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Internet porn is suddenly on the election agenda with Prime Minister John Howard set to spend over $190 million on “cleaning up the Internet”. The announcement comes as a new poll reveals that most parents “don’t have a clue” what their kids are up to online when they come home from school.
Under a new Federal Government plan ISPs will be forced to install filtering technology to block out pornography and  to help search for chat room sex predators while also helping the Federal Government cut off terror sites.

Every Australian family will also be provided with a free Internet filter and the federal Government will enter an unprecedented partnership with service providers to filter pornography at the source.

The announcement comes as leading Internet security Company Symantec reveal that parents appear not to know about what their kids are doing online when they come home from school.

A Harris Interactive poll, taken in June, surveyed 2,246 adults and 1,107 kids between 8 and 17, found the youngsters spending more than twice as much time online as their parents thought. Additionally, the many adults had no idea how complete the personal contact information children today casually post to social networking sites.

 

Almost 50 percent of the children reported having their own site on a site such as MySpace, Facebook or Friendster.

Interestingly, despite the disconnect that is apparent from the study, 88 percent of the adults surveyed said keeping their children safe online was of paramount importance. Also, 76 percent were worried that their children might see inappropriate content online or be solicited in some fashion.

Under the new Federal Government plan resources will be boosted immediately to expand checks on Internet chat rooms to detect child predators, and privacy laws masking sex offenders on the net will be altered.

 

The Prime Minister unveiled his new net commandments in a webcast to more than 700 churches and thousands of churchgoers around the country.

Mr. Howard and Kevin Rudd delivered addresses on the 2007 election campaign to 770 Christian churches of all denominations.

Mr. Howard and the Opposition Leader agreed to speak for 20 minutes and answer questions from church leaders at the National Press Club in Canberra as part of the Australian Christian Lobby’s campaign to get Christians to make their vote count.

In the Symantec Harris study, the children polled uncovered the following parental concerns:

21 percent reported having an experience with inappropriate material while online;

18 percent have experienced cyber-bullying;

23 percent have had an online encounter with a stranger on the Web, with 7 percent stating they have actually met with someone they met online; and

20 percent said they wish their parents were more interested in using the Internet.

Symantec, a global leader in the protection of Computer systems, is also set to be a big beneficiary of the Federal Government plans.

 

As well as software tools to help families put Internet pornography beyond the reach of children, the Government will form partnerships with ISP’s and Companies like Symantec in an effort to  detect predators using popular websites such as MySpace and Facebook to contact children.

According to News Ltd of the $189 million, $43 million will be provided immediately to double the size of the online child sex exploitation branch of the AFP and establish a working group to find ways of getting around privacy laws that protect sexual predators.

A “black list” of the Australian Communications and Media Authority, which covers Australian-based pornographic and terror sites, will be expanded internationally after consultation with the Attorney-General.
The package announced by the Prime Minister follows a $117 million crackdown on Internet porn announced last year by Communications Minister Helen Coonan. Under this initiative parents were given free software that prevented children downloading pornography and other offensive material on home computers.

The plan also promised to roll out “child-friendly” filtering programs to all Internet terminals to libraries across Australia. 

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