That Didn't Take Long At All: $89 Million Australian Internet Filters Called A Failure

from the that-was-fast dept

Last August the Australian Prime Minister announced plans to spend many millions of dollars to offer free internet filters that parents could use to keep their kids from surfing porn. The filters were cracked by kids in a matter of days. While we noted that this should have made politicians realize what a waste the program was, instead they just said it explained why they needed to spend even more. Reader Stack writes in to let us know that the Australian government has now declared the entire program to be a failure. While the government had predicted that 2.5 million households would make use of the filters, only 144,000 were downloaded or ordered on CD-ROM and only about 29,000 were actually being used — a wee bit under the targeted amount. Of course, rather than recognize that maybe spending money on filters isn’t the best way to deal with this issue, the new government sees this as more evidence to go ahead with its plan to force ISPs to censor the internet instead. How many more millions will get wasted before that program is declared a failure as well?

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Comments on “That Didn't Take Long At All: $89 Million Australian Internet Filters Called A Failure”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: the real problem

The real problem here is governments spending huge wads of taxpayers money (and by taxpayers I mean people who actually have jobs) to support lazy parents.

If you don’t want your kids to look up pr0n, don’t give them a pc in their bedroom!!
Monitor them with your eyes!!

Try acting like a parent instead of blaming technology for not doing your job better.

JustMatt says:

Whyfor can't politicians understand

That you just can’t block content? Is it cuz they are old, dense, or just want to control everything? I think anyone who wants to be elected to the highest offices (e.g. control a whole nation of people) should not be allowed to have the job because there is something seriously wrong with them. Either they have a God complex or just think they are smarter than the rest of us. Let’s have a lottery instead, looser has to be president for a year.

Steve R. (profile) says:

A Form of Drug Addtiction

I guess, because of egos, the fault of a failed effort is not that the effort was wrong, but that it was implemented poorly. Therefore, like a drug addict seeking their next fix, those wanting a “solution” demand a doubling/tripling/quadrupling of the effort to “solve” the problem they believe exists. Like a drug addict they will never accept that they are the ones with the “problem”.

If these increased efforts mean trampling on the rights of others or spending exorbitant money, that’s OK. After all we are doing this to “protect” you whether you want it or not.

Thomas Anglero (user link) says:

Protecting children on the internet with WiHood

Protecting children online is complex. Technology can assist but nothing replaces the role of the parent. Parents should use the internet as a new opportunity to discuss life’s difficult challenges with their children.

Technology like what we use at WiHood protects children from inappropriate web pages and is updated daily. It is astonishing that every day over 100,000 pedophile, sex, and gambling web sites are created. Parents don’t have the time to find and block all these sites but they do have the time to learn with their children what good habits to have while using the internet.

The internet is a wonderful development and children should be allowed to use it but in a safe and secure environment. We have done this but we also emphasize that the role of the parent is the most important role of a child’s life…today and tomorrow.

Thomas F. Anglero, Father and CEO

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Protecting children on the internet with WiHoo

The problem with these “sterile” environments is that it doesn’t teach child how to be responsible nor does it teach them how to protect themselves from the dangers that exist, those same dangers that they WILL have to face on their own sometime. All it does do is allow many parents to feel like they’ve “done their job to protect their children” and now they can ignore little johnny or jenny while they go sit on the couch and watch TV. It’s also been proven time and time again this “safe” environment doesn’t work. You mention that the technology that you use is “updated daily”, which means that every day “bad” content is still there for the children to access.

I support your right to protect your children in the way you see fit. As for me I would much rather teach my children and help guild them to be responsible and safe through their own actions than to rely on artificial means that only allows me to think that they are safe and doesn’t prepare them for life.

Real Parent says:

Re: Re: Protecting children on the internet with W

Anonymous Coward must not be a parent.

Children are… well, Children. They are not little adults waiting for physical growth.

Teaching is a process that changes over time. You can not treat an 8 year old the same way you treat a 10 or 12 year old. And you can’t be there every minute.

Anonymous Coward’s simplistic approach to a complex social problem puts us no closer to a solution than the aussie’s approach.

Genny Pershing (user link) says:

USA Never Gives Up

There is an American version – but we wont admit defeat! There is a US program to fund Internet access to schools and libraries called ERATE (also known as the Al Gore Tax – which I guess these days is a compliment). There are annually billions of dollars involved in this program. As a condition of receiving funding, School and Libraries must have a school safety program and use Internet filters. Children’s Internet Protection Act.

Of course what really protects the kids at schools is not the filters, its the inept staff that cant figure out how to turn on all the free computers, so they leave it in the back of the room – and refuse any homework assignments done on computers.

yogi says:

Elected Officials suck

No. 3 said:
“I think anyone who wants to be elected to the highest offices (e.g. control a whole nation of people) should not be allowed to have the job because there is something seriously wrong with them”

I agree. Anyone who wants to run for office should be immediately disqualified and put in jail to protect society.

Anonymous Coward says:

One question but...

What’s wrong with kids looking at porn?

I’m from Spain, TV here used to have x rated porn late at nights. Sometimes as kids we used to watch it. Neither promiscuity nor sex-awareness in kids was higher then than it is now (now it’s prohibited). If anything kids are way more promiscious and sexually active now.

To get things straight, I’m not in any way in favour of kids watching porn but I simply don’t see why extra measures have to be taken to avoid them from seeing it. It’s not readily accessible unless actively looking for it. You have to assume anyone actively looking for porn is already interested.

Thomas Anglero (user link) says:

Protecting children on the internet with WiHood

Here is a link ( to many pedophiles, sex, etc. related stats on the internet as it relates to children. There is allot of information and statistics on the web but nothing will ever replace the parent. This is fundamental, and required!

WiHood’s service is not just about protecting children, it also just as importantly about closing-the-digital-divide for children with and without access to a PC and the internet.

With WiHood, a child using a 10 year old PC can have access to the latest innovative services that would typically not be able to operate on a 10 year old PC (too slow a cpu, not enough RAM, etc.) So don’t just think of WiHood as excellent child protection, it’s also excellent at child education. Parents can save the money of a new PC and use WiHood’s virtual desktop service instead.

The price of WiHood is the equivalent to one XBOX game. If a parent thinks that WiHood being the same price as a XBOX or PlayStation game is too high for all that a parent and child receives, then that’s a different discussion.

Again, nothing will ever replace the parent but WiHood is an innovative way of assisting the parent financially by procrastinating the purchasing of a new PC, the child since they now have access to innovative services like their friends, and the whole family since WiHood will prevent unwanted content from entering your home.

Try the FREE 24-hour WiHood service trial and judge it for yourself with your kids!

Thomas F. Anglero, Father and CEO
WiHood LLC

Anonymous Coward says:

“every day over 100,000 pedophile, sex, and gambling websites are created”

WiHood sounds ok; I’m all for voluntarily policing your kids. But I didn’t want to let your statement slide. It may be technically true, but it’s worth making the distinction that sex and gambling websites are legal*, and probably make up 99,999 of that 100,000 figure. Lumping them together with pedophile sites is inflammatory. It’s like saying “schoolkids have easy access to millions of tech, music, and bestiality sites”

*Well, I’ve lost track of whether gambling sites are legal, actually. But they ain’t like pedophile sites.

Hulser says:


I wouldn’t call the program to give free Internet filters to parents a failure. What the low usage rates tell me isn’t that the government failed to get the word out about this great porn filter; it’s that the parents don’t think it’s a big deal if their kids see some porn. But instead of the government viewing the results as proof that the Australian people apparently aren’t as uptight and worked up about this whole “porn thing” as they thought they were, they view it as a “failure” that requires more extreme measures. Dumb.

For the record, I think offering free filters to parents is a great idea. It appeases the people who think the government should protect their children and it avoids the issue of the government having to force the ISPs to perform the filtering.

Anonymous Coward says:

Instead of blocking information, make the parents parent. If they took the trouble to bring the child into the world, why can they not protect their own child? Why is it that we must rely on law and regulations, when it only takes responsibility. The responsibility of the parent to raise the child they have. Society should not be in loco parentis, as neither should a tv, computer or other medium be used in place of the parent.

It is not a technology problem, technology has not caused the problem. However, politicians are smart and know that people do not like to be told they are doing something poorly.

Anthony Blowfield says:

Look at yourselves

I can’t believe there are Americans taking shots at Australians for trying to protect their children and acting as if we are living in the dark ages when you lot have a school massacre every other week and no-one mentions gun laws. How about you have a look at yourselves before you accuse us of being Neanderthals or prudes.

Mark says:

last one my kids kept bugging me

has anyone heard of the EEEEEEEE.EEE virus it come from computers in 1988 or 1987 not too sure on year, but they said computer use to delete files on it’s own and replace them with EEEEEEEE.EEE and funny joke I heard some people back then saying EEEEEEEE to me and I thought they were mental….like i talk to them and they go EEEEEEE and later on….they talked like computers….serious…heard it came from india call centre on phone….lines must be really bad….terrible really nothing we can do…..anyone have any news I was told it was the first computer virus that went into peoples head….like that’s so silly i don’t think NOD32 ESS will protect you from that….lol…sounds like matrix hey? but must be a mental problem…some people went on medication…serious stuff i hope this wasn’t true but please anyone that has info please feel free to post….like i heard kids at school begging parents to buy ESS NOD32 how sick is that….seriously no one will believe this….load of crap…kids see what they think these days soon they will think computers will be alive well i know doctors will help 😉 thank god for them don’t know what we would do without them

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