Telecommunications minister Stephen Conroy recently announced that the Rudd government will be introducing mandatory ISP filtering in an attempt to better protect children from pornography and violent websites.
It’ll be an opt-out system meaning that content will be filtered by default, but you can contact your ISP and request to have the filters removed.
In short, this is a terrible idea.
Let’s look at some of the problems.
Who selects the blacklist of web sites? Who determines where the line between acceptable and unacceptable falls? I certainly don’t want a government deciding what I can and can’t see.
It’s an easy system to circumvent. Any capable teenager can set up a proxy to work around such a system. And if they can’t they’ll use Google or Wikipedia to learn how. [Will the government then start blocking those sites?] It’s an ineffective solution.
It will significantly impact ISP’s. They’ll have to implement the filters and add support to manage the opt-out. It’s likely that ISP rates will increase, smaller ISP’s will flounder and connection speeds decrease.
Should at least be an opt-in system. Why wouldn’t they make this an opt-in feature? As an opt-outer will I be flagged as a potential child molester? Will ISP’s start selling their list of opt-outers to less ethical websites?
These are a few of the problems, I’m running out of time to write more. A better solution is to do nothing. The (previous) government already offers client-side filters free of charge. These are similarly effective (ie, not very) but are at least opt-in.
The only real way to defend children from explicit content is the same way it’s always been – parents need to watch what their kids are doing and get involved in their lives.