It seems kind of sad that we’re still discussing the issue of mandatory web filtering, but until the Labor government decides to start listening to experts (or gets voted out of power), we don’t really have a choice. yesterday, representatives from Facebook, Yahoo!7 and NineMSN told the Joint Select Committee on Cyber Safety that mandatory internet filtering isn’t a viable option for protecting kids.
Facebook’s chief privacy advisor, Mozelle Thompson told the committee:
“I would hate for the public to get the wrong impression that there is a quick technological solution for inappropriate content, because there isn’t.”
NineMSN’s corporate affairs director Jennifer Duxbury insisted that it was time for schools to become more serious about teaching kids the dangers of the Internet:
“We would also like to see effective cyber-safety education embedded in the curricula of every school. It could be useful to have a campaign around the importance of parents being engaged in this issue with their children – similar to the ‘slip, slop, slap’ campaign.”
Yahoo!7 Asia Pacific legal director Samantha Yorke questioned why a voluntary measure wasn’t explored before the government went all mandatory filter crazy:
“The breadth of scope was something that was of concern for us here at Yahoo!7. We also felt that imposing a filter through legislation might have been a little bit pre-emptive in terms of trying to seek a voluntary collaborative process within the industry more broadly before jumping to that step.”
There was also a lot of discussion about Facebook’s own cyber-safety record, with Thompson admitting that the company deleted 20,000 accounts globally each day for underage users lying about their age. The social networking site would also be hiring a cybersafety policy expert specifically for the Australian market.
But despite the mounting evidence, Senator Conroy’s response was as cliched a expected:
“There is no silver bullet when it comes to cyber safety.”