Australians' Scuttle Internet Filtering

Published Thursday, February 26, 2009 -

A Brisbane Times report by Asher Moses stated today that the Government's plan to introduce mandatory internet censorship has effectively been scuttled.
Senator Nick Xenophon indicated previously he may support a filter that blocks online gambling websites but today was quoted as saying, "the more evidence that's come out, the more questions there are on this". Thus withdrawing all support for such a move.

The Greens and Opposition party members along with one independent senator joined forces to defeat the proposition. Nick Minchin the Opposition's communications spokesman obtained independent legal advice saying that if the Government is to pursue a mandatory filtering regime "legislation of some sort will almost certainly be required".

The original aim of some of the more conservative members was to start with trials that would effectively block more than 10,000 web sites. The trials have been heavily discredited, with experts saying the lack of involvement from the three largest ISPs, Telstra, Optus and iiNet, means the trials will not provide much useful data on the effects of internet filtering in the real-world.

Stephen Conroy, the Communications Minister, has ignored advice from a host of technical experts saying the filters would slow the internet, block legitimate sites, be easily bypassed and fall short of capturing all of the nasty content available online.

Senator Xenophon said instead of implementing a blanket mandatory censorship regime the Government should instead put the money towards educating parents on how to supervise their kids online.

A recent survey by Netspace of 10,000 of the ISP's customers found 61 per cent strongly opposed mandatory internet filtering with only 6.3 per cent agreed strongly with the policy. Commissioned by GetUp an online activist group, a national telephone poll of 1100 people, conducted by Galaxy found that only 5 per cent of Australians want ISPs to be responsible for online content and only 4 per cent want the Government to intervene.

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