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It's Time to Tell Mum campaign

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As part of a political protest against proposed mandatory Internet filtering in Australia, Electronic Frontiers Australia created a campaign in May 2010 called "It's Time to Tell Mum", which gave talking points for people to convince their mothers to oppose the filter. Some of the talking points assumed that mothers were (a) largely unacquainted with technology and (b) solely responsible for moral education and protection of their children. This made it a negative version of So simple, your mother could do it incidents.

Examples included:

  • Portrayal of mothers as the last people one would expect to be interested in tech for its own sake: "Even mums want an internet connection that's faster, cheaper and more secure"
  • Portrayal of mothers (as opposed to other parents and carers) as responsible for children: "If mums begin to rely on the filter to keep their children safe, rather than monitoring their children’s internet use themselves, children will actually be less safe than before the filter was in place."

The campaign also had a Twitter feed that played on mother stereotypes:

  • "Well, it's Saturday. What's the topic of conversation while mum drives you to soccer?"
  • "If you ring your mum to tell her now, it's probably not too late to lock in a roast."
  • "I'm sure you've explained more complicated stuff to your mum before. How the DVD player works, what happened to that vase... #openinternet"

Vice-chair of the EFA board Geordie Guy posted a defence of the campaign that included arguments such as:

"The contact target of the campaign isn’t mums, it’s their kids. I was stoked when we started filming with Akmal because his humour has always been particularly adept at dealing with sensitive topics."
"By focussing on mums, the campaign is just targeting a group with a very special sort of connection to their families – the type of connection that gives rise to phrases like 'maternal instinct' instead of 'paternal instinct' (even though fathers have instinctive connections to their children as well) and 'motherhood statements' instead of 'fatherhood statements' (even though fathers are as susceptible to loaded political platitudes as mothers are)."

Guy removed his blog entry some days later. Board member Dave C posted a more apologetic reaction to the criticism at Hoyden About Town.

Political and technical bloggers who were also mothers and who opposed the mandatory Internet filtering and had been active allies to the EFA were particularly annoyed by the campaign.

The EFA responded unapologetically to criticism in a post titled 'More Power To Mums' saying, "we aren't apologising for the campaign - we're happy with the way it turned out."

Responses Edit

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