Monday, March 2, 2009

Oz Filtering Fizzes Out?

Recent reports suggest that the Australian Government's plan for ISP based internet filtering may never come to fruition. Independent Senator Nick Xenophon has now stated that he will oppose any legislation that the Government introduces because the filtering proposal may have unintended negative consequences. Originally in favour of the program due to concerns about online gambling, Senator Xenophon now looks set to vote with the Greens against its introduction stating that the money could be better spent elsewhere. The Senator has suggested that there should be a greater effort to educate parents.

A recent survey conducted by Galaxy on behalf of Get Up suggested only 5% of Australians are in favour of the proposed filtering and only 4% think the Government should have control over the information available to users of the internet. In another survey conducted by Netspace 61% of Australians were strongly opposed to the filtering scheme with only 6.3% in favour.

The Australian Communitcation and Media Authority's blacklist is reported to currently contain 1370 sites, of which only 674 relate to depictions of children under 18. An additional 506 sites classified R18+ and X18+ would be blocked under the scheme with the Government looking to expand this to another 10,000 webpages to include sites "depicting drug use, crime, sex, cruelty, violence or 'revolting and abhorrent phenomena' that 'offend against the standards of morality'".

This is certainly encouraging news but as is often the case in the world of politics, nothing is certain until the votes have been cast. In recent weeks Senator Xenophon has used his position as the holder of the balance of power in the Senate to force changes to the Government's financial stimulus package and it is not beyond possibility that another round of legislative bargaining may begin with the filtering proposal. We will just have to wait and see how this unfolds over the coming months - in the meantime the Government is continuing with the filtering trials.

Earlier posts I have written on the filtering scheme can be found here and here and here. If you haven't already done so, please sign the GetUp online petition which is available on the left hand side of my weblog and which currently has 97,824 signatures.

Further Reading
ZeroPaid, Aussie Internet Censorship Plans Scuttled (27 February 2009) <http://www.zeropaid.com/news/10033/Aussie+Internet+Censorship+Plans+Scuttled> at 1 March 2009

ArsTechnica, Key backer's change of heart endangers Aussie 'Net filtering (26 February 2009) <http://arstechnica.com/telecom/news/2009/02/key-backers-change-of-heart-endangers-aussie-net-filtering.ars> at 27 February 2009

Sydney Morning Herald, Web censorship plan heads towards a dead end (26 February 2009) <http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2009/02/26/1235237810486.html> at 27 February 2009

1 comment:

Mona said...

A bit of good news...
Regards/