Update: Conroy delays Internet filter till next year

Controversial filter plans pushed back until after refused classification review, but Telstra, Optus and Primus customers will get filtered

The Federal Government’s mandatory Internet filtering plans have been pushed back to next year, but several ISPs have volunteered to filter their customer's Internet in accordance with an ACMA-controlled list.

At an event in Melbourne, Communications Minister, Senator Stephen Conroy, announced the controversial ISP-level filter will be put on the backburner until a refused classification (RC) review is finished in a year's time, according to Bernard Keane's Twitter feed. The Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (SCAG) will meet to discuss the RC review on July 22.

The interim plan for large ISPs is for them to put a voluntary blacklist filter in place, according to the feed. The Department of Broadband Communications and Digital Economy (DBCDE) said Telstra, Optus and iPrimus has agreed to voluntarily block child abuse URLs.

It is confirmed the Classification Board will take the reins in website complaints management, not the Australian Communication and Media Authority (ACMA). This is consistent with the recommendations made in the Internet filter public consultation report.

Website owners will be notified by ACMA before their website is blocked. Users attempting to access a blocked site will be presented with a notice by ACMA.

The first three ISPs on board are Telstra, Optus and Primus. According to a Telstra spokesperson, customers will not be able to choose whether or not they are filtered.

“It’s [voluntary] for the industry, the industry will have to do it and it won’t be an individual customer choice,” the spokesperson said.

“If ACMA wants something blocked they will basically instruct or request the industry stop people from accessing that site…the Government through ACMA will determine which sites are inappropriate and at that point those sites will be blocked.

“Obviously we’re talking months at the moment so it’s not going to happen overnight.”

According to Primus General Counsel Legal Officer, John Horan, other ISPs will be joining the filtering program in due course.

“The industry is going o work together to develop the solution…I’ve heard of other ISPs that will be working on this. They haven’t revealed themselves, but I’m sure they will,” he said. “It’s not really seen as filtering when it’s child abuse or child pornography.

“It’s going to require some software and hardware upgrades and it could need significant expenditure…It’s not going to be something that happens overnight.

iiNet is not currently involved in the voluntary filter but has not ruled out signing up.

An iiNet spokesperson said the ISP has yet to make a decision on the issue as it has not been clued in on the finer details of the plans.

“We haven’t seen details of what [the Federal Government is] doing today in terms of practicalities, technicalities and how it actually works,” the spokesperson said.

The move contradicts the Minister's statement made days ago that the filtering legislation would be introduced by November at the latest.

According to the Senator Conroy, the Internet clean-feed will only block RC content which includes overtly violent material, child pornography and content involving bestiality.

More to follow.

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