The Filter-Tipped Internet

Almost a generation ago we, the public, started to twig that there could be a downside to smoking. A whole swag of research followed – about the relative merits of additives, flavours (remember menthol?) and so on. In the end, it was settled – the best approach would be to add a tip to cigarettes so that the very worst elements of cigarette smoke would be filtered out for us.

Guess what happened. Well, you know the answer – cigarette smoke still kills us every year by the thousand.

You see, we never went to the “root cause” of the problem. We fluffed around the edges. We talked up the health impacts and bombarded consumers with “the facts” – and while there has been some successes, millions of young people around the world continue to take up smoking every year. Facts don’t change our behaviour – feelings do.

We are now facing similar confusion around Stephen Conroy’s internet filter. There are plenty of facts floating around:

  • That the filter will slow down our broadband by around 80%
  • That it will impact regional community far more than the city
  • That it can be easily by-passed via peer-to-peer file sharing
  • That it will massively increase the size of the internet site blacklist which is ALREADY in place

As Holly Doel-Mackaway, adviser with Save the Children Fund states in the Sydney Morning Herald, the filter scheme is “‘fundamentally flawed’ because it failed to tackle the problem at the source and would inadvertently block legitimate resources”.

But there is a root cause issue here – the facts point out the issues but don’t address our emotional response. It is NOT a filter we need. It’s EDUCATION. It’s empowerment. Why should we allow the federal government to WASTE $40 million of our hard-earned taxes when it could be so easily diverted into education – training for kids AND their parents. And it is important that we let the government know our thoughts.

With this internet filter, we are just papering over the problem. There will always be material available in our communities that we would rather not see. There are problems that we would rather not be exposed to. But our challenge, and our duty, is to stand-up to such issues – not avoid them. What price can we put on the empowering of our communities and our kids? As David Campbell might say, it’s “priceless”.

(BTW you can listen in to David’s podcast feed here).

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7 thoughts on “The Filter-Tipped Internet

  1. I just tweeted that I have a mate on the inside receiving letters at the Dept of Broadband. He said they have 5000 letters and reckons that if the thing goes up then they are estimating in the office that they will get 25 000.
    Still doesn’t seem like enough weight in numbers to change anything.
    He also said that they are starting to “respond” to letters … not sure exactly what that means. Prob some stock standard bullsh1t letter about how it is important.

  2. Thanks Daniel. I think you are right. 25,000 letters is unfortunately not enough to make an impact. We probably need ten times that.
    Or more targeting around an electoral hot spot (say a by-election or Conroy’s own seat).

  3. Wow, what a crappy sounding filter. Um, cigarettes…come on now, this is apples and oranges. The root of the issue with cig’s is money and cigs aren’t going anywhere.
    The internet porn industry is untouchable in it’s own way, money fuels it #1. #2, how are you going to shut down every single person out there that posts a XXX video on a site??? You can’t.
    Well, with cigs, the next best approach is to avoid being around them, protect yourself. This approach might not save the world, but you’ll still be alive.
    Internet porn, just like cigs, if avoided you’ll be better off. No a filter will not shut down the porn industry, but it’s better than doing nothing to stop that filth from entering the home.
    Well, if someone wants a better alternative to what has been posted here go to, they have the Net Nanny internet filter (ttp:// rated as #1.

  4. Charles … I agree – we should not “do nothing” – but we certainly should do what is most effective. As you point out, internet filters can be easily downloaded and installed. A little education goes a long way.

  5. That’s probably the best analogy I’ve heard used yet.
    How did the government reduce smoking? Taxes.
    How will they inevitably reduce child abuse? Policing and education.
    How long will it take them to realise policing and education are the only way to go? Too long.

  6. It’s just ridiculous.
    Running with the smoking analogy, would it be conservatively fair to say that it was affecting, maybe 60-70% of the Aussie population (both directly & indirectly).
    And there might be what, 10% (at the most) of Australian people accessing inappropriate content on the Internet?
    So the response is to jeopardize one of the most important resources we have?
    Bah. I’m angry.

  7. In a way similar to drugs – makes it harder to access for those are dabbling but won’t stop hardcore users (for who this filter is designed) from getting access via other means.

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