Australian ISP Filtering Faces Failure

Mar 02, 2009

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Last month I blogged about how the Australian government's decision to drop the educational NetAlert program and move forward with mandatory ISP filtering would do little to help protect families down under from the dangers on the Internet. 

To the surprise of many, including myself, it appears that the plan "has effectively been scuttled" according the the Sydney Morning Herald.  The fallout appears to come from independent Senator Nick Xenophon's decision to join the Greens and Opposition in blocking any legislation required to get the scheme started.

"The Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy, has consistently ignored advice from a host of technical experts saying the filters would slow the internet, block legitimate sites, be easily bypassed and fall short of capturing all of the nasty content available online," the Morning Herald stated. On the heels of this, Senator Conroy still plans on moving ahead with the trial and even expanding it's scope outside of blocking illegal web site content. Senator Conroy recently said there was "a very strong case for blocking" other legal content that has been "refused classification." According to the classification code, this includes sites depicting drug use, crime, sex, cruelty, violence or "revolting and abhorrent phenomena" that "offend against the standards of morality".

Besides facing opposition from online consumers, lobby groups, ISPs, network administrators, some children's welfare groups, the Opposition, the Greens, NSW Young Labor and even the conservative Liberal senator Cory Bernardi, who famously tried to censor the chef Gordon Ramsay's swearing on television, Senator Conroy faces the toughest battle against the families he believes he is protecting. A poll from 2 weeks ago found that only 5 per cent of Australians want ISPs to be responsible for protecting children online and only 4 per cent want Government to have this responsibility. Parents actuallly want to take responsibility for what content their children consume. 

Parental control?
Imagine that.