Science & Technology

What's Wrong with Australia?


First a 16-year-old cracks the $84 million ($70m. US) government-built Internet porn filter in 30 minutes. Then they talk about it in bizarre ways. And conclude what Australia really needs is ISP-based content filtering.

Tom Wood is the cheeky fellow who did the deed for the Herald Sun. The tabloid describes Wood as a "former cyber bullying victim" as if we know what that means. Wood also complains that the filter is waste because it was designed outside of Australia. Obviously.

Sure enough, when the tabby contacts "the Government" an Australian-made filter is added to the list of Government-approved filters on the Government site. Tom then busts that sucker in 40 minutes.

That prompts this observation:

Family First Senator Steve Fielding, a long-time campaigner for cyber safety, said cracking the software showed the need for compulsory filtering by Internet providers.

"You need both. You need it at the ISP and at the PC level," Senator Fielding said.

And you manifestly need the Government—the Department of Communications—to do it.

Better still the filter scheme component of the department's NetAlert system is known as the…National Filter Scheme. This is an outgrowth of the Online Content Scheme, which features the National Classification Scheme. This scheme is backed up by the Australian Communications and Media Authority Blacklist of "malicious websites."

A more pointless undertaking—scheme, excuse me—I cannot imagine. Australia has been on this kick for quite some time, so it is not by accident. There seems to be a conviction that the Internet should operate more or less exactly like a tightly regulated broadcast medium. Not broadband, but TV Plus.

Good luck with that.