Parents reject filter when told more: survey

Parents reject filter when told more: survey

Summary: A survey commissioned by groups opposed to the Federal Government's internet filter project has found that the more information parents receive about the proposal, the less likely they are to support it — although they strongly supported the filter idea overall.


A survey commissioned by groups opposed to the Federal Government's internet filter project has found that the more information parents receive about the proposal, the less likely they are to support it — although they strongly supported the filter idea overall.


(Day in the park image by Benjamin Earwicker, royalty free)

The survey was conducted in January 2010 by GA Research on behalf of the Safer Internet Group, which is made up of the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA), Google, the Internet Industry Association, the Systems Administrators Guild of Australia, Yahoo!7 and the Australian Council of State School Organisations.

The full report has not been released by GA Research. However, in a statement issued this week, the company said it surveyed 1018 parents in "key marginal seats" in Sydney and Brisbane.

According to GA's statement, there were "fairly high" levels of awareness of the filter project being pushed by Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, but most only had a "low level of knowledge" about the details.

In general, the survey found that 94 per cent of respondents were in favour of the government acting to help protect children from being exposed to inappropriate material online, and 62 per cent said that in principle, the nation needed government regulation of the internet in the same way as for other media. Furthermore, 80 per cent of respondents overall were in favour of the filter's aim of blocking access to overseas websites containing Refused Classification material.

However, the statement claimed the survey showed that when details of the filter project were explained and information about other approaches to filtering was made available, support dropped. Statistics were not revealed about the rate at which this drop occurred, however.

Parents were also concerned about freedom of speech — with 70 per cent noting they thought future governments could use the filter to restrict free speech or block content they didn't approve of.

When the surveyed group was ultimately given the choice as to what method of protecting people from objectionable content they preferred, 92 per cent said they were in favour of the government introducing an ISP-based filter that would allow parents to choose from a list of content categories to be blocked from access by children.

Although the precise survey results were not released, the GA Research statement said the respondents' first preference was for more education of parents and children — including how to install existing free filters, with a second preference for an optional filtering system in which different levels can be set for adults and children in the same household.

Their third preference was for mandatory filtering of a "narrow range of content" — primarily focusing on child pornography, while the fourth preference was the existing filter proposal.

Meanwhile, 91 per cent were in favour of the community being advised of which websites have been refused classification and the reason for this — which is not a feature of the proposed filter project. The blacklist administered by the Australian Communications and Media Authority is to be kept confidential.

The survey was undertaken in the context of an earlier survey by McNair backed up by ABC show Hungry Beast, which had shown that 92 per cent of respondents were in favour of a government-introduced internet filter that would allow parents to choose from a list of content categories.

"What this indicates is that the McNair result taps into people's recognition of a problem, not their agreement with the government's solution," said ALIA executive director Sue Hutley.

Topics: Censorship, Government, Government AU

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  • I think this highlights a very key point in this debate that most of the general public has not been made aware of the very important detail. Everybody can agree that everything must be done to protect kids but there is fundamental flaws in the filter policy as it stands. One of the key issues is that it is manditory and secret. And the other bits that need to go along with the filter such as the parent-child relationship, education and even the review of the filter project at some point in conjunction with the public are non existant. So I see why people are getting cold feet when they hear the actual detail of Conroy's plan. And its a shame Conroy is just to pig-headed to compromise to make the filter a usefull tool and not just a stupid burden on the taxpayers and internet users of Australia. I for one will be voting for whoever gets rid of the whole thing. Secrect manditory censorship is just as evil as it gets.
  • Here here peter! you speak the truth.

    The facts are;
    The internet filter WILL slow your connection down
    The internet filter WILL block sites that its not suppose to block
    The internet filter WONT protect your kids (its easily bypassed, The elderly are being trained on how to do it)
    The internet filter IS a WASTE of tax payers money when it wont even work and cause more harm then good.
    The internet filter is making YOU look stupid for agreeing to have it.
    There is NO need for a Nation wide internet filter. Thats just a waste of money when it will be useless.

    If you want the internet filtered Australia. Do it on your own individual computer. It doesn't slow down the internet as a whole, and can be customised greatly. Most Anti virus software include filter programs. If the governemnt keep blindfolding the public about this its going to turn to chaos.
  • I agree, Peter.

    I'm glad to see that there is some intelligent discussion coming out about the filter. Although the idea of protecting innocents (that is children) is something that very very few people could disagree with, the more details about the filter that people learn about, the more that they realise what the experts have been saying all along. The filter just isn't very effective AND will restrict information sharing and discussion on controversial topics such as euthanasia AND has the potential to be abused by future governments, no matter what Conroy promises.

    The fact is, there are more effective and cheaper ways to protect children than with this filter.