Internet filtering: Trust us. We know what’s bad for you.
“The best filters we can provide to kids are the ones we build in their brains,”according Rebecca Randall, the vice president for outreach for Common Sense Media, in this article in Education Week. Unfortunately, Senator the Hon Stephen Conroy, Australia’s Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy disagrees. This 15 December 2009 media release anounces the Rudd government’s intention to introduce mandatory internet filtering in Australia before the 2010 general election. This follows a trial ealier this year to test the effectiveness of ISP filtering. Further coverage can be found here (thanks, Britta). Fibreculture has set up a discussion forum and a public blog in response to this initiative. Described as a move to “improve safety on the internet for Australian families”, the rhetoric plays on, and encourages, fears of the dark side. The strategy is a familiar one — imbed the problem statement into the proposed solution so that it becomes self-justifying and imune from critique.
The cyber-safety measures announced today include:
- Introduction of mandatory ISP-level filtering of Refused Classification (RC) –rated content.
- A grants program to encourage the introduction of optional filtering by Internet Service Providers, to block additional content as requested by households.
- An expansion of the cyber-safety outreach program run by the Australian Communications and Media Authority and the Cyber-Safety Online Helpline – to improve education and awareness of online safety.