Abbott establishes cybersafety panel

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Abbott establishes cybersafety panel

Coalition distances itself from internet filtering proposal.

The federal opposition has formed an online safety working group tasked with developing a policy for protecting children online.

The group will be chaired by former Optus executive and Liberal MP Paul Fletcher, and consult with the public on previous Coalition cybersafety policies.

Opposition leader Tony Abbott expected the group to report on its findings by mid-2012.

The group’s terms of reference (pdf) highlighted the Howard Government’s 2007 NetAlert program, which provided free PC-based filter software to families.

The new working group is tasked with investigating the roles of communications regulator ACMA, the Australian Federal Police, state police services, schools, parents, internet service providers and website operators in promoting cybersafety.

Unveiling the working group on Friday, Abbott criticised the Federal Government’s unpopular proposal to mandate an ISP-level filter that would block access to blacklisted online content.

“This is about protecting cyber-privacy. It’s not about trying to enforce cyber-censorship,” Abbott said.

“The Coalition does not seek to repeat Labor’s ham-fisted attempt to put a filter on the internet or to hinder the dynamic nature of the online environment, but we do want to assist and equip parents and teachers in their work of protecting our children and preparing them for adulthood.”

The working group plans to host roundtables and community forums from late February to April and has invited written submissions until April 20.

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