Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) today welcomes the comments made by the Shadow Treasurer, the Hon. Joe Hockey MP, on the Government's proposal to effectively censor the Internet.
In a speech delivered at the Grattan Institute last night, Mr Hockey said that the Government's mandatory Internet filtering policy "is likely to be unworkable in practice."
"Mr Hockey correctly identified several of the fundamental problems in the Government's mandatory Internet filtering policy," said Peter Black, EFA's campaign manager. "Most importantly that the filter will not stop children from accessing inappropriate content and will not prevent criminals from accessing and distributing sexual abuse material."
Mr Hockey also recognised that he has personal responsibility as a parent. "If I want to stop my children from viewing other material that I feel is inappropriate then that is my responsibility to do something about it – not that of the government," said Mr Hockey.
"However, this is not just a matter of parental responsibility," said Black. "Parental supervision is actually the most effective way to protect children from accessing inappropriate content."
This is because the filter will not target X-rated pornography, which most parents wouldn’t want their children to view. In addition, the filter will do nothing to protect children from what parents are really concerned about, things like cyber-bullying, online predators, viruses, spam or the identity theft. It might also provide a false sense of security to parents, reducing effective monitoring of their children's online activities.
Mr Hockey was also rightly concerned about what the filter could be used in the future. "But more perniciously it is a scheme that will create the infrastructure for government censorship on a broader scale," said Mr Hockey. "Protecting liberty is about protecting freedoms against both known and future threats. Some may argue that we can surely trust a democratically-elected government in Australia to never try to introduce more wide-spread censorship. I am not so sure!"
EFA shares Mr Hockey's concerns. "One of our main concerns is how the list might expand in the future," said EFA Vice-Chair Colin Jacobs. "With pressure from the media and special interest groups, it's hard to imagine this government forever resisting the temptation to add to the list - let alone all future governments."
"We hope that the rest of the Coalition give this issue the same thought and consideration that Mr Hockey did," Black said. "If they do, they will also conclude that the Government would be better off focusing on increased education and law enforcement, instead of an impractical and costly policy of Government censorship."
Mr Hockey's speech coincided with a new campaign launched EFA this week, Lobby a Lib. "It is looking increasingly likely that our best chance to stop the filter from ever becoming law is to convince the Liberal Party to vote against in the Senate," said Black. "That is why we are encouraging people who disagree with the Government's impractical and costly policy of Government censorship, to visit or write to Liberal Party Members of Parliament or Senators."
The Lobby a Lib campaign is part of the broader Open Internet campaign, which is centred around a new website, OpenInternet.com.au, blog, and Facebook fan page, that together acts as campaign hub for all the different individuals and organisations that are campaigning against the Government’s mandatory Internet filtering policy.
- Ends -
- Background information
- Contact details for media
* EFA's Open Internet campaign
* Lobby a Lib
* Electronic Frontiers Australia
* The Hon. Joe Hockey's Speech, "In Defence of Liberty," to the Grattan Institute, Melbourne, 11 March 2010
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.
Mr Peter Black
Phone: 0421 636 496
Email: pete.black at efa.org.au
Mr Colin Jacobs
Phone: 0402 631 955
Email: cjacobs at efa.org.au