09 July 2010

Government backflips on net filter

The federal government has again delayed the introduction of its proposed mandatory internet filter while a review of classified material is undertaken.

While the review is under way three of Australia's largest internet service providers have agreed to voluntarily block online child pornography material.

Communications Minister Senator Stephen Conroy says some people are obviously concerned about whether current classified material reflected community views.

Legislation to impose mandatory internet filtering would therefore be delayed until the review was completed, Senator Conroy said.

Labor's moves to block access to material such as child pornography and other illegal content have been criticised by some of the world's largest providers of internet services including Google and Yahoo.

Senator Conroy announced on Friday that Telstra, Optus and Primus will block a list of child abuse URLs - internet addresses - compiled by the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

However, representatives from Telstra and Optus would not say unequivocally whether they supported the government's proposed internet filter.

The telcos agreed to block child porn material from being accessed by Australian internet users while that review of Refused Classification (RC) content was under way.

"We support the review that was announced today, we support and are willing to voluntarily commit to the blocking of the ACMA list of child pornography sites and we'll continue to work constructively with the government as it undertakes this review," Telstra public policy and communications director David Quilty told reporters in Melbourne.

Mr Quilty said the blocking process was expected to take several months to get up and running.

Optus government and corporate affairs director Maha Krishnapillai said the telco had agreed to filter child pornography where it could.

"We'll have to wait and see what the review comes out with, but we've said all the way through this is about blocking the worst of the worst," he said.

RC content includes child abuse material, bestiality, rape and other extreme violence and terrorist acts.

Senator Conroy remained adamant that the internet filter proposal did not amount to censorship.

"I don't think any Australian actually tries to describe blocking child pornography or bestiality or pro-rape websites as censorship," Senator Conroy told reporters in Melbourne.

9 Jul 2010

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