[LINK] ZDNet: 'NSW to censor student laptops'

Roger Clarke Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au
Sat Oct 25 08:37:52 EST 2008

NSW to censor student laptops
Liam Tung, ZDNet.com.au
24 October 2008 05:47 PM

The NSW Department of Education and Training (DET) this week revealed 
plans to limit internet access on the laptops given to the state's 
senior students under the "digital education revolution" to a 
pre-approved list of websites.

Speaking at an Australian Information Industry Association lunch 
yesterday, Michael Coutts-Trotter, DET's director general and its 
chief information officer, Stephen Wilson, said the department's 
first priority in allowing students to take the laptops home was to 
prevent them being sold off.

"On our laptop model, the first question is how do you prevent them 
from being sold down at the pub," said Coutts-Trotter. "Well, you 
equip them in a way so they are only of use within a DET environment 
or are only of use for DET students or authorised users, such as 

"So yeah, that's what it would mean: that you would be coming into an 
authenticated environment from home," he said.

Later, chief information officer Wilson detailed the "unbreakable" 
filtering system that would control students' internet experience on 
the proposed laptops.

"Our internet filtering is unbreakable. We have a huge proxy array 
that does all the filtering. We've just brought that in-house and the 
reason we have done that is we want much tighter control over it," 
said Wilson.

DET has developed 98 categories of websites that are accessible to 
students. "Every internet site that's known is actually categorised. 
If it isn't known, it's blocked. If you go to a site and it's not 
categorised you can't get to it," he said.

"I know that the Commonwealth introduced an internet filtering 
initiative that a high school student broke, or claimed to have 
broken, very quickly. I just want you to understand ours is 
completely different. We're at the end of the pipe and nothing goes 
through that pipe that doesn't get filtered," he said.

The vision hinges on NSW acquiring an extra $245 million funding from 
the Commonwealth over the $197 million currently proposed, which it 
has claimed is necessary to deliver a laptop to every student in 
years nine to 12.

The proposal has outraged long standing e-business consultant and 
civil rights advocate, Roger Clarke.
"It would be bad enough of them creating a list of blocked sites, but 
the notion that they would only allow students access to that which 
has been approved is incredible," he told ZDNet.com.au today.

"What credibility can a government organisation and educational 
bureaucracy have with the people they're trying to communicate with 
when the students, through all of their own devices and through 
friend's devices, have access to the world," he added.

NSW is yet to release an official expression of interest for the 
laptops it wanted and Wilson said it wouldn't do so until an 
agreement had been reached with Canberra.

Roger Clarke                  http://www.anu.edu.au/people/Roger.Clarke/
Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd      78 Sidaway St, Chapman ACT 2611 AUSTRALIA
                    Tel: +61 2 6288 1472, and 6288 6916
mailto:Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au                http://www.xamax.com.au/

Visiting Professor in Info Science & Eng  Australian National University
Visiting Professor in the eCommerce Program      University of Hong Kong
Visiting Professor in the Cyberspace Law & Policy Centre      Uni of NSW

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