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No clean feed, no internet censorship

There has been much dialogue both online and in the media recently about the Australian Government plan to ensure a 'clean' internet feed by forcing ISP's to filter content prior to the consumer accessing it.

This is Wrong !

It should not be allowed to happen under any circumstances. It is being touted as a "Clean feed" and you may ask why wouldn't we want a clean feed. Surely we don't want our children or perhaps even ourselves exposed to extreme violence, pornography etc.  There are myriad reasons that this is a dangerous move. A major one is that when we allow the Government to choose what we can and can't see we are opening the door for them to decide we can't read about other political systems, detractors and 'malcontents' who may question the status quo, they may decide we can't access certain online games as they might have adult content or violence or perhaps not permit access to world issues that might conflict with their policies, maybe disallowing access to information regarding euthanasia or abortion or their political oppostitions views. We have the right and responsibility to choose for ourselves what we wish to view, what we can handle. While I have no issue with the government enacting laws against content that degrades or exploits I do take issue against them preventing my right to access legal material. I would have no issue with providing proof of age but I do take issue with them treating me as a child who needs to be saved form harm. This in itself is reason enough for everyone to stand up and cry NO! However there are other insidious dangers inherent in this plan. The Government wishes to protect our children and yet their proposals will do anything but. I am bothered greatly as a parent by the all too common scenario of parents not paying sufficient attention to what their children are doing online. If the Government filters internet content this problem will increase exponentially and parents will think their child is 'safe' while in fact it would be a pedophile's paradise. We will end up with some of the parents who currently do watch their childrens' activities, relaxing and considering their job done. They will no longer watch where their child is browsing, who their child is speaking to through instant messaging clients and what their child is downloading.  They will consider the Government is taking care of it for them.  How many parents understand that the internet is a much larger place than the websites you can access, that there are many ways of accessing material, some of which never go anywhere near a website? If content is not found on a website it will not be blocked. Blocking certain websites will not remove the potential for a pedophile to groom a child through chat programs. It will not prevent the exchange of material exploiting and abusing children as that generally goes through a peer to peer protocol. This means it goes directly from one person to another. From one pedophile to another.

The only way to protect your child from this type of potential harm is to WATCH them. Know their friends, know their friends parents and the standards they set. Talk to your children, tell them of the dangers of even seemingly innocent chatter online. It is incredibly simple for someone to elicit sufficient information to identify your child without names ever being exchanged.

To illustrate the lack of parental guidance that seems to prevail too often have a look at facebook. Facebook has an age requirment of 13 years old and you cannot join without a birthdate that puts you over that age. I know of at least 60 children under that age who are on facebook. Most of those children attend primary school with my daughter. There may be a couple of children who meet the age requirements but as a general rule if you're in primary school, you will be 12 or under. My children are not permitted access to facebook. They are not old enough by Facebook's TOS and even when they meet that requirement they will not meet my own which currently I have set as perhaps around 16. This is fluid, it will change as my children grow up. They will be allowed access when I feel they are old enough and regardless of Facebook's age limit I will decide when that is. Those children who have a facebook presence have lied to be able to join the site, they are masquerading as older than their years, they are opening themselves to material they are ill-equipped to handle and their parents are failing them by not being aware of what they are doing or not ensuring they are meeting the age requirements. Some are indicating they are looking for romance, some are posting photographs of themselves and their friends. Some have made their profile private and so no information other than their name is visible but some have publicly viewable profiles. These children have no idea of the dangers they are exposing themselves and possibly their friends to. They don't realize the risks and often think they can tell who is pretending to be a child and who really is. They don't. That is why they have parents. We might have to seem to be the 'bad guys' who restrict them and place boundaries on their behaviour but the fact is that's our job. It's what we accepted when we chose to parent our children. Right now your child may be angry with you, you may have a fight over it but if you fail them in this how angry will they be if they end up as a pedophiles play thing? How much guilt will you carry? How much blame will you accept?

It is not the role of the Government to ensure our children are kept from harms way, it is their responsibility to manage the macrocosm that is our country. It is ours to manage the microcosm that is our family. The best they should be doing is to provide us with the information and the tools to educate our children of these dangers. The money they are throwing at this ill conceived idea of net filtering should be spent on educating parents of the dangers their children may encounter, teaching parents how to supervise without suffocating,  detailing the warning signs that indicate a child may be communicating with an unsuitable person, providing easy to use programs on each computer so children can be prevented from accessing inappropriate material while still allowing ourselves to makes choices that suit us. It is a parents responsibility to teach their child and supervise them. We should all accept that responsibility and accept blame when we fail. It is our fault if we fail and we should not seek to abrogate that responsibility by claiming a lack of knowledge or difficult circumstances. If you don't know all you need to then find out. If you think you do, talk to your friends and see if they have more information. If they don't then you might be helping to save their child by sharing what you know. The less interest we show in our childrens' activities, the less frequently we discuss these issues only play into the hands of those who may harm your child.

Stand against the proposed "clean feed" and be the parent your child deserves !


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 28th, 2009 04:56 am (UTC)
Linked on my journal
Hi there,
I was crawling the journals and found this excellent essay and just wanted to let you know that I linked back to it on my journal. Hope this is okay? Thank you.
Dec. 28th, 2009 07:14 am (UTC)
Re: Linked on my journal
That's fine to link back to my post :) The more people aware and voicing their opinion on this the better :)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )