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The Forum > Article Comments > A little more conversation, a little less panic please > Comments

A little more conversation, a little less panic please : Comments

By Michael Meloni, published 16/4/2010

Itís the conversation between parent and child that is missing when we look to technology such as ISP filtering as a solution to keeping children safe on the internet.

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Apparently we are all children in the eyes of Stephen Conroy and the Labor party. There is no way we can be trusted to look after ourselves and our families.
Posted by Shadow Minister, Friday, 16 April 2010 11:16:22 AM
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This piece is a little bit exaggerated.

If the filtering was going to go down the path of China or censorship (like penalties for speaking against the Thai royal family) then yes I would be worried.

If it is about blocking stuff that is already illegal in any form - paper or internet - then I cannot see a problem.

Sitting down talking with your children is the biggest and best move any parent makes but it is more than that. It is disingenuous to think that parents are present in their child's every waking moment especially when in other people's homes where there may be no parental presence.

Yes we can all get a home filter - it works to some extent.

But what is the issue if we are blocking stuff that is otherwise illegal such as child porn? Why should the internet be any different?

I am speaking purely from the parental values perspective that this article emphasises and not about the technological difficulties that some will no doubt raise.

It is like saying well I will warn my kid about stranger danger (or about abuse) but because we have talked about it I don't need to lock my front door at night.

We have laws that forbid terrorism so sites that incite terrorism are banned - so what!

Australia is still a democratic country - if the government goes too far they will get voted out. I cannot see any of the two major parties going over the line on censorship or they will get voted out.

The proof is just look at the OTT outrage about sadistic porn or child porn not being available let alone anything that might truly restrict political or personal freedom.

The moral panic about loss of freedoms and censorship is really quite alarming.
Posted by pelican, Friday, 16 April 2010 1:15:03 PM
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Pelican,

The point of the uproar against this net filter is that the majority of what is being blocked is not actually illegal, secondly there is nothing stopping a China like censorship as the blocked list is secret and controlled by a committee with no oversight.

To rub salt in the wounds it can be maneuvered by any 12 year old, and will slow down the net considerably. The new broadband network might end up with dial up type speeds.
Posted by Shadow Minister, Friday, 16 April 2010 1:41:18 PM
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SM
I understand the technical arguments but I am purely taking to task the emphasis of this article over the censorship aspect - it is a bit OTT.

There is certainly room for discussion over the criteria for the blocked list and there should be oversight - that I agree.

But the bones of the filtering concept have been made into some sort of evil conspiracy (well some are making it that way). I am not saying the author of this article falls into that crowd and yes...lets have an open discussion with government about what should be and should not be on the list. The banned sites of course should only include illegal content.

If there was any move to include (as has previously been written about) sites that deal with euthanasia or abortion (pro or against) then I would also be jumping up and down.

I am just not willing to join the 'all censorship is bad crew' when sometimes there are valid concerns that are should not be disregarded or immediately thrown into the moral panic basket. Moral panic is a two way street.
Posted by pelican, Friday, 16 April 2010 3:15:12 PM
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Pelican,

The net is a communication system, the nearest comparison would be the mail service. As with postal system, there are existing laws in place as to what the postal system can be used for, and those caught contravening these laws are punished. Opening parcels for censorship was common decades ago, but would not be tolerated today.

The step from regulation to censorship is a huge one, and being only partially censored is like being partially pregnant, once the foot is in the door, the degree of censorship can be ramped up to almost any degree without the knowledge of the public and only the assurances of the bureaucrats that they won't go further.

The saying "the road to hell is paved with good intentions" is especially apt here.
Posted by Shadow Minister, Friday, 16 April 2010 3:42:03 PM
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SM
I do understand your point about the risks inherent in censorship and that is why there needs to be oversight and an independent committee with a variety of 'panellists' with representation from a range of groups to ensure the end result is a compromise position rather than pandering to a radical mindset. I would wholeheartedley support an open shop rather than a closed shop on this issue.

The internet is not like the mail system. It is easier to stop illegal activity at the door of the internet, unlike the mail system which would involve every letter and parcel being opened to check for illegal content. Of course it could not be done for reasons of privacy and pragmatism.

I liken the internet more to TV, that we would not allow an R+ rated movie on in the 5pm time slot or not without some scenes cut out in a later time slot, as happens now. We accept that in this medium that adults are not the only people watching but still mindful that some raunchier content is aired late at night when children are asleep with of course parental guidance.

The internet is an open communication network that does not sleep and can be accessed at any time.

I do get the issues but as a parent I feel that more could be done to ban illegal content other than just home filters.

We are a civilised and modern country - it must be possible for illegal content to be banned without betraying those valued principles of democracy.
Posted by pelican, Friday, 16 April 2010 4:22:51 PM
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