[LINK] RFC: Evidence for Joint Select Ctee on Cybersafety

Roger Clarke Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au
Mon Mar 21 15:35:11 AEDT 2011

At 16:44 +1100 18/3/11, Roger Clarke wrote:
>Constructively negative comment greatly appreciated, on- or off-list!

Many thanks to those who provided feedback!

That enabled me to refine several elements of the message, and to 
avoid the risk of the pro-filtering lobby making mileage from my 
clumsy expression.

The biggest change was to consolidate all of the middle section into 
an 'Enhance Consumer Protections' section, and to avoid referring to 
content and SNS providers as ISPs: 

Notes below on the session this morning, in case it's of interest.


Facebook, 9MSN, MS and 7Yahoo people preceded me.

It appeared at first that the Committee's questions to them were 
going to be pretty banal ones on filtering.  In fact they got 
progressively better, and by the end they'd asked some *good* ones.

Facebook (ex-FTC Commissioner Mozelle Thompson, by teleconference) 
was as oily as ever.  They've come up with these brilliant new ideas 
of a 'social reporting feature' (more or less, tell your teacher 
about the content you think is wrong) and videos that explain safety 
features.  wow.

He referred to Facebook on multiple occasions as "them", underlining 
that he's a consultant and Advisory Board Member.  (Sub-text: 
Facebook either haven't got a Regulatory and Policy Vice-President, 
or the Australian Parliament isn't important enough to warrant their 

Facebook have a dozen ad-salespeople in Sydney, but still haven't 
appointed a policy person.  He was vague about the slowness of 
takedown of the pseudo-Martin Bryant page, and knew nothing about the 
Jo Palmer (Tassie TV presenter?) takedown request.

Thompson claimed Facebook is "the only site in history to ever send 
all of its users a message saying 'you cannot continue using this 
service until you check and confirm your privacy settings'" - which 
he says they sent out maybe a year ago.  Despite that, the Committee 
members appeared to be not greatly impressed with his answers.

The Australian content-providers' regulatory people used the 
conventional line of deflecting mandatory reporting towards an 
industry scheme.  They did make some less predictable and more useful 
statements as well though, particularly when they referred to 
filtering as "only a small part of the puzzle".

The MS 'Security Advisor' (who seemed to be just a salesman) couldn't 
say whether any personal data from MS Live was sold - 'It would 
depend on whether there was a business case'.  Even Thompson could be 
more emphatic than that.

Thompson mentioned a Pew study that showed that 'kids manage risks 
online better than their parents'.  I've no idea whether it's true, 
but it led to a useful discussion that I was able to leverage off 

During the questions about my evidence, I took the opportunity to 
reinforce the negative aspects of Facebook.  In the consumer rights 
area, I mentioned that not only Facebook but also Google was a major 
problem.  But I contrasted Facebook's tardiness with takedown against 
Google's promptness (in the only takedown request I've been involved 
with), and we all agreed it had a lot to do with having someone on 
the ground here.

I pointed out that the announcement today about an 'Australian Best 
Practice Guideline on Behavioural Advertising' (or similar) was just 
another piece of plaster over the pretence that is self-regulation.

[One media report on that release is here:

I managed to get the Ombudsman notion (or 'cyber-czar' as the content 
compy people seemed to want to call it) nudged across towards the 
idea of a clearing-house for information, and a switching-point for 

The questions and conversation were such that I felt more positive at 
the end of the session than I'd expected to.

Roger Clarke                                 http://www.rogerclarke.com/

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 the Cyberspace Law & Policy Centre      Uni of NSW
Visiting Professor in Computer Science    Australian National University

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