On December 16th, the Sydney Morning Herald reported expert claims that the Australian Government is failing to seriously address whether internet filtering is effective in reducing harmful content.
But it seems investigating ISP protection may not be worth the effort because filters can easily be circumvented by motivated hackers so protection is only effective on web pages. This means internet predators will easily move to other mediums like peer-to-peer file sharing programs and email.
Baptist Minister and Well-Being Australia chairman Mark Tronson, has previously written material on this subject and has three points he wants to make.
Firstly, two years ago there was a US report that surveyed five thousand college students. The survey revealed that although porn sites were regularly popping up on the university student's PCs in a very short time span, the students were oblivious to their existence.
"It is a bit like living beside a railway line, after a while you don't hear the trains," said Tronson.
Secondly, there is a recognised grass roots push in Australia for something to be done to avoid pornography being so freely available on the internet and in 'plain view' magazines. If you type 'Christian Sex' into Google, the results are quite disturbing. What came up in 'plain view' were items that even a decade ago might have bought down Christian Ministers, for even daring to discuss the issue seriously.
Thirdly, there are other means such as peer-to-peer file sharing and email where people share information– including unsavoury or illegal content. Mark is concerned about the security of emails. Monitoring is difficult. Unless a hands-on approach is taken where the receiver diligently blocks mail from unknown senders, handling incoming mail is difficult.
Emails are innocuous. The infamous Nigerian financial scams show how vulnerable people are. Mark Tronson pointed that only recently his wife received a financial scam email asking for her banking details. Although there are regular public warnings of the new ways people are being scammed, it's difficult for an unsophisticated internet user to decipher between genuine and malicious mail.
Innocent children, adolescents and young people tend to be trusting and are easy targets for internet hackers and scammers. All it takes is one click of the mouse to be directed to unsavoury pornographic material.
Internet security issues have received heavy air play in recent months. The overwhelming number of online pornographic sites has trivialised sexual activity, sending a signal to young people that illicit sex is the way valid relationship are developed. Mark Tronson is concerned that young, inexperienced people, curious about love and relationships are being fed non-realistic information about the appropriate way to behave.
"All power to Senator Stephen Conroy for trying to make a step in the right direction, however small, it is a good, important step and as technology is improved, so will the monitoring of emails and personal website to make online activity safer in the future," says Mark Tronson.