Coonan backs PC-based porn filters

Communications and IT Minister Senator Helen Coonan has attacked Labor's election policy of forcing Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to filter Internet content, backing instead PC-based filtering technology. Under Labor's new policy, announced today by Opposition Leader Kim Beazley, the nation's communications regulator could ban Web sites containing graphic sexual or violent material rated R or higher.

Communications and IT Minister Senator Helen Coonan has attacked Labor's election policy of forcing Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to filter Internet content, backing instead PC-based filtering technology.

Under Labor's new policy, announced today by Opposition Leader Kim Beazley, the nation's communications regulator could ban Web sites containing graphic sexual or violent material rated R or higher.

      Helen Coonan
Senator Helen Coonan
But while Beazley said in a radio interview this morning that only "about one third" of parents used PC-based filtering software to block offensive content, Senator Coonan said it was still the best technique.

"PC-based filtering remains the most-effective way of protecting children from offensive Internet content, as well as other threats that are not addressed by Labor's ISP-filtering proposals," she said in a statement issued this afternoon.

"PC-based filters are more effective at blocking all manner of offensive content, provide greater control to parents of the content their children are exposed to and do not affect the performance of the Internet for all users," Senator Coonan further claimed.

Senator Coonan claimed Labor itself had previously dismissed server-side filtering as unworkable several years ago.

"Then shadow spokesperson for IT, Senator Kate Lundy said it best when responding to the idea of ISP-level filtering in the Senate on March 19 2003," she said.

Coonan alleged Senator Lundy said on that date: "This ridiculous proposition is made even more absurd when the weaknesses of filtering technology at this level effectively ensure that it would not work anyway."

Senator Coonan recommended concerned Internet users to utilise the resources of NetAlert -- the government's Internet safety organisation.

Despite being only hours old, Labor's policy has already attracted criticism from industry, with Internet Industry Association executive director Peter Coroneos saying the current system in Australia was already recognised as world-class.

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