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Thursday, 11 December 2008 11:04

Conroy congratulates Police child porn crackdown

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Australia’s Minister for Communications, Senator Stephen Conroy, has issued his congratulations to the Australian Federal Police over a major crackdown on the insidious crime of Internet child abuse imagery.

Today's crackdown against child pornographers by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) “demonstrates the importance of online law enforcement”, according to Senator Conroy.

Of course, this seems obvious, as that is the job of the police, whether they are operating online, or offline.

Still, given that yet more nefarious child pornographers have been caught following a massive catch just a few months ago, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) are really signaling to online child porn crims that they WILL be caught, sooner or later.

Senator Conroy said: “The AFP should be congratulated for its efforts clamping down on these insidious crimes.

“The Rudd Government is committed to supporting the AFP to help create a safer online environment through operations such as these.”

The Minister’s press release explains that the AFP announced earlier today the identification of 22 Australian men following a 12-month investigation into an online child abuse image and video-sharing network.

Shockingly, the AFP’s Child Protection Operations Teams seized more than 15,000 videos and 500,000 images of child abuse.

The Minister’s statement reminds us all that “in the 2008-09 Budget the Rudd Government committed $49 million to increased law enforcement, including funding for 91 additional AFP members dedicated to online child protection by 2011.”

So, will this otherwise successful case be used as an excuse to implement an Australia-wide ISP filter to stop “child porn”, despite the fact that catching child pornographers is to be soundly congratulated? Please read on to page 2.


The Minister’s statement notes that this funding will allow the AFP Child Protection Operations Team to expand its capacity to detect and investigate online child abuse.

It will allow the AFP to establish a victim identification and support capacity, to aid in the recovery of child abuse victims in Australia and internationally.

Funding will also be provided to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions to handle prosecutions and related activities arising from the increased investigations of online predators flowing from the AFP’s investigations.

The Minister specifically noted that: “The internet offers a wide range of opportunities for all Australians, but for the nation to truly benefit we need to ensure a safe online environment.

“The Rudd Government recognises that there is no silver bullet solution to cyber-safety and is investing $125.8 million in a comprehensive range of measures, including law enforcement, education, content filtering, research, international cooperation and a youth advisory group,” concluded Senator Conroy.

We can only hope, however, that the Australian Government’s plans to filter the Internet en masse at the ISP level does NOT come to pass, lest Australia follow the path of China In filtering whatever it wants to.

Filtering of the Internet should be done at the discretion of families, businesses and government in their own homes, offices and organisations, not imposed on the general population as a whole.

Filtering has also reportedly been shown to be ineffective at stopping child pornographers who use much more secret and difficult to filter mechanisms than simply downloading child porn from publicly available websites.

In this case the technology used wasn’t even secret or difficult, it was simply peer-to-peer software. The AFP successfully infiltrated this network using its own special technology.

So, I too heartily join the Minister in congratulating the AFP and its efforts in shutting down the abhorrent child porn criminals who will now face the full force of the law.

However I would be very disappointed to see a content filter forced on the entire population of Australia using “stopping child porn” as an excuse.

This is especially so given the fact the type of filter the Government proposes has been reported as being ineffectual against hardened child porn criminals for whom an ISP filter is simply no barrier whatsoever.

The proposed filters simply make life difficult for honest people instead of stopping the criminals, and if that’s the case, what’s the point?


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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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