As various anti-filter protester groups prepare to take their message to streets and parks around Australia, Canberra-based Senator Kate Lundy has been whetting her blade for a battle behind Labor's closed doors.
Filter fighter, Kate Lundy
(Credit: Liam Tung/ZDNet.com.au)
Lundy, who had in 1998 opposed internet filtering plans under the then-Liberal Government's Online Services Bill (PDF), will soon make a diplomatic pitch for "opt-out" filtering to powerbrokers within the Federal Labor Party Caucus.
Called the "Mandatory Option", Lundy will propose a mechanism whereby internet subscribers would be required to activate a level of filtering they considered adequate for their household, while leaving the government's Refused Classification-based filter as the default if a choice has not been made within a reasonable time.
Lundy's efforts are likely to be one of the more effective ways of achieving a compromise that may appease civil libertarian concerns over the filter, while allowing the government to proceed with its plan, which is due to be implemented by mid-2011.
Lundy did not back Google and the Safer Internet Group's recent proposal to restrict RC content to child pornography, but said her mandatory option would cover this anyway.
"I have heard the arguments [for] limiting the scope of a mandatory filter to child pornographic material and understand that for many, this change would remediate their concerns about a RC filter, but in effect, the ability to opt out resolves this core complaint anyway," Lundy wrote in her blog.
The Bills that would usher in the filter scheme is due to be tabled within weeks, which gives Lundy only a short time to convince her Labor colleagues so that she can vote in line with her conscience.
As Electronic Frontiers Australia spokesperson, Geordie Guy, who welcomed Lundy's idea, said: "We note her previous comments about being required to vote along the same lines as the Labor caucus."
However, the party and Minister for Communications Stephen Conroy might not support an idea which arguably undermines the "mandatory" nature of the filter.
"If it's opt in," said Guy, "it would be a useless waste of money, not a useless waste that imposed on the civil liberties of Australians."
Lundy was cautiously confident that Conroy would at the very least hear her out; however, he's given no indication to date that he wants to compromise on the matter.
"I hold out hope that the merits of my proposal will be considered by the minister," Lundy told ZDNet.com.au.
As for broader support within the Labor Party, which will dictate her vote in Senate later this month or in March, Lundy sounded more confident.
"A lot of Labor Party members and senators are interested in what I have got to say. And that discussion is rightly held within the party," she said.