Industry backs 'workable' filter solution


Updated: Government policy change wins wide approval.

The Australian Government’s move to drop the Rudd-era mandatory internet filtering proposal has been met with wide approval from industry groups and political parties.

In its place is legislation compelling internet service providers to filter “child abuse websites” featuring on an INTERPOL block list.

Australian Greens communications spokesperson Scott Ludlam said the move to adopt the INTERPOL block list represented a return to evidence-based policy.

“I congratulate the many people who campaigned hard against proposals to censor a wide array of material on the Government’s ‘Refused Classification’ list,” Senator Ludlam said in a statement.

The Internet Industry Association also welcomed the move, indicating it was consistent with industry commitments to block access to child abuse websites and work with law enforcement agencies under the Telecommunications Act 1997.

“ISPs recognise their role in assisting law enforcement agencies and meeting their obligations under the law," said IIA chief executive Peter Lee in a statement.

"Blocking the INTERPOL ‘worst of’ list is a positive step in preventing Australian internet users from committing the offence of accessing child abuse material.

“It is of the utmost importance in our society that we help keep children safe from abuse at all times.

"The IIA praises the Government and the Australian Federal Police (AFP) for taking positive steps to ensure that community expectations are met and our children are protected.”

Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) was less effusive about the move.

“We welcome the government finally realising that the internet filter was unworkable and an affront to free speech in this country,” said executive officer Jon Lawrence.

“We have some issues with black listing generally, because it is not really effective. Most of the really bad stuff is sitting on the torrents,  [but at least] there is transparency around the list and that is comforting."

News of the Australian Government's move also prompted a positive response from the System Administrator's Guild of Australia (SAGE). The group said it had long held the proposed filtering laws to be "unworkable" and described the new proposal as a "welcome step."

SAGE also suggested a raft of proposals designed to make the internet safer for children. These proposals incuded family-friendly ISP services; improved parent education; and stronger enforcement by police. 

Updated with comments from SAGE

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Industry backs 'workable' filter solution
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