Communications minister Stephen Conroy has indicated initial acceptance of key recommendations made by a review of the Australian classification system that is likely to have an impact on the Federal Government's mandatory internet filtering proposal.
In the first major movement on the proposal since it was referred to the Australian Law Reform Commission in 2010, Senator Conroy said he was "very comfortable" with the commission's recommendation to replace the 'refused classification' category with a more narrowly defined scope of 'prohibited' content on websites and other media.
It suggested in its final report, released in February, that internet service providers be obliged to block specific categories of content encompassed within the proposed 'prohibited' classification category with a key focus on content that "promotes, incites or instructs in matters of crime" to "serious crime".
The Government is yet to fully respond to the commission's report in light of a simultaneous inquiry into media ownership and content regulation, released this week.
Senator Conroy would not lock down a time to respond to both reviews, one of which must also include collaboration with Home Affairs minister Jason Clare, but said he expected to make progress on the internet filtering proposal "soon".
"It fairly much aligns with - not exactly - but fairly much aligns with the Interpol list, it's not a bad proxy," Conroy said, referring to an Interpol-maintained list of websites containing child abuse material.
Interpol's list is currently used by approximately five internet service providers to block traffic for their users.
Service providers currently opt in to the system unlike the Government's more stringent mandatory filtering proposal, which initially aimed to coerce service providers into establishing filters preventing access to all content deemed to be "refused classification".
Despite the Government's long-held proposal, its committee referrals and Senator Conroy's more recent statements indicate a softening approach to the issue.
It also indicates a softening approach to regulation of content on the internet, after the Convergence Review this week pushed for legislation requiring proof of age identification on some websites to be repealed.
"I've never said what should or shouldn't be in RC," Conroy said this week.
"Where they fall in terms of what's in RC and what shouldn't be in RC, I don't have a particular perspective. It's not something that leads me to lose sleep at night."
Senator Conroy said he was likely to hold discussions with "key stakeholders" before making a final decision.
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