Thursday, December 02, 2004

Australia rejects Internet filtering?


THE Federal Government had rejected mandatory filtering of the internet to stop child pornography, Parliament was told today.

Communications Minister Helen Coonan said the government had recently reviewed ways of preventing child pornography, including a British-style national internet filtering system but rejected it.

Senator Coonan said the study had found such a filter would cost around $45 million a year initially and $33 million a year in later years.

She said it also had the potential to choke the internet and drive up costs for consumers and small business.

"The biggest issue is not so much the money but such an expensive scheme would not necessarily solve the problem and small to medium ISPs (internet service providers) would be driven out of business for little or no benefit," Senator Coonan said. "What does work is greater information and parental supervision and that is the kind of program that the government is promoting."

This decision rejects a well organised campaign, led by the Australia Institute, pushing for mandatory filtering. It still, however, leaves Australia with one of the most restrictive Internet censorship regimes to be found in a democracy. Electronic Frontiers Australia has comments on the filtering proposals, and an overview of the Australian Internet censorship system.