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The government contemplates the Internet (again..) [Feb. 17th, 2008|09:20 am]
Bob Bain
NetAlert under scrutiny..(SMH)...

Web porn software filter takes biggest hit
Heath Gilmore
February 17, 2008

THE Rudd Government has branded as a failure the $85 million software filter scheme to protect young Australians from online pornography and will review its future.

Federal Communications Minister Stephen Conroy is assessing the NetAlert program, which will come under scrutiny at the Senate estimates hearings tomorrow.

The filter scheme was a central feature of the Howard Government's $189 million NetAlert program launched last August to address the perceived threat of online sexual predators and unsavoury content to young internet users. A multimillion dollar advertising blitz followed, including a booklet delivered to every household across the nation.

It was expected 2.5 million households would take up the free porn-blocking filters within 12 months but only 144,088 filter products have been downloaded or ordered on CD-ROM since August last year.

The Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy has estimated about 29,000 of these accessed filter products were still being used - less than 2 per cent of the set target.

"The program has clearly failed, despite over $15 million being spent in advertising to support it," Mr Conroy said.


Opposition communications spokesman Bruce Billson said the Rudd Government was rushing to criticise the NetAlert program to set the scene for a "harebrained, half-baked policy dreamt up in the lead-up to an election".

"NetAlert is a program which is relatively new, as is the minister in his role, and I'm sure he would like a little more than six months or so before the public decide if he has been a failure or not," he said.

"Proper supervision should be front and centre of any efforts to protect children from inappropriate material on the internet; supported by additional tools such as content filters, not some mandatory and ill-conceived 'clean feed' measure by a government that believes only it has the authority to decide what's appropriate or inappropriate content for computer users."