Consultation raises 'issues', delays filter Bill

Summary:The Federal Government has delayed the introduction of legislation that will make it mandatory for internet service providers to block "refused classification" content hosted on overseas servers.

The Federal Government has delayed the introduction of legislation that will make it mandatory for internet service providers (ISPs) to block "refused classification" content hosted on overseas servers.

Stephen Conroy

Stephen Conroy
(Credit: NBN Tasmania)

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said on 15 December that the Federal Government would go ahead with its plans to block "refused classification" material on the internet after he considered an independent report conducted by Enex TestLab.

The report said that filtering would have negligible impact on the speed of the internet. The minister also released a public consultation paper requesting accountability and transparency measures the government could consider with implementation.

At the time, Conroy said the government expected to "introduce legislation during the Autumn 2010 parliamentary sittings". The Autumn parliamentary sittings finished last week.

Contacted for comment, Conroy's department said public submissions relating to the transparency and accountability measures were stopping the Bill from being introduced.

"The government is ensuring it gets the legislative framework right, including by taking into account the submissions in improvements to transparency and accountability," a spokesperson for the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy told ZDNet.com.au on Friday. "The Bill will not be introduced until these processes are completed".

The spokesperson said the government would not be introducing the Bill until it had "carefully considered the issues raised in the consultation process".

Submissions closed 12 February and the department is yet to publish them on its website.

"The submissions are being collated by the department and will be published on the website shortly," the spokesperson said. "The department is continuing to consult with [internet service providers] on the implementation of the proposed ISP filtering scheme."

The spokesperson could not say how many submissions the department had received.

The Bill required to make it mandatory for internet providers to block "refused classification" material wasn't put into the Federal Government's draft legislation program for the last parliamentary sittings. It could have, however, been introduced at any time the government requested it.

Topics: Censorship, Government : AU

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