Facebook dislikes Labor’s Internet Filter

  • Facebook, Yahoo, ninemsn and Microsoft chime in
  • Safe feeds for children an alternative to blanket policy
  • More education needed

Security experts from some of Australia’s largest web companies have voiced their criticism over Labor’s proposed internet filter.

The security experts from Facebook, Yahoo, ninemsn and Microsoft made the comments on Monday to a hearing of the joint select committee in Canberra. The high-profile companies argued that solving cyber-safety would not be as simple as applying a mandatory or opt-in internet filter.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has been advocating the controversial internet filtering scheme since 1997.

Facebook's chief privacy adviser, Mozelle Thompson, told the committee "I would hate for the public to get the wrong impression that there is a quick technological solution for inappropriate content, because there isn't.”

She also maintained that Facebook was working vigorously to keep children off the site. She reported that 20,000 pages of user accounts under the age of 13 are removed each day.

Microsoft's chief Australian security adviser, Stuart Strathdee argued that Australia should be looking at other programs such as safe feeds. Safe feeds would require additional software, along with parents getting involved with what their children are doing online.

Strathdee used the hearing to highlight the need for a combination of methods to be used to advocate cyber safety.

“I’d highlight the difficulties in selecting a single technology to try to implement that style of protection,” he said.

“I think this issue is a challenging one and we need to look more broadly at a combination of technologies and education to combat it. One technology isn’t going to be the solution.

“A key consideration, even in voluntary filters, is complacency. If a technology is introduced people over a very short period of time believe they are protected and don’t have to worry any further.”

Read our tips on how to help keep your children safe online here.