Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) today expressed its disappointment at the Federal Government's decision to fund its mandatory "clean-feed" Internet in the 2008-09 federal budget.

"At a time when the Government is cutting services to fight inflation, it's bewildering that they would decide to spend tens of millions of taxpayer dollars on a filter before feasibility trials are even complete," said EFA spokesman Colin Jacobs. "Given the manifest impracticality of the clean-feed scheme, I'm sure this money could have been put to much better use," he added.

The 2008-09 budget allocates $24.3 million to the Government's "cyber-safety" initiative, with the number to rise to $51.4m in the 2009-10 financial year. A media release from the Communications Minister, Senator Stephen Conroy, confirmed that the clean-feed remains a budgetary priority for the Government. Some funding will come from the Government's now-defunct NetAlert filter scheme, which made PC-based software filters available for free to all Australian homes. "Funding will be redirected to support ISPs making available a filtered internet service, or ‘clean feed’, to all homes, schools and public internet points accessible to children," said the Minister.

"Australians are very uncomfortable with the idea of having the Government decide what's appropriate for them and their families," said Jacobs. "In fact, in a survey of 18,000 Internet users, only 13% agreed with the policy. That's why we feel it is a shame, when the Government has identified real needs for better education and policing, that their approach to Internet policy is so skewed towards the filter initiative. There are greater risks to Australian children online, and real steps can be taken to mitigate these risks. That's where the funding should be going."

The Minister's announcement will undoubtedly rekindle concerns amongst the Internet industry about the priority the national filter has been given, and the effect this will have on data services in Australia. EFA has launched a web site to highlight the concerns and educate Internet users about the Government's plans, at http://nocleanfeed.com.

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Below is:
- Background information
- Contact details for media

Cyber-safety budget announcement

EFA analysis of the proposal:

EFA clean-feed site:

About EFA:
Electronic Frontiers Australia Inc. (”EFA”) is a non-profit national organisation representing Internet users concerned with on-line rights and freedoms. EFA was established in 1994, is independent of government and commerce, and is funded by membership subscriptions and donations from individuals and organisations with an altruistic interest in promoting online civil liberties.

Media Contacts:
Mr Colin Jacobs
EFA Board Member
Phone: 0402 631 955
Email: cjacobs at efa.org.au

Mr Dale Clapperton
EFA Chair
Phone: 0416 007 100
Email: dclapperton at efa.org.au

Electronic Frontiers Australia Inc — http://www.efa.org.au/

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