Kevin “5%” Rudd is our Cnut of the Week

Photograph of Kevin Rudd as Cnut of the Week

The result was clear even as nominations came in. Our Dear Chairman, Kevin “5%” Rudd, was voted “Cnut of the Week” by 51% of Stilgherrian Live viewers last night for approving what was seen as a lame target for reducing carbon emissions.

The program is now online for your viewing pleasure.

I’d thought Bernadette McMenamin would win, based on what I wrote in Crikey on Wednesday, but no. She scored 34%. Presumed-corrupt Illinois governor Rod Blagojevitch was third with 9% for his efforts to sell a senatorial seat in Washington, and Thailand’s People’s Alliance for Democracy came in last with just 6% for their efforts to make Thailand’s political system anything but democratic.

Next Thursday is Christmas Day. There will be a special program, His Excellency Stilgherrian’s Christmas Message, at a time to be announced. Stay tuned.

The lies of the internet censors: Your. Filter. Won’t. Work.

Crikey logo

I’ve just written a piece for Crikey today about the hypocrisy of those folks in favour of Internet censorship. It begins:

Gloves-off time. The purveyors of pervasive internet censorship — handful that they are — have burned their goodwill. It’s time to call them out on their lies and demand to know why they’re not advocating the real solutions to child sexual abuse.

Bernadette McMenamin of ChildWise, you’ve crossed the line, defaming everyone who’s protested the government’s plans. “Most of these people are not fully aware of the facts and secondly, those who are aware are, in effect, advocating child pornography,” you said. How dare you!

Ms McMenamin, to really stop child abuse we need to spend our resources efficiently. Let’s run through it one more time. And let’s skip those hysterical, made-up “statistics” you still peddle. Child abuse is bad enough without heading into your paranoid fantasyland.

It continues in that vein. It’s not behind Crikey‘s paywall so it’s free to read.

Is Internet filtering inevitable?

I’ve written previously that the Federal Budget sort of explained what’ll be happening with Internet filtering. Now that Senator Conroy has announced his Cyber-Safety Consultative Working Group I’m not so sure.

As Michael Meloni says over at Somebody Think of the Children:

When you consider people like Anthony Pillion, manager of filtered Australian ISP Webshield, and Child Wise CEO Bernadette McMenamin are on board, the odds of mandatory filtering being found a good solution are disappointingly high.

Pillion has a business interest and for McMenamin the gesture alone of protecting children is better then doing nothing, even if it has no chance of working. Here’s part of her letter to Stilgherrian:

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?


Thankfully, the group does contain at least two people opposed to mandatory filtering: Sue Hutley from the Australian Library and Information Association (who asked Conroy questions about his plan that we all want answered and is opposed to filtering in public libraries) and Peter Coroneos from the IIA.

I’ve written plenty about censorship before. so while I’m busy at CeBIT‘s Transaction 2.0 today, feel free to discuss this amongst yourselves. Play nice. I’ll ponder it in more detail later.

Angry geeks: “Don’t waste money on internet filters”

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[This is what I wrote for Crikey, finally published today.]

Child Wise’s Bernadette McMenamin found out the hard way: geeks get angry when you suggest filtering their Internet. OK, she only wants to block child porn and other illegal nasties, that’s clear now. But the geeks are still angry.


  1. Two completely different problems are conflated. One, preventing distribution of already-illegal child pornography to anyone. Two, preventing children from viewing undefined “inappropriate” material, but allowing access to others in the same home. Different problems need different solutions, but they’re jumbled together for political purposes. Naughty naughty, Senators Conroy and Fielding.
  2. Taxpayer-funded technical “solutions” are proposed for social problems. As John Birmingham reminds us, the government is not your babysitter.
  3. Technical illiterates are demanding specific answers: filters. Those in the know are already several pages ahead in this story, and know filters won’t work. Geeks get angry when their knowledge isn’t respected — even when it isn’t understood (or understandable).

Real-world experience in everything from spam filters to the record industry’s futile attempts to stop copyright violations always shows that filters only block casual users. Professionals, the desperate or the persistent will always get through.

However if a politician demands a filter, pretty soon a shiny-suited salesman will appear, ready to sell him a box with “filter” written on the front. It’ll work — well enough for the demo, anyway.

“Look, Minister! Nice Minister. Watch the screen. See? Filter off, bad website is visible. Filter on, bad website gone. Filter off. Child in danger. Filter on. Child happy and safe. Filter off. Voter afraid and angry. Filter on. Voter relaxed and comfortable. Cheque now please.”

Continue reading “Angry geeks: “Don’t waste money on internet filters””

Child Wise’s Bernadette McMenamin on Internet filtering

Photograph of Bernadette McMenamin

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.

Continue reading “Child Wise’s Bernadette McMenamin on Internet filtering”