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The Internet vs Senator Steve Fielding

Posted by Michael Bloch in online world (Monday March 22, 2010 )

I read a headline and snippet on the ABC this morning and initially thought an Australian politician’s web site had been hacked. It wasn’t and just goes to show how out of touch some of our politicians are about the nature of the Internet.

The snippet read:

“Links to pornographic websites have been posted on the website of Family First Senator Steve Fielding.”

Turns out they were links posted on the site’s forum. Anyone who has run a blog or forum will know that this is normal. It boils down to effective administration and having standard tools in place to prevent them from being displayed.

Furthermore, the Senator wants the Australian Federal Police to investigate.

If I was to call the police every time somebody posted porn links on a blog or forum I look after, I would do nothing else and I’m sure the police would lock me up for being a nuisance.

My WordPress Akismet plugin tells me it has intercepted over half a million spam comments just on this blog alone over the past few years and a good chunk of those would be of an adult nature.

To make things even more pathetic, Senator Fielding is seeing this as a reason “why we do need to have some sort of classification, some sort of filtering.” I’m assuming he’s referring to the proposed controversial filtering of content in Australia called the “Clean Feed” initiative.

If Senator Fielding’s web site admin had turned on post moderation on the forums, this would have been a non-issue. Even at the time of writing this, his forum was still littered with “adult” links. Australia’s filter won’t stop this happening to him and if he supports filtering of the sort being forced upon us, his own site might be blacklisted given the nature some of the links appearing in the forums.

This is yet another example of why politicians trying to control something they don’t understand is a very bad idea. Given the Internet is all about communication and disseminating information, it’s something they need to get to know intimately as it’s an important tool of their trade.


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