EFA apologises for 'sexist' anti-filter site

Summary:Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) has apologised for any offence caused by its latest campaign asking people to "tell mum" about the Federal Government's proposed mandatory internet filter.

Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) has apologised for any offence caused by its latest campaign asking people to "tell mum" about the Federal Government's proposed mandatory internet filter.

A screenshot of the timetotellmum.com website

A screenshot of the timetotellmum.com website
(Credit: Ben Grubb/ZDNet Australia)

The "It's Time to Tell Mum" campaign launched by EFA last week encouraged people to talk to their mothers about the proposed filter and what the implications of it might be. EFA worked with agency Fnuky to come up with the campaign and the site contains a video starring comedian Akmal Saleh speaking out against the filter.

According to the website, over 40,000 people have "told mum" through the website's various Facebook, Skype, SMS and email sharing methods.

Over the weekend, a number of bloggers raised concerns that the website and its Twitter counterpart were promoting sexist stereotypes of mothers.

Feminist blogger and mother Mary Gardiner told ZDNet Australia that she essentially agreed with the EFA's reasons for opposing the internet filter, but said that the message was lost by the Mum campaign promoting stereotypes that "mothers are only interested in technology for the sake of their children" and "parenting is and should always be women's business". She said the social media portion of the campaign also resorted to stereotyping.

"The Twitter feed is using very stereotypical and well-worn images of lamb roasts and mothers helpless in the face of a DVD player as its main punchlines," she said.

EFA vice-chair Geordie Guy took to his personal blog over the weekend to respond to criticisms but has since removed the entry.

"By focussing on mums, the campaign is just targeting a group with a very special sort of connection to their families — the type of connection that gives rise to phrases like 'maternal instinct' instead of 'paternal instinct'," he said in the now-deleted post.

Guy told ZDNet Australia the responses he received to his blog forced him to delete the entry.

"A couple of the comments that came in response to that were really abusive and I didn't want to start or continue a fight, which is why the article was removed," he said.

"We sincerely regret that the campaign offended some people," Guy said, explaining that his personal musings on the blog were superseded by the apology from the EFA board. He said it was inevitable that the different approach to the censorship debate — and getting a comedian involved — would offend a few people.

"Needless to say, we didn't set out to upset anyone and we don't think mums are stupid — we think some mums are being treated as such by the government, who is playing on their fears without giving them the full story," he said.

Guy said the next phase of the EFA's campaign is in development and will be announced soon.

Topics: Security, Enterprise Software, Government : AU, Networking, Tech Industry


Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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