All Without a Filter

Do not be fooled by the lack of news in regards to Australia’s planned mandatory internet filter. It is still on the agenda, and the powers that be who think we can’t protect ourselves and our children from the “bad stuff” still want to develop and deploy a censorship mechanism to deliver on their goals.

Maintain the rage.

Which brings me to an article I read this morning regarding the prevalence of child pornography detections, arrests, and prosecutions – and all without a filter.

“There was a 30 per cent jump, from 136 to 180, in the number of Australians arrested by federal police for child pornography offences last year compared with 2010.”

“The trend towards peer-to-peer file-sharing and live webcam streaming has thrown up new challenges for the AFP, but Mr Gaughan said authorities were making inroads.”

So it seems, even without a filter, we can start to eliminate the material that the filter will supposedly block.

Supposedly, of course, because the material the filter that will supposedly block, is trivial to bypass. Its ability to stop people who wish to access the material from doing so, is non-existent.

Redirecting the resources that would be committed to the filter to more AFP officers doing more work to detect the material, and locate offenders, rather than hiding the problem away, logically seems more effective – (and better for the children being abused) – than putting up smokescreens around the problem.

Potentially worrying however, was this:

“”We can find the peer-to-peer stuff, we have the tools to see people sharing known images. It’s like fishing with a hand grenade,” he said. “The next step for us is disruption, so that we can go through the [peer-to-peer] and just take them down. It took us a while to get to the point where we could block URLs, because we’re playing catch-up, but we’re talking to people about how we block known material on peers.”

Blocking URLs? It is not clear if this refers to the “voluntary filter” employed by some ISPs, which make use of an Interpol blacklist, but clearly the concept of straight URL blocking is entering their thinking.

This bring us back to the old question of who monitors what gets blocked or not? Who watches the watchers?

Nevertheless, this clear gain in the battle against child pornography on the internet without a filter should make the case for implementing one weaker.

Shouldn’t it?

We might not be that lucky.