Australia's compulsory internet filtering 'costly, ineffective'
By Jennifer Dudley-Nicholson October 29, 2008 08:40am
THE Federal Government is planning to make internet censorship compulsory for all Australians and could ban controversial websites on euthanasia or anorexia.
Australia's level of net censorship will put it in the same league as countries including China, Cuba, Iran and North Korea, and the Government will not let users opt out of the proposed national internet filter when it is introduced.
Broadband, Communications and Digital Economy Minister Stephen Conroy admitted the Federal Government's $44.2 million internet censorship plan would now include two tiers - one level of mandatory filtering for all Australians and an optional level that will provide a "clean feed", censoring adult material.
Despite planning to hold "live trials" before the end of the year, Senator Conroy said it was not known what content the mandatory filter would bar, with euthanasia or pro-anorexia sites on the chopping block.
"We are talking about mandatory blocking, where possible, of illegal material," he told a Senate Estimates Committee.
Previously the net nanny proposal was going to allow Australians who wanted uncensored access to the web the option to contact their internet service provider and be excluded from the service.
Groups including the System Administrators Guild of Australia and Electronic Frontiers Australia have slammed the proposal, saying it would unfairly restrict Australians' access to the web, slow internet speeds and raise the price of internet access.
EFA board member Colin Jacobs said it would have little effect on illegal internet content, including child pornography, as it would not cover peer-to-peer file-sharing networks.
"If the Government would actually come out and say we're only targeting child pornography it would be a different debate," he said.
But the Australian Christian Lobby yesterday welcomed the Government's proposals.
Its managing director Jim Wallace said he expected resistance from the industry but the measures were needed.
"The need to prevent access to illegal hard-core material and child pornography must be placed above the industry's desire for unfettered access," Mr Wallace said.