clean feed

Keeping kids safe online…

I don’t often give serious parenting advice here. I know my audience. But my purpose for this post is twofold – first, to congratulate Steve Kryger from Communicate Jesus for this piece on Sydney Anglicans that has been syndicated on Gizmodo.com.au, and second, to share Steve’s list of ten tips for parents. I think they’re good, and a great acknowledgment that clean feed, or no clean feed, the issue requires a thought out approach from parents not a government mandate.

  1. Understand what your child is doing online (put the computer in a public space, talk to your children, use accountability software).
  2. Ask your child to explain to you what they are doing, and why they are doing it.
  3. Talk to your child about your values, and how these should be lived out, regardless of the environment.
  4. Filter the content that your family views online.
  5. Understand the minimum age requirements for different websites and technologies (children under 13 should not be on Facebook).
  6. Understand how these popular websites are used, and what the opportunities and threats are.
  7. Understand what avenues are at your disposal if something goes wrong (e.g. your child’s Facebook account is hacked).
  8. Consider how you will respond if you discover your child is acting inappropriately, or viewing inappropriate material.
  9. Decide when or if your child will get a mobile phone.
  10. Understand the new functions of mobile phones, and what the opportunities and threats are.

Common sense prevails

The ISP filter has been scaled back from any black listed items to just Refused Classification content – which some people have argued was their policy all along (particularly one debate on Craig’s blog. It may well have been – but that was poorly communicated. Here’s the SMH story.

“Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has long said his policy would introduce compulsory ISP-level filters of the Australian Communications and Media Authority’s blacklist of prohibited websites.

But he has since backtracked, saying the mandatory filters would only block content that has been “refused classification” (RC) – a subset of the ACMA blacklist – amid widespread concerns that ACMA’s list contains a slew of R18+ and X18+ sites, such as regular gay and straight pornography and other legal content.”

I’m a lot less worried about that – it seems to be much more transparent than the previously stated policy. I’m sure my freedom loving friends will still have problems, as do the Australian Christian Lobby. Nice work guys…

“The lobby’s managing director, Jim Wallace, wants the Government to introduce legislation forcing internet providers to block adult and pornography material on a mandatory basis, in addition to illegal content. Australians would then have to opt in to receive legal adult material.”

That sounds nice. It really does. Pornography is a blight on society. And it would be nice to protect vulnerable people (particularly vulnerable Christians) from its insidiousness. But. It isn’t really up to Christians to make the laws in a country where we are in the minority (despite the number of people ticking the Christian box on the census). Why should we expect those given over to sinful desires (which is surely how the Bible describes the state of non-Christians) to conform to a Christian standard of living?

Black spot on clean feed

I’ve said it once. And I’ll say it again. The clean feed is bad for anyone who believes in freedom of speech. I think it’s especially important for Christians – who are one of the driving forces behind the clean feed concept – to know what it is they’re supporting in the case of this policy.

The government’s internet watchdog – ACMA (the Australian Communications and Media Authority) can blacklist whatever they want. It doesn’t have to be “objectionable” content (read child abuse material) – unless the government definition of “child” now extends to an unborn fetus – which would have grand implications for the abortion debate. You see an abortion protest site has just been added to the blacklist – as reported by Crikey. 

This content is hosted outside Australia, outside ACMA’s jurisdiction, so they can’t demand it be taken down or guarded by an age-verification mechanism. They can only add it to the blacklist — and under Conroy’s plan, everything on the blacklist is blocked, secretly, for all Australians. No choice.

“The Government does not view this debate as an argument about freedom of speech,” says Senator Conroy.”

No, of course not. As the government has pointed out, it’s about preventing the exploitation of children. A noble cause. It’s when the government refuses to allow criticism on the policy on the basis that anyone objecting is tacitly approving of the child abuse that the discussion breaks down.

“”Freedom of speech is fundamentally important in a democratic society and there has never been any suggestion that the Australian Government would seek to block political content.” Conroy said here

Well yes there has Senator – that’s been the grounds of all the rational objections to your stupid, and technologically flawed, legislation (well that and the fact that it’s unlikely to work and it’s just going to punish everyday users of the Internet… ). 

The abortion site is pretty nasty. While I agree that abortion is one of the great moral debates of our time, I wouldn’t recommend going there. I did. It wasn’t pretty. But that’s not the point. Once “objectionable” includes “things we disagree with” the Liberal Party better make sure their policies are consistent with Labor’s, or they’ll be banned.

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