Aust govt to press on with net filtering law

Dylan Bushell-Embling
telecomasia.net

The Australian government has announced it will press on with its controversial plan to implement mandatory ISP-level internet filtering, after declaring the pilot trial a success.

Communications minister Stephen Conroy said he will introduce the legislation in the first half of 2010.
 
The filter, which will block pages black-listed by the Australian classification review board, will then be activated around 12 months after the bill is passed.
 
Despite early hiccups in the pilot trial, the results were positive, Conroy said.
 
He claimed the filters could block black-listed content with “100% accuracy and negligible impact on internet speed.” The black-list includes child pornography, bestiality and sexual violence.
 
To assuage critics of the bill, Conroy said it would also include transparency measures and appeal mechanisms, including a review by an independent expert.
 
Conroy denied claims that the government would be easily able to extend the list of blocked content in the future.
 
“It would take a legislative amendment in the future to add any other content. We're not proposing it, we'll make it quite clear, this is as far as we're going,” Conroy said.
 
Some of the biggest ISPs, such as Telstra, iiNet and Primus, which had participated in the trials, welcomed the news.
 
“We support the fact that the Government intends to legislate its approach, thereby ensuring that it applies across the industry, is clearly spelled out and is enforceable by law,” Telstra CEO David Thodey said.
 
“Primus believes that the introduction of an ISP filtering regime into Australia requires a balance between protecting Australians’ rights of free expression and access to information with the need to improve online safety,” Primus CEO Ravi Bhatia said.
 
But Greens Party communications spokesperson Scott Ludlam said the trials had highlighted a number of flaws in the blacklisting project.
 
“The pointless nature of this proposal is set out in the report itself, which admits that the filters will be circumvented by people seeking blocked material,” he said. “The policy is simply misguided.”
 
Internet Industry Association CEO Peter Coroneos said the new rules offered a “safer internet experience” for families.

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