You can’t censor the Net

As I blogged last week Telstra and Optus are debating whether to enact their censorship filters this month and try to stop what they consider “undesirable content”.

While the big boys prevaricate, here’s what we humble internet users know: you can’t stop anything by trying to censor the web. My daughter found a site last week where tweenage girls post photos of themselves in pornographic poses. The blog has gone viral among teenage boys and found its way into our home via Facebook.

There seemed to be no commercial reason for the site. No pimping. Just another look-at- me, narcissistic blog-site, indicative of a generation of self-photographing girls. An amped-up version of Facebook which is full of pouting jailbait at the best of times. As a mother and feminist, I was pretty shattered. But its existence proves my point. It’s impossible to censor the Net, especially these days. Anyone can set up a site for free.

But far more importantly, once you censor one site, where do you draw the line? Racism, sexism… and then what? Anti Government sentiment, Erotica, art? And who’s to judge — certainly not the corporate world.

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And read my full opinion in Saturday’s The Australian



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14 Responses to You can’t censor the Net

  1. Ruth Ostrow 11 July 2011 at 6:59 pm #

    Well put

  2. Brian 11 July 2011 at 4:54 pm #

    Ruth, good article. I am a father of three boys and three girls.
    I agree with laws to protect children, rape, murder, terrorism etc and that’s why we have law enforcement agencies around the world.
    However, who decides on what I can see on the ‘net? How do I know what’s being filtered and why?
    Searching the ‘net for illegal items is no different than the printed material, film etc. Common sense and morals dictate what I should look at, read or buy – and I’m aware of the consequences if I break the law.
    Why should the ‘net be any different?
    I’m against ‘net filtering and the extension of the ‘nanny’ state into my life.

  3. alice 10 July 2011 at 1:47 pm #

    Hi Ruth
    Thank you for raising this subject. Internet access should be a human right and this is being debated in the world now; however the USA (according to this article) is currently working on a bill to give rights to the President to close down the internet in the event of a ‘cyber attack.’ This power will be open to corruption as will internet censorship. In fifteen years of internet use for enjoyment, learning and research I have never come across a pornographic site or a girly photographic site. I have a great internet filter; my brain. I resent this government, Optus and Telstra from interfering with my ability to choose. I will definately change providors if Telstra starts censorship. I am already looking for a new providor. It is sad for those providors who lease lines off Telstra but what can one do? Internet censorship will not protect children. Their parents will.

  4. Ruth Ostrow 9 July 2011 at 11:11 pm #

    Yes and Helen I remember you and I in our raunchy lime green platform shoes and big 80s hair at Chasers and The Underground. How funny to look back now, and see ourselves as mums with the same concerns as our mums, but at least the places we went to had a street name. How do we ever know where our kids go to in cyberspace.

  5. Helen 9 July 2011 at 5:10 pm #

    really good column… what to do about our children being exposed to potentially shocking images and views, the raunch culture that our girls are bombarded with? feminism has taken two steps backwards with all the pressure on girls to be hot hot hot, when my daughter uses that word, i suggest she takes off her jumper, but i’m just being ‘old fashioned’. Even Miley’s gone raunchy. At least Taylor hasn’t. it’s now my turn to be on this side of the gap and together we’ll somehow muddle through it, just like older generations of mothers and daughters did.

  6. Ruth Ostrow 9 July 2011 at 9:35 am #

    Exactly Melanie. I fully agree. “A worried Mum” has a valuable point, I am a mother too. But I take full responsibility for what my daughter sees on the Net in my home – or drinks and wears for that matter. That’s what it is to be a parent. The rest I can’t control. And neither can you “Worried mum”. What your children do outside the home will happen regardless of Net nannies, or blanket censorship. As Samuel wrote, thank god for civil liberties and freedom of speech and for the education of all, that the Net can’t be tamed!!!!

  7. Ruth Ostrow 9 July 2011 at 9:32 am #

    Thanks Aaron

  8. Aaron J. March 8 July 2011 at 11:38 pm #

    Very true Ruth, definitely not the corporate world, nice article.

  9. Ruth Ostrow 8 July 2011 at 7:51 pm #

    Couldn’t agree more Olly. Like what are corporations doing censoring what we have access to? How dangerous is that? So many regular adult sites and even sites that discussed euthanasia and abortion were on the governments hit list that these corporate boys are going to adopt. I am ready to change servers over it.

  10. Olly 8 July 2011 at 7:49 pm #

    Does anyone really think this is about child pornography? The police are doing a great job cracking pedophyle rings. Its about government control, and now it’s become about corporate control, Telstra Optus! Yikes!!!

  11. Melanie 8 July 2011 at 7:47 pm #

    Worried mum the job is yours not an electronic nanny.

  12. A worried mum 8 July 2011 at 7:46 pm #

    I’m a mother and I have two points of view. One is that I hate censorship, but the other is that I don’t want my children exposed to the horrors that I have uncovered on-line. I don’t know how I stand on this. Curious what other parents have to say. Yes, yes I can get my own Net nanny. But as Ruth expresses here, how do we know what to nanny?

  13. Lany 8 July 2011 at 7:43 pm #

    Thank God for some intelligent debate. Finally someone is telling it like it is. On You Ruth!

  14. Samuel 8 July 2011 at 7:42 pm #

    Ruth could not agree with you more. Censorship equals fascism. Thankfully the Net can’t be tamed.

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