Conroy's paternalism misses target

Conroy's paternalism misses target

Summary: Our great Communications Minister's limited focus on scary dangers like Facebook leaves many real net nasties unaddressed in Safer Internet Day activities.

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commentary Our great Communications Minister's limited focus on scary dangers like Facebook leaves many real net nasties unaddressed in Safer Internet Day activities.

According to a press release issued by Stephen Conroy's office, Australia is one of more than 50 countries expected to recognise Safer Internet Day yesterday. So how are we recognising it? The government has organised:

  • "Social networking and consumer safety forums for secondary school students,
  • The launch of new cyber-bullying initiatives for primary school children on the SuperClubsPLUS Australia website, and
  • The launch of the Cybersmart Detectives Game in schools in NSW."

So Conroy's focus is cyber-bullying, and the young. Particularly, he singles out "Facebook, MySpace, Habbo Hotel and Bebo". While some may consider these to be dangerous sites, cyber-bullies on these networks can be made to disappear with a single click.

Wherever you sit on the cyber-bullying debate, what is clear is that Conroy's plan neglects many of the major issues facing the internet today.

What concerns me is that while the minister's teams were furiously looking for suspicious characters on Habbo Hotel, Australians are increasingly becoming victims of online fraud.

Closer examination of Conroy's plan will reveal he is committing $125.8 million over the next four years. Of the $125.8 million, the vast majority ($116.6 million) is going towards the controversial internet filter. Other funding is going towards the Australian Federal Police (AFP) Child Protection Operations Team, and other initiatives.

Stephen Conroy
(Credit: DBCDE)

If the minister was to give the entire sum to the AFP, then surely a great deal of the cybercrime that currently goes unaddressed could be dealt with. After all, in 2008 four in 10 Australians identified themselves as victims of cybercrime, leaving one to assume that the cybercrimes unit at the AFP is seriously overworked.

Online fraud also creates a huge burden on the economy, with the Australian Bureau of Statistics estimating that in 2007 fraud cost Australia a billion dollars.

This online fraud business is supported by a massive proliferation of malware for profit. Raimund Genes, CTO of security giant Trend Micro, predicted that: "By 2010, every file that is opened will need to be scanned against 20,000,000 signatures".

This endless proliferation of malware presents an exponentially increasing burden to Australian businesses, who are trying to engage new customers in e-commerce.

These new customers are the key; people who are taking their first steps into online shopping are mostly likely to be the victims of fraud. Such bad experiences can turn them away from digital commerce permanently.

The irony here is that the Federal Government plan looks like misplaced paternalism, as the young are often more internet-savvy than the old.

While there may be some merit in Conroy's plans to protect the young from online dangers, the minister's $125 million would be better spent protecting all Australians against online fraud.

Topics: Government, Broadband, Browser, Government AU

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Talkback

13 comments
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  • The best economic stimulus plan is...

    ...to have Conroy hung out to dry on the steps of Parliament House with a cover charge for spectators. I'd pay to see that.
    anonymous
  • I wish we didn't just have two parties to choose from

    The problem is, if your vote for Labor, they assume you're voting for ALL of their policies - even the dumb ones like this.

    We should vote for policies, not for parties. If we did, I can't imagine any of Conroy's policies being voted for...
    anonymous
  • Conroy's filter folly

    Unfortunately,Conroy has absolutely no idea what he's doing. That's the biggest worry. Vote them out asap!
    anonymous
  • With tongue firmly planted in cheek:

    "Why oh why won''t somebody think of the children"

    forget about politial parties - lets focus on whom 'said' this.
    IS it Tim MArshall, contact on the press release? Probably not.
    Is it Stephen Conroy? Only particlally as he's the figurehead of a 'department'
    Is it "the government"? Partically, as its the "department of broadband, communicatiosn adn ditigtal economy" who's put up the millions.
    Is it the AMCA? Partially as they're "participating" in this.

    The common thread? "Government" and their agencies who not the foggiest clue about whats important and what has a real impact. As pointed out, much $$ is lost in various scams

    Where oh where did they go so wrong. Oh yeah, they ASSUMED they knew whats best for us
    anonymous
  • Where's the foresight ??

    I thought Helen Coonan was bad but his jokers even worse.

    How about we get the Infrastructure rolling out so when we build the house etc to try to turn around the economic doom and gloom you don't have whole estates throttled due to lack of DSL ports by being stuck on a RIM. It's these people that will spend money and stimulate the economy.
    Whilst we're at it fund a national virtual on-line university that doesn't cost Australians to enrol in ? So you can train at home and your kids have solid reference material. I know it'll cost but we could tie it's maintance to Uni funding ?

    As for filters my 6 year old knows that azerus and rapidshare exist it's not going to take long from him to work out what's out there and no filters going to stop that.

    So think long term Stephen.
    anonymous
  • First four words that came to mind:

    Wasteful, imbecile, imbecile, imbecile.

    Like the article says, use that money to protect something worthwhile please.
    anonymous
  • I miss the next election already.

    Unless Stephen steps down, then there may still be hope for Aussie ICT. Otherwise, prepare for a repeat of what happened to the car industry.

    I'm literally screaming inside right now.
    anonymous
  • Give money to AFP? He's already taken FROM them

    "If the minister was to give the entire sum to the AFP, then surely a great deal of the cybercrime that currently goes unaddressed could be dealt with."

    Why would Conroy GIVE money to them when the government has already taken money AWAY from them?

    http://stilgherrian.com/politics/rudd-hampers-police-child-protection-efforts/
    anonymous
  • Waste

    Well, you dolts voted Labor, this is what you get.

    Our national broadband is already behind the rest of the world and Stephen wants to take us down further with this debacle.

    I wonder what the several homeless people I pass on the Brisbane bridge every morning think of 116Million dollars going towards 'cyber bullies' and the like.

    For this utter contempt and complete mis-allocation of tax payer funds, as a citizen I would like to see Stephen Conroy serve Jail time.
    anonymous
  • Conroy, just give up and quit

    Conroy, just give up youuseless bastard. no one wants your filter, you are dierting funds from where they are really needed (yes, cutting money spent catching the bastards, rather tahn a smoke screen that will blow away quickly in the wind)

    Learn your job or go away you Twat.
    anonymous
  • When are you running for election?

    You've got my vote already!
    anonymous
  • Conroy, just give up and quit

    Absolutely spot on. This guy should be replaced immediately, before he makes any catastrophic blunders.
    anonymous
  • "in 2008 four in 10 Australians identified themselves as victims of cybercrime,

    I assume you have to define "victim" fairly loosely if you want statistics that dramatic.

    Is there source for that "study" and its methodology somewhere?
    anonymous