Skip to Content

Continuing opposition to Government's filtering plans

10 December, 2008
By Allison Orr

The Australian Government’s plans for a live trial of ISP-level filtering have foundered today with the news that the country’s largest ISPs will not take part in the trial.  According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Telstra and Internode have said they would not participate in the trials and iiNet has said it will only participate to prove that the filtering plans will not work.

The Government’s plan, due to cost around $126 million, has a two-tiered structure; the first is mandatory ISP-level blocking of material deemed illegal according to an ACMA blacklist, which currently includes 1,300 sites but will be expanded to include up to 10,000 sites.  The second tier is optional and attempts to filter out material that is inappropriate for children.

This plan has raised criticism since it was announced, and opponents include the Opposition, the Greens, most in the Internet industry and online rights groups.  Many fear that the ACMA blacklist will be expanded to include content that is not illegal but is merely offensive or contrary to government policies.  Even some child welfare groups have voiced concern with the plan, with Holly Doel-Mackaway from Save the Children saying the plans is "fundamentally flawed" since educating parents and children was the best way to empowering young people to be safe Internet users.

Many countries, such as Britain, Sweden, Canada and New Zealand, have implemented filtering schemes, but they are voluntary and not government-mandated, and are focused mainly on blocking child pornography.  The only countries that have mandatory filtering are countries like China, Iran and Saudi Arabia.

The Electronic Freedom Project is planning nationwide protests on Saturday 13 December.  GetUp's "Save the Net" campaign has collected more than 55,000 signatures for their petition against the filtering scheme.

More Articles