[LINK] ISP's thrown $20 million bone by DCITA

Bernard Robertson-Dunn brd at iimetro.com.au
Sat Mar 17 11:00:05 AEDT 2007

Jan Whitaker wrote:

> Has anyone else heard that DCITA is pursuing a new filter development 
> project for something like $80mil? I heard that at a conference this 
> week. And that AIIA isn't happy about it because of all the effort that 
> has already been put into the certification of filter systems already. 
> It's rumoured to be a 'from scratch' build, too.


Scanned in, so there may be the odd error or two


In cyberspace, a nanny fails the intelligence test
Digital Living
Judy Adamson
17 March 2007

The internet opens up an exciting world for children but Net Nanny 
software will never replace a parent's guidance.

CYBERSPACE IS A THRILLING resource most of the time. But while there is 
untold information to be tapped, it can pose, a hazard, particularly for 
the younger, more vulnerable members of the community.

Putting to one side online porn or predators in chat rooms, there is 
still much to be concerned about: easily accessible websites that 
feature violent or sexually explicit games, encourage extremism, promote 
suicide and glorify anorexia and bulimia or speak of it as a lifestyle 
that cannot be cured.

Websites hosted by Australian internet service providers can be taken 
down under our online safety scheme but much of what is available is 
hosted overseas and isn't as easy to touch.

Dr Andrew Campbell, a researcher in cyberpsychology at the University of 
Sydney, says existing internet filters such as Net Nanny don't work well 
enough. Not only do our children figure out how to switch Net Nanny off, 
he says, but "it's a filter based on key words if you put in the word 
`breast cancer' it sees the word `breast' and it thinks pornography, not 

What Campbell would like to see is an "intelligent filter" that is 
capable of updating itself regularly and can distinguish meanings more 
subtly. But he acknowledges that this may not be achievable.

In the meantime, the Federal Government is preparing to release in May a 
new internet filter that it hopes will be a better fit for families. It 
will offer one free to every home.

Parents will be able to set the filter at what they believe is the 
appropriate level for their children's age and the household's values. 
The filter is also expected to work through email and block children 
from giving out personal, identifying information in chat rooms.
In addition, parents will be able to track where their child has been on 
the internet - an issue that the Minister for Communications, 
Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Helen Coonan, agrees is 
"very tricky" when considering our children's privacy.

"We don't want to be so heavy-handed with this stuff that the internet 
becomes a liability in a parental situation but we do want to make sure 
that parents are empowered to make their own choices," she says.

Whether this is a successful option or not remains to be seen, yet 
Campbell is concerned that "filters can only do so much". He believes 
the most responsible community step is to inform parents of exactly what 
is out there and then get them to ensure they are aware of and helping 
to inform their children's interests.

"Children are curious," he says. "It's not just, `Oh, gee, I want to be 
a terrorist'. Sometimes it's What is terrorism?' if [children] can't 
have access to open, dialogue with their parents, a responsible guardian 
or teacher then they're going to turn to the internet."

A 2005 study of teenagers' internet use by Dr R Mubarak Ali, a senior 
lecturer in the School of Social Administration and Social Work at 
Adelaide's Flinders University, showed just how uninvolved parents are 
with their children's internet lives.

His results, taken from 114 young people aged 13 to 17, found 56 per 
cent had no parental attention or guidance. More than a quarter of 
respondents said parents asked them to be careful online but "didn't 
take any further steps".

This can pose problems. Mubarak cites one teen from his study who wanted 
to "surprise" a friend by giving out the friend's home number and 
address in a chat room. Another gave the address of a neighbour for a 
meeting with an online friend, then watched him arrive next door.

"They're just being playful because they're young people, that's all, 
but potentially it's very dangerous," he says. "If the neighbour had 
been home all they had to do is say, `Oh, she lives next door."'

Mubarak suggests parents spend time online to become more familiar with 
the web and then ask their children, in a positive way, about their 
experiences. "Our young people are constantly online," he says. "Nobody 
can stop them now - our society has gone far beyond that stage. So 
rather than thinking that a scare campaign will make them stop doing 
something, it's better to befriend them and guide them."

For practical advice on Internet safety, see www.netalert.net.au. To 
make a complaint about online content, see www.acma.gov.au.



Bernard Robertson-Dunn
Sydney Australia
brd at iimetro.com.au

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