Aussie anti-porn Net filter gets closer

The federal government's plan to provide a free child-safe Internet filter to every Australian family is progressing, with the Commonwealth today calling for industry help with the technical details of the idea. The plan was announced in June by Communications Minister Senator Helen Coonan as part of the government's AU$116.

The federal government's plan to provide a free child-safe Internet filter to every Australian family is progressing, with the Commonwealth today calling for industry help with the technical details of the idea.

The plan was announced in June by Communications Minister Senator Helen Coonan as part of the government's AU$116.6 million Protecting Australian Families Online (PAFO) package.

Coonan's move came in response to increasing debate about whether Internet service providers (ISPs) should filter adult content before it reaches the household or business level in the network.

While that debate still exists, the government's move to push ahead with the filter idea represents Coonan's expressed belief that filters installed on individual PCs are more effective than broad ISP-level filters.

"As part of the implementation of the PAFO package, expert advice is required on the operational requirements for an Internet portal, which will host a number of PC content filters which can be downloaded or provided on a CD to customers of Australian ISPs," the government said in tender documents released this week.

"Expert advice is also required on suitable registration, tracking and payment systems for the provision of PC-based filters and ISP filtered services."

The government said it would use that advice to go to market for a party to establish and operate the portal for three years, commencing in April/May 2007.

The government is separately looking into the development of assessment criteria and testing methodologies to be used in the selection of the actual content filters themselves.

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