Electronic Frontiers Australia again reiterated its opposition to an internet filter today after the Coalition announced, and then abandoned, plans to implement an ‘opt-out’ internet filter Thursday. The announcement was one of the key points of the party’s 11 page policy ‘to Enhance Online Safety for Children’. The proposed content filter would have affected smart phones and major internet service providers and would have been switched on as the default unless customers specified otherwise.
It is possible that the policy was only intended to be released after the election; that the Coalition backtracked due to community outrage; or that it was indeed a genuine error and never actually Coalition policy in the first place. In any case, it has put the issue of an open internet firmly back on the agenda just hours before Australians go to the polls.
When the ALP announced plans to introduce a mandatory internet filter back in 2007, EFA led the Open Internet campaign to oppose the policy and protect internet freedoms. We remain as opposed as ever to plans for internet filtering at the ISP level.
Internet filtering, whether mandatory or ‘opt-out’, is a major affront to the rights of freedom of speech and press. The very purpose of the internet is for the free flow of information. An internet filter is an attack on the internet itself.
While we welcome the Coaltion’s backdown on this policy, EFA is concerned at the apparent lack of cohesion within the party on the issue of an internet filter. We encourage all voters to consider the different parties stances on digital rights, and have created an Election Scorecard to assist voters to make an informed decision.
You can view the Scorecard at our election page.