Child Wise CEO Bernadette McMenamin has been copping a lot of flack (and rightfully so) for her article in the Australian calling for filters. But now she’s distancing herself from the Conroy plan and saying all she wants is for child pornography to be blocked.

Before I comment on her most recent interview with ComputerWorld, let’s first take a look at why her comments in The Aus caused such outrage.

McMenamin wrote that:

Surely any decent person would do all they can to protect children. However there exists a small but vocal group in Australia which is opposed to the federal Government?s proposal to introduce mandatory ISP filtering to block child pornography and other illegal content.

Firstly, people are opposed to the much broader aspect of the filter – blocking pornographic and ‘inappropriate content.’ You see that is LEGAL content and blocking it is censorship. Content which is illegal can ALREADY be removed.

Let?s put this argument into perspective. Child pornography is one of the fastest growing online businesses generating approximately $US3 billion ($3.43 billion) each year. It is estimated that 100,000 commercial websites offer child pornography and more than 20,000 images of child pornography are posted on the internet every week.

She also failed to provide a source for these stats.

So what could possibly be the arguments against ISP filtering from elements of the ISP industry and extreme civil rights groups.

That’s right folks. You’re an extreme civil rights group if you make a stand against censorship! Get with the program Bernadette — Comments like the above is why you received such a massive attack.

Back to the latest article

McMenamin now says she “categorically disagrees with any type of filtering that does not involve child porn or child abuse related sites.”

“I do not support filtering pornography in general or other contentious sites. Only child pornography, as I don’t believe filtering should be used to censor,” she said.

But McMenamin’s claim that:

Blocking these sites won’t stop the problem, but it will help decrease demand.

Makes her not only look like she doesn’t understand how the Internet works, but doesn’t understand the psyche of those consuming and producing child pornography. If she does understand (and I suspect she does), she needs to stop clutching at straws, especially ones that won’t help at risk children, and actually get the Government moving on real solutions.

Blocking a website containing child pornography will not decrease demand because

  • The same people who were viewing it now will still seek it out after a filter is implemented.
  • The people who were not viewing it before will still seek it out.
  • People who were producing will still produce it.
  • A filter will not dissuade people who have not produced it from producing it in the future.

You can block one site, but another will surely pop right back up. Therefore, a combination of efforts between law enforcers, health organisations and educators is a much better response to really combating the problem. We all want to decrease it, but I’m sorry, filtering will not do it.