back to article Australia declares war on net porn

Within the last 24 hours the Australian Commonwealth Government announced that they would be spending AUS$189m (US$162m) on a range of packages and programs designed to protect Australian Internet users against all that the Internet has to offer, under the name Netalert. With increasing increasing coverage by the Australian …


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  1. heystoopid

    Could this be

    Could this be over a mini scandal brewing in the investigation of some *89 ? or so local Oz Quarantine and Inspection Service Staff in Darwin , Perth & Sydney with the office in Melbourne yet to be investigated.

    The results so far out of the claimed 89 investigations , are 11 directly sacked , 15 resigned (polite way of saying for the good of the service sign here , get your pension entitlement) , 26 were fined and 10 were reduced in salary and seniority grades ( red circled?) . It appeared some one had used and maintained the divisions internal network and the many machines attached as a form of distribution of so called child porn?

    Sadly, as we all know any net filters can be easily bypassed by either control alt delete or the use of proxy servers .

    But alas , if we take either the Recorded Idiots Ass Inc or Movie Posers Ass Inc claims seriously about online piracy one is left with less then .08% space left for ordinary Internet Users browsing the web let alone the paid up legal downloaders or those using M$ windoze update service!

    Given size and number of Federal Public servants , the number of questionable elected politicians still exceeds these bad apples by a wide margin!

    Such is life , to allow wankers to rule over us!

  2. heystoopid


    P.S. , alas both the Federal Police and the Head of the Commonwealth Public Prosecutions Office are unable to find adequate evidence to enable a successful public prosecution on the criminal possession of pornographic material or so it would seem!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's the parents' fault if they let their kids use the internet unsupervised

    No parent should ever let their child go on the internet unsupervised, it's the IT equivalent of letting them play in traffic.

    If parents supervise every net session, there's no way that children will ever see unsuitable material, so all these hundreds of millions of dollars for pointless filters could be spent on something more constructive like healthcare, education, defence etc.

    The only people that these filters and measures will help are those kids who are using the internet unsupervised, in other words children whose parents are failing in their parental duties.

    If any money gets spent on protecting children on the internet, it should be on a campaign to tell parents that they are obligated to supervise their childrens' net sessions.

    If any law gets passed, it should be a law banning any child from using the internet at home without supervision, and holding the parents responsible if this happens.

    You get this same "it's not my problem" parental attitude with video games, parents buying their kids 18-rated titles (with big red 18 stickers on the cover) about mass murderers and gang warfare, then complaining to the media when they find out what the games contain.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    ... so Australia is looking to become a religious theocracy along with the US then.

    Re: It's the parents' fault if they let their kids use the internet unsupervised - agree completely - shame there's already two "classes" of parents - those that give a damn and those that have no idea of discipline, parenting, etc (perhaps because their parents were lazy asses as well?)

  5. Steve Browne

    Dumbing down again

    Look, I am an adult, well over 21 twice over and I am absolutely fed up with being told all I can look at must be suitable for a 6 year old.

    This is a load of bollocks and is just another government attempting to exercise unwanted control on its inmates.

    Wouldn't it be nice if. all these civil servants went and did the job they are supposed to do and stopped seeking out ways to control their populations.

    Censorship is a much more invidious crime than anything else. There is NOTHING more useful to a politician than a muzzled press. Think about it, it isn't really internet sites that will be the target, once they have a policy directed against publishing, the next target is an anomaly that ought to be corrected.

    Protecting children, my arse, protecting government now you are talking.

  6. Ole Juul

    Re: It's the parents fault if ...

    "No parent should ever let their child go on the internet unsupervised, it's the IT equivalent of letting them play in traffic."

    That is just not true. If, like me, you have ever seen your child get run over by a car you wouldn't say that.

    "If parents supervise every net session, there's no way that children will ever see unsuitable material,"

    With the amount of ill conceived or downright disingenious "educational" material out there, and gullible parents thinking that's OK ... I don't beleive that will work either. It certainly depends on how you define "unsuitable".

    "If any law gets passed, it should be a law banning any child from using the internet at home without supervision,"

    Perhaps we should ban all adults from using the net. After all it's the adults who post the "unsuitable material". However, I think there's a problem with that too. It just might not work.

    In the end, I think it comes down to helping your kid by having an open mind and a positive attitude. Maby even a bit of trust. That would be a good thing to teach. The net is not nearely as dangerous as the street and a lot of "shoulds" are not really that helpful ... especially when it comes to other people's kids.

  7. Luke

    -- -Not good -- -

    As a Christian and a parent if find this appalling,

    The internet should be free to host all and sundry.

    Parents are responsible for their children's surfing habits

    If effective content/filtering software with proper

    password/encryption is made available then there

    is no reason why anything should be censored

    This issue comes down to laziness and a lack of care.

    The government is not the keeper of my children,i am.

    Also it is not a reflection of all Christians attitudes,unfortunately

    zeal can be misdirected and whether is it to gain vote counts

    or even wanting to do the right thing it is still a band aid measure

    and will only lead to ongoing censorship.

    I for one do not like rock and roll (actually i am a metal head),

    I think that it perverts todays youth,therefore anything rock and roll related should be banned!,

    Where will it stop?



    An Australian Christian

  8. James Hutchinson


    You can’t help but lawl they have Daily Readers in their country to eh? Who believe all people who use the internet to be paedophiles...?

  9. Allan Rutland


    "Reducing the variety of pornography viewable by Australian Internet users"

    So is this scheme soley designed to fund the crocodile porn coverage? or perhaps limiting Oz usage to sheep only coverage :P

  10. Christian Gerzner

    Aw, Shucks

    I am not a Christian, matter of fact I do not hold with any religion at all. All of them are tarred with the same brush.

    The Australian "proposed restriction" should be taken in context. It was issued by an incumbent government trying desperately hard to bolster its image, no more, no less, with an election looming.

    Those of us with some semblance of a clue about the internet fully realise that any endeavour to restrict it will be met by failure.

    That will happen in China sooner rather than later, especially given the imminent Olympics there.

    Those Olympics? Should never have happened in present day China, but that's another story.

    Christian (by name but not by nature)

  11. Andrew J. Winks

    How apt

    "Beskerming" means "protection" in some Germanic languages.

  12. Rupert Stubbs

    Supervising kids access...

    Yeah, right. Parents are really going to sit with them while they exchange brain-dumps with their ghastly friends all evening...

    Any more than you will check that they're not looking up rude words in a dictionary.

    The reality is that they will be exposed to far, far worse than anything on the net when they are at school - fags, drugs, booze, sex (real sex) - and so all you can do is try and instill some sort of self-awareness in them.

    They will look at porn on the net. They will google for the nastiest things they can think of. And if they're reasonably bright, they will cover their tracks.

    Just like you and I used to do with our parents' liquor cabinet. And the magazines under our brothers' bed.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Different view

    I guess I am the only one here who have young kids and care about them. The problem is that you can secure your home computers and that about it. I have no control over the outside and I have seen a lot of kids exposed to porn in outside home environment with or without their own intentions. Our kids need to grow into healthy environment and it is our responsibility to make it easy for them rather then try to hide them from every unknown corner “ and do not forget that they are tomorrow generation who will make laws and take care of you when you are old”. There is no study or research that support that porn will further the education, behavior or welfare of a child. Porn and violence should be restricted to where only adults seek it rather than kids should be restricted to sites around them 360 degrees.

  14. Ian Damage

    Public Health System

    Maybe John Howard is trying to stop the flood of cases of "tennis elbow" inundating our public hospitals?

    I'll get my coat.

  15. James


    So you have children and for that reason alone my internet experience should be restricted to what you think is acceptable for your kids?

    On top of that, it would be like trying to keep an angry mob at bay. If your kids really want to see porn they'll find it.

    Extremist tunnel-vision christians are trying to ruin it for everyone yet again!

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Just to clarify, this pr0n filtering system would be "opt in" from an ISP<->Customer point of view... (similar to opt-in spam or virus filtering features etc)

    If someone wants the filtering applied to their account, all well and good; it won't impact someone elses ability to browse.

    At least, from what I've heard, thats the plan.

  17. Graham Dawson Silver badge

    Ironic perhaps?

    It's funny seeing the christian argue for less control of the net and the (apparently) humanist atheist, or perhaps just plain progressive, arguing for more. Not necessariy ironic though. My experience has often been that progressives of a certain mould (and, to avoid accusations of generalising, there are many moulds of progressive thought) are quite authoritarian, moreso than even the most uptight christian moralists (amongst whom I often count myself) who tend to have a limiting factor placed upon them by the very personal nature of the christian message, or at least should if they actually believe what they're preaching. The brief mention of "theocracy" perked my ears up, as I believe the hardest pressure for limitation of access to the internet (in the UK at least) is coming, not from any religious group, but from the secular and authoritarian section of the left that likes to meddle in the affairs of others.

    Incidentally, on a point of semantics: "All of them are tarred with the same brush." I do not think this means what you think it means. They are only tarred with the same brush if someone else is doing the tarring. Perhaps what you meant to say was "all of them are much of a muchness" or "of the same stroke", both of which mean that, in your view, they are similar enough as to be no different. Tarring with the same brush is something that *other* people do to innocents by associating them with the guilty.

  18. Malcolm Weir


    Mr Dawson is doing an impressive job of trying to create a smokescreen, but in so doing he's missing a few key points.

    For example, while it may, or may not, be true that in the UK the "secular and authoritarian section of the left" is pushing hardest, that in no way implies that the theocrats are _not_ also pushing hard.

    And regardless of what's happening in the UK, this particular article is about the situation in Australia, where the announcements were made at that hardly secular or left-leaning community that attends "megachurches". And, in passing, it should be noted that the Australian demagoguery seems similar to that in the USA.

    But far more importantly, while there _might_ be some truth in noting that there is a secular left-leaning group lobbying for restrictions, there is undeniable truth in noting that the most vigorous opposition to restrictions is coming from (a different) left-leaning community, while there tends to be a deafening silence from the religious right.

    And that's the crux: it may well be that "uptight christian moralists" tend to have limiting factors placed on them (although the Crusades and the Inquisition are object lessons in just how limiting those factors can be), but I know of few, if any, "uptight christian moralists" who argue with much zeal against censorship.

    Still, the Irony of Mr Dawson blaming progressives for John Howard choosing a megachurch for his announcement is quite exquisite...

  19. Graham Marsden

    Plus ca change...

    Well at least they're not talking about locking people up for three years for looking at porn which the Government doesn't like.

    Unlike here in the uk:

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Reply to James

    Thank you for reading my comments.I guess the point her is that each one is looking at thing from his view and it boils down to that, me on behave of my children and other people children on one side and you speaking for you and the rest of the masturbating community on the other side

    and then you said "Extremist tunnel-vision christians are trying to ruin it for everyone yet again" which shows your respect to other points of view and how wide is your scope of vision

    Thank you

  21. Aubry Thonon

    Simpler explanation...

    There is a simpler explanation the the Oz Government's "sudden" policy - there's a Federal election coming up later this year.

    Which is also why we are innundated by new adverts telling us about our rights under the new Labour Laws (which were supposed to be so simple we wouldn't need help understanding them), about this, that the other... just about *anything* the Federal Government can think of to make themselves look better and justify paying for by using public monies.

    We recently had an Indian Doctor held in prison without being charged for an indecent number of days... now, he may or may not have been guilty... I can't say for sure... the only thing I *can* say is that the Federal Gov milked it for all it was worth and left me with a "boat people" taste in my mouth... remember them from the last election? Shades of "wag the dog" in both cases.

    Which is why this voter - who was undecided until a few weeks ago - will be voting *against* the current government. Note the emphasis.

  22. Steve Roper

    The Great Firewall of Australia

    This has actually been in the works now for a couple of years, being introduced by Labor in 2005 and now picked up by the incumbent Liberal government. This means that, regardless of the results of the upcoming election, Australia will be sequestered behind a firewall similar to China's.

    Of course, there are ways to circumvent this, including the use of anonymising proxies and the TOR network, which I will be making use of the first time I find that I've been blocked from accessing a website by the nannies and do-gooders in this country. I will not allow interfering busybodies who think they know best how I should live to dictate to me what I can and cannot read.

    To the anonymous poster who is such a person above, I say only this. You complain about James' respect to other points of view. I agree with James on this. You obviously don't respect other points of view if you think you have the right to dictate to others what they ought to read, so why should we respect yours? People like you are the real cause of the loss of our freedoms, more than the politicians who have to pander to your own closed-mindedness to get re-elected. And unlike you, I have the guts to put my real name to my comment.

  23. Craig Ringer

    At least this one is opt-in

    Unlike the last filtering scheme, pushed by the Tasmanian conservative Senator Harradine, this filtering scheme is at least optional.

    OK by me. It won't work, and it doesn't thrill me to have government money going to something like this over better uses, but at least they have the decency to recognise that adults can make their own choices this time. I'd prefer that people just buy filtering software if they want filtering, however, or use an ISP that offers such services (they already exist). Sure, it's not every effective, but the only thing that ever will be is a well-maintained whitelist - something people just don't want to admit.

    The last scheme was universally ignored by ISPs. For all I know it might still be in force - I can't even find references to it anymore. I suspect this one will go the same way.


    Craig Ringer

  24. Joe Cincotta

    Bunch of twats...

    Australian government has shown its head is firmly planted up its proverbial rectum once again. There has been so much talk of centralized filtering whilst Optus is already providing end-user filtering software free with their broadband packages.

    How long will it take for these prats to get that ISP level filtering is idiotic because its decentralised censorship. There is no way it can be implemented, enforced or managed - either from the ISP or the government. Complete rubbish. Waste of our money to even investigate and clearly demonstrated the stupidity of this government AND the opposition who were both party to this proposal. They should all change their name to Richard Cranium.

    Can't wait to see this bloody virus in the form of government censorship software which gets released. It will have a security breach within a month and expose every Australian family to something far worse...

    Oh, did I mention this thing called OpenDNS? Costs $0 and solves about 90% of the problem with porn - of course you could always spend $4,500,000 for me to tell you like the Australian government did in this "investigation" (read JUNKET).

    ...venting complete...

  25. Mark Roome

    Re: Public Health System

    Ian, I thought it had changed to "mouse finger" from too much clicking .... ?

    Coat? Whats that?

  26. Michael Mounteney

    This is nothing to do with morality

    ... and everything to do with Johnny getting votes. The evil b*stard would throw his own mother to the lions if it got him a further day in power.

  27. James Thomas

    Get a better Editor

    Seriously. Although mildly interesting this article is incredibly poorly written. Large parts of it make almost no sense and although someone has at least put it through a spellchecker they obviously weren't paying much attention, as they have chosen the wrong words. The whole thing reminds me of a GCSE English essay (one of mine anyway, god knows what crap the youth of today produce).

    I enjoy reading El Reg but the quality of the articles seems to get worse everyday. You Editor needs a good slapping.

  28. James

    Reply to anon

    You're right, I don't particularly like your Christian point of view. I don't particularly like any religion, group or organisation which tries to indoctrinate the rest of the community / country / world.

    You're missing the point. It's got nothing to do with the fact that 99% of the male population masturbates. The point is, if you block porn, then why not block everything else YOU deem unacceptable. Why not sniff everyone's email, block all P2P services, IPs in Eastern Europe, in fact, why not just have a white list of sites and IP addresses that you feel would not taint your child’s mind and then force that same white list on everyone else.

    This is also not just MY opinion. The above policy on porn is not going to affect me as I don't live in Australia and even if I did, I wouldn't be too concerned for myself. I could already bypass that stuff at 16 and I only got my first computer when I was 19.

    Something fundamentalists seem to be unable to comprehend is that what's true for them, is not necessarily true for everyone else.

    If you really want to protect YOUR children, then buy a book and learn how to set up content filtering at home. Leave the rest of the world out of it!

  29. Frank

    reply to james 2

    Thank you again. You should apply the same things you say to yourself because it seems that you cannot see things from our point of view either. on the other hand if we allow porn, should we allow bombs making, drug trafficking or any other as long as it is a free world?.I am an adult male and yet my concern is the children who can have a bad influence. there are times that we have to stop thinking about ourselves for the sake of a community.

  30. Steve Roper


    OK, here is the reason why censorship in any form should be opposed. It's nothing to do with bleeding-heart liberalism or sympathising with criminals, or these sorts of arguments the pro-censorship lobby use in arguing the issue. The issue is more fundamental than that.

    Suppose we have four premises, A, B, C and D. A is something really offensive and unnecessary in the eyes of the general community, like child porn or bomb-making instructions. B is maybe political dissent, C is discussion of security issues, and D is simply what positions people like doing "it" in.

    Now, if we all agree that A should be banned, we set up and enable the censorship infrastructure that makes this possible, well and good. But then comes the problem of the old "inch and mile" principle. Having successfully censored A, we've now created the ability to censor anything else. The door is now open for wowsers and do-gooders (and that doesn't mean you are one of them) to start agitating to ban B, C, and D. And they WILL. Some people are never satisfied, once they've banned one thing they'll start in on something else. Once that door is opened, it will never stop. The right political maneuvering will be able to allow ANYTHING to be banned by careful use of FUD and propaganda, and freedom as we know it dies.

    So we're caught between Scylla and Charybdis. On the one hand, the only way to guarantee our freedom from those who would ban anything they don't like is to allow everything, even the things we don't like. On the other hand, allowing total freedom allows society's worst elements to roam at large and prey on the innocent. The question then becomes one of balancing freedom against safety; by refusing to censor A, and then studying those we catch committing A, we can look at why and how they got that way and work out ways to circumvent the societal problems that caused them to do so. Treat the disease, not the symptom, so to speak. Again, that's not about sympathising with criminals, it's about preventing the circumstances that create them in the first place. If you just suppress the symptom, all you get is an arms race where people endlessly try to circumvent censorship and endlessly try to lock it down again, and the original problem never gets solved.

    I also have nieces, and if a sexual predator messed with them, believe me I'd be the first in line to work the bastard over with a carton-knife and a soldering-iron. But I cannot in clear conscience demand censorship, even in the name of protecting my nieces. Too much will be taken away from them if we allow censorship, and where is the value of life if we must all live in fear of offending some hyper-sensitive self-righteous git? So what I've done is to educate them, to make them aware of the dangers, how to spot them, and to take precautions to ensure their safety. It's all I can do.

    Because I want my nieces to grow up into a world where they can express their ideas and opinions freely, to reach their full potential, not to cower in fear wondering if they're going to get silenced or in trouble for every little thing they say or do.

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