back to article Conroy, Family First isolated on Oz internet filter

Clear blue water seems now to be opening up between the incumbent Australian Labor Government and other parties standing in the forthcoming election on the issue of cybersafety. In plans announced this week (pdf), the Liberal National Coalition, which currently forms the main opposition group in the Australian parliament …


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  1. RW
    IT Angle

    The internet is not a children's playground

    Instead of assuming that a website is safe for children by default, wouldn't it be smarter to assume they're all "inappropriate"? Instead of trying to filter out the dirty pictures (etc), when a child is online filter out everything unless it's specifically marked "safe for kiddies".

    The system would work: no one selling porn, sex toys, incorrect political opinions, profanity, etc is interested in children because they are sexually immature (I hope!), don't vote (ditto!), and are likely already experts at swearing. There is no profit in mismarking sites as safe when they aren't.

    Parents who are concerned could then install Nanny State software to carry out the universal blocking.

    IOW, only let the kids see websites specifically set up for them.

    But in truth, we all know that attempts to filter the web aren't really about "protecting the children". Governments detest the free and uncontrolled exchange of political opinions on the web, exemplified by the US government currently having cows over the recent Wikileaks release of classified information. I bet the CIA and its partners in crime would love to have a big red switch labelled "internet" that they could simply flip to the off position.

    1. The BigYin

      If I had kids old enough...

      ...I'd give them a restricted account, only sites/services on white-lists allowed. As they get older and smarter, they will work out how to by-pass the security. By they time they can get all the pr0n they want, I'd expect them to be old enough to cope with it.

      (I only ask to be in the room when they stumble across 2-girls-1-cup for the first time. Evil? Me?)

    2. Tom 35 Silver badge

      incorrect political opinions

      Says who? The people currently in power?

      If you want to filter your internet connection there are a few programs to select from, and some ISPs offer a filtered connection as an option.

      Or you could supervise your kids [I know radical idea] and even explain to them why some stuff on the net is bad, or why it's a bad idea to post personal info on some random message board...

      Just sitting them in front of a computer, even with a filter (a challenge to get past for them) is even worse that sitting them in front of the TV.

      1. Renato

        Re: incorrect political opinions

        > "Just sitting them in front of a computer, even with a filter (a challenge to get past for them) is even worse that sitting them in front of the TV."

        And when I was a child, I sat in front of a computer without filters *shudder* to the Internet and I don't seem to have any problems. And we had access to IRC and all those "Anarchist" Geocities pages teaching how to make a floppy disk bomb. Or when we had to sneak to the computer after bedtime to pay cheaper telephone tariffs. Later I even got a computer on my own room!! Unacceptable!

        The point is, my parents told me "don't take candy from strangers". Just apply this on the online world too.

  2. s. pam

    More Aussie Stupidity on Parade

    Last time the gubmnt there gave families a "free internet protection tool" I recall sitting in my lounge in NW Sydney 2 years ago watching the 1800 news. Headline human interest story "later we learn how a 4 year old beat the gubmnt Internet security tool".

    Trouble was it was a real challenge whether the child, or the parents who left him unattended were the 4-yer old. Bogan Pride again!

  3. The BigYin

    Must. Control. Fist. Of. Death.

    "Labor, they claimed, had comprehensively failed to deliver on cybersafety policies for children"

    That pisses me right off, it really does and I'm not even Australian. We see the same thing here. "The Government MUST protect the children!" blah-de-blah-de-blah.

    Last time I checked it was the responsibility of the *PARENT* to protect their children! Do they let their children play with guns? On the motorway? Drink bleach? No! So why when it comes to the 'net to they want to divest responsibility to the government?

    And what will happen to children on the net?

    A few will be predated on and that's not a good thing to have happening, but it happens all the time (relatives/family-friends are the worst - ease of access). Do parents expect the state to mind-scan Uncle Joe when he pops round for tea? So why demand the near-equivalent when their kids go on-line? We are talking about people savvy enough to realise that there is some level of threat on the net. If they are smart enough to work that out, they are smart enough to apply their own content filtering (plus firewalls etc). And if they are not smart enough to do that, they should not let their sodding kids on-line!

    But for most, by and large nothing untoward will happen. Apart from the fact they will realise 99.99% of decent, 99.99% are honest. 99.99% of people want the same things they do. Oh, and 99.99% of people are seriously pissed of with the increasingly dictatorial nature of supposed democratic governments.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      "Do they let their children play with guns? On the motorway? Drink bleach?"

      As far as I'm concerned, Friday night isn't complete without a taking a run down the motorway while I fire rounds from a Luger P08 and knock back a 40 of Clorox.

      1. Goat Jam


        They might not drink it but . . .

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Vote Sex for Victorian values

    I'd very much like a copy of the Sex Party's manifesto, though not if the pages are (already) stuck together.

  5. Smudge@mcr

    Whos job is it anyway?

    Not being funny but part of being a parent is to protect your kids from harm.

    If you cant be bothered to learn about internet security and your kids see naughty pictures then thats YOUR FAULT.

    Its time parents took responsability for their kids.

    If you cant police your own computer in your own home then turn it off but don't expect the government to do your job for you.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      @Smudge not quite parents

      In a sane world perhaps. In this one, the UN convention on the rights of the child make it clear that the State is the final arbiter. Yes there are mealy mouthed sales spin in the doc stating the parents have administrative control, but then later state the state is the final arbiter. So the pollies are technically correct in being nanny minded until the "parliament of whores", to use PJ O'Roukes phrase, is ignored into oblivion.

  6. Anomalous Cowturd

    How much ???

    Shirley, they could have just commissioned a software company to write an app, then just distributed it free. Or even, <deity> forbid, just employed them direct, and given them a well defined objective? GPL 3 anybody?

    How the fuck do the people authorising this kind of thing still have jobs, not prison beds?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Go Fiona!

    Spank those silly control/religious freaks into the ground!

    1. Captain TickTock

      Go Fiona!

      Or just hack their websites ;-)

  8. Anonymous Coward

    The Australian "Sex Party" actually seems to have quite decent policy concepts

    One that appeals to me:

    --> Ending the tax exempt status for religions

    That's from the Aust. Sex Party policy page:

    Plus sensible IT privacy stuff:

    --> To overturn mandatory ISP filtering of the Internet and return Internet censorship to parents and individuals.

    --> We oppose the mandatory retention of all Australian users’ internet browsing history and emails by ISPs for at-will inspection by law enforcement agencies, and support strong judicial oversight over the ability of law enforcement to access individuals’ internet and email data.

    There's other stuff, but I personally care less about those.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      They've got my vote.

      The Aust. Sex Party are getting my vote come 21st August. Oddly enough when I was working out how to allocate my votes Stephen Conroy ended up in last place. Not that there's much hope in dislodging him (based on how the voting system works here), but it's the thought that counts.

      While he's a man I'd happily not see on my tv anymore, there's a pile of others who also deserve last place (Stephen Fielding is another that springs to mind). So many nutjobs, only one vote...

      1. Paul Smith

        Re:- They've got my vote...

        Sorry to state the bleeding obvious but people often seem to forget that with PR, preference voting and alternate votes, last place is still a vote. If you have six candidates, and give one of them your sixth vote, then if your first five choices don't make it, that person gets your vote. If you do not give them your preference, they CAN NOT get your vote. Only give your vote to the people you DO want, in the order that you want them.

        1. Chad H.

          Last time I checked...

          Last tine I checked in house of reps votes you must number all the boxes. I may be wrong, buy I think the same is required of below the line senate voting.

          If you don't number all the boxes it's true that the "bad guys" aren't getting your vote, however the good guys aren't either - it's an invalid vote.

  9. Adrian Esdaile

    "Short memory, we've got a..."

    So Peter Garrett was right after all, Australians DO have short memories...

    "- Provision of a free PC-based internet filter to families ($60 m)"


    The last time the Liberals (like calling the Nazis the 'Freedom Party') were in power they had a great plan to blow a metric shitload of cash on a 'free PC-based net filter'. They spent a couple of tens of millions of dollars, the contract went to a couple of MAAAATES who proceded to spend MILLIONS on a filter that could be got around in about 10 seconds by the average 8-year-old.... by clicking FILE...EXIT on the icon.

    Oh, and it only ran on Windows ME or below IRRC, not even 2000 or XP, let alone OSX, Linux or Symbian!

    Same old same old, just like always.

    Mine's the one with 'V for Vendetta' in the pocket, ta.

  10. John Tserkezis

    @ How much ???

    "Shirley, they could have just commissioned a software company to write an app, then just distributed it free."

    They did.

    They called it NetAlert.

    It cost AU$85 Million to AU$189 Million depending on who you ask.

    It was started in 2007.

    It was canned on December 2008.

    I couldn't get clear numbers on how many people actually downloaded it, nor how many actually used it past the "let's play with it" stage. Though I can guess it wasn't many.

    Clearly no-one was interested.

    Note, there were other FREE filtering softwares available AT THE SAME TIME.

    For a modest cost, more with a greater range of features available AT THE SAME TIME.

    Yet, we had to pay for this crap anyway.

    Seriously though, any project manager who spends AU$85-198Mil on a software project like this needs to be shot. Twice, just to make sure.

    Not such a great idea after all? But that probably wasn't the point anyway.

    The cynic in me says it had a back door.

    And since they couldn't get the masses to run the newfangled censorship machine voluntarily, Conroy and his ilk would force it on us. One way or another.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Missing the point

    The reason that the liberal party are apposing the firewall is because it won't work (which is true).

    The reason they should really be apposing it is because it will be censorship with no right of review (secret lists etc).

    I suspect that if the libs could make the firewall work they would be the first to want it adopted.

    1. Mark 65

      Ahhh, but

      "Note, there were other FREE filtering softwares available AT THE SAME TIME.

      For a modest cost, more with a greater range of features available AT THE SAME TIME."

      They were probably made by foreigners. If it doesn't have "Australian Made, Australian Owned" plastered over it then you can forget it. Pricey, inept, locally made shite obviously beats out industry leader/standard every time. The joys of national insularity and blinkered xenophobic thinking.

  12. Kooka
    Big Brother

    Too late

    The two major Telco's in Australia, Telstra and Optus, have (quietly) announced that they will introduce the filter "voluntarily" in the middle of next year with no opt-out option.

    1. Alan Newbury
      Thumb Down

      Not for some...

      Yes, I had notived this. While it doesn't affect me (I'm with another ISP) I have let friends and family know - and all who aren't currently stuck in a contract ARE going to be voting with their feet about this and letting them know (on the 'why are you leaving?' form) exactly why.

  13. Steve Brooks

    Admin FTW

    "that could be got around in about 10 seconds by the average 8-year-old.... by clicking FILE...EXIT on the icon." You really must research a bit more, the only reason the child got around the filter was because he had the admin password. So who was the idiot?

    1. Charley 1


      so, he didn't just hit Ctrl+Alt+Del > End Task then?

  14. Tigra 07 Silver badge

    cheaper to partner with green dam?

    "- Provision of a free PC-based internet filter to families ($60 m)"

    Not really free if it costs the government $60m is it?

    Whats wrong with green dam? (or orange for the aussies)

  15. EvilGav 1

    I like the way . . .

    . . . that the new government committee is apparently going to spring to life for free.

    That will be a first, a government committee that costs not a bean and works merely for the good of the people . . .

  16. D. M
    Big Brother

    Not too late

    It costs ISP money to have this uselss filter. They will throw it away as soon as new gov drop the plan (Labor won't be elected). But I must say Lib don't really look good either, I'm sure they will put the same shit in, if they can get away from it (aka, not cost them vote).

    Sex party's policy looks really decent. I personally agree almost everything. Only thing I don't like is how they say about drug.

  17. yoinkster

    Dunno about you guys ...

    but I used to want to emigrate to Australia as recently as 4 years ago but would never consider it now.

    The only problem I have with what's going on in Aus is that I'm running really low on my popcorn stocks but the entertainment value is through the roof!

  18. Rex Alfie Lee

    Arrogant Ponce

    Stephen Conroy is an arrogant ponce with limited reasoning capacity. He listens to nobody, has minimal interactive brain cells & continues down a road that would end Labor for many voters.

    Get off yourself you great turd!

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