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21 Mar 2011

CYBER safety will not be delivered by an internet filter alone, a series of high-profile internet companies have told a parliamentary committee.

While Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has been aggressively pursuing the implementation of a filter, groups including Facebook and Microsoft have said internet users need to take more personal responsibility.

Some also called for better education on cyber safety.

"People just believe they're protected," Microsoft's chief Australian security adviser Stuart Strathdee told a hearing of the joint select committee in Canberra today.

He suggested many users of social networks needed to be better educated on online safety and privacy.

"We need to look at other programs such as safe feeds."

Safe feeds involve additional software and adult involvement in what children and young people are able to access online.

The compliance, regulatory and corporate affairs director at Ninemsn Jennifer Duxbury agreed, saying a filter is "only a small piece of the puzzle".

Facebook privacy adviser Mozelle Thompson told the committee there were 11 million Australians who access the site monthly.

While the conditions of creating a Facebook page did not allow any children to use the site, Mr Thompson admitted it was difficult to enforce.

Facebook removes on average 20,000 accounts daily because of the age restriction.

South Australian MP Amanda Rishworth suggested the website needed to better advise users when it updated its privacy settings.

She told Mr Thompson Facebook should send an email to its users when changes were made.

Tasmanian senator Guy Barnett pressed Mr Thompson on the appearance of a Facebook profile dedicated to mass murderer Martin Bryant.

"It was removed within 72 hours," Mr Thompson said.

"I thought that was pretty responsive."

In 2010 the profile appeared proclaiming Bryant's innocence and alleging a former police officer was involved in the killings.

Mr Thompson said under Facebook's approach, removal of the Bryant profile was not rated a number one priority because it did not involve a threat of violence.


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