among the general public a few months back. It has also come to light that small breasts are often used to deem material Refused Classification. There was also a women’s magazine that was discussing why female genital cosmetic surgery was unnecessary that was censored because the inner labia cannot be shown. Censorship in Australia is one of the causes of poor body image amongst women!

    Perhaps there would be less opposition to the proposal to block Refused Classification material if it wasn’t so obvious that the classification system is already broken. That should be fixed first.

    Finally, as someone who lives in the ACT, with the recent surprise resignations of Bob McMullan and Annette Ellis, one has to wonder if there isn’t something more insidious going on here. Is the only reason you haven’t yet resigned because you have capitulated to something? I am very distrustful of the ALP at present, and imposed candidates for the ACT will be seen in a very dubious light.

    Nik Mennega
    February 3, 2010 at 11:50 am

    “As a Labor Senator, I am bound by the Caucus decision unless a conscience vote applies under our Federal Labor Party rules.”

    Nobody can prevent you from voting according to your own conscience, even when a so-called “conscience vote” has not been granted. To do so is a breach of Section 28 of the Crimes Act 1914, punishable by 3 years imprisonment.

    http://austlii.law.uts.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/ca191482/s28.html

    Surely your Caucus is not above the law?

    Stuart Anderson
    February 3, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    What she is saying is that she chooses to place her loyalty to her colleagues ahead of her duty to the people she is supposed to represent should the two come into conflict. For politicians, that is SOP.

    Claiming that she has no choice in this is false. She has choice, the choices just have consequences (that she may be unwilling to bear).

    Politics is primarily about compromise, you never get everything you want. She may well negotiate and lobby to influence the vote right up to the ballot, but she is clearly committed to voting with the caucus on this matter at that time (and she is disclosing that up front) – she is not prepared to fall on her sword over this. That is the political reality of the situation.

    Pia Waugh
    February 3, 2010 at 11:54 am

    Hi all,

    For those asking about the correspondence question, Kate just updated the blog post with some additional information.

    Cheers,
    Pia
    Office of Senator Lundy

    bookbuster
    February 3, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    Firstly, Kate (and Pia), I’d like to thank you for your willingness to engage us on this topic (particularly when none of your colleagues have proven willing to do so) and in the face of some hostility. However, I must take issue at some of your points.

    I think you misinterpreted the question regarding evidence supporting the need for the filter. It wasn’t a question of the ability of some material to harm children, it was a question of Labor having an independent body of evidence that supports a) that children are encountering this material on a frequent enough basis for that harm to occur, and b) that the type of filter proposed as mandatory will actually stop that harm from occurring. You, and the Labor party, have demonstrated neither; your evidence is entirely anecdotal. Frankly, if we’re going to go on anecdotal evidence, I know far more parents who are confident and capable of managing their children’s online access than don’t. What makes Labor’s body of evidence more valid than mine?

    I must add that the Hamilton-Flood report has been roundly and repeatedly discredited, and subsequently disowned by Michael Flood. Anyone who cites it as an authoritative source had better expect to be laughed down.

    I would actually take the above line of questioning a step further, given the scope of the policy and its one-size-fits-all nature. What body of evidence does the Labor Party have to suggest a) that viewing non-illegal RC material causes harm to adults b) that adults are encountering material that has been shown to cause harm on a frequent enough basis for said harm to occur and c) that the type of filter being proposed by Labor will actually stop that harm from occurring. Bear in mind, particularly when looking at answering the first question, that you need to find sources that I can’t discount due to ideological bias: it’s been noted more than once that many researchers examining pornography consumption do so, not to study it objectively, but to prove their personal, often religiously-motivated belief it causes harm.

    With regards to the claims about NetAlert being a failure of policy rather than evidence of a lack of desire for filtering on the part of the Australian public: on what evidence does the Labor party base this claim? Particularly when at least one government-funded study I can think of determines that parents don’t use filtering tools because they don’t see a need for them?

    It’s all well and good to say that the filter was “always meant to be mandatory” for everyone, and that it just wasn’t communicated properly. I meant to tell my friend to meet me for lunch at someplace different yesterday; that I forgot to tell him doesn’t make it his fault for going to the wrong place. Likewise, Labor’s failure to get across their real intent, in both their policy documents and subsequent media appearances, is not our fault. Nor is it our fault that Labor failed to correct reports now denounced as misleading and confusing.

    The policy, as pitched to us, was optional. The policy, as it appears today on the Labor website, still reads as optional. The policy, as voted on by the Australian public, was certainly optional, particularly given that, for the vast majority of the 2007 campaign, Labor’s stance on filtering could be presumed to be the one taken to the last election, which was explicitly optional.

    Pia Waugh
    February 3, 2010 at 12:51 pm

    Hi Bookbuster,

    Your point relating to the Hamilton Flood report was fair, so Senator Lundy has clarified her meaning in the post.

    Cheers,
    Pia
    Office of Senator Lundy

    tardis_42
    February 3, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    Pia/Kate,

    I believe that Clive Hamilton’s position has changed little (if at all) since the 2003 Flood/Hamilton report – he continues to support the policy, as seen in several recent media articles:

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/australian-it/web-doesnt-belong-to-net-libertarians/story-e6frgakx-1111118869227

    http://www.arnnet.com.au/article/323758/greens_split_isp_filtering

    Also worth noting is that said report was a discussion paper (a proposal that research be conducted, with a few (small) push-polls conducted) rather than (as has been widely assumed by many) a peer-reviewed research paper.

    Grant Mckinney
    February 3, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    Bookbuster, I believe this was the study you were referring to.

    http://www.somebodythinkofthechildren.com/parents-find-managing-their-childs-internet-use-easy-acma-report/

    http://acma.gov.au/WEB/STANDARD/pc=PC_311824

    Done by our very own ACMA.

    I would posit that the study, done by the ACMA, be given vastly more credibility than anecdotal evidence with the obvious caveat that their methodology should be able to be peer reviewed for veracity/relevance (ie. sample size being significant/a fair cross section of society etc).

    I would put it to Sen Lundy that true science does not support the case that NetAlert failed because people were ignorant, rather than people are in fact more informed than we give them credit for, and more responsible. This is not just a technical knowledge, it’s a basic tenet of parenting discipline that just happens to involve a computer.

    Further, I’d hazard a guess that some people actually feel quite offended that the government presumes to know what is best for their children and them over their personal wishes. As a prospective father (admittedly with a highly technical IT industry background) I certainly know that I do.

    bookbuster
    February 3, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    Thank you Pia, Kate.

    I’ve read the clarification and I must say I find it deeply disturbing that the H-F report appears to remain the foundational, touch-stone document for this policy among elements of the Labor party. It’s the very antithesis of an evidence-based approach.

    tardis_42
    February 3, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    given that the (extremely pro-filter) ACL has been asking all of its members to contact senators on this issue, including a list of talking points, are the pro-filter letters you received all more-or-less using the same arguments? Do they appear to understand the issues?

    Also, can we get an answer as to whether there is a. evidence of harm from viewing RC material (particularly to children) and b. evidence that children (or anyone else for that matter) ever actually *do* “stumble upon” such material?

    yet more anecdotal evidence i know, but i’ve been using the ‘Net uncensored since i was around 7 or 8, with high then diminishing parental supervision and guidance, and as far as i can recall have NEVER come across anything that would be RC or even pornographic when i wasn’t specifically searching for it.

    Grant Mckinney
    February 3, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    Thanks Pia/Kate (Hopefully not to presumptuous to use first names ; ),

    Please note, this statistic refers only to the letters and emails I have received which has totalled about 110. The 800+ comments received on the three related blog posts on this website have been overwhelmingly against the filter, with less than 2% being pro filtering. We can’t judge the technical knowledge of contributors and it would be inappropriate to publish the letters/emails of people without their consent. The letters/emails against the filter have generally been more detailed and referenced.

    Thanks for the clarification, and I understand where you’re coming from (seeking individual permission to publish physical letters would be cumbersome and time consuming).

    As an aside, I think this is very telling that our society is very comfortable with, and prefering, electronic forms of contact with our politicians. Sen. Lundy, you do deserve kudos for embracing this. If only more of our pollies were so enlightened.. ; )

    Mike Atkin
    February 3, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    Kate,

    Two more questions:

    1. We know the blacklist contains sites that promote voluntary euthanasia if they contain any instructional material. Sir Terry Pratchett, author of global renown, is a champion of “assisted death” and has written an article in The Guardian, one of the most popular newspaper web sites, promoting the idea of voluntary euthanasia and including instructional material regarding his own demise. As far as I can tell, it fits the requirements for being blocked perfectly. I would value your opinion on this one.

    2a. You said in your clarification: If the list is public it would mean the government is publishing web site addresses that may be for illegal content.

    No-one will be able to see the content due to the 100% perfection of the proposed filter so why would it matter if the list was published?

    2b. While not all RC is illegal, this is not appropriate for government to do which is why the Minister is going to such lengths to improve the transparency of the management and maintenance of the blacklist.

    I’d love to know how the government is going to improve the transparency to the level we now have thanks to the leaker and Wikileaks. I know which I have the most trust in. What say you?

    Stuart Anderson
    February 3, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    I think the concerning part of 2a) is the suggestion that pointing to potentially illegal content by hyperlink (or just plain disclosure) is going to be made an illegal act in itself.

    How can a person possibly protect themselves from the possibility of linking to items on a list that is entirely secret? This is ludicrous.

    Mike Atkin
    February 3, 2010 at 7:03 pm

    Couldn’t agree more. A secret list is about as useful, open, fair and democratic as a secret law.

    irene
    February 3, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    “UPDATE: I have referenced the Hamilton paper because at the time it was released it had a big impact on the thinking within Federal Labor. … It was in the term following the 2004 election, … that Labor’s policy changed to one supporting mandatory filtering. The Hamilton report assertion the technical capacity to filter was now feasible made a significant contribution to Labor changing its policy in my opinion.”

    Well then, unfortunately I can only conclude that Labor Party politicians were unfit for office.

    Let’s look at some dates and events:

    March 2003: Hamilton paper issued and the sole basis for their assertion about “now” (i.e. then) is this:

    “The success or failure of the proposed system depends critically on the effectiveness of filtering. In Australia, filtering systems have been reviewed by the CSIRO for NetAlert and the ABA (Greenfield et al. 2001). There are no serious technical obstacles to an ISP-based opt-out filtering system. Transmission of data through ISPs may slow down a little initially but it is to be expected that ISPs and filter makers would soon find ways of minimizing any disruption to information access.”

    The 2001 Greenfield report does not, imo, support the 2003 Hamilton report’s assertions.

    May 2004: The Coalition Govt issued the ‘Report on Review of the Operation of Schedule 5 to the Broadcasting Services Act 1992′ together with Attachment D: Ovum Consultants report: Internet content filtering.

    Ovum’s report in effect said ISP filtering was no more technically practical/effective etc than it had been 1999 (when Labor opposed ISP filtering).

    October 2004: Federal election

    After that, according to Senator Lundy, Labor policy changed to supporting mandatory filtering.

    The proposition that the Hamilton paper’s assertions, about ISP filtering, were a significant factor in Labor changing its policy is truly frightening.

    One more reason (not that I needed any more) never to vote Labor again if they introduce mandatory ISP filtering/blocking (whether or not opt-out, because opt-out is unlikely to stay that way for long, once censorship infrastructure is mandatorily installed by all AU ISPs).

    tan
    February 3, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    I think another question that should be answered is:
    Why does Stephen Conroy fail to clearly define what RC content is?

    He keeps on saying “RC content includes child porn, beastiality, instructions in crime” but fails to mention euthanasia, abortion, gay sites, safe drug use, which are definitely not worse of the worse content, and all adults should have the right to view this information.

    And then Conroy keeps on saying “RC-content can’t be found on the library shelves, it is not available in the newsagency, you won’t see it in the cinema and you certainly can’t watch it on DVD or television”

    This is clearly misleading the public. RC content firstly is NOT illegal and it is perfectly OK to OWN and VIEW them (except child porn). You can certainly watch it on DVD on your TV if you know how to get them. Why doesn’t the Labor Party (especially Stephen Conroy) be clear and upfront about what RC content really is instead of misleading the public into believing that it’s just all about child porn and nothing else?

    Jayden
    February 3, 2010 at 6:04 pm

    “The current proposal is for RC content to be blocked, and what falls under the RC category is determined independently by people with experience, with additional transparency and accountability measures to be applied.”

    Well we now know that RC also includes small breasts and female orgasms. Other things that were recently mentioned by the board also included watersports and a few other perfectly legal sexual practices.

    James
    February 3, 2010 at 6:12 pm

    A mandatory internet filter will not solve the problem of children being exposed to violent or sexual content, for four reasons. First, some sexual content will be rated X18+, and so not covered by the filter. Second, there is so much content that a post-hoc rating system as proposed will only ever cover such a miniscule amount of webpages on the internet as to be useless. Are you going to be checking every video added on redtube.com as it’s uploaded? Third, the filter doesn’t work for HTTPS sites. Four, children are already experts at getting around the filters at schools by using proxies.

    There’s plenty of other problems such as RC > illegal, the problems of high traffic sites, what happens when (not if) the list leaks etc. but others have covered them so I won’t repeat them.

    Stuart Anderson
    February 3, 2010 at 10:06 pm

    There are so many other vectors for communication on the internet other than http – the whole proposal is laughable for anyone with the most rudimentary understanding of the internet’s fundamental basis.

    Realistically, with the iiNet vs. AFACT court decision coming, and likely that the court will find in AFACT’s favour, it will become a absolute necessity for every person to use encryption and tunnels (given that the mere unproven accusation will result in your internet account being suspended). Once everyone is running VPNs and routing out of the country, the filter simply won’t matter in practice.

    Eddie
    February 3, 2010 at 9:12 pm

    “The low uptake of NetAlert was a sign of its failure as a policy to protect children”

    Wrong. Despite all the publicity it got, NetAlert was a failure because no-one wants their Internet connections filtered. Even research from ACMA under Conroy’s reign shows this.

    “About ½ of the correspondence I’ve received on this topic has been pro-filter, and ½ been against”

    Pity you haven’t taken into account the various polls there’s been regarding this policy. All of the polls I’ve seen haven’t been kind towards the policy, with between 70-96% of respondents OPPOSED to it. This includes a phone-in poll on Sunrise over a year ago where 86% of respondents were against the policy. Pretty damning.

    Some of your attempts to defend the policy is laughable, Ms Lundy. The policy is a dud and you know it. You can keep trying to defend the indefensible, but you and the Government will only keep shooting yourselves in the feet as your arguments continue to be discredited.

    The fact that Labor is ignoring the undeniable evidence that the filter won’t work and is still ploughing on with it very much suggests to me they have ulterior motives for the policy.

    This one single idiotic policy has cost Labor my vote for life. This isn’t something I’m going to forget.

    tan
    February 4, 2010 at 11:46 am

    And a poll conducted by the Sydney Morning Herald in which 24378 people voted, and 96% (THAT’S RIGHT, 96%)were against the filter, and yet it’s still going ahead. So much for democracy when the majority’s voice is not head.

    Simon
    February 4, 2010 at 2:33 am

    As a citizen of the ACT, I would like to thank Senator Lundy for engaging with her electorate and the wider community on this topic.

    Aside from agreeing with others regarding the ineffectiveness of the proposed solution, the increased vulnerabilities to the Australian Internet infrastructure, and the potential for abuse by future Governments; one issue I would like to raise in particular is the cost of implementing this proposed censorship system.

    The cost to implement the proposed system is not simply the capital cost of the censorware, which is not cheap, but the entire lifecycle cost including:

    – testing and evaluation of different products
    – ongoing maintenance and support
    – purchase of as many censorware systems as is required to scale to the ISPs customer base (and allow for growth of both the customer base, and the filtering workload as more URLs are added to the list), plus development and test bed systems
    – design and integration into the existing network
    – training of ISP support staff

    The cost of compliance with the proposed legislation does not begin 12 months after the legislation is passed, by which time ISPs are required to be compliant, but from the day that the legislation is passed in order for an ISP to meet the compliance deadline.

    Since the proposal requires ISPs to fund the censorware systems themselves (http://www.dbcde.gov.au/funding_and_programs/cybersafety_plan/internet_service_provider_isp_filtering/isp_filtering_live_pilot/isp_filtering_-_frequently_asked_questions#6.0), the costs to be borne by the ISPs will commence the day that the legislation is passed, and it is reasonable to expect that any business that experiences an increase in operating costs will pass that increase on to consumers of its product or service.

    Therefore, it is likely that the cost of every single residential and business Internet connection in Australia, including every mobile phone plan with a data allowance, will increase from the moment this legislation passes. While there has not been a great deal of focus on this policy outside the IT community as yet, I am sure that when every Internet service account holder in Australia receives a letter from their ISP explaining that their bill will increase by $x per month due to the Labor Party’s Internet censorship legislation, this issue will get significant mainstream attention very quickly, and we will find out just how much demand there actually is for this ‘solution’.

    This will not be 12 months after the legislation passes (and therefore after the 2010 election), but immediately. Many families and businesses will be hit multiple times through increases to both landline and mobile services. Low income singles and families may find that the increased cost pushes Internet access into the unaffordable, increasing the ‘digital divide’.

    These costs do not significantly decrease even if the system is opt-out, as a prudent ISP will provision a system capable of filtering the entire user base anyway, in case a large percentage of the user base does not opt out either through choice or through ignorance of the option.

    The cost effective solution would be to offer grants to ISPs that choose to offer a filtered service to offset the increased cost, allowing them to provide no-cost filtering to those customers that want it.

    Of course, the Government may find that the take up of their subsidised solution is very small, but rather than panicking over the low take up due to lack of awareness, perhaps the Government will find that Australia is already a civil and confident society online.

    brownbear
    February 4, 2010 at 9:38 am

    Hi Kate
    The one thing that you have not addressed is the Question: What is the problem that we need to fix? No where have I seen any evidence, as opposed to anecdotal assertions, that there has been any major problem created for our society by the existence for the past 20 years of an uncensored internet. The anecdotal assertions of problems refer almost exclusively to occurrences that the “filtering” proposal will not fix as they occur in social networking sites that can’t be filtered, chat rooms or on mobile phones.

    The money that has and will be directed to this proposal would be far better spent in support for our police forces in detecting and prosecuting illegal activity using the internet.

    If parents are too stupid to acquire the skills to supervise their children using the internet, and I don’t believe they are, then too bad. It is not up to the taxpayers to provide services that these lazy parents should be providing themselves.

    Pia Waugh
    February 4, 2010 at 11:30 am

    Hi brownbear,

    The answer to that question from the perspective of where this policy is coming from is under the “Why is Labor pushing for a broader Internet filtering solution when the NetAlert program had such low uptake? Why not just stick with an opt-in system?” question. In terms of evidence, there certainly is evidence that extremely violent or extreme pornography (just as two examples) can be damaging to young children and affect them, we linked to one such article (Cho, not Hamilton) as just an example. Law enforcement is obviously also extremely important, and it’s already been acknowledged.

    There is far greater a case to make about the importance of an open Internet for maintaining a free democracy and free speech than there is because no one is adversely affected when some people (usually young ones) are. This is regardless of the difference between exposure to content or exposure to bad people (and we all know that most child grooming, child pornographic material content sharing and other activities that contribute to child abuse happen outside of http).

    I think it is very easy to say if parents are too stupid or lazy, then too bad, but again it isn’t any where near the strongest argument you can make about this issue.

    I think we are largely on the same page here, and the feedback on this blog has been extremely useful to making the case for a change, so thank you everyone.

    Cheers,
    Pia
    Office of Senator Lundy

    tardis_42
    February 4, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    the problem then becomes – do children actually find/stumble upon “extremely violent or extreme pornography” (where’s the study that shows it?) on the internet? how often? will this policy reduce the number of occurances of that? is there, in fact, a measure of the number of children who have *ever* “stumbled upon” such material at a young age?

    Clive Hamilton and Jim Wallace are VERY fond of describing (in gruesome detail, for shock value) worst-of-the-worst porn and violence when they talk about kids finding porn on the internet, when in fact the statistics they usually quote just before or after their descriptions are based around absolutely vanilla naked-ladies type porn (for which there *isn’t* the same evidence of harm).

    It has been widely stated by opponents of this plan that, anecdotally, “stumbling upon” the worst types of content doesn’t actually happen. Certainly I never did, and i’ve been using the ‘net since i was fairly young, without any kind of filter (but with adult supervision to start with, which decreased as i got older and more experienced)

    given these questions, would the money being proposed to be spent here (and I include the extra cost to ISP’s and therefore customers of installing, running and updating the filter, not just the direct cost to the government) on education, law enforcement, and child-protection? What distribution of funds would result in the greatest reduction of harm to children?

    brownbear
    February 4, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    Hi Pia
    You wrote -
    “In terms of evidence, there certainly is evidence that extremely violent or extreme pornography (just as two examples) can be damaging to young children and affect them, we linked to one such article (Cho, not Hamilton) as just an example.”

    I have had a look at the Cho study that Kate referred to and it presupposes that there is a problem with exposure to negative internet content but doesn’t define negative internet content.

    I have not yet been directed to a credible study that shows that extreme violence or extreme pornography is accidentally accessible or easily stumbled upon on the WWW (internet).

    The Cho study by their own admission has limitations but one of the conclusions is valid and is applicable to the filtering debate:

    “This study suggests possible home education strategies to parents, for example, locating the computer in a common area and having regular shared Internet sessions, encouraging children to evaluate Web sites and Internet ads and commenting on and explaining the subjects, teaching quality Web browsing and clicking choices, building and maintaining family love, affirmation and intimate relationship with children, and so forth.”

    This is something that the Government with the best will in the world can’t do and most certainly a filter is no substitute for proper parenting.

    Again I must ask what is the problem that the proposed filter is trying to fix?

    Pia Waugh
    February 5, 2010 at 11:48 am

    Hi brownbear and all,

    Several people have asked this specific question and we will refer it to the Minister. In the meantime please see Minister’s Conroy’s blog post on “Promoting a civil and confident society online”, which can be found here. http://www.archive.dbcde.gov.au/2009/july/future_directions_blog/topics/civil_and_confident_society_online

    Cheers,
    Pia
    Office of Senator Lundy

    Tony
    February 5, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    Thank for the link Pia. I have to say that the ‘comments’ on that page make for interesting reading.

    Almost Anonymous
    February 5, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    Hi Pia, I foolishly went and looked at Conroy’s blog and found lie after lie. “The Government is taking an evidence-based approach” being a massive whopper on its own. Where is the research? What evidence? The filter speed trial? That’s not evidence supporting a filter, but evidence that tiny amounts of traffic are not a problem for a filter box.

    Where is the evidence that supports filtering? Evidence that does not also clearly support PC based user-configurable filters? There is no such evidence and the government hasn’t even looked.

    “There was never any suggestion that the Australian Government would seek to block political content.” The government already has political content on the ACMA block list, the same list it wants to use to filter all of us. Euthanasia, abortion, and wikileaks are all on the list for political reasons. This will increase out of bounds if Conroy is not stopped.

    I also note that almost all the blog posts blasted the proposed censorship scheme and that the government’s response (other than to put fingers in ears and go “La La”) was to shut down the blog.

    In short, directing people to read Senator Conroy’s defunct blog is something someone solidly against the proposal would do. It does not offer any support for internet censorship and shows the casual disregard that Senator Conroy holds for the opinions of Australians.

    Mark Newton
    February 5, 2010 at 1:15 pm

    Thanks for resurrecting that post, Pia. It’s one of the many where Conroy described the policy in terms of ACMA prohibited content (paragraph starting “Australian society has always…”, in which he also cites the increasingly laughable National Classification Scheme — again, why isn’t the ALP reforming it instead of defending it?)

    Anyway, I responded to our Dear Leader’s “Civil and Confident Society” message here: http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/stories/s2536879.htm
    I’ve not seen the Minister refer to the concept since, so perhaps that’s a debate he doesn’t want to have.

    Incidentally, would you care to explain this? Smells like yet another prior restraint on speech to me, a direct attack on the kind of political speech which results in Communications Ministers being embarrassed by thousands of people tweeting the URL for his latest blacklist on Wikileaks. What’s your view?
    http://forums.whirlpool.net.au/forum-replies.cfm?t=1373804&p=45#r882

    – mark

    Justin
    February 5, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    Hi Pia,

    I truly look forward to hearing the Minister’s response to your query. I won’t hold my breath waiting though. The fact that the only person from the government willing to actually engage the public on this matter is the former shadow minister speaks volumes to me. So much for open government.

    I’ve seen the article you linked to on a previous occasion. Does the minister truly believe that a “Civil and confident society” would throw a blanket over anything that it thinks may offend some portion of its population. “Nothing to see here. Move along.”

    I think Will Briggs sums things up nicely here and here when he says that

    To demand the right for the entire Internet to be safe is, in effect, a demand that the whole world be safe – exactly the “nanny state” demand that Ruth Limkin thinks she can get around. And that is impossible. The Internet is the digital representation of the whole big dangerous world. If it is not, it is not the Internet.

    and

    Look to the very nature of what the internet is – the ubiquitous mode of communication touching every single interaction and relationship. These are not broadcasts, but conversations – real ones! In the real world those in conversation monitor themselves (and their loved ones) and leave if the conversation begins to offend. There is no need for a referee at every coffee table

    Take your time to read both articles and the comments there. You’ll also note that this particular man is someone a certain extremist lobby group purports to represent.

    Cheers,
    Justin.

    Simon
    February 5, 2010 at 7:20 pm

    Thank you for bringing up the Minister’s blog archive, Pia.

    Perhaps you or Senator Lundy can explain the inconsistencies between this statement in the blog, from ~July 2009:

    “The Government understands that ISP-level filtering is not a ‘silver bullet’. We have always viewed ISP-level filtering as one part of a broader government initiative for protecting our children online.

    Technology is improving all the time. Technology that filters peer-to-peer and BitTorrent traffic does exist and it is anticipated that the effectiveness of this will be tested in the live pilot trial.

    Stephen Conroy”

    http://www.archive.dbcde.gov.au/2009/july/future_directions_blog/topics/civil_and_confident_society_online/internet_filtering_wont_stop_peer_to_peer_and_bittorrent_traffic_so_why_bother

    This excerpt from the ISP Request fro Expression of Interest, undated – but expressions close 8 December 2008:

    “ISPs are invited to participate through two streams:
    1. Filtering the ACMA blacklist of prohibited URLs; or
    2. Filtering the ACMA blacklist, and also providing additional content filtering e.g. dynamic filtering of other unwanted internet content and non web based applications (such as peer-to-peer networks).”

    http://www.dbcde.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/89159/request-for-expression-of-interest.pdf

    And this excerpt from Senate Hansard, dated 16 September 2009:

    “Senator CONROY—I assure you I have no filter on Senator Ludlam, Senator Evans. As Senator Ludlam well knows, there has never been a suggestion by this government that peer-to-peer traffic would or could be blocked by our filter. It has never been sug- gested. So for you to continue to make the suggestion that we are attempting to do that just misleads the chamber and the Australian public, Senator Ludlam, and you know better than that. We are not attempting to suggest that the filter can capture peer-to-peer traffic.”

    http://www.aph.gov.au/hansard/senate/dailys/ds160909.pdf

    Did the Minister mis-speak? Is the Minister forgetful? Or is it outright deceit? Perhaps the above may help you gain a greater understanding at the frustration engendered in the those following the development of this proposal when the Minister provides different and often conflicting information every time he speaks on this topic (for example, the Minister stating that the filter will cover ‘ACMA prohibited content’, or ‘illegal’ content, or ‘almost exclusively RC’, or ‘the worst of the worst’, or ‘refused classification’).

    Perhaps the Minister’s contradictory statements highlighted above will also help you understand the cynicism that greeted your statement that the proposal was ‘always meant to be mandatory’, when a ‘reasonable adult’ would not interpret the pre-election policy documents, nor the Minister’s statement on 31 December 2007 regarding adults having to opt out for uncensored access, as being inclusive of a mandatory filter for all Australian adults.

    Justin
    February 10, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    Hi Pia,

    Any word from the Minister on this particular question? I would have thought that if he was already drafting the legislation this should be a relatively easy question to answer.

    Cheers,
    Justin.

    tardis_42
    February 10, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    Senator Scott Ludlam (greens) asked ACMA in Senate Estimates about any research regarding how often (or indeed if at all) children “stumble upon” the kinds of material we’re talking about – there response was essentially that they haven’t got any, and he should go ask the AFP. (the APH site with Hansard is down at the moment, so i can’t check…) from what i recall, he then asked the AFP, who said they didn’t have any either. He then asked Senator Conroy, who in his usual fasion ignored then brushed off the question and pulled out his usual line of “not a silver bullet, part of a wide-ranging cyber-safety initiative”.

    Which is a load of horseshit.

    Nobody here is arguing against the other initiatives, because they’re all good ideas. We’re just saying “this particular part of your policy stinks, there’s no evidence that the problem it’s supposed to solve actually exists, it wouldn’t solve it (or even do much if anything to *help* solve it) if it *did* exist, and it represents an unneccesary and dangerous intrusion into the private lives of every adult and child in the country.”

    Justin
    February 10, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    Hi Tardis,

    We’re still waiting to hear exactly what the “problem” they’re solving is.

    Cheers,
    Justin

    tardis_42
    February 10, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    A follow up, here are the relevant Hansard transcripts, via Senator Ludlam

    (Acma has no evidence that children stumble upon this stuff)

    http://scott-ludlam.greensmps.org.au/content/transcript/internet-filtering-acma

    (neither does DBCDE/Senator Conroy)

    http://scott-ludlam.greensmps.org.au/content/transcript/internet-filtering-department

    tardis_42
    February 10, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    @Justin, yeah, that too.

    The most likely one (that he is likely to admit to) is to prevent accidental access to this kind of material, and specifically to prevent accidental access by children. As you can see from my previous post, they don’t actually have any evidence that this *ever* *actually* *happens*. which is, of course, no surprise at all to opponents of this policy.

    Pia Waugh
    February 10, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    Hi Justin,

    It isn’t about easy, it’s about time, and it’s a very busy time for everyone (plus there is a list of questions, not just the one ;)). We’ll get back to everyone as soon as we can.

    Cheers,
    Pia
    Office of Senator Lundy

    Justin
    February 10, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    Hi Pia,

    Thanks.

    BTW, while some of my posts (and probably some other peoples) may seem a little derisive, this is not directed at either you or Kate (speaking for myself anyway). While I don’t agree with Kate’s proposal, I do applaud her for enagaging on the topic and working to move caucus. I think an opt-out policy is still bad policy. What does it achieve and at what cost? It’s only a short step from there to mandatory censorship, these things rarely (in the case of Australia I believe never) become less restrictive.

    I look forward to your answers from the Minister however I am very cynical of anything emanating from the DCBE, especially the Minister’s office. I have no respect for the man or the contempt he shows the Australian public, industry experts, and indeed the Senate. I seriously doubt I am alone in this feeling.

    And while we’re at it, let’s drop the pretense that this is a “filter”, it is censorship, you know it, I know it, the Minister knows it. How about Labor be upfront and start calling it what it is?

    Cheers,
    Justin.

    Simon Shaw
    February 4, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    Thanks Kate, I’m not in your electorate however I wish you were.

    Hope you manage to convince the Labor team to make this filter go away or at least make it opt out.

    Given the outcome of the iiNet vs AFACT court case today it seems obvious that ISP’s should not be set up as judge n jury, (and executioner) in copyright matters. Nor should they have the onerous duty of running a Government imposed filtering system either.

    I believe an opt out filter, although not ideal, (it can be made mandatory with a press of a button) is a better outcome for the Australian people.

    PS: See what you can do about an R18+ category for computer games whilst your at it. :)

    Steve
    February 4, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    Furthermore, iiNet, in its defence relied on the provisions of the Privacy(?) act which limits their ability to release customer details and/or monitor their behaviour.

    I believe the police require a warrant to get such personal information.

    My browsing habits are private and personal. I rely on my ISP to maintain that confidentiality. Sure, if the police have a warrant they can go ahead and look at my (pretty boring) browsing history.

    But to filter at the request of government requires that they breach my privacy using what is essentially a warrentless wiretap.

    I am not (nor am I suspected to be — except perhaps by Stephen Conroy) a terrorist, drug manufacturer, paedophile, a budding graffiti artist, a person with a terminal disease seeking options, a closeted homosexual seeking to speak with others, an anorexic wanting support, or a child (although I do admit to once being a child). I resent his suggestion that I am in one of these categories and that I should trust him to protect me.

    Honestly, the conservatives has a more convincing argument with “reds under the bed” than the Labor party has with “scary stuff on the internet” — especially when they intend to exclude the likely places this scary stuff might exist.

    I cannot see any indication that Kate is doing anything else than acting as “good cop” to Conroy’s “bad cop”. Where is the evidence that the Labor party is actually interested in debating this issue (internally OR externally)?

    I’m afraid this once life-long Labor voter is now thoroughly disenchanted.

    Simon Shaw
    February 4, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    I refer to your comment, “The low uptake of NetAlert was a sign of its failure as a policy to protect children, and indicates that more effective policy is needed. There are many Australians who are completely unaware of the ‘scheduled filter’ or optional filtering that all ISPs are currently required to provide”

    This could also be an indication that people just weren’t interested in applying for the filter.
    It could also be an indication that the public were not educated about the option enough.

    Given polls showing up to 96% of the population don’t want the filter, I think the former may be true.

    I also refer to the comment that the filter will only block individual URL’s and not whole sites, (unless that whole site is RC).

    I have tested this by submitting videos to the ACMA for classification and it appears to be the case.

    However, this is next to useless. Sites such as Redtube, host thousands of videos, a portion of which are RC.
    Each and every RC video would have to be submitted to the ACMA. A person browsing the site just clicks from video to video, so videos that are RC would be like this:
    R R R RC R RC R R R RC R R R R R RC and so on…

    How does that make it safer for children? Are people going to rate EVERY video on such sites? (More are added every day).

    I still assert this is a big waste of time and money…

    Simon Shaw
    February 4, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    @Pia..

    Surely if the intent of the party had always been clear, then the pre-election statement, (amongst others) was badly worded?
    Why not just say, “Mandatory RC internet filter for all Australians” or similar? The statement was either watered down/deliberately misleading or the aims were not clear.

    Given Conroy’s numerous about faces on what exactly is going to be filtered I suspect the latter. It is obvious that Labor:
    Was unsure who exactly would be filtered.
    Was unsure exactly what would be filtered.

    If this is not the case, then Stephen Conroy has done an abysmal job of getting the message across, which as a Communications Minister, reflects rather poorly on him and/or his Department.

    Steve
    February 4, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    Simon, I would suggest a third option.

    The policy was written in such a way that it would get support from as many people as possible, and contain enough apparent exclusions so as to get the minimum of objections.

    By including as much (deliberate?) ambiguity as possible, it allows the government to do what it damn well pleases whilst still claiming that “It was the policy we went to the election with”.

    Simon Shaw
    February 4, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    PS: I’m beginning to think that Labors polling losses may be part in due to the filter proposal.

    The public in general are becoming aware of it. It’s all over my Facebook, a lot of my “Facebook Friends” who have absolutely nothing to do with the IT industry are expressing outrage at the proposal and “Liking” anti filter comments. They are joining anto filter Facebook Groups and I see NOTHING of people pro filter.

    My office, true, I work for an IT company, but sales, accounts and even the receptionist are all against the filter proposal.

    I think it’s costing Labor votes, big time.

    Alex
    March 7, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    There was a Sun-Herald poll recently discussed on Insiders. The panelists were quite confused about how Labor and Coalition could be neck-and-neck after preferences yet Labor *lead* the Coalition in primary votes. ie why were so many Greens and other preferences going to the Coalition?!?! The obvious reason is internet censorship.

    http://www.abc.net.au/insiders/content/2010/s2832254.htm

    Irene
    February 4, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    Given the discussion here about what was said in Labor’s 2007 pre-election policy, I now ask this question:

    Why has Labor’s Plan for Cyber-safety 2007 election policy document which, as at 28 Dec 2009, was here:
    http://www.alp.org.au/download/now/labors_plan_for_cyber_safety.pdf
    now disappeared?

    Neverthless, as someone else said recently, ‘the Internet’ never forgets, and thanks to the National Library, it can still be found here:
    http://pandora.nla.gov.au/pan/22093/20071124-0102/www.alp.org.au/download/now/labors_plan_for_cyber_safety.pdf

    Grant Mckinney
    February 4, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    We can agree that the interchangable use of these terms at times has been problematic, as has been much of the messaging on this policy over the years.

    I would take it one step further. The person running the policy and delivering the messaging has been problematic, when he bothers to deliver anything at all (typically only when he is forced to).

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/11/10/2414895.htm

    This article from Mark demonstrated that quite handily. I still have my special edition “talking points” form letter response from Jim Turnour (Lab) who I snail mailed last year trying to establish a dialogue, and it is filled with incorrect information.

    Then we have Irene Graham’s chronicle of the events detailing the flip flopping on the policy.

    http://libertus.net/censor/ispfiltering-au-govplan.html

    If the policy was always mandatory, it was not readily apparent to ANY reasonable person that it was. It certainly wasn’t to the media or the small portion of the Australian population that was actually aware of the policy.

    From the start this policy has been shrouded in confusing language, kept from the media and the public as much as possible, continually changed on the fly and (perhaps the most telling point) discussed with the public by another Senator who is not the person responsible for it in the first place. That to me doesn’t sound like good policy. It doesn’t sound like a policy to be proud of and it certainly doesn’t seem like Conroy has much faith in it’s general popularity with the electorate.

    James Morris
    February 4, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    Senator,

    Thanks for the update — I appreciate your efforts to protect our human rights.

    Regarding the blocking of URLs vs. sites, what about when there is a mixture of RC and non-RC material on a site which is too large to effectively filter, such as in the case of flickr? This is very commonly used site has more than two billion photos, many of which would be considered RC, and it changes constantly.

    At which point does the government decide to block the entire site? And could you say at this stage specifically whether flickr would be blocked entirely?

    Another point which I think is worth mentioning again is that the filter simply will not work.

    Thanks.

    Justin
    February 4, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    I do not believe a mandatory filter will achieve the policy goals stated

    I’m sorry Senator Lundy, but I’m still waiting for a clear indication of excatly what problem this policy is trying to solve. I asked this in your previous blog entry.

    I ask again, what problem is this policy intending to solve? Where is the proof that said problem even exists?

    I’m yet to actually meet a single person who’s for this policy.

    Michael Flood
    February 5, 2010 at 9:03 am

    My article on the impact of pornography exposure among children and young people looks relevant to this. I have made the full article available here:
    http://www.xyonline.net/content/harms-pornography-exposure-among-children-and-young-people

    The reference is:
    Flood, M. (2009) The harms of pornography exposure among children and young people. Child Abuse Review, 18(6): 384-400.

    Best wishes,

    michael flood.

    Justin
    February 5, 2010 at 10:41 am

    Hi Michael,

    Sorry, I’m not sure if you were replying to me or not. Are you suggesting that exposure of pornography to children is the problem that the government is trying to solve with this “solution”? I’m not sure that is the problem they’re trying to solve and if it is they’ve missed the mark massively and caught up every Australian adult in the process.

    Cheers,
    Justin.

    Brian
    February 5, 2010 at 11:28 am

    Moreover, it the Minister is to be believed, the filter won’t block ordinary X-rated pornography anyway. It won’t stop children (or anyone else) from seeing it.

    Irrelevant, Mr. Flood.

    Almost Anonymous
    February 5, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    I’ve read this article before, and have read it again just now. Are you suggesting that we should restore the NetAlert filter scheme, which could block some of the material you believe is dangerous? After all, one of the “harms” found and reported was that young people became more knowledgeable about sex and more relaxed about sex, so if you wish to prevent that, you’ll need a filter substantially more powerful than proposed even by this Labor government.

    Anybody who found this paper to be convincing would desire a filter that could be configured to their own required level of blocking. There is no substitute for a filter under your own control. The current filter proposal fails to be strict enough for the truly worried, and is too strict for those who already understand the internet and are not scared of it.

    Daveh86
    February 5, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    Mr Flood,

    Your article is exceptionally well written. That is where it’s value ends.

    Your article lacks serious acedemic accuracy and empirical review. You have spouted vaious statistics to support your supposition but have provided 0 causal linkage.

    In acedemic terms you have not correctly lensed your article, in lay you re biased.

    Let me ellaborate.

    A) your publihsher. A child abuse publication telling pornography is bad. Shocker! I would expect a cheese magazine to tell me the health benfits of cheese while ignoring the detriments. This is the same. Publication foes not imply truth.

    B) acedemic process or scientific method. You have simply copied and pasted statistics, with no mention of process, method or other findings. This is what Homer Simpson alluded too with ‘blorteen percent of statistics are made up’ simply citing a number supporting you found by another is not proof of anything. The expirements require context, which you have not supplied.

    Take for example a study showing a group of 11 year old girls a defication film. This would universally prove your point as most would be disgusted. But there is also more subtly, how many 11-18 year olds will admit to an adult in front of their peers that they liked a porn film??

    C) Contol studies. You states several studies that tell you the feelings of teens exposed to adult material. How would a similar group of adults feel?? I would hazard the same. You are blindly citing numbers to support yourself with no context or control grouping.

    Your article should not be taken lightly, it is an abomination of research and acedemic method.

    On a side and personal note. Your article Implies that sex without love is unholesome and masturbation as well. These speak to the bias I alluded too along with an assumption that they are ‘bad’ research is showing that these attitudes are intact truly detrimental. Perhaps you should leave your morals out next time.

    Mr Flood, shame on you

    Kimberley Heitman
    February 6, 2010 at 1:32 am

    Ms Lundy, you deserve credit for continuing to engage with the opponents of this legislation and I thank you for your efforts to put an alternative view to Government members. For many people, the Internet is a small part of their lives and perhaps politicians assume that a quick win for the concerned parent demographic is worth losing a few nerds. Well, it’s your call ALP.

    A question you might fairly raise – how will the success or otherwise of this legislation be measured?

    Does the uncertainty over its efficacy justify a sunset clause?

    Daveh86
    February 6, 2010 at 9:35 am

    Kimberly,

    While your question is indeed valid you have missed most of the argument.

    Sen Conroy has not defined in clear terms the goals of the Legislation. This is why many people are jumping on Kate/Pia for information and with rebuttal, we simply don’t know and wish too. Kate and Pia provide and speak openly and the opponents find flaw with all the things they have said.

    Perhaps your comment (i am assuming sarcasm on your part here) was simply not as innocuous as you made it seem. The internet is a major part of life for the demographic with which the labor party struck the largest cord last election (18-25). This is best evidenced by all the young people who were wearing the KEVIN’07 finery.

    It is ironic then, that the labor party would seek to alienate the youth they worked so hard to engage (online i might add) by hamstringing what they view as a fundamental freedom.

    Kate/Pia

    Im sure we would all welcome you thoughts on this aspect and would also welcome your thought on the 4x bullet points raised above about the filter.

    The 4x regarding,
    a) False sense of security surrounding viruses and other online threats
    b) Blocking of US sites that serve RC content (YES, they will serve it and DO serve it. the only protection is saying your 18. Search ken park on youtube.)
    c) The trials not meeting the speeds that will be laid down by the NBN nor the traffic volumes available currently with ADSL2+
    d) Members of the Caucus who we can contact for comment and why the ALP and Sen Conry are so tight lipped.

    Stuart Anderson
    February 6, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    What I find confusing is the ALP seems to be ignoring the serious economic impact this will have on business. The argument that this is about losing the ‘nerd’ vote is hilarious, where is the greatest economic growth and growth potential in this country coming from? Wheat farmers? If the Government actually thinks that way then they are beyond hope – content creation and technology are the best ways for Australia to compete with larger nations. This is where all the growth is going to come from, not from primary production (or even goods in general – we simply cannot compete on price).

    As you say, for many people the internet is a small part of their lives – just like the telephone, the post, the water, electricity, etc. This is a matter of infrastructure – the people who don’t care about the internet are ignoring their dependency on businesses that service them, and those businesses are critically dependent on the internet. This is where the true cost will be felt – everyone will jack up their prices to deal with the additional costs of doing business.

    John Thornton
    February 6, 2010 at 5:27 pm

    There are the crimes of murder. Then of theft. Then of culture – to burn books, or in a modern guise, websites.

    Gutenberg would be livid that the modern analogue to the printing press could be controlled by a central censorbox machine.

    Cameron Watt
    February 7, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    Kate, I and others would liek clarification over the following statement:

    This is correct. It is not necessarily ‘blanket’ blocking entire websites, but rather specific URLs/pages that are classified RC. Some sites may be completely blocked if they are all RC.

    When you say some sites may be completely blocked if they are all RC what exactly do you mean?

    Do you mean a domain may become entirely blocked, one URL at a time? Where a simple site that currently consists of 10 URLs that are all individually reported and added to the list resulting in 10 separate entries on the blacklist.

    Or will it be the case that when the 10th and last URL is reported a special entry will be added, replacing the previous entries for the domain in question, that blocks ALL current and future content on the domain?

    Not to put too fine a point on it but there has been a frightening lack of detail about how it is expected to work, almost as if the government has no clear idea itself.

    Alex
    March 7, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    I will be fascinated to see the technical requirements for this filter as expressed in regulation and legislation. Remember, ISPs will be liable for failing to block sites, so they will be sweating on all the interesting technical definitions the drafters must encompass.

    How many times will the govt have to amend the regulations? Once a year? Twice a year? Every other Tuesday? Will the law have to be vague to allow maximum flexibility in drafting regulations? How far could the filter be expanded just by executive fiat?

    I have written to the Minister for Finance and Deregulation to ask him whether his department has even considered what kind of regulation this will entail.

    Raena Lea-Shannon
    February 10, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    Where you say “I can work internally to try and convince my colleagues and gain Caucus support for changes to policy,” are you seeking to persuade your colleagues of your “mandatory choice” argument? If so are you having any luck with that?

    Richard
    February 11, 2010 at 9:45 am

    Pia wrote: ‘The concept of mandatory has appeared many times before 2008′.

    Hi Pia,

    Mandatory appeared only as ‘mandatory for ISPs to offer’ – NEVER as ‘mandatory for adult ISP users’.

    Please show us just ONE (1) single public policy document that disproves this?

    We are all waiting.

    Best regards
    Richard

    Mark M
    February 11, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    Conroy really does want to turn Australia into China. http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/google-baulks-at-conroys-call-to-censor-youtube-20100211-ntm0.html
    Every time he opens his mouth he show how ignorant he really is. It scares me that this man is allegedly in charge of govt dept.

    Dave H
    February 11, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    Kate/Pia,

    Though this might interest you and the other commenter’s.

    http://www.itnews.com.au/News/166754,google-cold-on-voluntary-youtube-filtering.aspx
    and
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/02/10/youtube_safety_mode/

    These two websites deal with Google and YouTube, which have been mentioned. Senator Conroy was in talks with Google and stated that their initiating self-censorship to Australian standards for RC material would be a must, given the traffic comes from YouTube would be a nightmare to police (raised above in point b)).

    YouTube has responded and said they would not censor their content to Australian Standards BUT would have an optional SafteyMode, similar to Google Image Search (Link 2).

    Given this, does the filter now serve any purpose? It will not (accoring to Sen. Conroy’s comments about the need for Google to help them) manditoraly block all RC content from YouTube.

    However, YouTube have suggested a system almost IDENTICAL to the proposed Opt-In systems.

    Finally, in a second question. Does the Labor Caucus have a response to the tongue lashing the PM received last night on Q&A from the younger audience? As a reporter outlined today the Rudd governments chief supporters with the Kevin 07 campaign were the youth that labors policies have now effectively alienated.

    Stuart Anderson
    February 12, 2010 at 11:15 am

    Ignoring the ethical considerations for a moment, it is hard to fault Google for objecting to the Minister’s suggestion that they should bear extra and unique financial and technical burdens that their competitors are being spared.

    What the ALP is suggesting Google do is beyond unreasonable. That the Minister is suggesting that Google should do this because the Government’s censorship system won’t be able handle the job is all the more insulting.

    Senator Lundy, perhaps you could enlighten us as to which other legitimate businesses are likely to face onerous and grossly unfair sanctions like the one’s the Minister hopes to force on Google?

    Mark Newton
    February 12, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    The Minister was also misrepresenting the law when he said, to Hungry Beast, “What we’re saying is, well in Australia, these are our laws and we’d like you to apply our laws.”

    There is no law in Australia which requires an overseas content host to censor services provided to Australians. Even under the worst of Conroy’s many censorship proposals, there has been no suggestion that that’d ever be required (and, if there was, it’d be laughed out of the park)

    In making that misrepresentation, however, Conroy is directly echoing the Chinese Government’s overtures to Google:

    After a day of silence, the Foreign Ministry said that China welcomed foreign Internet companies but that those offering online services must do so “in accordance with the law.” Speaking at a scheduled news conference, Jiang Yu, a ministry spokeswoman, did not address Google’s complaints about censorship and cyberattacks and simply stated that “China’s Internet is open.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/15/world/asia/15beijing.html

    … which looks a lot to me like a Chinese version of, “These are our laws and we’d like you to apply our laws,” and, “This Government has never intended to censor political speech.”

    – mark

    Richard Henderson
    February 20, 2010 at 7:49 pm

    Dear Senator Lundy,

    I am a vocal anti-censorship campaigner and I would like to copy you on a ‘viral’ Face Book posting that I made today [Feb 20th '10]

    “One of you just mailed me a cheque for $400. If I may, I’d like to share the handwritten letter that came with it: “Well done, Richard. It is people like you who, by their insight and efforts, assist the maintenance of a democracy. Little by little, people vote themselves into political and real hell. Please accept this cheque as a nominal recognition of your efforts. On behalf of my family and all those who remain as always, clueless … thank you.” I won’t mention which friend it was, other than to say that I was blown away by such an incredible gesture, and I am both overwhelmed and encouraged by such magnificent support. Further to their letter, this friend copied me on several others that they had mailed to parliamentarians. I would also recognise and applaud groups such as ‘Save the Children’, ‘National Children’s Youth Law Centre’, ‘The Australian Library & Information Association’ and ‘Civil Liberties Australia’ for opposing Internet censorship – and friends Ben Juniper, Jackie Shervington, Nick Bruechle, Brad Mantle, Lisa Samaha, Donna Fuller, Andy Flemming, Melissa Hasluck and anyone else who I may have missed who have contacted their MP. I intend to donate the money to the industrious, yet indigent, ‘Electronic Frontiers Australia’ whose battle against Internet censorship serves as a shining example to all Australians. It is not too late to act. To those of you who wish to find out more about this draconian legislation, please visit each of the following links. The 2nd last is an online service that will allow you to either email or fax your message directly to the relevant Labor & Liberal minister, and it takes less than 5 minutes to do [Please ensure that you tick the box to 'share this' with your Face Book friends]. Please note, the most important key words are that you WILL NOT accept mandatory censorship of the internet, but only voluntary ‘OPT-IN’ filtering. Every million dollars the Govt spends on a solution that DOES NOT help kids, is a million dollars that could be spent HELPING them. My letter ends. Censorship doesn’t. Thanks. Hendo

    http://openinternet.com.au/testimonials/ – Suzanne Dvorak from Save the Children in Australia

    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=57213169488 – Parents Say No to Internet Censorship [VIP - Copy on l/h-side]

    http://openinternet.com.au/take_action/ – Electronic Frontiers Australia ‘Take Action’ petition to Parliament

    http://www.getup.org.au/campaign/SaveTheNet&id=892 – VIP * speed-mail your opposition the relevant MP * VIP

    As a result of that post, I will reveal an email to Mrs Julie Bishop, Deputy Leader of the Opposition, CCd to me by a Mr Joyce of Perth:

    “I am a [medical practitioner] long established in Perth. I have a huge client base and one of these is now a friend, Richard Henderson, another well known name in Perth. ‘Hendo’ has diligently applied himself to the stopping of this new initiative purporting to eradicate access to children gaining pornographic images or the worse, these images containing children. His argument is that this censorship will not do what it is supposed to do because it cannot, however it will govern ordinary folk in a way that is unacceptable to our free society, and that it attempts to reduce freedoms that are constitutionally guaranteed. The ‘child porn’ title emphasis is an ingeniously emotional one, designed to raise the support of all ‘good’ people. The title also carries the preposition, that not to support this censorship means that you have nasty ulterior motives, and therefore many people who recognize the inherent danger to our free society, find it unpleasant to raise their voices on this issue. My practice is the litmus paper of social opinion in W.A. (and probably all of Australia), and I can assure you that Hendo is on the right track in his opposition to this proposed legislation. Politically, your colleagues need to show courage here and some smarts, to develop a strategy to stop this bill without causing embarrassment.”

    Bravo, Mr J. While I’d prefer not to get any credit, I would implore you all to write similar to your MP, including Senator Lundy, stating that you will NOT accept mandatory or ‘opt-out’ censorship.

    But first, Ms. Lundy: my question to you would be to ask why your party has private dialogue with right-wing political action groups such as ‘The Australian Christian Lobby’ – as you will read here http://internet-censorship-australia.blogspot.com/ – to the exclusion of other groups. You may have been present when Senator Scott Ludlam asked the question in Parliament. I assert that Labor are breacing the Australian Constitution while Mr Conroy and Mr Rudd insist on having private meetings with the ACL – and allow demonstrably undue influences such as theirs to occur. Can you explain this, please?

    Let me quote from the words of Senator Milne:

    “The Australian Christian Lobby is a private company, it’s a lobbying company, and like every other lobbying company it lobbies on behalf of its clients and it was not clear to us who’s funding the Australian Christian Lobby and where they were coming from.”, “…before we see this incursion of really fundamentalist religious right into Australian politics, people need to know where it’s coming from, and I think Mr Wallace could clear that up by actually saying who’s funding the Australian Christian Lobby.” http://www.abc.net.au Nov ’07

    The Australian Constitution
    Clause 116.

    “The Commonwealth shall not make any law for establishing any religion, or for imposing any religious observance, or for prohibiting the free exercise of any religion, and no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust”

    I am a Christian, however, like so many Christians we do not appreciate, nor will we tolerate the incursion of right-wing fundamentalists into Australian politics. Nor we will tolerate a government who kowtows to them in contravention of Clause 116.

    If a hands-up at a party the other night is anything to go by, the influence of the Australian Christian Lobby will not protect you from sane, moderate Christians come election time. Your stance on mandatory filtering [with the ONLY fair exception being voluntary 'OPT-IN' filtering], will lead to Labor’s downfall, I believe.

    As I said, I applaud groups such as ‘Save the Children’, ‘National Children’s Youth Law Centre’, ‘The Australian Library & Information Association’ and ‘Civil Liberties Australia’ for opposing Internet censorship; the evangelical ACL can spit fire and brimstone but with moderate, respected groups like these rapidly gaining voice, you’re losing the same voters that you feel are secured by your close ties with the ACL. Thanks and I will revisit this page to read your reply.

    Best wishes,

    Richard

    Richard Henderson
    Editor-in-Chief
    Agency.Asia Magazine
    http://www.agency.asia
    richard at agency dot asia

    PS: Please accept my permission to publish this posting.

    Justin
    February 24, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    Well done Kate. I am a Labor party member who is also not comfortable with mandatory filtering, mainly due to freedom of speech issues and inconsistency in approach to physical and digital content.

    I think an option to opt out makes the most sense, as people who are uncomfortable with the filter, or find that it impedes legitimate context they seek, can simply have it switched off.

    I wish you luck on this issue with the caucus!

    David Ferguson
    February 24, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    Just a message of support for showing a well thought out and logical approach to technology and its implications in society. I hope your amendments gain adoption. My main concern is that the public at large is apathetic about this issue and this argument will not get the debate it deserves.

    All the best

    Richard Ure
    February 24, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    Is Senator Conroy so assured of his place in the firmament that he thinks saying China filters the internet will convince Australia meekly to fall into line? Is arrogant too strong a word?

    Law makers have fudged the issue of assisted death for too long. Radio National’s Background Briefing covered this issue at http://is.gd/93hr1. It is a matter of public policy which needs long, widespread and urgent community debate. Censoring the debate is too convenient for politicians (particularly those with all the answers) and cannot be allowed.

    I would not trust John Howard, or worse still, Tony Abbott with this type of legislation.

    Russell Blackford
    February 24, 2010 at 10:26 pm

    Senator Lundy, please just cross the floor when this legislation is introduced and be done with it. You cannot, in good conscience, vote for legislation that you know is morally abhorrent, no matter what the Labor Party’s rules are. If you cross the floor, there is no more powerful statement you can make; and there’s no better way of alerting the wider public to the danger.

    Your explanation of why you won’t cross the floor is extremely weak. It amounts to no more than, “Party discipline has worked quite well in the past.” I’m sorry, but that’s not satisfactory. Even if that’s true, it’s nothing in the balance of what is at stake on this occasion.

    If necessary, you should risk expulsion from the Labor Party or leave of your own volition and become an Independent. That’s how important this is … and I cannot imagine why you would want to stay in the Labor Party, or be bound by party discipline, in any event, as long as this is its attitude to freedom of speech.

    Really, *please* think about this very seriously.

    Michael
    February 25, 2010 at 12:03 am

    Hey Kate, Is this what Governments are for ? ‘Fixing’ problems that don’t even exist ? We have had internet access for 10-15 years ,how is it so adversely affecting our society that it needs the government to regulate it ? Can’t Government just leave us alone in this area ? You can’t control it’s future direction with legislation and regulation.
    Is this just going to be another law that makes everyone a potential criminal but not if the enforcement turns a blind eye ?
    Just more Government control and less individual freedom in my opinion.
    We are more than capable of making moral decisions on our own Mr Government

    Michael Flood
    February 25, 2010 at 11:21 am

    In response to various comments above, let me clarify. I think there is compelling evidence that much pornography involves social and sexual harms, both among adults and children. We need educational, social, and technological strategies to minimise such harms. (For example, I’d love to see a really significant community conversation on the impact and meaning among heterosexual men of their routine use of pornography.) Having said that, I no longer believe that ISP-based filtering is an appropriate or effective strategy with which to minimise pornography’s potential harms.
    Best wishes,
    michael flood.

    brownbear
    February 25, 2010 at 6:09 pm

    Michael
    Might I suggest that you have a look at the work of Milton Diamond of the University of Hawaii http://www.hawaii.edu/PCSS/biblio/articles/1961to1999/1999-effects-of-pornography.html He is suggesting that increased availability of pornography results in a reduction in sexual assault including child sexual assault. The interesting thing about his work is that it eliminates skewed results due to research methodology.
    Thanks for taking the trouble to come out in opposition to the Labor Party proposal for mandatory Internet Filtering.

    Stuart Anderson
    February 25, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    I think it is far more likely that people will be bored by porn than scarred by it. We’ve had ubiquitous porn on the web for probably a good 15-20 years and society hasn’t imploded. How are these arguments not just pushing moral panic and advocacy for prohibition (with all the pitfalls and endangerment of the public that obviously entails)?

    I think a more interesting discussion would be why violence gets a free pass, and pornography (even when sex positive and totally consensual) gets pilloried as the root of the many ills of society.

    The most disgusting thing I’ve seen of late (which caused me to stop watching, and I literally said out loud “Who is this movie for?”) was the glassing scene in the MA15+ rated Pan’s Labyrinth, not some porno. Children can watch that, yet that isn’t even mentioned by the same people that go berserk at the thought of people of age viewing entirely legal porn of their own volition. Violence is a way bigger issue than smut IMHO.

    Josh Coulson
    February 26, 2010 at 8:56 am

    Senator Lundy,

    I fully support your position on the internet filter, I believe the emotive language continually being used by the PM and Minister Conroy on this issue are disengenous and disparaging.

    One thing that has really irked me about the planned internet filter is its interaction with the current restricted classification of Video Games. Under the Minister’s planned filter any page discussing Video Games that are refused classification in Australia will be censored by the clean feed. i find this abhorent.

    I believe that the internet is an international, global medium, the jurisdiction issues that excaserbate any problems with crime fighting alone should demonstrate that an international approach is needed to fight to remove the content that the majority of Australians are opposed to.

    Isolating Australia from the internet will not protect children. Filtering the internet in Australia is a band aid solution to serious disease. Australia has a responsibility as a civilised world leader in technology to fight these elements, censoring allows us to ignore the issues and hide from this responsibility.

    Josh Coulson

    Rob Edward
    February 26, 2010 at 9:50 am

    Good to see there is at least one person in the Labor Party who doesn’t think the entire population of Australia needs to be treated like children because some parents or too lazy, stupid or careless to monitoring their childrens use of the internet.

    J horsburgh
    February 27, 2010 at 10:49 am

    Hi Kate,

    Where are the detailed studies of the costs of this Internet censorship plan? How much are the end users going to have to pay once this scheme is in place?

    What will the new budget be for the ACMA moving forward, as surely they will need a huge increase in their resources to classify content and for policing of the ISPs and Internet users to make sure the filter is being utilized / not bypassed?

    Given the current financial situation of Australia due to the GFC & associated measures to prevent a rescession (Tax Bonus, school building etc), surely there are more appropriate uses for Our Tax payer money! Surely the money would be better spent in funding agencies like centerlink to crack down on people ripping off the system, or the tax office, to improve government revenue to help with the finacial situation?

    Or could the money be better spent on law enforcement- AFP, Customs or ASIO given their recently expanded role in border protection inteligence gathering?

    Jeremy

    Richard Ure
    February 27, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    What do Children Overboard, the failure to acknowledge the Stolen Generation or the harm caused by climate change, the roof insulation problems, Work Choices and for that matter, Australia’s involvement in the Iraq war, have in common? Answer: A failure by government to listen to those involved and ultimate defeat at the polls.

    As I reflect on Senator Conroy’s headlong rush to censor the internet in the absence of, and largely contrary to, public opinion, I see disturbing similarities which could help bring down a government the country badly needs, given the alternative. The Opposition is filling the airwaves with calls for Peter Garrett’s head yet is disturbingly quiet on this issue. Are they hoping Labor will do the dirty work for them? Surely Tony Abbott would be salivating at the idea of shaping the internet in his vision.

    Richard Ure
    March 7, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    Kate,

    The Labor government is moving into important areas such as education and hospitals long overlooked by a previous cautious government. The insulation problems were unfairly reported with the (ir)responsible contractors being let off the hook. Now NSW, for one, is bringing overdue prosecutions under consumer protection legislation to pin the blame where it lies, but will that activity be reported with the same gusto, even by the ABC which led bulletins with the insulation problem for weeks?

    After Grocery Watch and Fuel Watch, two ambitious programs of doubtful utility, won’t the media be on the lookout for problems with Net censorship? And when they are uncovered, as they surely will be, does it make sense for a government with general reform in its nostrils to take more flack for a program of doubtful benefit?

    Isn’t the term these days Risk Assessment? Has one been made?

    tardis_42
    March 7, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    given that Senator Conroy’s statements on the ABC’s Hungry Beast program have been *thoroughly* debunked – he lies and lies again…

    http://libertus.net/censor/rdocs/ispblocking-rc-ncb-govclaims2010.html

    Why are we still even debating this? the government, and particularly (but not only) Senator Conroy, is incapable of telling the whole truth about what he plans, consistently misrepresents what will be blocked, what is legal, and what the filter is actually capable of achieving.

    Will you, Kate, take up the initiative and *please* ask Senator Conroy the and party decision makers *why* they feel the need to *constantly* lie to the public about this policy? and for that matter, we still haven’t had *any* explanation from the government of what *this particular* part of the government’s cyber-safety initiatives is supposed to achieve, and neither have we seen any evidence that some of the things it is supposed to do are actually problems at all (children stumbling across RC? Adults stumbling acros RC? we already know that it *cannot* stop intentional access, and we also know that (given the respective sizes of the filter list and the internet in general) it won’t have even one percent of all potentially-RC sites on the list, and is therefore more-or-less useless at stopping accidental access to RC rated pages as well). In order to meet Senator Conroy’s continued claims of “evidence based” policy, we need to (and haven’t) see a few things. First, evidence that people, whether children or adults, *ever* come across material which would be rated RC – we need to see how often it happens, as well (if at all). Then we need *proper* evidence that accidentally coming across *specifically* the material which people stumbled upon, causes lasting harm. By specifically, i mean that the study must not take the worst found by adults and apply that to the harms-children test, it must be grouped according to which group found it. IF and ONLY IF it is found that there is a significant chance that Adults *will* come across material *accidentally* (because if they are specifically looking then the filter is absolutely not going to stop them) on the internet that *will* cause them *lasting* harm THEN and only then can you look at a mandatory-for-adults filter, at which point the line of *likely to cause harm* has to be drawn (again, RC-on-the-net but actually-offline-it’d-be-Category-1-or-2-restricted is almost certainly the wrong definition) and the further question has to be asked which is “will the filter significantly reduce the occurances of harm” – take note again of the point i made above about how much material there is on the net, and how absurdly tiny a proportion of potentially-banned sites a complaints-based filter can ever expect to list. against that has to be weighed the potential harms of introducing the filter. None of this has been done. Even Senator Conroy’s old standby “we’re introducing it cos parents don’t know how to install their own filters at home” has been shown to be a lie *by ACMA research!*
    http://libertus.net/censor/ispfiltering-au-govplan-p2.html#s_8

    I can understand the uphill battle you face regarding this policy – it is supported at the highest levels within the party. But please don’t give up.

    also posted on the “My thoughts on the Safer Internet Group statement” page on this blog.

    Chris
    August 1, 2010 at 7:43 pm

    Hi Kate,

    Whilst it appears you are the only Labor party member with any sense, may i say that i will never vote for a labor member again. Im a 23 year old gen y male, and within 1 term of labor being in power we see the damage their party does.

    They are not attacking democracy with data browsing retention and an internet censorship program to rival Chinas……

    This is disgusting, and whilst i respect your position of being against the censorship or atleast providing a opt out option, my view on labor and no doubt a very large portion of internet users is one of hatred.
    Do you realise how many people i can reach within one post on facebook? i personally can inform upto 400 people… Who in turn can inform more.. I will continue to educate all my friends on this tragic policy.

    I do hope labor enjoyed their one term…. Bittersweet as it may have been.

    Regards,
    Chris

    Richard Ure
    August 4, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    Stephen Conroy (and others) who think their promises about the limits of censorship should be believed, might like to read http://is.gd/e1qHw response to an SMH FOI application.