Time for another library and information management related post. At the recent Make It Count forum, in which he and Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd addressed Christian voters, Prime Minister John Howard pledged $189 million in government funding for Internet filtering, to be made available free to households and in public libraries. There is a very real need to protect children from inappropriate online content and Internet predators, but as Mr Howard himself said on the night, no single measure in itself is sufficient to deal with the problem.
In households, dealing with this issue needs to start with parents monitoring their childrens' Internet usage. This is far more effective, especially when you consider that anyone with the time and inclination can easily circumvent these filters. Most public libraries have acceptable usage policies, as do educational institutions, including my own. My counterparts in public and tertiary libraries are able to actively monitor their patrons' Internet usage, with penalties applied for inappropriate usage. There is also a scheme in place called NetAlert, administered by the Australian Communications Authority, under which Internet users can report offensive content or online activity. This has rarely been an issue in my professional life, and while I have doubts as to how effective a government financed filtering scheme will be, any measure is worthwhile in my book.