[LINK] SMH: 'Facebook leads attack on internet filter'
Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au
Tue Mar 22 08:33:12 AEDT 2011
[Comments at end.]
Facebook leads attack on internet filter
The Sydney Morning Herald
March 22, 2011
FACEBOOK and three of Australia's largest web companies have
criticised Labor's planned mandatory internet filter, saying it is
not the answer to protecting Australians from the web's worst
The comments - by security experts who are employed by Yahoo,
ninemsn, Microsoft and the social networking pioneer Facebook - were
delivered during a hearing of the joint select committee on cyber
safety, formed to inquire into how best to protect Australian
[One identified himself as 'MS Security Adviser', but spoke like a
salesman, not a security person. The other three were Regulatory &
Legal / Govt Relations / i.e. glorified P.R. Not a security expert
'I would hate for the public to get the wrong impression that there
is a quick technological solution for inappropriate content, because
there isn't,'' Facebook's chief privacy adviser, Mozelle Thompson,
told the committee.
The views are in stark contrast with those of the Communications
Minister, Stephen Conroy, who has championed a mandatory filter since
it was announced in 2007.
Online identity fraud and distribution of child abuse images has
grown sharply in recent years. Mr Thompson said Facebook banned as
many as 20,000 user accounts a day. Some are blocked due to
Labor's proposed filter will prevent blacklisted websites from being
allowed past Australian internet service providers. That would mean
Australians would be unable to access those sites.
Opponents of the filter, which include Google and the US government,
argue it would not only be unable to stop inappropriate material from
slipping through, it sets a dangerous precedent for web censorship.
The companies' responses came after a question asked by the Liberal
backbencher and filter opponent Alex Hawke.
''Our view is that that decision was made very quickly and that we
believe that it would be good to see the possibility of a voluntary
program explored,'' ninemsn's Jennifer Duxbury said.
She said voluntary filters had worked well overseas.
Yesterday a spokeswoman for Senator Conroy issued a media release
responding to the companies' comments. ''There is no silver bullet
when it comes to cyber safety,'' the statement said.
[When a journo has their heart set on a story, there's always a way
to get that story out the door.
[The only two quotes the reporter uses to justify the story are
accurate, but the tone of the three Australian organisations was
actually highly conciliatory. The quote from Duxbury was the closest
to a 'no' that any of them gave. I don't see how bending the facts
like this helps the discussion. If anything, it confirms to
filtering proponents and Conroy that their opponents will do anything
to beat them and *must* therefore be evil.
[And we have to be very careful about this 'voluntary' word used in
the context of a filter. At one extremity is 'personal choice' (both
within the users' own device and by means of a '[pseudo-]clean feed'
by ISPs, provided that clean-feed is merely an option). At the other
extremity is 'mandatory'. The interpretation that moral panic
extremists will make of 'voluntary' is that it's a mandatory scheme
implemented voluntarily by ISPs.
[Use of the term 'voluntary filtering' by Internet policy thinkers
has to be avoided, and use by other people attacked on the basis that
it's a trojan horse for 'mandatory'.
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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