The anti-filter and pro-filter camps have put in their two cents on the Federal Government’s decision to delay the mandatory Internet clean-feed.
A refused classification (RC) review has been ordered and will take one year to complete, delaying the filter plan in the process. In the meantime large ISPs Telstra, Optus and iPrimus have struck a deal with the Government to implement a voluntary ‘child abuse’ URL block filter.
RC currently encompasses material such as instructions for self-harm, sex involving violence and content promoting terrorism.
ThePirate Party president, David Crafti, responded to the filter delay plan with scepticism. His group is opposed to Internet filtering.
“It looks like they are backing away from the filter but, for all we know, when the filter is re-introduced in a year’s time, the scope of RC can actually be broader,” he said. “[The announcement] is definitely a smokescreen because we don’t know whether the filter will become broader or narrower.”
The move is politically motivated as newly knighted Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, attempts to ramp up her popularity ahead of this year’s Federal election, Crafti said.
Meanwhile, the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) – a staunch supporter of the filter – has extolled the announcement claiming it will strengthen the case for ISP filtering.
“We’re not at all concerned by the Government having to review RC,” ACL chief of staff, Lyle Shelton, said. “We support the Government’s efforts to make the Internet a safer place for kids by mandatory filtering.
“Any review of RC will not lead to any delineation of sorts of material Australian’s thinks should be banned. It is going to shine a light on just how abhorrent this is and hopefully reinforce the need for a filter.”
He took the opportunity to take a swipe against anti-filter groups such as the Pirate Party and GetUp!.
“I think this announcement highlights the lies and alarmism we’ve seen in this debate over the last few years and we’re seeing this as a very achievable proposition in public policy,” Shelton said.
The ACL is calling for a bipartisan approach to the filter policy and wants the Coalition to support the plan.
With Telstra, Optus and iPrimus on-board for the voluntary filter, that is 70 per cent of the Australia’s broadband users covered.
Shelton praised the involvement of the three large ISPs as showing great corporate responsibility.
Crafti was more cynical when it came to commenting on the ISPs.
“Groups like the Pirate Party and interested in the civil aspects of the filter,” he said. “While ISPs might have an interest in that as well – being made up of citizens of the country – they also have political interest and I think this agreement might just be a plan for them to avoid regulation and therefore lower their cost base.”
The Pirate Party has applied to become a formal political party.