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. As others have said, Robert, the Australian Labor government who are implementing this – in just their first month in government – are ideologically equivalent to the US Democrats.

    It was in fact the previous right wing government who where very, very much aligned with George Bush and your Republican government’s ideologies, who resisted internet filtering.

    I would expect that, if the Democrats win the 2008 election, this is much more likely to appear on their agenda than the Republican’s.

  2. Jerry: I look at Bush’s policies on stem cell research, for instance, or contraception and abortion policy, as evidence of the religious right’s influence on him.

  3. D T Nelson – I do agree with you up top there. Socialism tends to be a wolf in Sheep’s clothing. I think it should be State Rules-State Rights. The Federal Government should stay out of our lives, to the best of their ability.

    To quote Milton Friedman:
    “Government power must be dispersed. If government is to exercise power, better in the county than in the state, better in the state than in Washington. If I do not like what my local community does, be it in sewage disposal, or zoning, or schools, I can move to another local community, and though few may take this step, the mere possibility acts as a check. If I do not like what Washington imposes, I have few alternatives in this world of jealous nations.”

  4. D T Nelson – I do agree with you up top there. Socialism tends to be a wolf in Sheep’s clothing. I think it should be State Rules-State Rights. The Federal Government should stay out of our lives, to the best of their ability.

    To quote Milton Friedman:
    “Government power must be dispersed. If government is to exercise power, better in the county than in the state, better in the state than in Washington. If I do not like what my local community does, be it in sewage disposal, or zoning, or schools, I can move to another local community, and though few may take this step, the mere possibility acts as a check. If I do not like what Washington imposes, I have few alternatives in this world of jealous nations.”

  5. @51. When makes statements not based on facts wouldn’t call that being thin skinned; I’d call that asking for the truth. Scoble failed to provide any examples supporting his Bush accusations. As for your dobson example, how is that in any way related this discussion? Dobson is not a govt org

  6. @51. When makes statements not based on facts wouldn’t call that being thin skinned; I’d call that asking for the truth. Scoble failed to provide any examples supporting his Bush accusations. As for your dobson example, how is that in any way related this discussion? Dobson is not a govt org

  7. Some thin skinned right wing commenters here!

    Everything in their world is the liberals fault.

    Say something negative about the bush admin, and you’re branded a bush hater, bush derangement syndrome.

    Funny with these same internets, they dont know about the james dobsons, the
    ‘family council’ orgs that spam the fcc about janet jacksons boob, etc.

  8. Some thin skinned right wing commenters here!

    Everything in their world is the liberals fault.

    Say something negative about the bush admin, and you’re branded a bush hater, bush derangement syndrome.

    Funny with these same internets, they dont know about the james dobsons, the
    ‘family council’ orgs that spam the fcc about janet jacksons boob, etc.

  9. @45. Amen to that!

    But for Scoble to assign all this “big brother” mentaility to the domain of “right wing political types” shows how ignorant of these issues he really is. It was Clinton (D) who signed the Communications Decency Act in to law back in 1996. That was subsequently ruled unconstitutional by the SC. So, which party was trying to “protect the children”, again?

  10. @45. Amen to that!

    But for Scoble to assign all this “big brother” mentaility to the domain of “right wing political types” shows how ignorant of these issues he really is. It was Clinton (D) who signed the Communications Decency Act in to law back in 1996. That was subsequently ruled unconstitutional by the SC. So, which party was trying to “protect the children”, again?

  11. “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.”

    I’d say most politicians treat blogs a sources of income, but of no real importance. Need I remind anyone of the impact on weblogs on Howard Dean’s candidacy?

    As for Australia, I would think the people of that country are intelligent enough to differentiate between filtering illegal material, and suppressing dissidents, which is what China is faced with.

    Still, the tinhats are in full swing with this one. I loved what the Australian Women Online weblog had to say (ping backed above):

    “One popular blog, TechCrunch went so far as to suggest a conspiracy between our Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd and the Chinese. And what did Duncan Riley from TechCrunch offer as proof of this conspiracy? A satirical video downloaded from YouTube. What an idiot!

    If Riley and TechCrunch want to be taken seriously in this debate, they will have to lift their game. Infantile YouTube videos and wild conspiracy theories may be sufficient to stir up support for the argument against clean feeds on TechCrunch, but it just won’t cut it elsewhere.”

    It just gets harder and harder to get attention, doesn’t it? You have to bring in clown acts.

  12. “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.”

    I’d say most politicians treat blogs a sources of income, but of no real importance. Need I remind anyone of the impact on weblogs on Howard Dean’s candidacy?

    As for Australia, I would think the people of that country are intelligent enough to differentiate between filtering illegal material, and suppressing dissidents, which is what China is faced with.

    Still, the tinhats are in full swing with this one. I loved what the Australian Women Online weblog had to say (ping backed above):

    “One popular blog, TechCrunch went so far as to suggest a conspiracy between our Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd and the Chinese. And what did Duncan Riley from TechCrunch offer as proof of this conspiracy? A satirical video downloaded from YouTube. What an idiot!

    If Riley and TechCrunch want to be taken seriously in this debate, they will have to lift their game. Infantile YouTube videos and wild conspiracy theories may be sufficient to stir up support for the argument against clean feeds on TechCrunch, but it just won’t cut it elsewhere.”

    It just gets harder and harder to get attention, doesn’t it? You have to bring in clown acts.

  13. I’ve been involved in the filtering industry for 10 years. Contrary to what Seth says, mandated “opt out” ISP filtering has neither been tried nor “lost in court” in U.S. There is a case involving the state of Pennsylvania, but that applied only to child porn, and their was no “opt out.” See http://filteringfacts.org/legal/cda/. I imagine as long as the opt out was easy and anonymous, it would probably hold up in court. FYI, I’ve got virtually every legal document about U.S. filtering cases on my website at http://filteringfacts.org/legal/

    IMHO,This would be a good tool for parents in the U.S. to help protect children. Further, I see required (or very strongly suggested by gov, like the comics code in the 50′s) filtering by ISPs becoming the norm in western democracies in the next decade, starting with child porn and malicious code sites. It’s already happening now.
    –David burt http://www.filteringfacts.org

  14. I’ve been involved in the filtering industry for 10 years. Contrary to what Seth says, mandated “opt out” ISP filtering has neither been tried nor “lost in court” in U.S. There is a case involving the state of Pennsylvania, but that applied only to child porn, and their was no “opt out.” See http://filteringfacts.org/legal/cda/. I imagine as long as the opt out was easy and anonymous, it would probably hold up in court. FYI, I’ve got virtually every legal document about U.S. filtering cases on my website at http://filteringfacts.org/legal/

    IMHO,This would be a good tool for parents in the U.S. to help protect children. Further, I see required (or very strongly suggested by gov, like the comics code in the 50′s) filtering by ISPs becoming the norm in western democracies in the next decade, starting with child porn and malicious code sites. It’s already happening now.
    –David burt http://www.filteringfacts.org

  15. To suggest that a western democracy like Australia would introduce a clean feed to attack the rights of it’s citizens is ridiculous. There has been a massive over-reaction by yourself and other bloggers to this issue.

    Those who still want access to porn and violence will still have it. And opting-out of the clean feed won’t lead to violation of civil rights in Australia. You guys are just being paranoid.

    Furthermore, opting-out of the clean feed is a sensible solution. Why should those who don’t want porn and violence have to opt-out. We don’t have to opt-out of porn magazines and videos offline, so why should we have to do it on the Internet?

    I am an Australian parent and I applaud the Labor government for having the guts to clean up the Internet.

  16. To suggest that a western democracy like Australia would introduce a clean feed to attack the rights of it’s citizens is ridiculous. There has been a massive over-reaction by yourself and other bloggers to this issue.

    Those who still want access to porn and violence will still have it. And opting-out of the clean feed won’t lead to violation of civil rights in Australia. You guys are just being paranoid.

    Furthermore, opting-out of the clean feed is a sensible solution. Why should those who don’t want porn and violence have to opt-out. We don’t have to opt-out of porn magazines and videos offline, so why should we have to do it on the Internet?

    I am an Australian parent and I applaud the Labor government for having the guts to clean up the Internet.

  17. As for the politics behind this, it’s funny to me that the same people who call for keeping military recruiters away from children support allowing pedophiles and pornographers full access to them.

  18. As for the politics behind this, it’s funny to me that the same people who call for keeping military recruiters away from children support allowing pedophiles and pornographers full access to them.

  19. Does anybody think the Founding Fathers thought freedom of speech includes the freedom to show young children anything and everything that happens in this often sick world?

    To say that responsibility goes to parents only is absurd. Unless a parent chains their children to their beds without a television, computer, game system, phone or access to friends, there is no way a parent can police this stuff alone.

  20. Does anybody think the Founding Fathers thought freedom of speech includes the freedom to show young children anything and everything that happens in this often sick world?

    To say that responsibility goes to parents only is absurd. Unless a parent chains their children to their beds without a television, computer, game system, phone or access to friends, there is no way a parent can police this stuff alone.

  21. Censorship is just about as old as time itself. It’s just new and improved.

    This is a complicated set of issues. We need to balance freedom of speech with protection of the innocent. How is this accomplished? Is there any hope in truly accomplishing it without curtailing freedoms?

  22. Censorship is just about as old as time itself. It’s just new and improved.

    This is a complicated set of issues. We need to balance freedom of speech with protection of the innocent. How is this accomplished? Is there any hope in truly accomplishing it without curtailing freedoms?

  23. “Our rights are under attack, but gotta protect the children, right?”

    I’m a bit confused by this statement. How is legislation that is passed in a another country making our rights in the US “under attack”? In relation to this specific issue, what specific rights of ours in the US are “under attack”?

    As for “protecting the children”.. that type of language, more often than not, comes from the left.

  24. “Our rights are under attack, but gotta protect the children, right?”

    I’m a bit confused by this statement. How is legislation that is passed in a another country making our rights in the US “under attack”? In relation to this specific issue, what specific rights of ours in the US are “under attack”?

    As for “protecting the children”.. that type of language, more often than not, comes from the left.

  25. Adding on to what James Robertson said about speech codes on campus as being censorship, hate crimes are an extension. I was confused for years because usually liberals are soft on crime. Then I realized that by supporting hate crimes, they can seem tough on crime and suppress speech at the same time. The idea is to to make an existing crime a “hate crime” and elevate an underlying issue (“the thought”) as being criminal. So nowadays, just the thought of anything that has been converted to a hate crime can get you in big trouble. So “hate crimes” are just another tool to suppress speech.

    I bring this up because this is another case where certain liberals are using the government to suppress speech.

    In Australia’s case, the government should not be getting into the filter business and I wouldn’t assume the people behind this are right wingers.

  26. Adding on to what James Robertson said about speech codes on campus as being censorship, hate crimes are an extension. I was confused for years because usually liberals are soft on crime. Then I realized that by supporting hate crimes, they can seem tough on crime and suppress speech at the same time. The idea is to to make an existing crime a “hate crime” and elevate an underlying issue (“the thought”) as being criminal. So nowadays, just the thought of anything that has been converted to a hate crime can get you in big trouble. So “hate crimes” are just another tool to suppress speech.

    I bring this up because this is another case where certain liberals are using the government to suppress speech.

    In Australia’s case, the government should not be getting into the filter business and I wouldn’t assume the people behind this are right wingers.

  27. @3 “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).”

    Can you cite specific examples? You really need to back up such statements with facts and examples. Otherwise, this is merely a hasty generalization.

    Which political group advocates the passing of more “hate crimes” (thought control)?

    Which party introduced the “Securing Adolescents from Online Exploitation Act of 2007″..it was a Democrat from Texas. Passed in the House 409-2. The two NAY votes? Both Republicans. Do you even know what this law requires?

    Which party is working hard to block permanently banning taxes on internet access? Why!, it’s the Democrats.

    Quite frankly, bills proposing one kind of internet regulation or another come from BOTH sides of the aisle. No one group has a monopoly on this.

  28. @3 “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).”

    Can you cite specific examples? You really need to back up such statements with facts and examples. Otherwise, this is merely a hasty generalization.

    Which political group advocates the passing of more “hate crimes” (thought control)?

    Which party introduced the “Securing Adolescents from Online Exploitation Act of 2007″..it was a Democrat from Texas. Passed in the House 409-2. The two NAY votes? Both Republicans. Do you even know what this law requires?

    Which party is working hard to block permanently banning taxes on internet access? Why!, it’s the Democrats.

    Quite frankly, bills proposing one kind of internet regulation or another come from BOTH sides of the aisle. No one group has a monopoly on this.

  29. Wow, scoble you’re the first parent I’ve ever seen say that the needs of the many outweigh their own child’s protection.

    I wish more people would think like that.

  30. Wow, scoble you’re the first parent I’ve ever seen say that the needs of the many outweigh their own child’s protection.

    I wish more people would think like that.

  31. Robert,

    As I said, I don’t want the government determining what to filter, but I think the government should push for people to think about it and to urge use of the commercial tools out there. I don’t want the politically correct speech police or the anti-smoking lefty’s on this either.

    As for Google and Wikipedia, I have Wikipedia open, Google’s parental parameters set for the result list and let bsafe.com deal with the rest. Younger children are very, very impressionable. Just letting the filth come to them can negate and ruin a lot of good parenting. And by not condemning bad behavior, the parent makes it hard to even discuss bad behavior – and all of this is happening when the child needs guidance the most!

    In a lot of ways, things are twisted now. People are taught not to judge – so bad behavior is excused and ignored. People ignore the bad behavior and ignore the consequences, but vigorously attack the people talking about the bad behavior. This paragraph is why I’m spending time writing on this subject. To me, it is vitally important for parents to filter content (at various times and amounts) so our kids aren’t desensitized to bad behavior.

    Watch that video. It starts about 9/11 but the root ideas transfer to many aspects of our culture and I see patterns of what Evan is saying everywhere.

    To be clear, I don’t want the government to censor, but it’s vitally important for parents to censor. There are plenty of tools available that give the parents good control.

  32. Robert,

    As I said, I don’t want the government determining what to filter, but I think the government should push for people to think about it and to urge use of the commercial tools out there. I don’t want the politically correct speech police or the anti-smoking lefty’s on this either.

    As for Google and Wikipedia, I have Wikipedia open, Google’s parental parameters set for the result list and let bsafe.com deal with the rest. Younger children are very, very impressionable. Just letting the filth come to them can negate and ruin a lot of good parenting. And by not condemning bad behavior, the parent makes it hard to even discuss bad behavior – and all of this is happening when the child needs guidance the most!

    In a lot of ways, things are twisted now. People are taught not to judge – so bad behavior is excused and ignored. People ignore the bad behavior and ignore the consequences, but vigorously attack the people talking about the bad behavior. This paragraph is why I’m spending time writing on this subject. To me, it is vitally important for parents to filter content (at various times and amounts) so our kids aren’t desensitized to bad behavior.

    Watch that video. It starts about 9/11 but the root ideas transfer to many aspects of our culture and I see patterns of what Evan is saying everywhere.

    To be clear, I don’t want the government to censor, but it’s vitally important for parents to censor. There are plenty of tools available that give the parents good control.

  33. This is the main stream equivalent of the Democratic party in Australia, scoble, not “Far Right or Far Left”. Bush has never even suggested this, nor has the vast majority of freedom-loving Republicans.

    This is an extension of the government nanny state (they even provided free copies of Net Nanny) that Democrats have been pushing since day one. They want to take care of you from cradle to grave with programs ranging from $500 grants at birth that Hillary advocated for to universal healthcare (worked great for Britian… except for all those people whose records were released, and all the 3 month waits for surgery) to social security.

    Face it, Australia made a bad choice with the labor party and if you vote for a Democrat in the states you are voting for the same thing, more big government nanny state actions and less freedom.

  34. This is the main stream equivalent of the Democratic party in Australia, scoble, not “Far Right or Far Left”. Bush has never even suggested this, nor has the vast majority of freedom-loving Republicans.

    This is an extension of the government nanny state (they even provided free copies of Net Nanny) that Democrats have been pushing since day one. They want to take care of you from cradle to grave with programs ranging from $500 grants at birth that Hillary advocated for to universal healthcare (worked great for Britian… except for all those people whose records were released, and all the 3 month waits for surgery) to social security.

    Face it, Australia made a bad choice with the labor party and if you vote for a Democrat in the states you are voting for the same thing, more big government nanny state actions and less freedom.

  35. sorry if this thought is a repeat of anyone else
    s comments but…….

    I have five kids at home ages 10-16, and I feel that what ever they see or do not see, and how ever they access info is MY JOB to decide. I am not for more government rights, I wish for them to have less access to how I live my live.

  36. sorry if this thought is a repeat of anyone else
    s comments but…….

    I have five kids at home ages 10-16, and I feel that what ever they see or do not see, and how ever they access info is MY JOB to decide. I am not for more government rights, I wish for them to have less access to how I live my live.

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

    I think you have a touch of BDS there, Robert. As other commenters have pointed out, the urge to censor exists on all sides of the political spectrum. Have a look at the speech codes on college campuses, for instance: they all come from the left. Every time Congress has a go at pornography filters, plenty of Democrats vote yes, along with a good number of Republicans.

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

    I think you have a touch of BDS there, Robert. As other commenters have pointed out, the urge to censor exists on all sides of the political spectrum. Have a look at the speech codes on college campuses, for instance: they all come from the left. Every time Congress has a go at pornography filters, plenty of Democrats vote yes, along with a good number of Republicans.

  39. Re: protecting kids… I have two sons in college now, net natives both, gamers, etc. IMO, the best practice is to make a place in your home where it’s fun to all be on the computer together. It’s our version of the kitchen table, remarking on what we see, like sharing newspaper, trading sections over breakfast.

    It’s when kids are squirreled away in their rooms or in a basement — the activity completely separate from family life — that they may be more tempted to get into various kinds of trouble online.

  40. Re: protecting kids… I have two sons in college now, net natives both, gamers, etc. IMO, the best practice is to make a place in your home where it’s fun to all be on the computer together. It’s our version of the kitchen table, remarking on what we see, like sharing newspaper, trading sections over breakfast.

    It’s when kids are squirreled away in their rooms or in a basement — the activity completely separate from family life — that they may be more tempted to get into various kinds of trouble online.

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