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Australian Govt. Proposes Internet "Panic Button" For Kids 434

Posted by timothy
from the panic-panic-panic dept.
CuteSteveJobs writes "Children who feel they are being bullied, harassed or groomed online could call for help instantly using a 'panic button' on their PCs under a plan by the Australian Government's cyber-safety working group. The button shall look like a 'friendly dolphin,' who will connect the child victim instantly to police or child protection groups. Australian Internet Censorship Advocate Hetty 'Save the Children' Johnson says the Internet needs something like 000 or 911. Will this be another scheme wasting taxpayer dollars in lieu of parental supervison, or could it actually work? Are 1 in 4 children really sexually abused by the Internet? Can flaming and trolling be classified as bullying?"
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Australian Govt. Proposes Internet "Panic Button" For Kids

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  • by CannonballHead (842625) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @01:23PM (#30228492)

    Will this be another scheme wasting taxpayer dollars in lieu of parental supervison, or could it actually work? Are 1 in 4 children really sexually abused by the Internet? Can flaming and trolling be classified as bullying?

    I'm sure there are plenty of experts on Slashdot that are very qualified to answer. ;)

    • by reginaldo (1412879) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @01:32PM (#30228624)
      What exactly are the police going to do? It's not like the kid is in imminent danger, the perpetrator is not physically there.
      If the police don't need to respond instantly, wouldn't it be better for the kid to tell his parents what happened, as opposed to wasting police resources on a non-emergency situation.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I was hoping the dolphin would be the power button...

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by iamacat (583406)

        It is not clear from the article that the button will work EXACTLY like 911 and compete with emergency response resources. On the other hand, police departments have non-emergency numbers that people are encouraged to call with any potential concerns which do not constitute immediate danger.

        A reasonable functionality of this button would be to replace an existing screen with a splash screen that allows a child to interact with the responder while the later gets a remote desktop to the original session (pres

        • by tverbeek (457094) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @03:20PM (#30230058) Homepage

          "99% of use would be a child scared by something which is not actually illegal or dangerous and the responder simply explaining what happened and closing the problematic content."

          And who exactly is going to provide this handholding/babysitting service? And take the liability for when (not if) they brush something off that turns out to be serious?

          This would be the electronic equivalent of a kid yelling "mom!" every time something happens they don't like. What's the penalty going to be for kids who "push the dolphin" because the printer doesn't work, or a web site is asking them to upgrade their PDF plug-in, or some other kid posted a message saying that [insert child pop star here] is a poopyhead?

          For the 13,674th time, people: Please stop asking the government to parent our children. It's not their job.

        • by Runaway1956 (1322357) * on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @04:49PM (#30230954) Homepage Journal

          "A reasonable functionality of this button would be to replace an existing screen with a splash screen that allows a child to interact with the responder while the later gets a remote desktop to the original session"

          Alright, I'm not Australian - but if I were, I would be required to leave a backdoor into my machine, so that the police (or whatever government agency) could RDP in if my kid pushes this panic button? Aren't we going a long way backward? We need to re-start stoppoliceware.org? Good grief. Oh yeah - what if the police software doesn't work with Linux? All parents will be required to go backward to Windows?

          Come on.....

          As for the kids, they need to talk to mom and dad about anything that concerns them. Or, do we really WANT go groom them to live in a police state?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @01:32PM (#30228638)

      My younger brothers know not to call 911 unless it is a real emergency. But I can't say they'd have the same discipline with something like this.

      Also, it seems that this would encourage people to use the panic button for stupid reasons. If there really enough of a problem to justify these extreme measures, then children shouldn't be allowed to use an internet connected computer without supervision. I don't routinely let my brothers play with the stove, but if they want to eat something I help them cook it. I don't see why use of the internet should be any different, other than parents not wanting to participate with their kids or not having the time to supervise them fully. A few of the kids I babysit have told me before that they are allowed to use the computer whenever they want. My usual response is 'That's your parent's decision, but my computer doesn't get touched unless I'm there.' Parents should be made more aware of the dangers and responsibilities of having open access on computers in their home for the younger kids.

      Instead of a police button, get some parental material out to inform the responsible adults about the issue. I think that would do much more good.

      And since most of the cyber-bullying that I've encountered was perpetrated by early teens, and not malicious adults, I'd say that parental supervision would prevent a lot of that from happening in the first place. Parents need to be more responsible. --End of rant.

      • by oldspewey (1303305) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @01:45PM (#30228834)

        this would encourage people to use the panic button for stupid reasons

        Brittany left a really mean posting on my FaceBook wall. She keeps saying I still like Shakira when I told her, like, three weeks ago that I don't like Shakira anymore. So now Brittany keeps telling everyone at school I bought those purple sneakers to match something I saw on Shakira's video when I told her already I didn't even see that video until, like, yesterday.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by gnick (1211984)

          That's kind of the reaction I had.

          Serious question here - Is cyber-bullying even illegal? TFS asks whether or not flaming/trolling qualify, but what difference does it make? I realize that there could be libel (or slander?) problems if I make offensive false allegations. And possible issues if I encourage violence or rioting or some-such. But if I just call Anonymous Coward an ass-hole and say that his hair looks funny, surely that's legal cyber-bullying, right? And I don't have to worry about a visit

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by sunderland56 (621843)

        My younger brothers know not to call 911 unless it is a real emergency.

        My cat can't dial 911. However, my cat can accidentally walk on my keyboard and press the 911 key.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by lorenlal (164133)

      Based on the replies below, I think we've come to a solid consensus... It's option 1.

      IMHO 1 in 4 children are copiously ridiculed, harassed, and are treated poorly... I'd even argue that some arguments here can get downright mean... And yet, here we are every day.

      If someone takes the trolling and flaming as bullying, they've been bullied. They can learn to live with it, or they can go somewhere else.

  • That's... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pudding7 (584715) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @01:24PM (#30228502)
    ...the dumbest thing I've ever heard. Calling 911 because someone is making you feel bad? Calling 911 because some guy 1000 miles away wrote some words that made you feel bad?
    • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @01:31PM (#30228618) Homepage
      Come and see the violence inherent in the system!

      Help! Help! I'm being repressed!
    • by _PimpDaddy7_ (415866) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @01:31PM (#30228620)

      You're a meanie!

      I've pushed my button:
      http://jezlyn.files.wordpress.com/2006/07/easy-button-hack.jpg [wordpress.com]

      The authorities are going to get you, meanie!!!

    • by ls671 (1122017) * on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @01:32PM (#30228632) Homepage

      What do you mean, I just called 911 because I have been modded down on Slashdot and they said its being taken care of...

      I wish I had that panic button.

      P.S. I am 11 years old.

      • by Jazz-Masta (240659) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @02:23PM (#30229352)

        This will be incredibly abused. Not to mention the ability for virus/malware to disable the panic button or abuse it (cry-wolf).

        I imagine it would go something like this:

        You suck, vii is way better than emacs

        You: Hi Interweb Police?
        The I-Pol: I see you have an emergency, how can I help?
        You: Some noob on /. said vii was better than emacs.
        The I-Pol: I see, this is an issue, when in fact, Notepad is better than both.
        You: WTF? BOB?!

    • by fm6 (162816) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @01:37PM (#30228710) Homepage Journal

      Your attitude is exactly why people don't ask for help when they're in a bad place. The result is school shootings, suicides, and other depressing events. Not just among teens either. Adults in general listen to your kind of belittlement and think they're weak if they ask for help.

      This is a particular problem in first responders and members of the armed services. They see all kind of horrible crap, need help in dealing with it, and are afraid to get it because they don't want to seem "weak". This is a particular problem in the Army, which is seeing a spike in suicides lately.

      Mind you, I'm not equating a bullied teenager with a GI who's seen his friends blown up by an IED. But they do have one thing in common: they need for it to be easy to ask for help, and people like you make it hard.

      • by Shagg (99693) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @01:41PM (#30228780)

        There's a big difference between talking to your parents if you're bullied at school versus calling 911.

      • You act like its an epidemic. Those people are weak and are having natural selection take place. There are over 6 billion people on this planet. How many shootings are there? Maybe one every couple of years? So thats one in 6 billion every 2 years? What is the problem here? Have some perspective. These people are weak and need to understand that the world is a cruel place. Those that can't handle it will die off and hopefully not pass that genetic trait on to their children and we will all be bette
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by B1oodAnge1 (1485419)

          I'd mod you up if I could.

          I am fascinated by the human species apparent drive to thwart evolution based on the ludicrous assumption that we somehow know a "better" way than what got us here.

      • by Penguinisto (415985) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @01:48PM (#30228872) Journal

        Dude - if your kid gets bullied at school, do you:

        a) take care of it w/ the kid (e.g. teaching him how to fight back) and/or the school administrators if necessary, or...

        b) call 911?

        This isn't a hard question, I promise you.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Shakrai (717556)

        Your attitude is exactly why people don't ask for help when they're in a bad place. The result is school shootings, suicides, and other depressing events.

        He wasn't mocking people who ask for help. He was mocking the notion of calling 911 over bullying. The last time I checked 911 is for emergencies. Having your feelings hurt != emergency.

        I don't buy your apologism either. School shootings don't happen because people can't get help. Help is readily available in school. You've got teachers, guidance counselors, administrative staff, etc, etc. It seems to me that the student who is debating shooting up the place could have sought help from one of those

    • Re:That's... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Penguinisto (415985) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @01:44PM (#30228830) Journal

      I'm thinking that we as a society are becoming (or are already) a bit too fetishised over coddling their children.

      (warning: impending 'get off my lawn' rant/moment...)

      When our grandparents were kids, if they got bullied, their own parents would respond by teaching them how to fight. Hell, even when I was a kid, my parents' reaction to bullying was usually along the lines of "...well kick his ass then - as long as you didn't start it, you won't be in trouble from us for finishing it".

      Nowadays, the Internet is easier to deal with - if someone is acting the fool, teach your kid to block 'em and inform the webmaster/etc. Teach 'em to toughen up and to ignore the idiots of this world - it'll better prepare them for adulthood.

      Leaving your kid alone online is the perfect equivalent of letting them wander around alone on Times Square - if you're dumb enough to do it, then at least prepare them for the inevitable bumps and bruises... or perhaps maybe not let your kid surf the thing unsupervised, eh?

      At least this way there's no scrambling around on the cops' part over false positives (because those are almost guaranteed with this system), and nobody has to waste taxpayer money over something that parents should already know how to do, FFS...

      • by Shakrai (717556)

        my parents' reaction to bullying was usually along the lines of "...well kick his ass then - as long as you didn't start it, you won't be in trouble from us for finishing it"

        Never start a fight, but always finish it.

      • by Hatta (162192)

        Leaving your kid alone online is the perfect equivalent of letting them wander around alone on Times Square - if you're dumb enough to do it, then at least prepare them for the inevitable bumps and bruises

        Except that you can't actually get bumps and bruises from the internet.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by RajivSLK (398494)

        it'll better prepare them for adulthood.

        I'm not sure about this at all... When I was a child I remember all sorts of bullying, name calling and violence throughout the years that no adult I know of has ever had to deal with. A lot of bullying would be a felony if perpetrated by adults.

        I remember one kid who would routinely get picked up and thrown in the garbage can in boys locker room. If someone people picked me up today and stuffed me in a garbage can I would call the cops. If I was

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by myowntrueself (607117)

        When our grandparents were kids, if they got bullied, their own parents would respond by teaching them how to fight. Hell, even when I was a kid, my parents' reaction to bullying was usually along the lines of "...well kick his ass then - as long as you didn't start it, you won't be in trouble from us for finishing it".

        I'm no grandparent, but when I was a kid and came home from school one day crying and with a lump on my head from some other kid throwing a stone at me, my grandmother took me out, hunted this kid down and set me on him. Yeah, she pulled me off him when she figured he'd had enough...

        I never failed to stand up to a bully under my own steam ever again.

    • by Kjella (173770)

      Oh, get a grip. This is more like your kid telling you there was this creepy guy with candy who wanted kids to go with him for a ride, but your kid didn't go. Maaaaaaaybe it wouldn't hurt to tip the police about it. Why should this button go to the police and not to the parents? Well duh, because it's the parents. They're likely to freak, revoke computer permissions which is exactly why it won't get pushed. As if you'd need your child to push a panic button to reach you, you wonder what kind of parent that'

  • out in my van
    actually it seems I have one right here in my pants
  • by Sfing_ter (99478) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @01:25PM (#30228526) Homepage Journal

    http://www.panicbuttons.com/ [panicbuttons.com]
    My wife has one of those on her keyboard, it's pretty funny.

  • How long until (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jDeepbeep (913892) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @01:27PM (#30228550)
    How long then until a worm emerges that floods the govt with hundreds of thousands of fradulent calls, making the signal to noise ratio too burdensome to navigate?
    • by TitusC3v5 (608284) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @01:34PM (#30228672) Homepage
      Probably about as long as it took you to type that po--oh, wait. Yep, there it is.
    • by bugnuts (94678)

      You don't need a worm. You need about a dozen 8yo's who like dolphins.

      • by gknoy (899301)

        "This is the Talk To A Policeman button! They might even like buttons! Remember, you should never press this button, unless you'd really like to talk to a policeman..."

        I suspect that the kids who like cops, or like dolphins, or toddlers who button-mash (like mine), will be the primary users of this button.

  • by Vinegar Joe (998110) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @01:28PM (#30228564)

    Of fucking people......certainly more than some anonymous internet perv.

  • by eln (21727) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @01:29PM (#30228574) Homepage
    Your access to the Internet is limited basically to the box on your desk, or the phone in your hand, or other devices that are similarly entirely under your control. It's not like normal harassment or bullying in that you can easily get away from it simply by turning off the device you're using to access it. If you're getting bullied in real life, you have to try to run away and get help immediately before your attackers catch up with you and continue the beating. Online, you can simply get off the computer and tell the proper authorities (be that the police or your parents or whoever) at your leisure. There is not the same need for immediacy.

    Also, the whole idea of grooming children (or more often FBI agents posing as children) is that the pedophile gets the child to believe they're safe, and so they would have no motivation to push the little dolphin button. The kids that go off to meet pedophiles do so because they don't perceive that they're in any danger. If they don't perceive the danger, why would they alert the police to anything?
    • by joebok (457904) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @01:38PM (#30228732) Homepage Journal

      ...you can easily get away from it simply by turning off the device you're using to access it...

      I think you've just saved the tax payers of Australia a ton of money - just replace the circle & line logo on the power button with the "friendly dolphin" icon and the children are safe!

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      You say it's easy to just turn off your computer to "escape" from the internet, but that's like saying that you can easily escape from physical bullying by staying locked up in your house. We're not even talking about pedophiles here, just kids bullying other kids. Cyber harassment is a real problem. The anonymity of the Internet makes things worse; at least in the physical world you can see who your bullies are.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by eln (21727)
        I'm not saying kids who are being bullied online should turn off their computers forever, I'm saying the immediacy issue that would require a 911-like service isn't there. They can temporarily log off, and then tell their parents about it at dinner, or call the police and ask for help. There's no immediate physical danger involved, so there's no need for an immediate response capability.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by virg_mattes (230616)
        > You say it's easy to just turn off your computer to "escape" from the internet, but that's like saying that you can easily escape from physical bullying by staying locked up in your house.

        But that's not the point of the parent post. The point is that there's no need for a "911 equivalent" on the computer. Cyber-bullying is a real problem, but it's not a moment-critical problem like getting beaten up. If you have to switch it off for five minutes or an hour until you can call for help it's not goi
    • by girlintraining (1395911) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @02:10PM (#30229170)

      If you're getting bullied in real life, you have to try to run away and get help immediately before your attackers catch up with you and continue the beating.

      You haven't been bullied, have you? You don't run -- it only encourages them. You turn into any attack -- 95% of the time, that's the right answer. Bullies, muggers, rapists, etc., all have one thing in common: They go for the low hanging fruit.

      Online, you can simply get off the computer and tell the proper authorities (be that the police or your parents or whoever) at your leisure. There is not the same need for immediacy.

      Or, you know, you could ignore them. Or be a responsible parent to your child, instead of wasting taxpayer dollars chasing down every bad word someone else's kid says about yours.

      Also, the whole idea of grooming children (or more often FBI agents posing as children) is that the pedophile gets the child to believe they're safe, and so they would have no motivation to push the little dolphin button. The kids that go off to meet pedophiles do so because they don't perceive that they're in any danger. If they don't perceive the danger, why would they alert the police to anything?

      Grooming takes time. It doesn't just happen one evening while your child is propped up on the bed and you're having dinner, and the next day they're on a bus. A lack of parental supervision is the problem here -- if we were actually spending time parenting instead of working two jobs and leaving the child rearing to the schools, televisions, and computers, this wouldn't be possible.

      This government solution isn't: That friendly dolphin isn't there for the children, it's there for the parents. So they can feel less guilty about not watching their kid. It's the same reason we have padded foam and rubber all over playgrounds, and the swing sets have been removed, along with all the other interesting things to do. Meanwhile, I used guns, went hunting, rode motorcycles, ATVs, and played hide and seek in a five acre field. Bullies didn't give me much trouble growing up -- rural girls scare the ever-living crap out of city boys.

      Take a hint, parents: Raise your kids to be self-reliant and strong, and you'll never have to worry about their safety. But keep them as your precious snowflakes, and you'll raise a bunch of fragile weaklings that will spend their lives suckling the tit of the government and crumpling at every hardship. I don't say this to be mean -- I say this because the other thing a rural upbringing gave me was a lack of tact. ;)

  • by stagg (1606187) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @01:31PM (#30228612)
    Or are children using any kind of unsupported OS on their own? Click the little red devil for help.
  • by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @01:34PM (#30228668) Homepage Journal

    achievement unlocked

    you are a regular pusher, well done!

    pressing the panic button 50 times in a minute unlocks this award and gives you access to Juvie hall.
    Extra Rewards: Parents must pay $500.

    • by bugnuts (94678)

      Exactly. This reminded me of an old addon for macs that would make the trashcan do an animation of Grover, complete with him singing he likes trash, when it's emptied.

      When discovered, a friend's kid threw away everything and emptied the trash, just to see the animation.

      Panic buttons should look scary, not friendly.

  • as long as the panic button dials the parent's cellphone/ sends a text to the parent/ sends an email to the parent

    not to some intrusive government bureaucracy with an agenda having dubious additional goals beyond just good parenting, not tailored to the specifics of each different parent-child relationship, and costing tax dollars

    otherwise, its basically just a good business idea for someone to invest in and flesh out

    i look forward to unintentionally humorous late night tv commercials for the internet panic button

    "mom! i've fallen into porn and i can't get up!"

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I've_fallen_and_I_can't_get_up [wikipedia.org]!

  • Or is turning it off just too much to ask?

  • Hacked (Score:4, Interesting)

    by T.E.D. (34228) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @01:36PM (#30228700)
    You know the absolute first thing that will happen is that some pedo-hacker will use a PC virus to hack into the Dolphin and send all "panic" help requests to themselves.
  • I wonder if they told the police... cause your average 911 line is going to be just thrilled if this starts automatically forwarding whiny kids to them. I guess it could be a huge make work project for social work grad students, god help them.
  • by Archfeld (6757) * <treboreel@live.com> on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @01:38PM (#30228726) Journal
    "Are 1 in 4 children really sexually abused by the Internet?"
    Err NO, exactly ZERO (0) children have ever been sexually abused by the internet. Nor for that matter have any children EVER been sexually abused over the internet, on the internet, or even around the internet. The internet has undoubtedly been a tool used by sexual predators to get access or to provide information on the location of children which they would then prey upon and abuse, but just like a gun has never shot anyone by itself, a interconnected system of computers has never abused or neglected a child, it takes people to do that....
    http://www.pandys.org/whatissexualabuse.html [pandys.org]
  • by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @01:39PM (#30228752) Homepage
    The way the large percentages for sexual propositioning/harassment on the internet are pretty misleading. In order to get that number they are counting fairly tame stuff such as mildly lewd comments from friends over IM and the like. For example, a teenager asking another teenager if the other was a virgin would count or possibly even asking "hey, did you end up making out with that cute guy." When one looks at what one would normally call a real problem, such as sexual solicitation by strangers and the like one gets under 3%. See http://www.csicop.org/si/show/predator_panic_a_closer_look/ [csicop.org].
  • by Jason Levine (196982) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @01:39PM (#30228756)

    There's already a panic button on every desktop, laptop and netbook. It's called the Power Button. It will automatically disconnect you from whatever you were doing and turn off your computer. Combine this with a talk with whatever parental figure(s) the child has (both before and after online access is granted) and kids should be covered. Not every "think of the children" problem needs a government mandated solution.

  • I don't know whether to laugh because it is so ridiculously stupid or to cry because whoever suggested it was serious.
  • by Perp Atuitie (919967) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @01:41PM (#30228776)
    children cannot be abused by the internet. My question is, how is it that the "defenders of children" never have a clue about children? How many law enforcement resources does Australia plan to throw at answering calls from kids who just wonder what the pretty button does, who think the police should arrest Bobby for calling him a troll, who get scared of the "2012" preview they stumbled onto, who just want to stir things up? If we really want to "protect" kids we'd be better off banning idiocy like this and restricting parenthood to those with the capacity to do the job.
    • by The Moof (859402)

      how is it that the "defenders of children" never have a clue about children?

      If they did know children, they would ditch their cause as they realize 99% of what they say is either incorrect or a moot point in the grand scheme of things.

    • by rwv (1636355)

      restricting parenthood to those with the capacity to do the job

      I don't believe it's a popular opinion, but I believe Child Protective Services should be expanded before things like "The Dolphin System" get implemented. In my humble opinion, parents who are unqualified do more harm to the society of children than anybody through the internet ever could.

    • "My question is, how is it that the "defenders of children" never have a clue about children?"

      The "defenders of children" are not really "defenders of children". Many of the larger children's charities are self-promoting organisations who do very little to help children. They plead for donations, but rather than using those donations to protect children, they use the money to pay for advertising and other marketing activities. The extra donations which they receive as a result of those marketing activities

  • by greatica (1586137) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @01:42PM (#30228794)

    How can Dolphins save you from the net when they get caught in them all time?

  • by solszew (130449)

    I think that, if I were a small child, I'd probably pound on that dolphin button all day long. Hey, pounding the dolphin! New euphemism! Kids, don't try this at home...

  • by CarlosHawes (1256490) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @01:44PM (#30228828)
    So could I use this to report Internet "bullying" the next time Windows Genuine Advantage pops up to see if I have handed over my lunch money to Redmond as required?
  • by visualight (468005) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @01:45PM (#30228838) Homepage

    Can we go a few months without an article on slashdot describing yet another moronic idea from someone in Australia?

    Seriously, there's something wrong in that place and I'm very curious to know what. Or maybe, these stories are coming from the Australian equivalent of WeeklyWorldNews?

    • by Sasayaki (1096761) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @05:29PM (#30231262)

      The answer to this is simple. (disclaimer: I'm not a politician but I am interested in politics)

      In Australia (much like in other democracies such as America) we have a senate which ultimately writes, discusses and publishes new laws. Instead of directly voting for our Prime Minister (you guys would say President), we instead vote in senate members in our electorates (or 'regional areas'). Since Australia's quite large, these regional areas might cover a fairly large areas including a small city and a few towns.

      Australia, much like America, has two main political parties- the Labour party (left leaning) and the Liberal party (right leaning). These two parties get most of the seats. However, because senate members vote on laws, sometimes minority parties or independents gain seats.

      There are currently 76 seats in the senate. What this means is, in simplified terms, if the Labour party has 38 seats and the Liberal party has 37 seats, then the one remaining seat (held by an independent or a member of an minority party) holds what is called the 'balance of power'. After all, they could just vote against or for any law proposed by the government and block it- 38 vs 38 is a tie, which means the bill is defeated. So, essentially, this person has the power to veto any law they choose... a very powerful position. They cannot *create* new laws directly, but they get the final say as to what passes.

      Currently, senator Fielding holds the balance of power in the Australian senate. Senator Fielding is from the state of Victoria and is affiliated with a political party called 'Family First', which is exactly what it says on the tin- immediately love for any scheme which is 'for the children at any cost'. That's why all these insane "For the Children!" laws are getting passed- because politicians on all sides of politics want to scratch his back so that he'll pass or block their various laws of choice. Couple this with a profound lack of understanding regarding the Intertubes, a Telecommunications minister who has a massive, visible erection for Internet censorship (who is by far the most hated minister in his field in living memory) and you have a recipe for massive "For the Children" wankery.

      I hope I've explained everything in an easy to understand manner. It's not that Australians are douchebags or that our politicians are all insane, it's just a minor broken bit in what is otherwise a perfectly fine system- a unique race condition which manifests itself regularly but is remarkably damaging when it does.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Sasayaki (1096761)

        As a side note, Australia has a preferential voting system (I want Labour, if not Labour then the Greens, if not the Greens then the Democrats , etc...). This means that while Senetor Fielding polled less than 2% of the popular vote as first choices, due to preferences he won the seat (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_electoral_system). The population of Victoria is about five million people, voter turnout rate was about 25%, which means that this man was the first choice for *only* approximately 62,

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Cimexus (1355033)

      Yeah because a couple of moronic ideas from a few extremists makes something wrong with an entire country? I'm sure no moronic ideas have ever come out of anyone in the American government either....

      It really pisses me off to see how Australia gets unfairly dragged through the mud on Slashdot. Slashdot seems to have a knack for dragging up the absolutely most OBSCURE stories that I don't even hear about on any other Australian or international news service (and I consume a LOT of news sites), beating them u

  • Maybe they can just stick a dolphin sticker over the power button.
  • This just in from AP News (be-ee-de-ep, de-de-p,deep);

    AV product company XYZ says a new form of computer malware now gives a whole new meaning to the term "pushing someone's button". Instead of keyboard sniffers the extortionists instead are doing keyboard injection into the computer's keyboard input queue if the PC owner doesn't comply with their demands. Word has it that people are simply ignoring the threats.

    In other news... Congress is in session drafting new legislation to enact laws against the late

  • by dave562 (969951) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @01:50PM (#30228920) Journal

    http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/features/2009/12/sexual-predators-200912 [vanityfair.com]

    The short version is that the police and the media are contributing the hysteria of online child predators and blowing things WAY out of proportion. In the huge majority of the cases where minors are involved in sexual conversations online, they are engaged in them with other minors.

  • by unitron (5733) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @01:52PM (#30228946) Homepage Journal

    Here's a neat button and everytime you press it a bunch of cars with with flashing lights and screaming sirens will come zooming up to your house!

    Reminds me of the diapers with the moisture sensors that played a little tune every time the kid needed changing, which was pretty often once the kids figured out how to make the music play. : - )

  • Hi all,

    I know this may come across as extremely controversial but I urge you to hear me out.

    For decades parents have looked to schools, sports, and the telly to be their babysitters, and the latest is for myspace, yahoo, and AOL chat rooms to watch over their preteens. This has proven to not work out so well - child molestation is becoming more commonplace, children's attention spans are about the same as that of a goldfish, and they have become very unruly and disrespectful, dropping the F-bomb to old lad

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by swanzilla (1458281)

      Appeasement never curbed the aggression of axis powers, but a nuke ended WWII in seconds.

      Actually, Japan agreed to surrender on 8/14...five days after Fat Man and eight days after Little Boy.

  • How can they be sure a child will know how to identify a sexual predator? Since when is trolling a crime? Also where are the parents? Are parents okay with an unknown adult be it a police officer or a social worker getting into their child's business? Since when did it become the governments job to parents peoples children? Why not allow the parents to make the choice on if the police should be called. Leaving that decision to a child is just opening the door to all sorts of problems.

    Also why is it that w
  • by MathiasRav (1210872) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @02:02PM (#30229072) Journal
    (User has been arrested for this post)
  • This seems to be the next "big new shiny thing" in crime prevention. In Germany a trade union of law enforcement officers and a foundation called "German forum for crime prevention" pushes for a system called "web-patrol" since the beginning of 2009. You can find a blog (http://webpatrol.wordpress.com/) and a presentation here (http://webpatrol.files.wordpress.com/2009/06/2009-06-09-vortrag-web-patrol-auf-14-dt-praventionstag-hannover.pdf). Nice (fake) screenshots with the panic button integrated in a bro
  • Instead of having a button on the computer to connect you to police, let's have someone stationed with the child while they're using the internet! Maybe one person per 1 or 2 or 3 kids. This way, the workload is dispersed amongst more people and it doesn't have to go to the police.

    Oooh! We can even have this person, or even two people per 1 or 2 or 3 kids, perhaps working in shifts, raise the kid or kids and team them right from wrong and other stuff like that. We'll call them "parents"! Man I am so cl

  • by Alex Belits (437) * on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @02:04PM (#30229096) Homepage

    ...and found nothing.

    NOTHING!

  • I am confused... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ghostis (165022) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @02:07PM (#30229118) Homepage

    WTF happened to setting limits as a parent? This seems to be the classic "surely we can find a technical solution to a people problem" hole. What about requiring parents to take child-rearing classes that cover internet predators and how to limit children's activities on the 'net until they are ready to handle the mostly adult online world? This seems like anti-virus tools; the OS is broken so let's build a band-aid that covers the holes. It seems like it would be better, a la the US Head Start program, to educate parents early in the process so their kids don't get into these situations until they are mature enough to handle them.

  • 'Cause, like ya, that won't be totally abused to the point of uselessness.

    Instead of cute dolphin, about about a really really sad wolf crying...

  • by Brian Ribbon (986353) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @02:54PM (#30229742) Journal

    "Are 1 in 4 children really sexually abused by the Internet?"

    If you ask organisations such as the NCMEC - who know that their funding depends on misinformed hysteria over children's safety - one in five children are sexually abused online. The reality is that the NCMEC and similar organisations use bizarre definitions of child abuse, so if a 13 year boy asks a 13 year old girl to show her breasts, the girl is reported to be a "victim of sexual abuse".

    Most studies on this topic are remarkably biased (for financial reasons, or because they have been commissioned by governments) and based upon grossly inappropriate methodologies, so that question will probably never be answered. Consider Bennett Haselton's article article [slashdot.org] about NCMEC "research" as an example of how such data is biased.

  • by moozh84 (919301) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @04:48PM (#30230938)
    The only true danger for kids on the Internet is if they get tricked by child predators into meeting in real life. A "panic button" does nothing in that case, since the child does not think he/she is in danger. Here's a better way to spend tax money to protection children on the Internet: Pay a software company to develop a good, free "Net Nanny"-style software program and make it available for everyone to use. The market for software like that has always been weak, since most parents don't care enough about protecting their kids from the Internet to actually want to spend money and time buying and configuring the software. Part of the reason is because the software is not known to be very good. Government spending could keep software like that universally compatible with all major OSes, browsers, etc., with a very good matching algorithm or a database on which sites are safe and which aren't. And it could be a free download from your government's website.
  • by Locke2005 (849178) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @05:25PM (#30231234)
    Are 1 in 4 children really sexually abused by the Internet? Only if you count reading the "fuck you!" that somebody typed at you as sexual abuse. Seriously, one can only do emotional, not physical harm over the net, and chances are anything some stranger tells my daughter over the 'net isn't going to effect her more anywhere near as much as something I myself say when I'm pissed off at her. Yes, parents should monitor their children's internet use, and children should be instructed to never, never provide personally identifiable information over the internet. But if you are doing that, then who cares what some immature asshole says in a chat room? And how is pushing the panic button on the typed input some anonymous coward really going to help anything? You know, at some point you've got to let your kids fall and skin their knees so they learn it is not the end of the world and they can just get up and go about there life even after something "bad" happens. Trying to protect them from everything harmful in the real world just trains them to not be able to handle the real world when you're not there, and since I plan on dieing before my kids, that's probably not a good idea.
  • by fostware (551290) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @10:46PM (#30233586) Homepage

    They pick a dolphin? the pack-rapist of the sea?

  • by leereyno (32197) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @01:35AM (#30234358) Homepage Journal

    There are people in this world who dream of lording themselves over others. This is just another scheme that they have cooked up using the tried and tested method of presenting that which they wish to control as a threat to children, with the remedy being that they are given more power.

    This is horseshit and the people who are proposing it should be beaten to death with a tire iron.

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