Australian opposition vows to implement internet filter by default

Australian opposition vows to implement internet filter by default

Summary: The Coalition will require ISPs and mobile telcos to filter internet services by default unless a user opts out of it.


UPDATE: After this story was published, the Coalition changed its policy on the default opt-out internet filter. Read more here.

A Liberal National government in Australia would adopt the opt-out UK approach to filtering the internet for all Australians.

The policy comes less than 41 hours before polls open for voting in the federal election where the Coalition is currently expected to win. It is also almost a year after the Labor government abandoned its plans for mandatory internet filtering, and three years after the Coalition announced that it would not support a policy for mandatory internet filtering.

The announcement, buried in an AU$10 million online safety policy published online today (PDF) announces that under a Tony Abbott government, Australians would have "adult content" filters installed on their phone services and fixed internet services unless they opt out.

"We will work with mobile phone companies (such as Telstra, Optus, Vodafone, and their resellers) to develop online safety standards for smartphones and other devices with mobile network connectivity such as tablets, applicable to their use by children in two age groups: Children up to the age of 12 years and teenagers," the policy states.

"As has recently been achieved in the UK, we expect these standards will involve mobile phone operators installing adult content filters on phones which will be switched on as the default unless the customer proves he or she is at least 18 years of age.

"The Coalition will work with internet service providers (which provide fixed-line broadband services to the home) to develop online safety standards for those services, recognising that they are very often accessed by children.

"As has recently been achieved in the UK, we expect these standards will involve the major internet service providers providing home network filters for all new home broadband services, which will be switched on as the default unless the customer specifies otherwise."

Pre-empting the expected criticism of the Coalition's backflip on internet filtering, the party has said that the filtering proposal is about empowering parents.

"This is a very different approach to the discredited compulsory filter proposal championed by the Rudd-Gillard government, which was abandoned as unworkable," the policy states.

"The Coalition's approach aims to empower parents — by giving them the choice of whether or not to operate a filter at home, [and] by establishing the default setting as one which provides maximum protection."

The Coalition has not indicated whether it yet has the support of any of the major ISPs, unlike UK Prime Minister David Cameron, who had secured the support of the UK internet providers before making the announcement.

As expected, the Coalition has indicated that it will introduce a Children's E-Safety Commissioner to seek to remove harmful material from social media platforms.

The Coalition also announced that cyberbullying could potentially become a criminal offence.

More to come.

Topics: Security, Government, Government AU


Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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  • Sneaky

    Sneaky coalition. Guess what happens if you google the phrase "coalition mandatory internet filter". Google pops up a message that "Our systems have detected unusual traffic from your computer network. This page checks to see if it's really you sending the requests, and not a robot."
    • thats changes things

      I wasn't going to vote until I heard this, infact I was going to draw a dick on the form out of passive resistance. But now, well I guess my passion for internet freedom will be slightly heard.
  • jeez not this crap again

    Vote Greens
    • yes, because we don't need an economy to pay for our internet infastructure

      sorry, but the greens are not credible as they will trash the economy trying to make Australia's tiny tiny carbon emissions make a difference on the world stage.

      If we stopped all emissions in Australia now.. in 3 months China would have replaced our totals with their growth. So we'll have no filter, but probably no Internet as they'll have spent the money on something stupid.

      Now that I have three children, I'm not against the filter, as long as they don't make it hard to get it off the connections you choose and as long as they never try to use it for copyright enforcement. Having said that, if liberals lose the election now, it will be their own fault.
      • Goodness me

        It'll be ignorance like yours that gets us into the mess we're about to be put in.

        "as long as they never try to use it for copyright enforcement..."

        George Brandis (Abbott's biggot big-business attorney general) came out this morning to announce that the Libs are changing copyright laws online to end pirating in Australia.
        Aaron Darc
        • piracy

          End piracy? Good luck with that.
          Beau Hughes
          • Piracy

            Yeah don't you know? It's right there on the list between Ending World Poverty, Cure for Cancer and Ending Drug abuse, and Global Warming
          • Poverty

            It's well above ending world poverty, they're using the world aid fund to pay for locking us out of information... just like China.
      • Something Stupid

        Australians carbon emissions are up there among the highest in the world... Inform yourself Frankeih before you make public statements.. And spending the money on saving our over populated, under resourced and almost depleted planet doesn't sound that stupid to me, but Liberal voters seems to be a whole new breed of stupidity.

        Cutting world Aid fund and spending money on an internet filter it a clear indication that Liberals have no morals, priorities or brains.
      • The wrong idea

        I don't oppose filtering if it is opt in and not mandatory. I already filter and monitor my children's PC use as a responsible parent. I don't need some faceless Coalition minion telling me what content I can and cannot have access to. There is also the worry that those who choose to opt out of a mandatory filter will be put on a list to be monitored (spied on).

        There are plenty of free and easy to set up options for concerned parents. It should be up to us to monitor our children's internet usage.
  • Told you so. This common phrase wont be limited to just the NBN it seems.

    I said many times we'll be getting filtering and/or data retention regardless of party in power.

    Those who opposed the NBN for political reasons or simply too ignorant not listening instead listing it as a reason why the proper NBN is a bad idea. Will officially apply to the coalition clown version now. Expect the apologists to either line up with special pleading or simply "sulk".
    Hubert Cumberdale
  • Thank you Tony for protecting women and children

    Tony Abbott has come out and done what Conroy was too chicken to do.

    Opt out filtering will provide a level of certainty to parents and users of the internet to make it more difficult to access XXX content.

    In following the UK's lead, an Abbott government will put pressure on our US allies to act to regulate pornography and other harmful material, which has proven to worsen sexual aggression, desensitise against increasingly bruital sexual activity, rob men of their masculinity and harm relationships. Many violent perpetrators of rape use pornography, including the recently suicided Ariel Castro.

    Tony Abbott's strong stance sends a message to Facebook that their complacency will not be tolerated. There is a significant volume of pornography on Facebook and pro-rape propaganda that Facebook refuses to remove. Apparently brutalising women is okay but racism isn't.

    Again, bravo at this 11th hour announcement and I look forward to PM Abbott revealing his implementation timetable.
    • Oh dear,

      You literally have no idea of the topic you are rambling about. There are plenty of free filters available that would work better than ISP filtering.

      Although, to be fair, nobody at all has accused abbot of having the slightest clue about the internet, look at the NBN plan he has, it is literally laughable, delivering in 2019 what the rest of the world has had since 2003.
      Korax Parow
    • I really hope you're joking...

      "...regulate pornography and other harmful material, which has *proven* to worsen sexual aggression, desensitise against increasingly bruital sexual activity..."

      Care to cite your sources? This is nothing but uneducated scaremongering. Here's some REAL data for you: "Virtually all reviews of the research on the potential connections between pornography and sexual violence suggest there is evidence for some limited effects on male consumers but no way to reach definitive conclusions." (

      Also, can you please define for me EXACTLY what the boundaries of "adult content" and "pornography" is? If we can't even agree on a definition, how are we supposed to manage it? And with the TRILLIONS of websites out there, who exactly is going to be funding, monitoring, and reviewing this attrocious process?

      Here's an idea for you - as a parent, why don't you take responsibility for your child's online activities? Maybe put the computer in an open place (like the family lounge) or educate your child about online safety. Or install any of the ALREADY AVAILABLE software filters for the same purpose?

      I really hope you were joking, but sadly there are many ill-informed and irresponsible parents like you out there already.
      beau parisi
      • filters...why?

        Thank you for recommending parents take responsibility fir their kids and the computer(s). That worked for us and now both are responsible internet users. As for pressuring "our US Allies" to do something about their pornography, you'd have an easier time getting world peace or ending hunger. It makes a whole lot of money for the bums that run these sites and that means it is protected under the "capitalism is great" rule. If it didn't make money, then something might be done about it.
    • You've gotta be bloody joking

      As a woman, I do not need 'protection' from the big bad internet. I do not need protection from pornography. I need protection from the same things as men, and only the same things as men (violent crime for instance, I would like protection from that but I assume you would too).

      It is appalling that the government seeks to restrict access to 'adult material' which is entirely legal. If you want to protect your children, put up a filter. If you are incapable of putting up a filter then 90% of children over 10 yrs can use the internet better than you and they will look at whatever they like (govt filter or not).

      However, if you are particularly fond of government censorship in order to 'protect the poor, inept women and children', I believe that China has a lovely internet filter.
    • Just a question

      Any comment on labours spectacular back flip that just happened? Has this changed your feelings about Abbot and his (this is too good) 11th hour amendment :D
      Korax Parow
    • US Regulate? Not bloody likely ...

      "In following the UK's lead, an Abbott government will put pressure on our US allies to act to regulate pornography and other harmful material, ..."

      The First Amendment to the US Constitution makes regulation very difficult -- luckily. Child porn is illegal because the "actors"/"models" can not legally consent to their participation. Everyone else has free will as to their participation ... either as producers or consumes of the material.

      If you don't want to see it, don't look it. Don't want children to see it? Install a filter.
    • Sorry but you are wrong and the coalition does not agree with your views

      Sorry to burst your bubble Mr. White Knight of Justice but this isn't what the the coalition is proposing if you'll take a look at this you will notice that the way this article is worded is in fact wrong So sorry we wont be having some crappy filter for people too ignorant to realize what it really means for all of us cheers.