Coffee should be filtered, not the Internet

Posted on August 4, 2010 by

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I know, I’m a blogger, so I am clearly a fan of the Internet.  But that is not the only reason that I am concerned about Labor’s Internet filter.

There are very few people who would argue with the intended purpose of the Internet filter, which is to prevent the proliferation of child pornography. However the facts suggest that is unlikely to be the outcome.

The filter would force service providers to block a list of Internet addresses that contain material that would be refused classification under Australian laws. This would include child pornography material, as well as euthanasia and safe drug use websites or anything else coming under ‘instructions or promotion of crime’.

The list of these banned sites would be kept secret. This means there would be no public scrutiny of the list. This is concerning given the fact that the materials go far beyond child sexual abuse material and there is evidence seemingly innocuous websites could be caught in the filter.

The main problem with the filter though is that it will do almost nothing to prevent people who are accessing and trading child sexual abuse material. This type of material is not distributed out in the open but rather on peer-to-peer networks and in more clandestine ways.

The Government seems to be using this very serious and emotive issue as a smoke screen to promote the filter. However, the focus should be on prosecuting the individuals involved.

The filter may also create complacency amongst parents, who might incorrectly assume that their children will be safe whilst surfing the net. Parents would be much better served by installing their own Internet filters.

Communications minister Stephen Conroy has put plans for the filter on hold for now but Labor’s persistence with the policy shows their tendency to stick with policies that are severely flawed and lack public support.

Putting the policy on the backburner does not make it any less of an issue. It is just a way to distract voters and make them think it is not an election issue.

Advocates of the filter say the Internet should be treated like any other media. However when it comes to banning things we should always err on the side of caution because it is a slippery slope.

The Internet whilst having many flaws it is also something, which has made the world so much smaller. It is a place for vigorous discussion and not to mention home to this blog. Sure it might also be home to perezhilton but the use of Twitter during the Iran election, incidentally country on Reporters Without Boarders List of Internet Enemies, shows how powerful it can be at its best.

To filter or not filter that is the question?

Words – Fatima Malik

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Posted in: Fatima Malik, Opinion