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Note: The commentary here is not sanctioned comment in my role as a member of the board of the IIA (Internet Industry Association). It's me exercising my right as a citizen of a western democracy to speak freely, without influence from any other party. This is how the 'net works. There's been a significant debate in Australia about filtering the internet for a while now. I haven't blogged about it because I couldn't be bothered to waste my time writing about something so ridiculous and as a member of the board of the IIA we have a position which I fully support. But the debate is hotting up, the pollies are hell bent on it happening, probably because it was an election commitment, but they appear to be ignoring vast swaths of the electorate who are saying "No!", the thought of 'Chinese style' internet filtering is not what they want. My reason for posting today is to tell you that even Save the Children think it's a bad idea. There's more to this article and it's worth reading. No-one is saying that we shouldn't protect the innocent from 'bad' content on the internet but there are bad things in the real world as well. We don't have people filters at kids playgrounds, or nudity filters on TV's, we educate our children and monitor their behavior. Trying to jam a filter into the 'net in a country where we already have relatively slow connections (per dollar per mbit) is not the answer. My company (Cleartext) is in the email filtering business, that's easy, an email is sent and stored somewhere, a filter is applied and it's forwarded on again. The sender and recipient don't notice the seconds that this can take. Doing the same for web filtering is also possible (but not trivial or cheap) to do but the recipient of the web page WILL notice the delay. Imagine typing a URL into your web browser and having to wait several seconds longer to see the page, even worse imagine going to your favourite news web site and finding out that it's been blocked in error. Or more likely, going to your friends FaceBook or Flickr page to look at pics of their cute new borne to find that's blocked as well. These are all very possible outcomes, oh and don't start me on freedom of speech, privacy and costs, do you think governments won't be tempted to filter other 'objectionable' content and that ISP's will absorb the costs associated with filtering, or pass them on to paying subscribers? It's simple, hands up those who want to pay more to get less content and slower speeds... I have trouble selling that to business owners, I'm damn sure we couldn't sell it to consumers.

Published: December 1st 2008 at 11:35am

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