Mandatory filtering advocate, Dr Clive Hamilton, has maintained his strong support for a clean feed despite joining the Australian Greens to become its candidate in the seat of Higgins.
Earlier this month the Greens’ technology spokesperson, Senator Scott Ludlam, stated his general opposition to mandatory filtering.
“It’s just a bizarre policy and I don’t understand where it comes from and I think that was a real mistake,” Ludlam said. “We’re going to need to wait and see what the Government actually comes up with, but I can’t see a scenario where we could actually support it.
“The Greens will stay at the forefront of the campaign to throw an accountability spotlight on the Government's proposal," he added in a statement.
A noted academic and campaigner for mandatory filtering, Dr Hamilton acknowledged his published views differed from those of Ludlam.
“We emphasise different aspects of it, he’s particularly concerned about compromising the Internet services and people’s accessibility to it. My concern is more focussed on children’s access to extreme and violent pornography,” he said.
But Dr Hamilton said his views had not changed and he remained a strong conditional supporter of ISP filtering.
“I think there’s a lot of paranoia in this debate comparing us to China, for example. We live in a democratic country. We don’t have that sort of political censorship in other mediums,” he said.
“My position is and has always been that I’d support a mandatory filter if it can be shown to be effective and if it’s done in a transparent way,” Dr Hamilton said. “This is all about children not having access to adult pornography.
“I’m keen to let people know that there’s some very nasty stuff on the Internet, that it’s not just men and women having sex.”
The Greens’ candidate also said that anti-filtering protestors such as GetUp had not done themselves justice by focusing on technical issues with the majority of ISP filtering trial participants confirming little to no slowdown in speed.
“This idea that filtering couldn’t occur because it would crash the Internet was always exaggeration. I don’t think it helped the opponents of filtering at all making those sorts of wild claims,” he said.
“I’m not a tech expert, but I do know that the Internet and people that work on it are tremendously innovative. If that was a significant problem looming then they’d solve it.”
Dr Hamilton called for any blacklist of banned websites to be managed by “a panel of well-qualified representatives of Australians” to prevent Governmental abuse.
“We should, if we can, apply the same kind of censorship regime to the Internet that is currently applied to sexually explicit videos, magazines and other materials,” he said.
While he acknowledged some legitimate websites would probably face accidental blocking by a mandatory blacklist, Dr Hamilton said this was a necessary evil and that the good outweighed the bad.
“Do you have a spam filter on your email account? Do you sometimes have legitimate email sent to your junk email box? Does that annoy you? But does it annoy you enough for you to stop having a spam filter?” he asked.
“It’s a trade off. Obviously if it was a huge problem that might rule it out but if it’s a bit of a problem, well it could be tolerated.”