Fax to Lindsay Tanner MP re Internet Filtering

7 09 2009

Dear Mr Tanner,

I’ll spare you the form-letter bullet points of why the Government’s proposed internet filtering scheme is illconsidered, ineffective and unwanted.  You’ve heard them all before.

However primary among them is the reality that it just won’t work.  Every time someone creates a ‘wall’ to block internet traffic, it is virtually guaranteed that someone else will find a way around it.  I currently have no “need” to use various technologies to avoid/bypass the kind of filtering proposed by the Government, but I assure you I already have the technology to do so literally at the click of my mouse.

If the Government’s filter comes anywhere close to causing the slow-down OR false-positives that various lobby groups are suggesting it will, I guarantee you that the technology/know-how to bypass this filter will spread into the mainstrream faster than you can say “but 99.99% of Australia’s population aren’t trying to access illegal material”.

And in so doing you will have completely undermined the good intentions of the proposed filter scheme.

As an IT consultant to small business in Melbourne, I perceive the “digital divide” to be growing, not shrinking.  The divide I’m talk about isn’t the haves and have-nots, it’s those who know how to protect themselves and their children from undesirable material, and those who don’t (they are the vast majority).  These are the same people who don’t know how to recognise a malicious spam/phishing email and thus get their computer infected with a spam-bot (or worse), which makes the internet a more dangerous or unpleasant place for all of us.

These are two good reasons why spending money on educating ordinary PC users on how to keep _themselves_ as well as their computers safe is more important than ever.  Frankly, the technology to _effectively_ implement the kind of filter you desire simply doesn’t exist (and for the foreseeable future never will) – it is just too easy to bypass, and the “only” ones negatively impacted are those 99.99% of Australians NOT trying to access illegal material.

I voted for Labor in the last election primarily based on issues relating to environmental and financial management.  I never for one moment considered the ALP’s internet filtering scheme as acceptable collateral damage, but rather as a vote-grabber to be fought *now*.

I call upon you to take whatever steps are necessary to not proceed with this bone-headed scheme, but rather to direct the funds at genuinely _educating_ Australian computer users on how to keep themselves safe on the internet.

Like, how about a perpetual, Government-funded multi-media education campaign, on TV, radio, newspapers, website, Youtube, Twitter, all that and beyond, educating Australian computer users on how to keep themselves, their children and computers safe – to whatever level is appropriate for the individual/family.  Make it ubiquitous, brand it well & consistently, make it comprehensive yet easy, and you will achieve the goal, and more.

And pursue the 0.01% of illicit users far more intelligently than a dumb bypassable filter across the entire population.

Thank you for your time,
Yours sincerely,