Children's welfare groups oppose Australian censorware -- petition to save Australia's Internet

Itsumishi sez, "A few weeks ago it was mentioned that the Australian Labor Government will be trying to introduce mandatory internet filtering despite promises before the election that any filtering would be on a voluntary basis. The whole insane proposal has received very little mainstream media attention despite vocal opposition from the Opposition, some smaller parties, industry experts, ISPs, consumers and even Child Welfare Groups! With trials due to start December 24th (while everyone is distracted by the holiday season) the time to speak up and let Senator Stephen Conroy, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy as well as the Labor Government know how Australian's feel about this very important issue. GetUp! Campaign Actions (who helped abolish Work Choices and free David Hicks) have set up a campaign to Save the Net in Australia. I urge all Australian's who care about free speech, the internet and our economy to sign up now and stop this insanity before it has real impact on our daily lives."
Holly Doel-Mackaway, adviser with Save the Children, the largest independent children's rights agency in the world, said educating kids and parents was the way to empower young people to be safe internet users.

She said the filter scheme was "fundamentally flawed" because it failed to tackle the problem at the source and would inadvertently block legitimate resources.

Furthermore there was no evidence to suggest that children were stumbling across child pornography when browsing the web. Doel-Mackaway believes the millions of dollars earmarked to implement the filters would be far better spent on teaching children how to use the internet safely and on law enforcement.

"Children are exposed to the abusive behaviours of adults often and we need to be preventing the causes of violence against children in the community, rather than blocking it from people's view," she said.

"The constant change of cyberspace means that a filter is going to be able to be circumvented and it's going to throw up false positives - many innocent websites, maybe even our own, will be blacklisted because we reference a lot of our work that we do with children in fighting commercial sexual exploitation."

Children's welfare groups slam net filters, Save The Net petition



  1. Minister Conroy has gone so far as to suggest that anyone opposed to Filtering supports ‘child pornography’.

    This is not surprising from the government that publicly decried an art exhibition that featured shots of a nude girl.

    This would have never had legs, had it not been for the government needing to buy a single senate vote belonging to a senator whose party is an ultra-conservative Christian party with a sole senator and a long-standing manifesto of ‘save the children / filter the net’.

    The irony is that I moved to Australia thinking that the country is an open minded, fun-loving place. The population might be, but the government is so far from that! They’ve got an opposition government are called ‘liberal’ but are patently conservative (irony much?) and the party in power (labour) swing between conservative and pro-union.

    Lovely country, shame about this crappy policy. Hopefully it will fall in a heap as it has over and over again already.

  2. The Opposition in Australia really isn’t being vocal about this at all.
    Not surprising really since they got this ball rolling when they were in power, Labor just continued on with the scheme.

  3. There’s an editorial article on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s website by an advocate of the censorware here (“Net porn: Whose rights matter most?”). Almost all of the huge number of comments on the article are highly critical, but I am still very nervous that the government cares only for the support of the conservative Family First MP who holds the balance of power.

    I must also say that almost all of the discussion on Australian web forums on this topic has focussed on the technical impossibilities of the filtering. While of course I completely agree with this, I think it misses the main point that this sort of censorship is hideously bad and scary.

    I think the main reason people don’t want to argue about net censorship is that they are embarrassed about arguing that net porn should not be censored.

    It is vital to break this embarrassing taboo, or the censors will always win, and will not stop with porn (think on a scale from: terrorist groups, drugs, anti-government journalists, trade unions, …)

    Therefore, I say with (albeit anonymous) pride: I look at porn on the net. I’m a happily married 30 something professional who occasionally feels like having a wank.

    Somehow I don’t think that I’m alone.

  4. I agree the Opposition isn’t being too vocal about it – they are saying something but they can’t say much because they started it.

    From what I have seen there is quite a bit of mainstream media coverage – the Fairfax group, the Australian Broadcasting Commission, and even the very conservative Courier-Mail have all published strong opinion pieces opposing the internet censorship bill; and Crikey, although by no means MSM, has given it a Wankley Award (that’s a play on Australia’s Walkley Awards).

    If the bill is enacted, it is fairly certain BoingBoing will be blocked. One of the minority senators whose support is needed by the government has “fetish sites” on his unwanted content list. Sorry Mark, sorry Xeni, but you’ll have to clean up your act – or get Cory to teach us how to do tunnelling ;-)

  5. Remember:
    The Australian Constitution does not have any express provision relating to freedom of speech.

    Try not to bring “Free Speech” into the debate, as it won’t get you anywhere.

    For those interested in more info:

  6. It’s sad that the supposedly more liberal of the two parties in Australia would keep this ball rolling.

    And the subsequent coverage – although coverage is there, it’s not an issue my parents would know about. Not on the 6 o’clock news, and if it is it’s usually slanted as a good idea.

    We’re infatuated with nanny state policy everywhere else, so this comes as no great surprise.

  7. I beg to differ on the lack of MSM coverage, it’s been mentioned on the news (websites) in the US, the UK, and all over many Australian websites. An organisation I’m a member of (SAGE-AU, a system admin’s technical group) has been voicing very strong opposition to it for weeks now, and our President (Donna) has made some widely covered comments about it.

    With the recent attack on the filter by none other than the head of Save the Children (noted as “the largest independent children’s rights agency in the world”, hopefully this is doomed. Senator Conroy already has plenty on his plate trying to keep the National Broadband Network on track, don’t think he can handle this as well.

  8. There’s a rally to oppose the Internet censorship laws on December 13th in all Australian capital cities. For NSW, it will be at 11am at Sydney Town Hall square. Check the Facebook event: “Sydney Townhall Protest to Stop Internet censorship & filtering”

  9. Whilst I have seen coverage of the issue on most of the major News Papers I still do not believe it has had nearly the coverage it deserves.

    Never once have I logged onto The Age or The Herald Sun and seen this issue on either front page, or even under the ‘National News’ sections. These are the 2 major Newspapers in Melbourne.

    Always I have had to look in the ‘Technology Sections’ or have found the article due to links. Coverage in the US and the UK does not equate to major news coverage in Australia. When I asked my parents on their thoughts on the issue they said only that they had vaguely heard about it but had no real knowledge about any of it, both of my parents read news papers daily and watch news nightly.

    Word is spreading certainly, however I feel this is probably much more so through certain circles than the general public.

  10. Just to back up my point in the above post.
    I just asked 4 different people at my work about it.

    2 of them said they were both vaguely aware of the issue and had read 1 article each. The other 2 had not heard about it at all.

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