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Australia: ABC Four Corners and Q and A


I headed off to the ABC Studios in Ultimo Sydney for Q and A last night thinking that there would be a high energy after the Four Corners broadcast. And there was. I guess I wanted to know more than anything else this: What else could the money be spent on?  Are there solutions that don’t need $40million to block 100,000 pages out of billions that are not easily routed around and that won’t limit free speech on important community issues such as euthanasia, what -is-art and abortion?

ABC TV: Four Corners addressed the Internet Filter:

  • Is there a problem with the internet? Have you ever come across anything truly legally blockable – not just nekkid girly bits – even if you went looking for it? i.e do we need to fix it?
  • If so, should it be addressed by the Government ? Or parents, or teachers? Who do you want making moral decisions for the next generation?
  • Is a grown up filter the same as a childrens’ filter? Filter for all Australians vs unsupervised children?
  • How do we ensure that legal material (abortion, euthanasia discussions) don’t get chucked out with the nasteh stuff?
  • How do we ensure we can still discuss at a community level online Bill Henson (Art or Child Porn), Euthanasia, abortion without being blocked or having our discussions removed?
  • How do we ensure the Government doesn’t use the filter for it’s own nefarious purposes (we love a good conspiracy theory, don’t we!)
  • If the filter blocks web pages not web sites (an individual page) then is a $40 odd million dollar (they didn’t say the cost on Four Corners but that’s right, isn’t it?) filter going to block more than 100,000 pages out of billions of pages? Apparently not.
  • If the filter doesn’t block YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and peer to peer services such as MSN Messenger will it work? Particularly if the majority of traffic is to these sites, not hidden secret websites with nasty stuff on it.
  • Just how easy is it to get around. I mean, 15 year olds can, and 75 year olds can, but can I? Will we see Dummies Guide to Hacking The Australian Filter on the banned books list?
  • With VPN Tunnel Australia, encryption and the coming 802.11s what’s the point of spending money on a filter that can’t read anything?
  • What else could the money be spent on?  Are there services that don’t need $40million to block 100,000 pages out of billions that are not easily routed around and that won’t limit free speech on important community issues such as abortion, euthanasia and what -is-art?
  • That Stephen Conroy has done a great service to Australia by placing these issues – in a notoriously laid back “she’ll be right” nation – on the table for discussion. Well, since December 2009 anyway. For that alone he should be commended.

I learnt a couple of things from Four Corners that I didn’t know before. Both were from Stephen Conroy. One was that not the whole site would be blocked, just individual pages. The second is that a non-Government group would be the judge and jury, not the government. I think the Government has the best of intentions, but I know from experience that when even, say, Google is asked to take down a post on someone’s blog on Blogger (Google’s blog site), they delete the whole blog. That’s one reason I moved off from Blogger to here. I imagine that very quickly that will become the sensible thing to do – otherwise another page springs up to get around the blocked page. “Just block the whole damn thing already!”  As for the second – AUDA look after “legal” domain names in Australia. And after AUDA misusing their power and deleting my satire/parody OptusPoo site on the grounds that people could mistype the Z of Zoo (bottom left of keyboard) with a P for Poo (top right of keyboard), I don’t trust third party agencies to police the internet.

ABC TV: Q and A on censorship, filters and naughty Twitterati

Gee Tony Jones is a nice chap. That doesn’t come across on TV, I think the “warm up” guy was right. He moves into a more forceful ,strong character role when dealing with Australia’s intelligentsia and fiercely opinionated panellists each week. One senses that every other day and 23 hours on a Monday, he is more comfortable in a dressing gown and slippers, puffing on a pipe while quietly reading a book in an armchair. Then pow! lights camera action and he turns from genial chap to lion tamer. *crack*

Once I got into the studio, it was phones off, no tweeting due to their technical equipment which was mega disappointing. It was clear from what the floor manager said that she wanted us paying attention and being involved. Not doing what we do at home which is tweeting our disgust/delight. We were in fact encouraged to chatter, groan, laugh and create “energy” from participation. Which is a bit of a relief from all those years of “sit down, shut up and just listen/watch“.

I enjoyed the show, I came home and watched it again. Here’s the Q and A transcript. Here’s the Twitter #QandA info from ABC -click through to comments for more.  I’m not sure that Q and A resolved anything except for the fact that it’s clear that “If you are against the filter, you are for child pornography” has been show up for the specious argument that it is. Over 90% of the audience raised their hands as against the Filter.  I’m hoping that soon we can move on from “The filter doesn’t work” to “this works”. Though like Mark Newton said, do we need anything at all?

NOTE: As a community manager I have seen more porn than any one person has a right to see. I  don’t believe that these pain-in-the-patootie members inflicting obscene acts on my communities through images and videos are doing it for a sexual reason but for power and notoriety (same thing). They get banned but I have to remove it all. And if a guy posts up a nasty image 2000 times on one bulletin board cos he got drunk and grumpy one Friday night, and it’s me that has to remove each post over the weekend, I’m ready to murder him slowly and painfully. And I definitely block shock sites now. But I still don’t believe in an all encompassing Internet Filter.

Laurel Papworth

Named by Forbes™ Magazine in the Top 50 Social Media Influencers globally, named Head of Industry, Social Media (Marketing Magazine™) and in the Power150 Media bloggers (AdAge™). CERT IV Training and Assessment certified trainer (Diplomas and Certificates etc) Adult Education. Laurel has manager Facebook Pages for Junior Masterchef, Idol, Big Brother etc. and have consulted on private online communities for banks Westpac, not for profits UNHCR & governments in SE Asia. Lecturer, social media, University of Sydney for 10 years and Laurel has 11,000 online students. Laurel Papworth personally connects to 6 million followers online and has taught around 100,000 people in the last 10 years how to be social media managers.

16 thoughts on “Australia: ABC Four Corners and Q and A

  1. @silkcharm Reading http://is.gd/c3wGm, proposal is for 10,000 URLs. And the Class. Board is non-Govt in the way that unicorns are non-horse

  2. As someone whose blog has been ‘filtered’ from different companiies/ libraries at times for being ‘Adult content’, I just wonder about how it all works, and how we know it works/doesn’t work right.

  3. Having used the internet since 91 here’s my 2cents:

    A complete waste of taxpayers money and government resources.

    There are many tools for filtering content or imagehosting you can use and also whole software companies built around traffic monitoring already.

    Please let people decide for themselves, the internet was built to be free and un-hindered, keep it that way.

  4. The debate last night was interesting and obviously everyone loved Peter the GetUp director.

    If it does get passed through the government, we can use our own opt-out system through companies like www.vpnsecure.me

    seriously, the government can’t win this battle.

  5. There is what we call freedom of speech. So, I agree with Sean, let the people decide and not some entity. With filters like this, then there’s already a hindrance to freedom of speech.

  6. Why does the question need to be “filter or no filter” ? Surely a better way is simply to get the RIGHT filter implemented. My understanding is that the key driver behind the filter is to reduce child sexual abuse by cutting off access to that type of material, and therefore reducing the market for creation of the material. As we all know, the filter is not going to keep the kiddies safe from bad stuff online anyway, that’s what personal filters are for.
    So the key issues are freedom of speech / what gets blocked and who manages the list. If you make the filter ONLY about child sexual abuse, then the line is pretty clear – most of us agree about what that is, and there’s no issues around blocking out content about euthenasia etc. And then, you create a non-government group to manage the list. And no, that doesn’t mean it’s a quasi-gov department, but a properly representative bunch of people. The ISPs implement the filter (because it’s a relatively small group of sites, it’s pretty easy to do), the list is monitored by people that know, and we can all sleep easy in the knowledge that we’re doing something about it, and we’ve taken away the gov’s excuse to implement a filter across everything.

    This is happening in the UK and has been for 14 years (www.iwf.org.uk) – seems to work pretty effectively for them, why not us ?

    (as an aside, it’s not like we don’t have massive filters on our internet already – all our email is “filtered” by 3rd parties who won’t share their lists (spam filters), Google filter their content for us, etc. etc. There are lots of people who already decide what we can and can’t see – not saying it’s right – just a bit of perspective)

    1. “(as an aside, it’s not like we don’t have massive filters on our internet already – all our email is “filtered” by 3rd parties who won’t share their lists (spam filters), Google filter their content for us, etc. etc. There are lots of people who already decide what we can and can’t see – not saying it’s right – just a bit of perspective)”

      You can still have your own mailserver without built in spamfilters and therefore control ALL of the mail yourself.
      This allows mail to go directly to your server through any ISP then out onto the internet.

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