Australia: keeping the Internet clean for kids

Australia is censoring the Internet so that kids won’t have to see objectionable material. Sounds good, right?

I’m just surprised that the Bush administration hasn’t tried something like this here before Australia got a chance to do it.

Sigh.

The librarians have some questions.

Our rights are under attack, but gotta protect the children, right?

I have two children and I’d rather raise them with freedom of speech than some government deciding what they can and can’t see, thank you very much.

144 thoughts on “Australia: keeping the Internet clean for kids

  1. Scoble,

    The problem is that you understand the Internet, the dangers that lie there, and how to teach your kids to be responsible. Most parents that I see today don’t understand technology, and have been so conditioned by the media that they think if their kids are using the Internet, they’re going to be kidnapped by sexual predators or look at porn all day. I’m not really surprised at all that so many parents are calling on the government to “protect” their children. It is all part of our society’s move away from personal responsibility, and blaming anyone else that we can for anything bad that happens in our lives.

  2. Scoble,

    The problem is that you understand the Internet, the dangers that lie there, and how to teach your kids to be responsible. Most parents that I see today don’t understand technology, and have been so conditioned by the media that they think if their kids are using the Internet, they’re going to be kidnapped by sexual predators or look at porn all day. I’m not really surprised at all that so many parents are calling on the government to “protect” their children. It is all part of our society’s move away from personal responsibility, and blaming anyone else that we can for anything bad that happens in our lives.

  3. This all about the global march towards one world socialist government … the people will allow the government to accomplish whatever it wants as long as the government tells the people that what they’re doing is for the protection of women & children. This is precisely how Feminism has turned the USA into the most pussified/feminized nation on Earth. The men are becoming increasingly feminized, and American Women are becoming increasingly masculine. USA = Feminist Freakshow. Men, just you wait until you encounter the Feminist Family Court system! Boy are you in for a shock about how evil feminism is!

  4. This all about the global march towards one world socialist government … the people will allow the government to accomplish whatever it wants as long as the government tells the people that what they’re doing is for the protection of women & children. This is precisely how Feminism has turned the USA into the most pussified/feminized nation on Earth. The men are becoming increasingly feminized, and American Women are becoming increasingly masculine. USA = Feminist Freakshow. Men, just you wait until you encounter the Feminist Family Court system! Boy are you in for a shock about how evil feminism is!

  5. Cheap shot at the Bush administration that adds zero value to this post…say it ain’t so, Robert! You might as well throw in a “Bush is a moron” while you’re here. Then you’d really be original!

    Otherwise…love your stuff! Very interesting that you are not afraid to upset your right wing readers. I suppose that’s why folks keep reading.

    Oh, and Australia is dead wrong (as you say). It’s time for parents to parent. I’m a new reader but I wonder how easy you were on Google for its dirty censorship deal with China.

  6. Cheap shot at the Bush administration that adds zero value to this post…say it ain’t so, Robert! You might as well throw in a “Bush is a moron” while you’re here. Then you’d really be original!

    Otherwise…love your stuff! Very interesting that you are not afraid to upset your right wing readers. I suppose that’s why folks keep reading.

    Oh, and Australia is dead wrong (as you say). It’s time for parents to parent. I’m a new reader but I wonder how easy you were on Google for its dirty censorship deal with China.

  7. Yeah Blogs= Porn NOT. I understand about the chipping away of speech, but thats already been done in schools, where you can’t even say Merry Christmas, why aren’t we up in arms about the draconian rules inside corporate America? It would be nice to be able to identify images harmful to minors, or even people not wishing to see them at a more base level. I personally don’t care if people need porn, just make it easier to identify and filter so I can keep it off my home machines.

  8. Yeah Blogs= Porn NOT. I understand about the chipping away of speech, but thats already been done in schools, where you can’t even say Merry Christmas, why aren’t we up in arms about the draconian rules inside corporate America? It would be nice to be able to identify images harmful to minors, or even people not wishing to see them at a more base level. I personally don’t care if people need porn, just make it easier to identify and filter so I can keep it off my home machines.

  9. Even though this is under the guise of protecting the children, I wonder if the next step is to regulate political speech. A lot of politicians are scared of the power of blogs and the ability for anyone to put up a web site. Politicians in general don’t like anything that’s not in their control.

  10. Even though this is under the guise of protecting the children, I wonder if the next step is to regulate political speech. A lot of politicians are scared of the power of blogs and the ability for anyone to put up a web site. Politicians in general don’t like anything that’s not in their control.

  11. Why place all sites with pornographic or torture-porn images onto to a .xxx domain suffix? This way filters will work more effectively. I have heard people argue against this, but I don’t remember if it had technical issues, or if it was something else. We have G, PG, PG-13 etc ratings for movies, video games etc. why not have some sort of ratings for websites. I can’t tell you how many times at work I have hit a NSFW, (not safe for work) site while looking for information. It would be helpful for parents to allow kids to surf without worrying about the neighborhood pervert exposing him/herself to their children.

  12. Why place all sites with pornographic or torture-porn images onto to a .xxx domain suffix? This way filters will work more effectively. I have heard people argue against this, but I don’t remember if it had technical issues, or if it was something else. We have G, PG, PG-13 etc ratings for movies, video games etc. why not have some sort of ratings for websites. I can’t tell you how many times at work I have hit a NSFW, (not safe for work) site while looking for information. It would be helpful for parents to allow kids to surf without worrying about the neighborhood pervert exposing him/herself to their children.

  13. Your blog, your opinions. My RSS reader, my unsubscribe.

    By putting yourself into the political area, you risk alienating those who turn to you for interesting industry and technical information and opinion.

    Personally, I frame it as, “I’m surprised the left-wing socialists from California haven’t tried it before. All hail the coming revolution, and let us crush dissent of our deal leaders the Clintons.”

    But that’s just my opinion. You’re welcome to consider it meaningless, and I do yours now.

    Unsubscribing…

  14. Your blog, your opinions. My RSS reader, my unsubscribe.

    By putting yourself into the political area, you risk alienating those who turn to you for interesting industry and technical information and opinion.

    Personally, I frame it as, “I’m surprised the left-wing socialists from California haven’t tried it before. All hail the coming revolution, and let us crush dissent of our deal leaders the Clintons.”

    But that’s just my opinion. You’re welcome to consider it meaningless, and I do yours now.

    Unsubscribing…

  15. I find your statement that it is mostly Right wing Republicans that would do this to the United States society kind of rude and naive:

    The Communications Decency Act, passed by Congress in 1996 and signed by President Bill Clinton, was overturned by the Supreme Court for the restrictions it placed on adult access to and use of constitutionally protected material and communication on the Internet.

    Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) was an American committee formed in 1985 by four women: Tipper Gore, wife of Senator and later Vice President Al Gore; Susan Baker, wife of Treasury Secretary James Baker; Pam Howar, wife of Washington realtor Raymond Howar; and Sally Nevius, wife of Washington City Council Chairman John Nevius. The PMRC also advocated against supposed subliminal backmasking in records,[2] and accused bands including Led Zeppelin, Rush, Pink Floyd, Van Halen, Kiss, and Queen of backmasking to promote Satanism and drug use.[3]

    All you have to do is look up in Wiki and there is a smorgasborg of info. Yes, in the past decade the Bush administration has made some bad calls. But let’s not forget what has happened prior to that when you are accusatory.

    Let’s not forget about the censorship that Democrats are placing on Christmas every where in the country. We just went through that not 2 weeks ago. Google it.

  16. I find your statement that it is mostly Right wing Republicans that would do this to the United States society kind of rude and naive:

    The Communications Decency Act, passed by Congress in 1996 and signed by President Bill Clinton, was overturned by the Supreme Court for the restrictions it placed on adult access to and use of constitutionally protected material and communication on the Internet.

    Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) was an American committee formed in 1985 by four women: Tipper Gore, wife of Senator and later Vice President Al Gore; Susan Baker, wife of Treasury Secretary James Baker; Pam Howar, wife of Washington realtor Raymond Howar; and Sally Nevius, wife of Washington City Council Chairman John Nevius. The PMRC also advocated against supposed subliminal backmasking in records,[2] and accused bands including Led Zeppelin, Rush, Pink Floyd, Van Halen, Kiss, and Queen of backmasking to promote Satanism and drug use.[3]

    All you have to do is look up in Wiki and there is a smorgasborg of info. Yes, in the past decade the Bush administration has made some bad calls. But let’s not forget what has happened prior to that when you are accusatory.

    Let’s not forget about the censorship that Democrats are placing on Christmas every where in the country. We just went through that not 2 weeks ago. Google it.

  17. I have deep misgivings about concealing the truth from children. I don’t believe its a binary solution to censorship, but children do learn the art of deception very quickly from adults in many areas.

    Sorry about the message below but this blog is censored in China.

    [Posted by 221.221.8.201 via http://algart.net/ww This is added while posting a message to avoid misuse.
    Try: http://webwarper.net/webwarper.exe Example of viewing: http://webwarper.net/ww/scobleizer.com/

  18. I have deep misgivings about concealing the truth from children. I don’t believe its a binary solution to censorship, but children do learn the art of deception very quickly from adults in many areas.

    Sorry about the message below but this blog is censored in China.

    [Posted by 221.221.8.201 via http://algart.net/ww This is added while posting a message to avoid misuse.
    Try: http://webwarper.net/webwarper.exe Example of viewing: http://webwarper.net/ww/scobleizer.com/

  19. Al: I’ve been through a lot of this with my 13-year-old. I look at my job as one of preparation for adult life. Lots of people who see the world the way you do look at it as “keep kids from seeing anything objectionable.”

    I’d rather my son have total access to Wikipedia and Google than have lots of net nanny filters on (which the kids usually know the way around anyway — most 13-year-olds I hang around are more astute about computers than most adults I know — they learn faster, are better networked together, and they have time to waste trying things out).

    I’ve seen what the filters block and usually it’s legitimate material along with all the objectionable stuff.

    My blog is blocked in China. On many filtering systems info about breast cancer is blocked. Etc. Etc.

    That’s why I want government out of this.

    Parents should get involved in their kids lives. Especially their online ones.

  20. Al: I’ve been through a lot of this with my 13-year-old. I look at my job as one of preparation for adult life. Lots of people who see the world the way you do look at it as “keep kids from seeing anything objectionable.”

    I’d rather my son have total access to Wikipedia and Google than have lots of net nanny filters on (which the kids usually know the way around anyway — most 13-year-olds I hang around are more astute about computers than most adults I know — they learn faster, are better networked together, and they have time to waste trying things out).

    I’ve seen what the filters block and usually it’s legitimate material along with all the objectionable stuff.

    My blog is blocked in China. On many filtering systems info about breast cancer is blocked. Etc. Etc.

    That’s why I want government out of this.

    Parents should get involved in their kids lives. Especially their online ones.

  21. I have two kids. Freedom of speech is the wrong way to look at it. When a parent says, “children, you decide what you think is right/good”, then the parent is basically giving up their responsibilities because if the parent doesn’t do it, then the other influences will teach their kids things. One aspect of raising kids is for the parents to guide their children so they become good and responsible citizens. You don’t do this by letting kids roam freely on the internet – until the kids have context.

    Just some simple searches in Google can yield nasty results. Since a parent can’t watch every action, some outside tools should be used.

    I use bsafe.com and it helps tremendously.

    What I have to laugh about is all of these people (not those who posted here) who have no trouble for schools to hand out birth control to kids without parental consent but have a big problem with some simple filtering. (Likewise, try to exercise freedom of speech in left leaning institutions and you get shot down and attacked very quickly.)

    As for the government deciding what we watch, I have a problem. I think the government can and should educate people on the necessity of using something like bsafe.com, but they shouldn’t do the filtering. Likewise, the schools should teach reading, writing, etc. and stay away from handing out birth control without parental consent.

    One final point, as a society, we know that certain behaviors are bad. For example, we know that sites that talk about killing others are not good for people, especially kids. We know that porn sites aren’t good. It’s hurting our kids by ignoring what is bad. In other words, when we won’t judge content because we are afraid that we might offend someone, that is wrong; raising our kids is more important.

    I wrote more than I thought but some of this comes from Evan Sayet’s talk called “How Modern Liberals Think”. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eaE98w1KZ-c
    Evan talks about what he calls Modern Liberals and their inability to make proper judgments because of their fear of offending people. If you have some time, watch it. See the Q&A at the end of the video, too.

  22. I have two kids. Freedom of speech is the wrong way to look at it. When a parent says, “children, you decide what you think is right/good”, then the parent is basically giving up their responsibilities because if the parent doesn’t do it, then the other influences will teach their kids things. One aspect of raising kids is for the parents to guide their children so they become good and responsible citizens. You don’t do this by letting kids roam freely on the internet – until the kids have context.

    Just some simple searches in Google can yield nasty results. Since a parent can’t watch every action, some outside tools should be used.

    I use bsafe.com and it helps tremendously.

    What I have to laugh about is all of these people (not those who posted here) who have no trouble for schools to hand out birth control to kids without parental consent but have a big problem with some simple filtering. (Likewise, try to exercise freedom of speech in left leaning institutions and you get shot down and attacked very quickly.)

    As for the government deciding what we watch, I have a problem. I think the government can and should educate people on the necessity of using something like bsafe.com, but they shouldn’t do the filtering. Likewise, the schools should teach reading, writing, etc. and stay away from handing out birth control without parental consent.

    One final point, as a society, we know that certain behaviors are bad. For example, we know that sites that talk about killing others are not good for people, especially kids. We know that porn sites aren’t good. It’s hurting our kids by ignoring what is bad. In other words, when we won’t judge content because we are afraid that we might offend someone, that is wrong; raising our kids is more important.

    I wrote more than I thought but some of this comes from Evan Sayet’s talk called “How Modern Liberals Think”. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eaE98w1KZ-c
    Evan talks about what he calls Modern Liberals and their inability to make proper judgments because of their fear of offending people. If you have some time, watch it. See the Q&A at the end of the video, too.

  23. I’m not saying I agree with the Rudd government’s plan here. There are serious questions to be asked about who decides what is filtered, how’s it’s filtered, how’s it’s monitored, who pays for the infastructure at ISP’s, etc. But you should know that:

    a. Australian’s rights are not being attacked as Australia has no free speech laws, and
    b. It’s an opt out system, so just contact your ISP and you can remove the filtering.

  24. I’m not saying I agree with the Rudd government’s plan here. There are serious questions to be asked about who decides what is filtered, how’s it’s filtered, how’s it’s monitored, who pays for the infastructure at ISP’s, etc. But you should know that:

    a. Australian’s rights are not being attacked as Australia has no free speech laws, and
    b. It’s an opt out system, so just contact your ISP and you can remove the filtering.

  25. Seth: truth is most people don’t care. In fact, I’d bet that such a move in the US would get popular support. After all, who doesn’t want to protect kids from seeing porn?

  26. Seth: truth is most people don’t care. In fact, I’d bet that such a move in the US would get popular support. After all, who doesn’t want to protect kids from seeing porn?

  27. Similar schemes do float around in the US. So far, they’ve lost in court.

    And by the way, I’ve blogged and blogged and blogged about this topic, for many years, and NOT GOTTEN HEARD, given the way the bogosphere amplifies a few elites and minimizes almost everyone else. So I gave up. It’s not worth it.

  28. Similar schemes do float around in the US. So far, they’ve lost in court.

    And by the way, I’ve blogged and blogged and blogged about this topic, for many years, and NOT GOTTEN HEARD, given the way the bogosphere amplifies a few elites and minimizes almost everyone else. So I gave up. It’s not worth it.

  29. Zoli .. 1984 … come on … you have lost the plot.

    I reckon that most Aussies will not even be aware of it or object to it and those that are into p0rn will simply opt out or find a way around it or paying extra for unfettered access.

    While we all agree that the Chinese model of “policing” the net is scary and objectionable but surely there is a middle ground to be had ???.

  30. I’ll believe it when I see the technical details (which I’m yet to find) as to how it’s going to work.

    It’s interesting that they cite things like “cyber-bulling” and the “abuse of child avatars in virtual worlds” as the motivation behind it. I would have thought that cyber-bullying would most occur via email and IM or maybe through youtube in an extreme case. How would you go about filtering that out without some NSA-style surveillance? Are they going to ban Second Life, WoW and MySpace too?

    Lastly, all I can see is some kind of HTTP-blacklist being done which totally ignores the channels for most questionable material (not to mention the maintenance required to keep that blacklist up to date).

  31. I’ll believe it when I see the technical details (which I’m yet to find) as to how it’s going to work.

    It’s interesting that they cite things like “cyber-bulling” and the “abuse of child avatars in virtual worlds” as the motivation behind it. I would have thought that cyber-bullying would most occur via email and IM or maybe through youtube in an extreme case. How would you go about filtering that out without some NSA-style surveillance? Are they going to ban Second Life, WoW and MySpace too?

    Lastly, all I can see is some kind of HTTP-blacklist being done which totally ignores the channels for most questionable material (not to mention the maintenance required to keep that blacklist up to date).

  32. Zoli .. 1984 … come on … you have lost the plot.

    I reckon that most Aussies will not even be aware of it or object to it and those that are into p0rn will simply opt out or find a way around it or paying extra for unfettered access.

    While we all agree that the Chinese model of “policing” the net is scary and objectionable but surely there is a middle ground to be had ???.

  33. See my _Guardian_ column on the government of Australia national censorware plan, from a few months ago:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2007/sep/13/guardianweeklytechnologysection.comment

    “What is really under discussion is control of people. Calling it
    ‘censorware’ has the advantage of clarity”

    Note I don’t like the title they gave it (“The internet can’t be censored and it’s wrong for governments to try”). I don’t assert categorically that the Internet can’t be censored, in fact “Can you censor the Internet?” is the question I’ve explored for many years.

  34. See my _Guardian_ column on the government of Australia national censorware plan, from a few months ago:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2007/sep/13/guardianweeklytechnologysection.comment

    “What is really under discussion is control of people. Calling it
    ‘censorware’ has the advantage of clarity”

    Note I don’t like the title they gave it (“The internet can’t be censored and it’s wrong for governments to try”). I don’t assert categorically that the Internet can’t be censored, in fact “Can you censor the Internet?” is the question I’ve explored for many years.

  35. D T: hmmm, I remember a history teacher of mine saying that if you go far enough left or far enough right that you’ll find that they actually meet on the political spectrum.

    Here in the States it’s usually the right wing political types who advocate for this kind of stuff (and that’s where most of the fundamentalist religious types hang out too).

  36. D T: hmmm, I remember a history teacher of mine saying that if you go far enough left or far enough right that you’ll find that they actually meet on the political spectrum.

    Here in the States it’s usually the right wing political types who advocate for this kind of stuff (and that’s where most of the fundamentalist religious types hang out too).

  37. Don’t go impugning our government. It took the recent election of the left-wing government in Australia to do this. Throughout history, the left-wingers have been the bigger violators of personal freedom. “Nineteen Eighty-Four” was Orwell’s reaction to the ultimate totalitarian nature of all “socialist” movements.

  38. Don’t go impugning our government. It took the recent election of the left-wing government in Australia to do this. Throughout history, the left-wingers have been the bigger violators of personal freedom. “Nineteen Eighty-Four” was Orwell’s reaction to the ultimate totalitarian nature of all “socialist” movements.

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