back to article Aussie net filtering goes into reverse

Red faces all round in the New South Wales Education Department, as news surfaced last week that a filter supposed to block porn was actually letting it through, and blocking perfectly good educational material instead. This unfortunate state of affairs came to light when a female school student from Greenfell, NSW, went …


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  1. breakfast
    Paris Hilton

    Geographically appropriate...

    NSW? NS*F*W more like!

    See what I did there?

  2. William Towle

    Misread specification?

    /!\ Access to the requested page has been denied /!\

    Reason: filter detected NSW content

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Web site genders

    'whilst allowing her to view a male site talking about "inappropriate material"'

    So web sites are gendered now? What gender is El Reg?

  4. frank ly

    Similar words....confusion....

    "..a picture of the blonde Ministress, suspiciously captioned: "Coming soon"..."

    Am I the only one who read that as 'blonde Mistress' ?

  5. This post has been deleted by its author

  6. dave 151

    @Similar words...confusion


  7. NogginTheNog
    Thumb Down

    Filter status

    Is this thing Live yet? Is it still in pilot/optional mode, or are the poor ockers all being subjected to this now?

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Lesson to Learn

    There's an important lesson to learn here, and it involves the dangers of false senses of security.

    When ordinary people - parents, teachers, employers, etc - rely on these various nannying schemes, people - particularly children - are less safe as a result. Those who would normally take responsibility for keeping children safe (parents first and foremost) are instead leaving it up to those faceless strangers who run these filters, databases, etc. The result of this false sense of security is that the very people who are supposed to be protected are being less well protected than would otherwise be the case.

    Who cares more about your children: you, as you're their parents, or those faceless strangers who are chasing targets and worrying about statistics, headlines and funding?

    It's like the false sense of security fostered by such things as CRB checks. As has been pointed out many times before, people may naively think that those who pass such checks are safe, when in fact they might just not have been caught, yet. (There's a first time for everything, and that includes such nastinesses as kiddy fiddling, and getting caught for it.) As people discover (as they inevitably will) that CRB checks are no substitute for proper supervision, and other necessary safeguards, people will stop relying on vetting results.

    But once people aren't relying on CRB checks and vetting, national net filters, etc, and are taking other necessary precautions instead, why bother with those discredited, untrusted and untrustworthy schemes at all? Why bother with vetting if the same precautions still need to be taken if there was no CRB in the first place? Why spend/waste public money on such redundant schemes?

    1. Identify and close down these inevitably redundant schemes.

    2. Save public money.

    3. Cut taxes, invest saved money in other ways, or a combination of both.

    4. Society and the economy benefit, better enabling parents, guardians, etc, to keep their children safe.

    To me, a Lib Dem supporter, it increasingly looks like New Labour are getting it so wrong now that they're letting the Tories be right by default. "Do nothing" is starting to look really attractive!

  9. This post has been deleted by its author

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's the adult filtering that's troublesome

    In this case her dad complains, because he is the proxy for her. Since she is a minor, she doesn't get the free choice she would have as an adult.

    Since he is her dad, he gets to complain it is inappropriate for her to see that, even if she thinks otherwise. This is because she is a minor and he is her guiding adult.

    It's the adult filtering that's troublesome

    The censor is not the dad of adult web surfers. It is not for him to impose his views on other adults, he is not the proxy for that person, does not take responsibility for that persons choices and doesn't not have a basis to overrule them.

    So the Aussies should make their school filter work better, and remove the filtering for adults.

  11. Shadowfirebird

    Sabotage by some insider, perhaps?

    We can only hope.

  12. Steve Brooks

    trials? Who needs em when you can set the goal posts yourself!

    Interesting you should ask. Some ISP's have finished the trials, one said that there was no slow down experienced by the opt-in testers at all. When further queried about the number of participants they said that 15 of their custmer base had opted in. And yes youdid read that right 15, not 1500, or even 150, but 15! The government is happy with the trial and the said they will write the report, yes them, NOT an independent testing lab called Ennex who did the actual testing. Most respected Ausrtalian scholars and statisticians have said that the results from such small samples are meaningless.

    Oh yes, the government has also said that once they have written the report they will set the success criteria and declare the trial a complete success, mind you it was said a bit more diplomatically than that, but that's what it amounts to.

    Find that hard to believe?

  13. Anonymous Coward


    I don't believe it for one second...

    I searched for "Swallow" in Google and the top hit was the RSPB article. I'm sure other countries would have similar results.

    I also have Safe Searching on in the preferences (which i think is on by default). Either someone has switched those preferences off, or she used a different search engine, or she added some other words that skewed the results and got her the NSFW results...

  14. Andy ORourke

    @ Frank Ly

    Nope, me too, "Blonde Mistress" imagine my dissapointment when I went to the page, she looked happy but didnt seem to be "Coming Soon"

  15. Winkypop Silver badge


    This is NOT the Great Aussie Firewall.

    It's just the smaller lesser-known Education Departments Firewall.

    Back to skool.

  16. Lee T

    @Filter status

    They're still trialling it. A (completely fabricated, naturally) report is due out in september/october (but they seem to love that whooshing sound deadlines make as they fly past).

  17. Gangsta

    @ Similar Words

    I only realised it said what it really said when you said it. :D

  18. Graham Marsden
    Thumb Up


    ... pr0n is educational...!

    (Well I've certainly learned plenty from it ;-) )

  19. Luther Blissett

    More on a false sense of security

    Education for the real - as opposed to the hyperreal - would include that it is riskier to individual health to swallow flouridated toothpaste than it is to swallow cum from an HIV positive. How can it be wrong to know that?

  20. Anonymous Coward

    @ frank ly - Similar words...confusion

    erm, i thought they were referring to the moderatirx. my bad.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    try it

    interesting... If you search for "swallow" on you get RSPB

    If you look on you get a site asking the spit or swallow question...

    Paris... need I say

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Well said ...

    "Lesson to Learn", I agree entirely.

    On a less serious note I'm trying to imagine the connection between swallow and a male site with inappropriate material. The only thing I can think of that meets the criteria is sword-swallowing. Quite a mouthful for young ladies!

  23. disfit

    @frank ly, Similar words....confusion....

    > "..a picture of the blonde Ministress, suspiciously captioned: "Coming soon"..."

    > Am I the only one who read that as 'blonde Mistress' ?

    Nope, and being curious I clicked .... and got horrified. Since it is early, I got woken up way too rapidly. Yikes!

  24. Adrian Esdaile

    See what I did there?

    I keep reading the NSW Education Minister's name as "Verify Filth"

    I think the bigger news story was that they found a high-school student who would be shocked at such a use of 'swallow'.

  25. Jon 85

    Nothing new here

    A friend of mine was working as a teacher in a high school in Sydney way back in the late 90s - the net filtering software they used back then was blocking access to the NSW Department of Education website because it deemed to mention 'sex education'. Glad to see things have moved on in the last decade.

  26. Paul C. Dickie

    Just curious...

    Would a search for "girl on horseback" bring up images or a video of a horse on girl-back?

  27. Anonymous Coward

    Searching for Swallow?

    African or European?

    Mines the one with the dead parrot in the pocket.

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