Australian government online safety report

by on February 29, 2008 · 0 comments

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), Australia’s content and communications regulatory agency, has just released a comprehensive new report on “Developments in Internet Filtering Technologies and Other Measures for Promoting Online Safety.” It’s 120 pages long and contains a survey of all the various tool and methods that Australians can use to deal objectionable online content or communications.

What I like best about the report is that the ACMA ultimately came to the exact same conclusion that I did after conducting a thorough review of these issues in my “Parental Controls and Online Child Protection” report. Namely, (1) there is no single “silver-bullet” technical solution (rather, some combination of many tools and methods must be used), and (2) education is essential. Here’s how they put it on page 91 of the report:

“there is no single mitigation measure that is effective against all online risks. Neither is there a single mitigation measure that is effective in addressing even one category of online risks, that is, content risks, e-security risks and communications risks”…

“Education campaigns appear to be effective in addressing a broad range of online risks. Of the range of alternative risk mitigation measures, education is to the most effective measure in addressing risks associated with illegal online contact. Education is a viable alternative or supplement to filtering in targeting risks associated with inappropriate content, particularly for older children who may endeavor to circumvent filtering that they perceive to be restrictive. There is evidence from programs deployed in other countries that eduction can be deployed to address bullying.”

Absolutely correct. As I argued in my report, “there isn’t any one, silver bullet tool or method that will get the job done on its own. … [W]e will need to adopt a ‘layered’ approach to parental controls and online child protection to do the job right” that involves a combination of “rules, tools, schools, and talk” with education at the heart of all those strategies.

I suspect many of these issues will be considered by the new Internet Safety Technical Task Force that I will be serving on and which I discussed here this week. The Australian report will serve as a good resource for us as we begin our review.

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