Labor Responses to Internet Filtering Outcry

Posted by Kevin Rennie

Sent out email last Friday to most Federal and State ALP members of parliament with a link to Internet Censorship Will Haunt Rudd Government. Have received 5 replies so far:

  • From Amanda Fazio, New South Wales MLC, supporting the dumping of the policy. Her speech to the Legislative Council can be found at: Internet Censorship
  • The second was a very private email that went astray, from the office of a Victorian MLA . Didn’t receive a reply when I bounced it back. My lips are sealed.
  • A response from Senator Kate Lundy’s office, offering to forward any messages to Senator Conroy.
  • From my Facebook friend the Finance Minister, Lindsay Tanner. The text seems to be a media release but was appreciated anyway.
  • Chris Hayes MHR for Werriwa has sent the same response.

They are “aware that the proposal for ISP filtering has attracted some criticism from those, like yourself, who are concerned that it will lead to censorship of the internet. However, the Australian Government has no plans to stop adults from viewing material that is currently legal, if they wish to view such material.

The Government regards freedom of speech as very important and the Government’s cyber-safety policy is in no way designed to curtail this.

The internet is an essential tool for all Australian children through which they can exchange information, be entertained, socialise and do school work and research. The ability to use online tools effectively provides both a skill for life and the means to acquire new skills.

However, while the internet has created substantial benefits for children it has also exposed them to a number of dangers, including exposure to offensive content. As such, parents rightly expect the Government to play its part in the protection of children online.

The Government has committed $125.8 million over the next four years to a comprehensive range of cyber-safety measures, including law enforcement, filtering and education. Measures include:

· Australian Federal Police (AFP) Child Protection Operations Team – funding to detect and investigate online child sex exploitation;
· Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions – funding to help deal with the increased activity resulting from the work of the AFP to ensure that prosecutions are handled quickly;
· ISP level filtering – funding to develop and implement ISP filtering, including undertaking a real world ‘live’ pilot;
· Education activities – funding to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to implement a comprehensive range of education activities;
· Websites / Online helpline – funding to ACMA to improve current Government
cyber-safety website resources and to make them easier for parents to use, and to provide up‑to‑date information. ACMA will also develop a children’s cyber-safety website to provide information specifically for children, and improve the online helpline to provide a quick and easy way for children to report online incidents that cause them concern;
· Consultative Working Group – funding for an expanded Consultative Working Group. The Group will consider the broad range of cyber-safety issues and advise the Government, to ensure properly developed and targeted policy initiatives;
· Youth Advisory Group – funding for a Youth Advisory Group which will provide advice to the Consultative Working Group on cyber-safety issues from a young person’s perspective; and
· Research – funding for ongoing research into the changing digital environment to identify issues and target future policy and funding.

These initiatives will tackle the issue of cyber-safety from a number of directions to help clean up the online environment and protect Australian children from the dangers of the internet now and into the future. This approach acknowledges the key role parents and carers have in the online safety of children, and provides them with the necessary information to assist with this task. This initiative also recognises that there is no single solution to ensure children can access the internet safely.

A key part of the Government’s plan to make the internet a safer place for children is the introduction of ISP level filtering. The policy reflects our community’s growing belief that ISPs should take some responsibility for enabling the blocking of illegal material on the internet. Filtering would cover illegal and prohibited content using an expanded ACMA blacklist of prohibited sites, which includes images of the sexual abuse of children.

Consideration is being given to more sophisticated filtering techniques for those individual families who wish to exclude additional online content in their own homes.

The Government wants to ensure that Australian parents can access a ‘clean feed’ internet service. This will be informed by the technology adopted in countries such as the United Kingdom, France, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Canada where ISP filtering, predominantly of child pornography, has been successfully introduced without affecting internet performance to a noticeable level.

The Government’s ISP filtering policy is being developed through an informed and considered approach, including industry consultation and close examination of overseas models to assess their suitability for Australia.

ACMA recently completed an extensive laboratory trial of available ISP filtering technology. The trial looked specifically at the effect of a range of filter products on network performance, effectiveness in identifying and blocking illegal and inappropriate content, scope to filter non-web traffic, and the ability to customise the filter to the requirements of different end-users.

The laboratory trial indicated that ISP filtering products have developed in their effectiveness since they were last assessed in 2005. The Government will now proceed with a ‘live’ pilot in the second half of 2008 which will provide valuable information on the effectiveness and efficiency of filters installed in a ‘real world’ ISP network. An Expression of Interest will be released in due course seeking the participation of ISPs in the pilot.

The Government is committed to working closely with internet industries to address any concerns, including costs and internet speeds. These concerns will be carefully considered during the pilot and will further inform the Government’s cyber‑safety policy.”

As yet there is no response from the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy. Perhaps his email is vetted too well or perhaps not well enough. Or perhaps the reply went astray. It does happen.

By the intensity of the opposition on the blogosphere, his office is probably receiving a lot of hostile email. There are now more than 20 Facebook groups against the internet filtering proposal.

15 Responses

  1. OK Conroy release the complete results of your trials on the filtering technology and then the live trial.

    I bet within a short time the filter technology will be circumvented just like the previous new unbeatable technology was (by a school kid for stuff’s sake).

    Lastly. If the new ISP filtering does slow down my connection and the ISP charges me extra for the additional costs they must incur in complying with the regulation will you compensate me?

  2. However, the Australian Government has no plans to stop adults from viewing material that is currently legal, if they wish to view such material.

    Does anywhaere in these correspondenses actually atate that we will still be able to have access to a connection that does not pass through a filter of any description?

    If this is available, I have no real issue with the proposal, but if they are going to force people to have a filter, then I have problems.

    If there are illegal sites being viewed, would it not be more advisable for the government to track viewers to these sites?

    And join an international effort to curb these activities at the source.

    Cucconing a whole country away is no solution.

  3. I will send this post to the Ministers’ offices when there are enough comments, to see what responses they may have to issues raised.

  4. This will be the ALP’s WorkChoices and the cause of its downfall. It will touch the lives of just about every Australian in a negative way and will cause a nationwide resentment unknown in this country, even greater than the anti-Iraq invasion movement.

    I saw Conroy being interviewed the other day and guy didn’t come across as particularly stable ie he looked the nervy type on the verge of a breakdown.

  5. All I will say is that as a swinging voter I can not bring myself to vote Labor at the next election if this filtering comes into play and I’m not alone.

  6. scaper only IF the opposition promise to completely remove the filter system put in place. I have no doubt that even though the opposition will make noises about changes and improvements they will not make an outright promise to totally dismantle it.

    I could take bets on this now.

  7. Prediction:
    Future minister promises the 28th filter will work.


    After the 28th filter fails:
    forced eye poking

  8. I STRONGLY agree with scaper’s comment@5 but would also like to amend that to include gecko(hehe)’s assertion that the opposition must also drop the filter, unequivocally!
    I would never vote for the ‘tards anyway but will put Labor 2nd last after them if they go ahead with this mental stipulation in any form that I feel impedes my entitlement to free access of information & reliable net speed.

  9. Hey HD…don’t hehe at the Gecko, he keeps the insects under control…

  10. The ‘filter’ will not work! Technically impossible if one wants to increase broadband speed.

    This is but a political ploy to show that Labor is ‘serious’ in its efforts to show they are trying very, very hard to assist parents in trying to keep their kids away from porn.

    Also, it won’t get through the Senate. Thus, Labor’s political goals achieved (its ‘purity’ is reinforced) and no slowdown occurs. QED.. Too easy!

  11. “Technically impossible if one wants to increase broadband speed.”

    Or keep the net secure.

    And yeah, I think this is just a bit of a political sop to the moralists, and the government hard heads understand this plan is not actually gonna fly.

  12. This is a shitty right-wing gesture that Labor would best leave to the likes of Family First or the Fred Nile group.

    Please, everyone, get in touch with Senator Conroy’s office and ask that he drop this stinker immediately!

  13. #10. Nature 5 | November 21, 2008 at 9:20 pm

    Also, it won’t get through the Senate. Thus, Labor’s political goals achieved (its ‘purity’ is reinforced) and no slowdown occurs. QED.. Too easy!

    Why won’t it get through the Senate?

    Certainly the opposition aren’t going to stymie it, it’s a big potential election winner for them if it goes through. In fact they have a good potential wedge here. All they have to do is put in an amendment to have it as an opt in, which in all likelihood the government will reject as Conroy has already stated he will not wear an opt in system. This means when people start complaining (and they will) the opposition can claim they had a better solution and can still go to an election with internet censorship as a policy.

  14. Dye the laboure partys hair jet black what have you got Me No Speak Chinese .

  15. Nationwide protests on December 13

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