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Curbs on war robots urged

Defence equipment manufacturers insist there is always ”a man in the [control] loop” to authorise operations and they are far less indiscriminate than the high level air force saturation bombing that occurred in World War II. Two conferences – today’s Drone Wars in London and a three-day workshop organised by the International Committee for Robot Arms Control in Berlin beginning on Monday – will hear calls for bans and for tighter regulation under international arms treaties. LONDON: The rapid proliferation of military drone planes and armed robots should be subject to international legal controls, conferences in London and Berlin will argue this month. Public awareness of attacks by unmanned aerial vehicles, such as Reapers and Predators, in Afghanistan and Pakistan has grown but less is known of unmanned ground vehicles. Noel Sharkey, a professor of robotics and artificial intelligence at Sheffield University, said: ”Our biggest concern … is autonomous systems that [select] targets themselves.”

David Webb, a professor of engineering at Leeds Metropolitan University, said: ”If they kill somebody by mistake do you put the robot on trial?”

Guardian News & Media

  The development of what is known as ”autonomous targeting” – where unmanned planes and military ground vehicles are engineered to lock automatically on to what their onboard computers assume is the enemy – has heightened concern. This has reinforced fears that unmanned aerial vehicle strikes wherever future wars are fought will increase death tolls. Research to enable unmanned aerial and ground vehicles to work collaboratively is under way, ensuring each machine selects a different target.
Photo: AP Members from the Tiger Aircraft Maintenance Unit performing last minute pre-flight checks on the Predator drone before take off.

Sony brings e-reader to Australia

Sony's Pocket Edition e-reader is coming to Australia.

Sony’s Pocket Edition e-reader is coming to Australia.

Sony today unveiled its new range of e-readers, which it will launch in Australia for the first time later next week.

Sony said that it is adding a touch-screen to its cheapest electronic-book reader, the Reader Pocket Edition.

The new Pocket e-reader uses an infrared sensor to read finger swipes or taps from a stylus that is included, eliminating the need for a special overlay that reduces clarity.

Such an overlay on the device’s screen has been in use on Sony’s existing Touch Edition and Daily Edition e-readers.

Sony is selling the new device for $229, $76 more than Amazon’s cheapest Kindle e-reader.

Besides the touch capabilities, the new Pocket has a higher-contrast electronic ink display that, like the Kindle, shows 16 shades of gray, compared with eight shades before.

It is also smaller overall and has fewer buttons than the previous model, but it still has a screen that measures 5 inches diagonally. It comes with 2 gigabytes of memory for storing books, about four times the storage on the current Pocket.

Sony is upgrading its larger-screen Reader models as well. Both the Daily Edition and the Touch Edition will now have the same touch-screen technology and e-ink screen as the new Pocket and 2 gigabytes of built-in memory.

The Daily Edition – which uses both 3G and Wi-Fi technology – won’t be available to purchase in Australia.

The Touch Edition will cost $299.

The company said the new Touch e-reader will have longer battery life than the existing model.

Having had a demonstration of both the Touch and Pocket models last week, it’s safe to say that they were very easy to use and read from, especially in sunlight where tablets like Apple’s iPad are much harder to read from because of glare on their glossy screens.

One feature that stood out was the touch-screen, which e-readers like the Kindle don’t have.

The Kindle instead uses buttons on either side of it.

The one major downside for Australian’s, though, is that the Daily Edition, which has Wi-Fi and 3G for downloading books whilst away from a computer, won’t be available here.

Users will instead need to sync their books via USB. The provided software works on both Mac and PC.

The Pocket and Touch Editions will be available in Australia for purchase later next week at Sony Centres and online.

The author of this post is on Twitter: @bengrubb

- With AP

Facebook to roll out security feature

There, it will show where else the Facebook account is logged in, including the type of device and the city it’s in or near. AP and smh.com.au The feature is similar to the feature Google’s Gmail offers its users, and Facebook said it would help users keep their logins secure. Facebook said it was making the service available over the next couple of weeks, accessible on computers, but not mobile devices. It follows the news of a Sydney mother-of-three, her daughter and daughter’s friends being subjected to a two-week ordeal at the hands of a Facebook stalker they have been unable to get the social networking company to do anything about. Facebook is rolling out a new security feature that lets users log out of their accounts remotely from another computer. To log out of any of them, click “end activity”. To access the feature, users should go to “account settings” on their Facebook page and click on “change” next to “account security”.

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- December 10, 2010, 5:14PM
- December 10, 2010, 5:26PM

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- December 10, 2010, 5:16PM
Jeez I feel pretty pessimistic on climate change action, if this one is so immediate and seeming cut and dried ( ie not controvertial for most voters! ) 80-90% minimum of the populace want it( 96% for by the SMH survey so far ), no proof that it is detrimental( what makes us so different to the rest of the western world? ), but Oz governments fail to deliver yet again……

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- December 10, 2010, 5:19PM

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- December 10, 2010, 5:10PM
They certainly don’t support this part of the “wider community” and the 98.4% (that seems pretty wide) that recognise this move for what it is – something that’s increasingly well overdue. They can take their dark age beliefs back to the dark ages. Who are the Australian Christian Lobby to tell me what I can or can’t play?

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looks like this will be their strategy (delay, delay, delay). what an embarrassment! oh well, australia still being held by a bunch of backward politicians.

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and once again the leaders of our country demonstrate how utterly incompetent they are.. ..

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And once again, the churchies, oops I mean “people” have spoken.
They don’t give a damned about what the Australian community wants. This decision only proves one thing: Politicians only interest in one view, and that view is of their own view. Politicians still treats mature Australian adults as little kiddies.

- December 10, 2010, 5:15PM

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| Ivanhoe

Gamers have today been left disappointed after State and Territory Attorneys-General failed to unanimously agree on lifting the ban on R 18+ adults-only video games in Australia. State and Territory Attorneys-General, along with the Commonwealth’s, met behind closed doors in Canberra this morning to discuss whether video games should have an R 18+ adults-only video game classification. But gamers have been left disappointed after Commonwealth Censorship Minister Brendan O’Connor announced this afternoon that State and Territory Attorneys-General had not reached the unanimous agreement required.
I agree with ST of Sydney … not that it will stop me obtaining games baned in this country … HOW DARE these INDIVIDUALS hold up something that the AUSTRALIAN PUBLIC wants … WHO GIVES THESE PEOPLE TO RIGHT TO CHOOSE ON OUR BEHALF !! The right should be taken away from the states and handed to the federal govt! SIMPLE AS THAT !!!!!!!! All these people do is encourage us gamers to buy overseas … I never voted for these people! I am DISGUSTED WITH THESE INDIVIDUALS!

Very happy to hear that we won’t be geting the r rating anytime soon. We need to protect kids from idiot parents who refuse to heed classification warnings and think that as video games are kid’s toys (as they should be) they’re all safe to play with.

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I propose a referendum on removing classification decisions from the states. It is a federal issue, not a state one, and it is sad that it only takes one conservative state to stymie the introduction of a better classification system.
- December 10, 2010, 5:16PM

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- December 10, 2010, 5:07PM
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Various surveys have been done, and in December 2009 the Commonwealth Censorship Minister Brendan O’Connor called for submissions from the public on whether Australia should have an R 18+ rating. In a media release, Council president Elizabeth Handsley said that it was “evident many of the public rightly wanted greater protections for children from the impacts of very violent computer games”. But Atkinson resigned in March. The Twitter “hashtag” used by most users to discuss R 18+ in Australia was the number one trending topic on the social networking website throughout the day. State and Territory legislative amendments may also be needed, for instance, they may wish to apply specific offences and penalties for selling R18+ games to minors,” a spokesperson for Commonwealth Censorship Minister Brendan O’Connor said before this afternoon’s announcement. The consultation process found 98.4 per cent of the more than 58,000 respondents backed the move. But she said the public had “been misled as to what it means to create an R18+ classification for games”. Curry also believed that the concept of “tweaking” a game that should be adults-only so that it could be “wedged” into an Australian MA 15+ rating was silly. Yesterday afternoon, O’Connor released [PDF] an international comparison of video games, showing the difference between Australian ratings and those for the same gaming titles overseas. The views of the CEO of the Interactive Games & Entertainment Association Ron Curry, three professors, two religious groups – the Australian Catholic Media Council’s Peter Ingham and the Australian Christian Lobby’s Jim Wallace – and that of the director of the Classification Board, Donald McDonald, were heard at the briefing today, which began at 10am. This has meant that video games have either been rejected (and therefore banned from sale in Australia) by the Classification Board or modified by the company releasing the title to tone down anything in it which may get it rejected from a classification of MA 15+ (the highest rating available), such as excessive violence. He believes that video game classification needs to have an R 18+ rating to cater for the rising age of people who play video games. CEO of the Interactive Games & Entertainment Association Ron Curry has a different view. Furthermore, the federal government has released a paper which shows that many games which have been given adults-only ratings in other countries are released in Australia at MA15+, meaning kids are exposed to potentially more violent content under the existing regulations. “Bureaucrats in the Attorney-General’s Department have been too quick to dismiss credible academic literature which shows a link between violent interactive video games and aggressive behaviour.”

He said that there was “acknowledgement from both sides of politics that the classification system is broken” and that the idea of “using it to legalise more offensive and potentially dangerous material” made “no sense”. For a change to occur will require unanimous agreement between State, Territory and the Commonwealth Attorneys-General, according to the federal government. “All Classification Ministers must agree to the change for it to progress. because everyone was aware that there was no chance [of introducing an R 18+ rating] with him against it”. “This Friday’s meeting of State and Commonwealth Attorneys-General is not a done deal and State Ministers should be free to make up their own minds based on the academic evidence and the concerns of parents without undue pressure from the Commonwealth,” he said in a statement. We need to protect children from unsuitable games and we need to make sure that adults are allowed to play the games they want to play,” Kotaku reported him as saying. But the Australian Christian Lobby’s Jim Wallace has said O’Conner’s support for lifting the ban on video games with a higher rating of MA 15+ was “not in the interests of children or the wider community”. The Australian Council on Children and the Media has also been critical of the R 18+ push. If changed, it would allow “adults to be treated as adults” and give a “full toolkit” to parents as to what their children should or should not be allowed to play. “Doing so is not the answer to children’s need for greater protection,” she said. Serrels said that when Atkinson was in power it “meant that [an R18 + rating] was basically not even a discussing point … To date, video games sold in Australia have had to go through a classification system which has only allowed for them to be classified G, PG, M or MA 15+ – but not R 18+ or X 18+, of which films can be classified. If it were agreed unanimously, the Commonwealth would then need to amend its own legislation to create an R18+ classification [and] set the parameters for the new rating. The Australian Capital Territory also supports it. “It could’ve gone better, but there was a lot of goodwill in the room, and everyone agreed that things need to be changed with the rating system. But the Northern Territory, Western Australia, Victoria and New South Wales governments had previously refused to air their views. “If it is an adult narrative, let’s keep it that way.”

Editor of the Australian gaming website Kotaku, Mark Serrels, said the introduction of an R 18+ rating was, until recent times, never going to happen, with the former Attorney-General of South Australia, Michael Atkinson, being vocal about his opposition to such a rating. This reporter is on Twitter: @bengrubb A national telephone survey also showed that 80 per cent of respondents supported an adults-only rating for video games. The comparison found that more than two-thirds of the sample of Australian rated MA 15+ video games were restricted to adults-only in comparative countries, such as New Zealand, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany and Singapore, as well as the Pan European Game Information system that includes 30 European nations, a statement from O’Connor’s office said. “It’s disappointing that an adult rating for video games will be delayed once again despite mass support from the Australian community, whether it is from adult gamers who want the right to play games that appeal to them or parents who want clear guidelines for their children,” CEO of the Interactive Games & Entertainment Association, Ron Curry, said. The Commonwealth has supported the move, along with Tasmania, which said it supported it “in principle”, Queensland, which said it “appears to have some merit”, and South Australia, which agreed that it could be made to work. O’Connor told gaming blog kotaku.com.au that today’s meeting “could’ve gone better” but that there was “a lot of goodwill in the room” among Attorneys-General. Atkinson’s resignation, according to Serrels, “was a big step” forward for the introduction of an adults-only rating, as it paved the way for debate to occur between Attorneys-General knowing that there was a possibility of it actually getting somewhere.

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- December 10, 2010, 5:23PM

- December 10, 2010, 5:15PM
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96% of the population agree an R18+ classification is needed. Good to see democracy at work…

Internet safety advocate Robyn Treyvaud said when she asks a class of year 4 students if they are on Facebook, most put up their hands. Peer group pressure is forcing increasing numbers of primary school-aged children to sign up to the popular social media site without the knowledge of their parents. “Parents will spend a fortune teaching their children to swim or drive but not any energy, money or emotional effort to teach their kids to stay safe online.” Mosman Public School principal Kate Cooper has warned parents in her newsletter about children signing up for Facebook. trawling cyberspace”. “Evidence shows the greatest harm comes from their peer group, not the dodgy online stranger or predator.”

The international Norton Online Living report found that 62 per cent of children aged eight to 17 have had a negative experience online, such as accessing inappropriate content, cyber bullying, giving out personal information and importing computer viruses. “We make assumptions that because the kids are tech-savvy and know how to sign up to Facebook accounts without mum and dad knowing about it, they can do all the navigation of the technology, but they are not equipped to navigate the sorts of negative experiences they have when they go online. Police school-liaison officers in the Hunter have been invited to schools after incidents involving children on social networking sites. One involved a year 3 student defaming a teacher. Child psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg said children using social media was “one of the great unaddressed public health issues of our time”. He said children “do not really understand there are paedophiles… Senior Constable Michael Steele told The Newcastle Herald a 10-year-old boy told him he had been chatting online with a man in Queensland. Ms Cooper wrote that some parents were

“unaware that children must be over 13 years of age to sign up… Ms Treyvaud, who advises schools on cyber safety, said the children are naive about the impact of sharing personal information online and are influenced by hearing older children talking about Facebook. “Kids who are 10 don’t want to be 10 online. POLICE and teachers are warning parents that children as young as eight are at risk from cyber bullies and online predators because they are flouting Facebook website age restrictions. Whilst this is not strictly a school matter, we are very concerned about internet safety”. Childhood experts said these children have to lie about their age because users have to be over 13 to create a Facebook account. They want to be the cool 18-year-old and the reality is they can be,” Ms Treyvaud said.

Furthermore 39 per cent asked for directions to their nearest restaurant. Increasingly advertisers are opting to have their location shown on Google’s map products so that when a query is typed into Google’s search engine on a mobile phone up comes an address and phone number for that business and, most importantly, how to get there. Location-based marketing – whether it be harvesting information about your whereabouts or simply sending you ads – is the next boom area for marketers.   Jason Buchanan of GPS Innovations, a company specialising in satellite positioning technology, said devices can be fitted on handbags, suitcases or simply clipped on to a person to help market researchers track their movements as they move around the city. ”Location is the new demographic. By the end of the year ads for fast food operators, petrol stations, hotels and pharmacies will begin appearing on mobile phones that have opted in to receive advertising messages. WHERE you are rather than who you are appears to be what the marketers want to know. It’s not just about age, gender and socio-economics,” said Kirk Mitchell vice-president of sales at Navteq, which is behind the new technology. ”Now an advertiser can reach consumers when they are in a geographic position to buy and, in many cases, compel them to do so with coupons and special offers.”

Google reports one in three searches made by people on their smartphones is for information about services close to their location. Mobile phones and satellite navigation systems are emerging as tools for companies to help them investigate shopping habits as well as serve up ads based on your location. In trials Navteq ran in Europe for a fast food chain, recipients were 14 times more likely to click through for more information than a regular banner ad on a mobile phone. The technology could be used to track young people’s safe driving habits so that they could get better deals from insurers. All too often when asked by market researchers to recall where we were, what we did and how long we spent doing it, the mind goes blank. Similar ads will appear on car satellite navigation systems as soon as the company that owns the technology is able to figure out how to prevent the ads from distracting drivers. But marketers are also considering the use of global satellite technology to verify market research.

Screenshots showing what Facebook Places looks like on the mobile.
they focus on tips and they focus on the game-like elements of the service … When users check in somewhere they can see recent checkins from friends and their comments. The feature will be gradually rolled out on Facebook’s servers from today and users can access it from the Facebook iPhone application or, for users of other smartphones that support HTML5, from touch.facebook.com. “We’ve spent a lot of time thinking about a number of safeguards that we could add as well as the right defaults that people should have,” said Sharon. The Australian launch follows recent launches in the US, Canada and Japan. “The big differentiator for us is that this is all about sharing where you are with your friends, not just broadcasting it to the world.” Keen to avoid another privacy backlash, Facebook stressed the service would be opt-in and users would have to check in to venues before their location was revealed on their page. “If some of your friends hang out at the Hog’s Breath Cafe then perhaps that’s the reaason why it’s at the top of the list,” said Facebook Places product manager Michael Sharon. When users open up Places they are provided with a list of venues – restaurants, bars, businesses, shopping centres, etc – near them, which is ranked according to distance and other factors. Facebook users in Australia can share their location with friends from today after the social networking website launched its Places feature. Facebook said Places would enable “serendipitous meetings” between friends who are near each other. “Foursquare is really based on exploring a city … [such as] rewards and achievements,” said Sharon. Users are always notified when tagged by someone and can always remove any tag. But Sharon said the feature wouldn’t mean the death of Foursquare. Users get notifications if friends check in somewhere close to them. Places is highly similar to location-based apps like Foursquare and Gowalla, both of which have signed up as partners with Facebook to use the Places API. Friends who are out together can also check each other in to locations, but Facebook stressed that users could only tag people who are on their friends list and people who don’t want friends to tag them can turn the feature off in the privacy settings. The default privacy setting would be to share with “friends only” and users can even restrict location sharing to specific friends or groups of friends.

Assange’s OkCupid profile.

Another picture from Assange’s dating profile Some have debated the authenticity of the dating profile but considering it was created well before Mr Assange became famous, and contains several photographs of Mr Assange that haven’t previously been released, it appears to be legit. OkCupid founder Sam Yagan told Mashable the “last login” details led him to believe the profile was legitimate “because it would have required someone four years ago to have foreseen that this would have been an interesting thing to do”. Web sleuths have also uncovered what appears to be Mr Assange’s profile on CouchSurfing.com, a site where travellers can meet hosts who are happy to let them sleep on their couch. The “HarryHarrison” profile, also viewable only to members of the site, appears to have been created around the same time as the OkCupid profile and was last accessed in July 2008 in Budapest.

He describes himself as being involved in international journalism/books, documentaries, cryptography, intelligence agencies, civil rights, political activism, white collar crime and the internet. He describes himself as a “grown up enfant terrible” and says he has seen or done “attempted assassinations in Africa”, “telephone taps in Australia”, “election rigging”, “Russian mafia” and “politicians’ wives”,

Mr Assange received top reviews from fellow CouchSurfers with one saying there is “hardly anyone more interesting than him” and another writing the he is “eloquent, intellectual, enjoyable, open”. On the dating profile Mr Assange lists his location as Melbourne, says he drinks “socially” but never does drugs, doesn’t smoke and is an atheist. “Often carrying mystery brown paper packages tied up with strings; these are a few of my first things,” he writes in an apparent allusion to the song made famous in The Sound of Music. But he definitely knows what he’s looking for, telling prospective mates not to write to him if they are timid (“I am too busy”) and that he’s after “a sprited, erotic, non-comformist”. As one might expect, Mr Assange spends a lot of time thinking about “changing the world through passion, inspiration and trickery”. Although, strangely, he signs off on his self-summary with the words “I am danger, achtung”. On the CouchSurfing profile Mr Assange lists his occupation as “investigative journalist/rabble rouser” and says he grew up in a “theatre family” so was “always on tour”. However, the latter adds that she had the impression Mr Assange “lost the understanding of some basic rules of politeness on the way. Mr Assange explains further down that he is directing a “consuming, dangerous human rights project” that is male dominated. While Sweden wants to question him over sexual misconduct allegations, Mr Assange says on his profile that although he is “pretty intellectually and physically pugnacious”, he is “very protective of women and children”. But if you tell the hacker not to hack in real terms, he will understand and respect it”.
“Passionate, and often pig headed activist intellectual seeks siren for love affair, children and occasional criminal conspiracy,” he writes in his dating profile on the OkCupid website under the alter ego “Harry Harrison”. Journalists have been poring over the details of Mr Assange’s life since his arrest in London – Germany’s biggest news and current affairs magazine Stern has 15 reporters digging into every aspect of his life for a feature article – and now cyber sleuths have uncovered his cocky internet dating and couchsurfing.com profiles. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has always advocated complete transparency, but now he’s learning exactly what that entails.

Mr Assange has copped some ridicule for confessing to being “87% slut” and writing that the most private thing he is willing to admit is: “I have asian teengirl stalkers”. Assange’s CouchSurfing.com profile. “Such a woman should be spirited and playful, of high intelligence, though not necessarily formally educated, have spunk, class and inner strength and be able to think strategically about the world and the people she cares about.”

Dormant since just after WikiLeaks launched at the end of 2006, the profile contains several brooding photos of Mr Assange alongside his stated desire to meet “women from countries that have sustained political turmoil”. Following immense media interest over the past few days, the profile has been restricted so that only OkCupid members can view it. Western women, he writes, are “valueless and inane”.
A picture posted on Julian Assange’s OkCupid profile.

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Flashpoint now has an app

The app allows users to look at different layers and overlays. American Friends of Peace Now says its ”Facts On The Ground” app will let anyone obtain comprehensive information about the settlements and learn what is happening in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Campaigners against Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories have created an online and iPhone app that uses mapping technologies to publicise data that has been hidden, inaccessible, or too costly to distribute. It divides the West Bank into areas A, B and C under the 1993 Oslo accords. It uses a Google Earth-type format to display map, satellite, hybrid or terrain images. About 300,000 Israelis live in 120 officially recognised settlements in the West Bank, and 192,000 in settlements in East Jerusalem. Guardian News & Media

  There are 100 unauthorised outposts in the West Bank. ”Our app will update constantly to reflect breaking events such as settlement or outpost construction, outpost removals, Palestinian violence or settler violence, making it a real-time tool that provides context to the ever-changing situation in Israel and the West Bank,” a spokesman for the group said.
The “Facts on the Ground” iPhone app will give information about the settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Photo: Andrew Meares Won’t back down … Communications Minister Stephen Conroy.
“It is not the government’s role to be a net nanny. The big ISPs, including Optus, Telstra and iPrimus, have already pledged to block child-abuse websites voluntarily. This material includes child sexual abuse imagery, bestiality, sexual violence and detailed instruction in crime,” she said. “One may wonder exactly what underlies this relentless pursuit of a mirage, given that there is just about zero support outside the cabinet,” said Landfeldt. University of Sydney Associate Professor Bjorn Landfeldt said, given the catastrophic election result after only one term in government, it was “remarkable” the government was “pushing the very issues that undermined their credibility, rather than focusing their energy on important societal issues”. After intense criticism of the policy, including that “refused classification” included innocuous and politically sensitive material, Senator Conroy announced just before the election that his policy would be delayed until a review of RC classification guidelines could be conducted by state and territory censorship ministers. This effectively means any internet filtering legislation will be delayed until next year, by which time the Greens will hold the balance of power in the Senate. “It [the RC review] was quite transparently a political stalling tactic but that didn’t make it a bad idea,” he said. The Opposition pledged to bring back free voluntary PC-based internet filters for families, which existed under the Howard government but were scrapped by Senator Conroy to make way for his mandatory ISP-level filter. It’s a waste of public servants’ time who for the next 10 months are going to be progressing a mandatory filter proposal that has no chance of passing either house of parliament now.”

Senator Ludlam said Senator Conroy should “get past this fixation” with the filter and turn his attention to other looming issues such as net neutrality and the Attorney-General’s data retention proposal. In fact, last year Oakeshott helped a teenage campaigner in his electorate with a petition arguing the filter should be scrapped. Senator Ludlam said in a phone interview that he wanted the review of RC guidelines to still go ahead but the government should drop the internet filtering policy altogether. The Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy, is ploughing ahead with his internet filter policy despite there being virtually no chance any enabling legislation will pass either house of Parliament. “Surely it is no longer a matter of believing that the policy would benefit the general public.”

The government is preparing to introduce legislation forcing ISPs to block a blacklist of websites that have been “refused classification” (RC) by government bureaucrats. It is the role of every single household,” Oakeshott told the Port Macquarie News at the time. “[The filter] is just a complete waste of chamber time. Wilkie, Windsor and Katter could not be reached for comment but a spokesman for Oakeshott said he was against the filter. The Greens communications spokesman, Scott Ludlam, has called on the government to end the facade and drop the internet censorship scheme once and for all, as it was wasting time and taxpayers’ money. “The government does not support Refused Classification material being available on the internet. But before it gets to the Senate the legislation would need to pass the House of Representatives, meaning Labor would need the support of Greens MP Adam Bandt and the independents Andrew Wilkie, Rob Oakeshott, Tony Windsor and Bob Katter. The Greens have already said they would oppose the legislation, as has the Opposition. “There is no shortage of important issues and challenges for the government to focus on.”

Despite the intense opposition, Senator Conroy is pushing ahead with the filter and has revealed “a suite of transparency measures to accompany the policy and ensure people can have faith in the RC content list”, a spokeswoman said. “Recent OECD reports tell us the investment and quality of our higher education system is falling behind other developed countries; with the ludicrous house prices Australians can no longer move out of home, etc,” said Landfeldt. This narrower, voluntary approach has long been advocated by internet experts and brings Australia into line with other countries such as Britain. A wide range of experts on the internet and child protection have long argued that a mandatory filter would be ineffective as it was easy to bypass, would not capture even a small percentage of the nasty content on the web and would give parents a false sense of security. The data retention proposal is being pushed by the Australian Federal Police and could see all web browsing history of Australian internet users logged for law enforcement to access. Independent MP Rob Oakeshott, the Opposition and the Greens have all come out against the policy, leaving it effectively dead in the water.