Basser Seminar Series

Do we simply accept the Australian Internet filtering scheme or do we need to ask hard questions?

Speaker: Associate Professor Bjorn Landfeldt
School of Information Technologies, The University of Sydney

Time: Friday 3 April 2009, 4:00-5:00pm

Location: The University of Sydney, PNR Building, Farrell Lecture Theatre

(Note, different location, and there will be no refreshments)

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Abstract

The Australian government is currently planning to introduce mandatory Internet content filtering. The move would clearly set Australia aside from all other democratic nations in the world. The initial purpose of this scheme was to protect Australian children from accessing unsuitable material such as child pornography.

Even though there is widespread consensus in society that such material is undesirable and potentially harmful, the issue of filtering is extremely complicated and it is far from evident that the proposed scheme will achieve its goal. In addition, over the past few months evidence has been presented indicating that the side effects of such filtering could have severe negative impact on society.

Associate Professor Bjorn Landfeldt was part of a team that studied the feasibility of implementation of Internet filtering at the ISPs. The report was commissioned by the Howard government and handed to the current minister in charge of this issue, Senator Stephen Conroy.

In this talk, Professor Landfeldt will detail some of the major difficulties associated with ISP level content filtering, some of the possible side effects and discuss why such filtering may not be effective. He will also give examples of the many difficult moral questions such filtering inevitably raises and demonstrate the need for a comprehensive public debate an the issue before legislation and implementation takes place.

Speaker's biography

Professor Landfeldt was born and raised in Sweden where he studied electrical engineering at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. In parallel with his studies he also ran a communication systems consulting company. After moving to Australia he completed a PhD in telecommunications at UNSW, before moving back to Europe and working for Ericsson Research, Networks and Systems, for 2 years. During his time with Ericsson, Professor Landfeldt worked on system aspects of content adaptation and filtering, mainly in cellular networks. He returned to Australia in 2001 as a CISCO Senior Lecturer in Networking at University of Sydney. He has been with the University of Sydney since then and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2008.

Professor Landfeldt has published over 80 publications in international journals and conferences on different issues in computer networks and he also holds over 10 patents in this area. He is also an associate editor for two international journals, a frequent guest editor, technical program chair or technical program member for international IEEE and ACM conferences and symposia. He is also a frequently invited speaker to industry events.