[clug] Another nail in the coffin of Conroy’s Rabbit-Proof Firewall

Michael James michael at james.st
Thu Jan 15 03:18:20 GMT 2009

Stilgherrian writes in today's Crikey:

Is there anyone who reckons trying to filter bad stuff out of the Internet 
is the right way to go? Or even possible? Apart, that is, from s-x-obsessed 
panic merchants and moral crusaders, politicians with Senate numbers to 
count on stubby little fingers, shiny-suited salesmen hawking boxes 
marked "Rooly-Trooly-Safe Internet Filter", or cud-munching Luddites who 
just don't understand anything about the Internet generally?
Those with a clue are getting sick of pointing out the same policy and 
technical flaws. But Minister for Denying the Bleeding Obvious Senator 
Stephen Conroy relentlessly continues his warped version of the trials 
program set up by Coalition predecessor Helen Coonan.
Filters won't work because no shut up doesn't matter let's try again they 
don't work no let's try again they don't work let's try again don't work 
try try try try ... FFS!
The Rudd government says it's all about evidence-based policy. Maybe this 
new report from the US Internet Safety Technical Task Force will help. This 
panel -- a who's who of Internet heavies -- was set up by 49 state 
Attorneys General to tackle the problem of children being solicited for s-x 
online. It discovered there's actually no significant problem at all.
"The problem of bullying among children, both online and offline, poses a 
far more serious challenge than the sexual solicitation of minors by 
adults," reports The New York Times.
"In the cases that do exist, the report said, teenagers are typically 
willing participants and are already at risk because of poor home 
environments, substance abuse or other problems."
Colin Jacobs from Electronic Frontiers Australia has trawled through the 
report in more detail and agrees, filtering won't deliver for Aussie kids.
Irene Graham is the full bottle on censorship in Australia. Want to debate 
these issues? Go scour her well-researched even-toned Libertus.net. It’s 
packed full o' juicy titbits, like the fact that $2.8 million, which the 
Howard government allocated to expand the Australian Federal Police's 
Online Child S-xual Exploitation Team (OCSET), was instead used by Rudd to 
help create the $44.5 million internet filter program.
That would've been a real help, because OCSET's entire annual budget in 2007 
was only $7.5 million. Instead, OCSET has to palm off cases to the states 
because they don't have the staff.
"Only half are likely to be investigated by child protection police," 
reported the Daily Telegraph .
"The rest will be farmed out to local commands or dropped". 
That is, to police without appropriate training.
What a great way to "protect the children", eh? Take money from the police, 
where it'd do some good, and instead burn it on a poorly-defined IT 
project. Anyone who knows anything about IT will tell you the same thing: 
without clearly-defined goals up front, you will go over budget, over 
schedule and in all likelihood, your project will never be completed.
So why is it happening?
Maybe it's what Barry Glassner, author of The Culture of Fear: Why Americans 
Are Afraid of the Wrong Things, calls the "fear industrial complex".
"The fear industrial complex is composed of politicians, activist groups and 
corporations that all sell us on the idea that they can provide safety from 
the very dangers they are scaring us about," he told ABC News in the US.
"Whenever somebody's trying to scare us, the question to ask is 'Are they 
benefiting from it, and in what way?'"

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