No porn filter can stop porn entirely: Govt

Following the news a teenage boy has cracked the government's filtering software in half an hour, the Communications Minister has warned parents to be vigilant about their children's exploits online whether they use filters or not.

Following the news a teenage boy has cracked the government's filtering software in half an hour, the Communications Minister has warned parents to be vigilant about their children's exploits online whether they use filters or not.

Helen Coonan's comments come after Melbourne schoolboy Tom Wood cracked two government approved Internet filtering software packages in 30 and 40 minutes respectively.

The Minister told parents that no single software product can be totally effective.

"There is no silver bullet that can protect children online ... Sadly, just as a seatbelt will never prevent every fatal car crash, as the government has always maintained, no filter is foolproof. But a computer with a filter is infinitely safer than one without," she said in a statement.

"We have always known that putting filters out in the market would be tantamount to issuing a challenge to Internet-savvy teenagers to get around the technology. Just as kids push the envelope with a whole range of risky behaviours, Internet use and abuse is no different. But that's not a reason to hold back on filtering, because just like seatbelts, if they are combined with other measures, are a very practical safety device," Coonan added.

According to the government, upgrades will be issued to the filtering software in the future. Coonan also advised parents to help prevent filter hacking by keeping their administrator's password private.

The AU$84 million government filter scheme went live earlier this month as part of a AU$189 million package of measures the government claims will help protect children using the Internet.

Labor's communications spokesman Stephen Conroy said that Wood's work shows the government's PC filtering policy won't protect Australian children from accessing inappropriate material online.

The Opposition has its own plan to stop children accessing X-rated or illegal Web content, which it will bring in if elected. Speaking last week, Conroy said: "We have said we support all government measures -- we support filters and we're proposing mandatory ISP filtering similar to that used in the UK."