Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, has largely avoided the debate on Internet filtering during a live Web chat, despite several direct questions and comments by participants.
During a discussion dominated by climate change and bullying, the topic of Internet filtering raised strong opinions in the final minutes.
“It’s anti-democratic in my view. The Internet is probably the greatest democratic body to arise in our time! China realises this, that’s why they attempt in rein to censor billions of pages,” participant, jamincanberra, said. “In my view, Internet censorship at that level should probably be made illegal. Definitely not endorsed and funded by the govt… Money should be spent on improving our online security, not on censorship.”
Another contributor, Miscellaneous, expressed disappointment with the chat’s climate change focus as well as the Government’s proposed ISP filtering system.
“Thailand appears to have a similar censoring system with 1200 sites being blocked specifically because they criticised the royal family. Do you have any reasons why the Australian system could not be corrupted in the same way?”
But despite the comments and questions, the PM would only provide a blanket statement on the issue before leaving for a book launch.
“I don't want to ignore the debate on Internet filtering. Look, I know this is really controversial. But we are trying to get the balance right between maximising individual freedom on the one hand, while protecting young people in particular from the real nasties out there. This ain’t easy,” Prime Minister Rudd said.
The Web chat comes days after the minister responsible for the proposed filter, Senator Stephen Conroy, committed the Government to releasing the Enex Testlabs report in full with a public submission period of at least four weeks.
Minister Conroy’s proposal has proven to be highly controversial, and critics have targeted the financial, ethical and scientific merits of both the ISP filter and the trials.
The full official transcript of the Web chat can be found here.