During a speech to Christian groups, the then Prime Minister John Howard announced a plan to introduce ISP-based filtering on an opt-in basis. The Minister's formal announcement however, is largely devoted to announcing for the umpteenth time the National Filter Plan that is intended to subsidise PC-based filters. EFA has expressed its strong opposition to any form of ISP-based filtering, primarily on the grounds that it is a blunt instrument that introduces arbitrary and unaccountable censorship. A requirement to provide filtered services will also impose significant up-front and ongoing costs on all Australian ISPs and will further reduce access speeds. It will also expose them to legal liability when the filters inevitably fail to block inappropriate material. These costs will be passed onto consumers in the form of higher prices for Internet access. It remains unclear whether this sudden announcement is merely a political stunt to appease the religious right, but EFA will continue to lobby against any moves towards upstream Internet censorship.
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