The Australian Government's Internet filter is dead
8th Nov 2012 | 23:17
Plan to deliver mandatory "clean feed" trashed
Back before the 2007 federal election, Kevin Rudd pitched the idea of a mandatory internet filter to protect Australians from the nasties of the internet.
Today, that policy has been officially taken out the back and trashed.
Universally slammed by Internet activists, technology media, rival politicians and ISPs, the filter was championed by Communications Minister Stephen Conroy relentlessly.
The plan was to filter all "refused classification" content from a secret ACMA blacklist. Those that opposed the filter were critical of the lack of transparency about the process, not to mention the questionable nature of "refused classification", especially given the discrepancies between classification standards across different media in Australia.
In August 2010, in the lead up to the federal election, the opposition finally committed to blocking any filtering legislation in parliament, all but ending any chance of Conroy's filter plan from becoming a reality.
But despite the odds, Conroy never let go of the filtering policy, keeping it on the backburner until his decision to trash it today.
Say hello, wave goodbye
The concept of filtering Australian internet hasn't disappeared entirely though. Instead of a broad, "refused classification" filter, the government has decided to force ISPs to block sites on the Interpol "worst of the worst" blacklist.
Already used by Telstra, Optus and CyberOne, the federal government has decided to compel all Australian ISPs to use the Interpol filter with current legislation. Namely section 313 of the Telecommunications Act, which requires carriers to " prevent telecommunications networks and facilities from being used in, or in relation to, the commission of offences against the laws of the Commonwealth or of the States and Territories."
The shift to the international agency's filter does counter many of the argument's around the mandatory filter initially proposed by Conroy, such as lack of definition around what constitutes "refused classification" and recourse for wrongly filtered sites.
While the move won't please everyone, it can certainly be considered a win for the general public.