Mobile content a magnet for grandstanding

01 Sep 2006

Consumers are irresistibly attracted to the best new technologies. Sadly new apps and services all too often become irresistible to politicians.

Apparently an Australian schoolboy showed fellow students pornographic content on his mobile phone. He was caught and suspended.

That, you would think, was that.

Pornography preceded the mobile phone by several hundred thousand years. Unless my memory fails here, the odd adult magazine made its way into the schoolyard back in Convergence's day

But no, the story doesn't end there. Indeed the story became a media story, if you can imagine.

Cue a grandstanding politician. The Australian Communications Minister, one Helen Coonan, decided this was a topic sorely of need of her uninformed advice.

One would have thought Ms Coonan would provide a better return on taxpayers' lavish investment in her by privatizing Telstra and creating a diverse and competitive mass media (just two of the failures of her undistinguished term of office).

But no, the good Minister declared the mobile phone to be a "pipeline for perversion". We know that when a ministerial soundbite appears, legislation must surely follow.

And so it will. This is the same minister who introduced a new law one month ago promising to spend A$116 million ($88 million) on content filters for family PCs. Even the National Library of Australia - the nation's prime research library - must install filters.

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