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Monday, 14 September 2009
Page: 9506

Mr BRUCE SCOTT (4:00 PM) —I rise this afternoon to discuss a very serious issue that is a threat not only to the safety of young people in my electorate of Maranoa but also to young people across Australia—indeed, to anyone who has access to the internet through a mobile phone. I am raising the issue of mobile internet safety in the parliament today because of concerns brought to me by a constituent. While I am not going to go into any further detail, the story she told me was any parent’s nightmare.

Over the past decade, with our ever-increasing reliance on the internet for communication, families have become more aware of the potential dangers of an online presence. Many people know never to provide personal details to anyone they do not know or trust. And many children are aware that they should never meet in person with any friends that they have made through chat forums over the internet. The former coalition government and this government have made great efforts to educate families about the dangers of the internet. The federal government provided a free content filter for home computers, before it was abolished by Labor over the Christmas season, so that families could protect their children from viewing inappropriate content on the web.

Two years ago, Choice magazine rated 15 net filtering software programs, with three of the top six being government supplied. Yet one area which we should be focusing on is the safety of young people who access the internet through their mobile phones. Today’s mobile phones are capable of doing almost everything that can be done on a home computer. People can check their Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and email. They can watch YouTube, they can use Skype and they can go online to forums to supposedly get help with games or to chat with a friend—and, of course, chat with complete strangers.

I am sure there are a lot of parents out there who are not aware of the potential dangers their children face when accessing the internet through their mobile phone. Many parents provide their children with mobile phones so that they can be easily contacted and have a means of contacting their family or authorities if they run into trouble. Yet because children can use mobile phones anywhere at any time, it is difficult for parents to keep an eye on what their children are viewing through the mobile’s internet, but the same threats to children that are lurking on the home internet also exist on mobile internet. Paedophiles can and will try to find their next victim through any means, and mobile internet is just another playground for their criminal practices. But parents can protect their children, even if they are not around when their children are using a mobile phone. Parents can call their mobile provider and ask to have an internet blocking on their children’s phones. They must also teach their children that the same rules that apply to the home computer are the ones they want them to use on their mobile phones. (Time expired)