Electronic Frontiers Australia today welcomed the delay in the Gillard Government's internet censorship policy but expressed disappointment that it is still on track to be implemented in the Government's next term.

In an announcement today, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy indicated that the filter will be delayed until a 12-month review of the "Refused Classification" category is completed in conjunction with the states.

"While we welcome a review of the RC category, this is just tinkering around the edges of the filter's problems," said EFA Chair Colin Jacobs. "Applying a classification scheme designed for books and movies to the internet was never going to work. Altering the definition of one category won't change the fact that the government will never, ever, be able to review enough web pages to make any difference to anyone."

The Minister also announced that Australia's 3 largest ISPs will be implementing a voluntary filter targeted only at child abuse material. "The industry has been trying to engage with the Minister for a long time, and we're glad he finally decided to listen. It's still not clear who will be helped by taking the next step to a compulsory government filter," said Jacobs. The Minister also announced several measures designed to improve transparency, but indicated the blacklist would remain secret.

"The Minister had an excellent chance today to let the filter die a natural death. Instead they've left the ailing policy on life support for another year. We still urge the Government to listen to the experts, drop the filter, and focus on improving broadband access for all Australians," said Jacobs.

- Ends -

Below is:

- Background information
- Contact details for media

Background:

* Minister's Media Release
- http://www.minister.dbcde.gov.au/media/media_releases/2010/068

* Electronic Frontiers Australia
- http://www.efa.org.au/

* EFA's Open Internet campaign
- http://openinternet.com.au/

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
Chair
Phone: 0402 631 955
Email: [email protected]

Mr Geordie Guy
EFA Vice-Chair
Phone: 0415 797 142
Email: [email protected]

12 comments

  1. They've actually found some child abuse stuff on the actual web to filter?

    Comment by Ariaflame on 10 July 2010 at 00:36
  2. "The Minister also announced several measures designed to improve transparency, but indicated the blacklist would remain secret."

    It'll be on Wikileaks in the first month. Well done WL and kudos to the whistleblowers, we all deserve freedom.

    Comment by Ian on 10 July 2010 at 00:50
  3. Where's the evidence that blocking individual attempts to access illegal online content has caused some measurable improvement to a society?

    Any obvious counter-examples? China? North Korea? Iran?

    Myth busted.

    Comment by Blamer .. on 10 July 2010 at 01:25
  4. Yes, they have a list of 300 or so websites (which is in reality a tiny number compared to the depth of the internet's porn sector, and surely a tiny number compared to the amount of abuse material in p2p and chat circulation)

    If all they want to do is block those few known sites, it would be a simple process that few would object to, as the ISPs have indicated. The national mandatory filter is bs and is intended to do much more than just block the dns resolving of 300 odd sites.

    This is a dog move, he is only doing this because the average citizen has begun to see through his smokescreens and he is looking like the tool he is in the publics eye, so he's deepening the illusion that he cares only about protecting the children and doesn't want to block legitimate content... this is also to make it NOT an election issue, everyone will forget about it, then WHAM next year we're screwed because they won't have the election threat holding them back.

    Comment by Stack on 10 July 2010 at 02:24
  5. Stack is right. This is designed to get the filter off the table during the election. What we need to do is loudly, clearly, explain to Victoria why they need to vote below the line and put Conroy dead last.

    I cannot think of a clearer (legal!) rejection of this wholly wrong-headed policy than kicking out the sitting Senator who has staked his political life on it.

    Comment by Flinthart on 10 July 2010 at 04:58
  6. just wondering if EFA has anything to say about the fact that Google was found today to have breached the Privacy Act?

    Also a comment on today's ISP filtering events:

    At the beginning of this process ISPs were refusing to filter anything and the Govt was going to pay $45 million to force them to filter alot of stuff. Today, the three biggest ISPs in Australia (covering 70%+ of subscribers) have voluntarily (out of their own pockets) agreed to filter a known list of child sexual abuse URLs and the industry peak body (IIA) is calling this 'industry best practice' in line with indsutry behaviour in other civilised democrcacies. This would seem a pretty good outcome from a public policy perspective ie. very little govt money spent and cp urls blocked.

    Also, it would now seem the remaining ISPs that don't filter known child sexual abuse material (voluntarily) aren't doing so because they don't want to spend the money.

    Comment by Phillipa on 10 July 2010 at 05:36
  7. @Phillipa I see you have a new identity but the same lies and bullshit.

    We have only Conroy's word, a pathological liar who calls everyone who disagrees with him a paedophile, as to what he thinks some ISPs are going to do at sometime in the future.

    However, just the day before the IIA and all of the ISPs listed by Conroy heaped scorn on Conroy, his filter, and filters in general. Source: http://www.computerworld.com.au/article/352520/fi... And, Conroy has previously lied about ISPs, specifically iinet and their nonexistant support for censorship.

    As to your repeated attempts to try and unjustly criticise Australian ISPs for not forcing users to pay for a service that does not work and people do not want you are not fooling anyone. Your argument is the same as criticising people for not sending money to Nigerian Princes who offer proposerous rewards in unsolicited emails. Waste your own money if you like, but criticising others for not also wasting money just makes you look retarded.

    I really don't see what the fuck you think you have gained, you have claimed in your previous identities that you were unwilling to change your ISP to one that already filters, and that you were an IT expert who had installed his own home filters, all of my Internet traffic now goes through a VPN (so fuck you & Conroy), and the changes you are so proud of will be secret so you won't see them, and have yet to be implimented, and you only have the word of a pathological liar that they ever will be. I don't see any gain at all for you and the other religious wackadoos, you must just like the taste of Conroy's arse.

    Comment by Womp on 10 July 2010 at 07:42
  8. If there really are only 300-400 child abuse sites out there as Conroy claims, wouldn't it be better to work with other countries to *shut them down*, instead of trying to hide them?

    Comment by Simon on 10 July 2010 at 11:29
  9. We stop child porn movies by jailing the producers or distributors, not with censorship. If a website is Australian and has child porn then it is illegal. So close it and arrest the people who made, distributed or uploaded the child porn and gaol them. If it's an overseas site, then alert those overseas authorities and webmasters and have them close the site. Prohibitive censorship is for political purposes. Censorship just classifies stuff (general, AO etc).

    Comment by chris on 10 July 2010 at 14:02
  10. Optional filtering has always been available from ISPs. This is something Conroy has disregarded from the beginning. It was also freely available from the previous government. I am particularly disappointed in Senator Conroy's repeated attempts to blame any problems with the filter on ISPs or on people protesting it.

    Comment by Clytie Siddall on 11 July 2010 at 03:13
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    Phillipa, in addition to the points made by Womp, there's another issue with ISPs setting arbitrary filters (i.e. sans legislation). That being that accessing a web page is possibly considered a communication and so any interference could be viewed as an interception (although more akin to jamming a mobile phone than listening in). As a consequence ISPs would prefer to offer filtering as a service (with a legal contract to protect themselves with the client) or through providing software to filter at the client end. Otherwise the ISP and their staff face massive fines and jail time for potential breaches of the Telecommunications Interception Act.

    This may have changed recently, there was an amendment to the TIA last year which addressed some issues relating to computer networks. Although I suspect that Telstra, Optus and Primus may still be on shaky ground here, depending on how they are implementing their filter.

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    iEYEAREKAAYFAkw4yiEACgkQNxrFv6BK4xNMwACeJZTh+z84kxkfWbRVY4ft7VNE
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    Comment by Ben on 11 July 2010 at 15:30
  12. As a member of EFA, I'm somewhat disappointed that Colin Jacobs has not attacked the announcement of the "voluntary filtering" of child abuse material by 3 ISPs. Far from a backdown, this is a big 70% win for Conroy that three of the major ISPs are forcing their users to be mandatorily filtered. The ISPs may have announced they voluntarily will do the filtering, but it will be forced on their users. And once in place, with still no oversight of the content of the list of blocked material, aren't we really just giving Conroy the keys to do with as he please? Once the ISPs have put the hardware and mechanism in place, we're exactly where we don't want to be. And why did Telstra, Optus and iPrimus suddenly agree to this? What was dangled before these ISPs to agree to invest in tens of thousands of dollars of filtering infrastructure? Faster access to NBN rollout sites?

    Comment by Michael on 13 July 2010 at 04:05