March 1, 2010
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said he would consider introducing an internet ombudsman after Facebook tributes to two dead children were defaced with pornography.
Rudd said he would look into an idea put forward by Independent Senator Nick Xenophon to appoint an official who would be responsible for taking complaints and action against such material.
‘We actually need to do everything we can to combat cyber crime,’ Rudd said.
‘The role of cyber crime and internet bullying on children is, frankly, frightening and we need to be deploying all practical measures.’
Memorial pages on the social networking site for eight-year-old Trinity Bates and Elliott Fletcher, 12, who were allegedly murdered in separate incidents this month, have been vandalised with offensive material.
Rudd said responsible governments were obliged to act to protect children.
‘And this is where we get into this really stupid debate with what I’d describe as extreme civil libertarianism, which says any such move in that direction means the imposition of Soviet Communism a la 1980,’ Rudd said.
‘Look, it’s not like that. It’s not perfect, but we need to reduce the problem.’
Rudd also defended the government’s proposed internet filter, which is designed to block child pornography, terrorist material and other extreme and offensive information, saying it was in line with how movies and videos were censored.
He said the filtering, which will be carried out by Internet service providers, slowed the speed of web-surfing but only to ‘the equivalent to 1/70th of the blink of an eye.’
‘It’s not perfect, but let me tell you I will not stand idly by and allow this sort of muck to be put online without making an effort to reduce it, given the enormous impact it has on the safety of children,’ Rudd said.
The move has proved controversial among internet user groups as well as web giants Google and Yahoo!, and prompted activists to launch an attack shutting down government sites earlier this month.