Internet industry comes out against wholesale filtering

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Internet industry comes out against wholesale filtering

Joins debate over British government plan.

The Australian Internet Industry Association (IIA) has commented on British Prime Minister David Cameron's proposal to block access to internet pornography by default, saying it "poses some interesting questions".

Dubbed "the Great Firewall of Cameron" by critics who have said it won't work or help, the scheme would see UK providers filter out all internet pornography in Britain, unless users specifically opted in to have access to it.

The IIA said that while it supported the morality in taking positive steps to protect children from exposure to pornographic material, any filtering system needed to be carefully considered so that it achieved its intended outcomes.

"A balanced and well considered approached is required when it comes to allowing people to have the freedom to openly choose what they do online, where it is legal to do so, over some form of internet governance, censorship or filtering being imposed by government," said Peter Lee, Chief Executive of the IIA.

Optional filtering with a free choice by consumers is preferrable to default blocking by the government, Lee said.

The association argues parents play an important part when it comes to educating and speaking to the children about what they do online - even if children did know more about the internet and technology than their parents.

Australia had far-advanced plans to introduce mandatory internet filtering at the provider and telco level, as championed by former communications minister Stephen Conroy.

Last year however, Conroy said there was no need for mandatory filtering as the Australian Federal Police would work with ISPs to ensure the latter blocked sites based on an INTERPOL list instead.

However other sites are blocked in Australia on secretive grounds, as goverment agencies use their extensive powers under section 313 of the Telecommunications Act

New Zealand operates a voluntary anti-child abuse filtering scheme, which the majority of the country's internet sevice providers have joined.

In May this year, the NZ filter was thought to have blocked several Google web properties as users there reported slowdowns and being unable to access many of the internet giant's sites. iTnews spoke to the NZDepartment of Internal Affairs at the time, and a spokesman denied that Google had been filtered and blocked.

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