Senator Conroy has announced those who will assist the Government as part of his Cyber-Safety Consultative Working Group, but has the group been designed from the get-go to be in favour of mandatory ISP filtering.

When you consider people like Anthony Pillion, manager of filtered Australian ISP Webshield, and Child Wise CEO Bernadette McMenamin are on board, the odds of mandatory filtering being found a good solution are disappointingly high.

Pillion has a business interest and for McMenamin the gesture alone of protecting children is better then doing nothing, even if it has no chance of working. Here’s part of her letter to Stilgherrian:

If filtering of child pornography cannot work then why is there so much anger, fear and resentment to any attempt to block child pornography and other illegal sites?

It’s a bit of a no-brainer, but Bernadette failed to see it: Nearly all of us would prefer to spend the money somewhere that would actually help prevent kids becoming the victims of child abuse. Not waste it on a filter that won’t reduce production of illegal material or the amount of children being exploited. Plus there’s more then just illegal websites on the hit list — ‘inappropriate websites’ are also set to get the axe.

Thankfully, the group does contain at least two people opposed to mandatory filtering: Sue Hutley from the Australian Library and Information Association (who asked Conroy questions about his plan that we all want answered and is opposed to filtering in public libraries) and Peter Coroneos from the IIA.

The first meeting of the Group is scheduled for late May 2008. Let’s hope they aren’t blinded by what they see as a quick solution to protecting children.

Now it gets scary…

Conroy’s also putting together a Joint Parliamentary Standing Committee to investigate and report on cyber-safety issues.

Irene Graham knows why that often spells disaster. From STOP:

Those who remember the activities of the “Senate Select Committee on Community Standards Relevant to the Supply of Services Utilising Electronic Technologies” will know why the plan to establish a ‘Standing Committee” also gives me cold chills.

She covers that committee on her site:

The Committee consistently recommended increased, draconian, censorship and attempted to justify its recommendations with views such as:
…the community costs of events such as the Port Athur and Hoddle Street massacres is so high that the interest of the community should take precedence over individual liberty…