Speaking of Australia I was interested to hear that despite a change of leadership down under the Labor government of Kevin Rudd (‘alright Kev?’) still intends to filter the Internet for all Australians which has seen statements around the internet such as this from Duncan Riley of technical blog Techncrunch:
“The Australian Government has announced that they will be joining China as one of the few countries globally that broadly censor the internet”
Australia has a much more interventionist track record than here in the UK (no really) so we wait to see quite how they impose their list of good and bad websites on Australian ISP’s. Filtering adult material to prevent access by youngsters is of course to be commended though many would argue that some kind of balance between family friendly Internet packages from ISP’s themselves and parents taking personal responsibility is a more preferable way of filtering the Internet rather than governments deciding what we should and should not see (they don’t have a good track record on such matters-I mean would we let them decide what TV we can watch or not?).
Another idea floated some years ago (but abandoned as impractical) was to force adult Internet sites to use a .xxx domain address or (to be technical for a moment) pushing adult content sites onto a non standard Internet ports* so as to allow an easy to implement filtering system that responsible adults or ISP’s can choose to control. Of course the downside of technical solutions is that many adults know less about computers than their children but you’d think that with the spread of broadband and routers that many of these devices would have spent time making an easy to understand adult supervised filtering system.
The downside of that is assuming that enough adults would be responsible enough to put a system in place that would let them control what their children could and could not see however (inevitably) imperfect such a system would be. In the absence of individual action and personal responsibility governments may increasingly intervene and make those decisions for us.
*The Simple Firewall Analogy
Various Internet services are accessed through certain ports. Imagine that certain trades people would only come into your house via a certain coloured door. So the Internet works in a similar way.Web pages come in through the green door, email via the red door (for example) and video through a different door altogether. Lock that door and you stop the service coming in. If your Internet provider put adult content on a different port to port 80 (where most web pages are) then the user (or ISP) could choose a service that allowed them to control who got to see what (though this would be easier if each family member had their own desktop account rather than everyone sharing the same desktop).This is (in simple terms) how an Internet firewall works.