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Australia’s commitment to cybersafety laudable

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Look Past Filtering: Australia’s wider commitment to cybersafety is laudable

Auckland, 18 December 2009 – NetSafe, New Zealand’s Cybersafety organisation, is calling on local organisations to take a look at Australia’s wider cybersafety strategy and not focus on the country’s filtering initiatives alone.

This week, Australia’s Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy – the Hon Stephen Conroy, announced new measures to improve internet safety for families and all internet users.

Martin Cocker, Executive Director of NetSafe says that filtering, a system that blocks obscene and crime-linked websites, is what grabs attention, but it is actually a small part of the fight to clean up the internet.

“Filtering will make people feel safer, but if we actually want to be safer New Zealand needs to boost cyber crime fighting resources, establish a National CERT programme, and increase investment in cybersafety and security education. In this regard, we are now well behind Australia.

“In the rush to comment on Australia’s recent cybersafety announcement, local organisations have focused attention almost solely on the introduction of mandatory ISP-level filtering of Refused Classification (RC) content,” says Cocker.

“The filtering debate is overshadowing the other areas of the Australian Cybersafety programme, to which New Zealand should be paying more attention.”

The announcement also included additional funding of AUD $17 million over five years for cybersafety education, awareness and counselling programmes. This funding will enable the Australian Communications Media Authority (ACMA) CyberSmart division to expand its outreach education, website (www.cybersmart.gov.au), and telephone support services.

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Senator Conroy also announced funding for an additional 91 Australian Federal Police officers and educators solely dedicated to the online field.

Cocker adds, “Australia already has significant cyber crime fighting resources at state and federal levels. For example, the Australian High Tech Crime Centre (AHTCC) has been operating since July 2003. By comparison, New Zealand only recently launched the National Cyber Crime Centre (NC3) which comprises just four staff.”

Corporate Australia is also making a significant contribution to cybersafety. The Telstra Foundation recently announced an extension to its ’Spotlight on Cyber Safety programme’ which now provides AUD $6 million over six years for projects that support youth cybersafety.

Martin Cocker concludes that New Zealand needs to pay attention to a number of aspects in regards to cybersafety.

“It is an immediate and ongoing concern that puts our families, businesses and any internet user at risk. The merits of filtering can be debated endlessly, but the wider commitment to cybersafety in Australia is laudable.”

ENDS

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