I’ve just received a response to my post about Internet filtering and child pornography from Child Wise CEO Bernadette McMenamin. She raises some good questions — particularly why people in the Internet industry seem to react so angrily when there doesn’t seem to be any argument about child pornography and other exploitation being A Bad Thing.
Ms McMenamin has given permission for her response to be published. I’ve highlighted what I think are her most interesting questions. Answers appreciated. I’ll be drafting my own reply overnight.
I appreciate your comments and feedback. I also appreciate the respectful words that you say about me as yes I am trying to stamp out child sexual abuse and have dedicated my life to this cause for the last 25 years. I will do so until I die, which is hopefully not soon.
Clearly my ISP filtering article has stirred up much debate in the ISP world and I think that is good. Some emails to me from the ISP industry have been very educational for me but some have been downright rude. I just want to make my position clear. I only support ISP filtering of child pornography and other illegal content and not pornography and definitely not use this as a form of censorship of free speech.
I am a child protection specialist dealing with the aftermath of child sexual abuse on a daily basis. My motivation needs to be made clear. I am sure that the majority of people in the ISP industry are decent people and in retrospect my intention wasn’t to denigrate and insult people who care. There is no doubt that my opinion piece was emotive and if you could see what I see on a daily basis with people’s lives wrecked by the trauma of child sexual abuse I think that you and other members of the ISP industry may feel emotional about it as well. However in some ways I have stirred up healthy debate which will hopefully lead to a better outcome for children.
I am looking to you the ISP industry for the answers and to find and/or create the best use of filters to block child pornography. At least this will reduce some of the demand and some is better than none!
I am also a little perplexed about some of the feedback that I have been receiving about the uselessness of child pornography filtering. Now I am simply asking a question. If filtering of child pornography cannot work then why is there so much anger, fear and resentment to any attempt to block child pornography and other illegal sites? This is what I don’t understand.
Why not work on a filter that does only block out child pornography and if it doesn’t work then let’s stop any waste of money. All I am trying to do is to suggest an approach that may work.
It seems to be working (to an extent) in other countries i.e. Sweden, Denmark and UK. I am clearly not an IT expert so I will hand this over to you as the experts to find a way that is possible because I am sure you all agree that we should find ways to stop the sexual abuse of children in pornography which seems to be a growing and lucrative industry.
Bernadette McMenamin AO
[Photo of Bernadette McMenamin from the National Australia Day Council. Ms McMenamin was a Victorian Australian of the Year finalist in 2004.]
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