UK internet filtering plan re-energises Australian censorship crusade

UK internet filtering plan re-energises Australian censorship crusade

Summary: It is not really surprising that internet filtering plans in the UK would bring the pro-filter people back out in Australia.


It was only a matter of time after news came out that UK internet service providers (ISPs) would begin filtering internet services of adult content by default before the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) would again ask for Australia's internet to be filtered.

The political lobby group, which claims to represent the Christians in Australia and says it has approximately 10,000 supporters, has often called for freedom of speech in regards to religious groups being able to speak out against homosexuality. However, it has long backed broad censoring of the internet since 2007, when the Rudd and Gillard governments had planned on introducing a mandatory ISP-level internet filter into Australia.

In 2008, then-ACL managing director Jim Wallace described the filter as "vital" to "protect society's most vulnerable".

"Obviously, the internet industry is going to continue to fight this important initiative, but the interests of children must be placed first," he said.

"Claims the government will impose China-style curbing of free speech are ridiculous, given Australia's robust parliamentary democracy, something China does not have," Wallace said in another release.

The ACL didn't want consumers to be able to make a choice on whether the filter should be on or off, as is the case with the UK scheme. In 2010, on the question of whether a software-based filter would be better, the organisation said that ISP-level filtering would be more effective for protecting the community as a whole.

When then-Communications Minister Stephen Conroy announced that he would dump plans for the broad mandatory filter in favour of requiring ISPs to only block the Interpol "worst-of" list of child abuse sites at the end of 2012, the ACL claimed it fell short of the 2010 election commitment from the Labor party.

So it was fairly unsurprising that after UK Prime Minister David Cameron earlier this week committed to having a "default on" internet filtering scheme in place for all Britons by the end of 2014, the ACL would be only too pleased. The organisation's new managing director Lyle Shelton said that government intervention is needed to prevent children from accessing pornographic material online.

"Parents are looking for clear and trustworthy commitments from the government and genuine action to protect children online," he said.

It's somewhat amusing that the organisation that has warned in the past against Australia following the UK in legalising same-sex marriage is now pushing for us to follow the UK in regards to internet filtering proposals.

The group claims that Cameron failed to protect freedom of religion with the marriage laws in the UK, but, nevertheless, he will now be the ACL poster boy for internet censorship in Australia.

While the ACL is the highest-profile advocate of internet filtering in Australia, it is not the only organisation calling for it. Family Voice Australia's research director Ros Phillips earlier this week also called on the government to bring back its filtering plans.

"Parents can install filters on their home computers, but that's not enough," she said. "They cannot protect their children from pornography on unfiltered mobile phones that other children take delight in passing around. There is instant access to hardcore material, where women are treated as objects to be sexually abused in the most demeaning ways.

"Last year, Communications Minister Senator Conroy broke his election promise of a mandated ISP clean feed service. Can we count on a new Rudd government to take serious action?"

The difficulty with calling for the Australian scheme to return on the back of the UK's moves is that the Australian and UK schemes are very different.

Australia's proposed ISP-level filter was mandatory, while the UK's scheme allows users to opt out if they wish.

In the UK, the technology used to block content and the sites that are blocked are determined by the ISP, while in Australia, the sites to be blocked would have been determined by the Classification Board and would be administered by Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), with the list of sites not being made publicly available.

The UK plan also has the backing of the four largest ISPs; in Australia, our third-largest ISP, iiNet, is vehemently opposed to a mandatory internet filtering scheme.

While the lobby groups will no doubt be looking to make internet filtering a key election issue, given that the Coalition, Labor, and the Greens are now all against a massive mandatory internet filter, their calls will largely fall on deaf ears for now.

Topics: Censorship, Government AU, Government UK, United Kingdom, Australia


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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  • Oh good...

    Another loony political party to put at the bottom of the ballot, should they be insane enough to actually field candidates. Guys, fsck off. Your "what about the children" arguments are facile and ineffective.
  • Moderate UK model not mandatory?

    A system where nothing more is required of me than when I want to buy an adult mag or book at the newsagents, or see an R-rated film at the cinema, or make a bet at the TAB? Can the average Australian live with that?
  • Christians Unite.

    They should be OK in getting their filter accepted once Abbott gets in. Catholics have a proud history of censorship as well as Ditching, or else burning Witches ;-)
  • The ACL control freaks !

    Family Voice & others like them, will never quit!
    Absolute power will corrupt absolutely!

    Why should the majority of the population have to accept the restrictions these nutters & control freaks & their Chinese style censorship are hoping to impose, when there is already many software packages which will allow parents to restrict their children's access to objectionable web sites.

    If they do field candidates in the coming elections, let's hope they are all at the bottom of the ballot paper!
  • Hmmn

    Both porn and religion harm more people than they save.

    I vote we filter out both; I don't want my children growing up protecting paedophiles, inciting irrational messages of hate and insanely believing the world is a few thousand years old. And that's just religion.
  • YAWN!

    Let's remember that the ACL list themselves in the phone book as a "PR Agency", a far more accurate description than how they describe themselves publicly.

    I am so damn sick of these freaks thinking they have some sort of input into politics and any legislation, YOU ARE A RELIGIOUS GROUP, FOCUS ON YOUR OWN PEOPLE AND STOP TRYING TO FORCE YOUR RELIGIOUS BULLSH*T ON OTHER PEOPLE, WE DONT HAVE TO BELIEVE IN YOUR PETTY HYPER-MORALS. Honestly I couldnt care less if somebody literally murdered Jim Wallace, he's a selfish bastard who tries to intimidate the government into implementing totalitarian religiously-driven schemes. Just neck yourself mate, noone apart from the supposed '10,000' members in group want you in this damn country. If you're not gonna at least act like you were born and raised in Australia then get the f**k out.
  • Where does it stop..

    I don't see an issue with blocking things like 'Child Porn' which is a something that i think everyone equally hates.

    My issue with the filter is where does it stop, once the first part is implemented its alot easier to just 'add' on top of that later on. Just like with every law/rule which becomes ridiculously bloated as time goes on.
  • Christians, what a joke...

    I don't believe in god, I don't go to church, but for those that do hey knock yourselves out just don't try shoving it down my throat or you'll get a rude shock.

    So give me one good reason why I need some Christian lobby group telling ME what I can and can't look at online?

    And no I'm not into kiddie porn and would like to see the bastards that do it strung up just like every other decent human being on the planet, but this filter BS isn't going to stop it. If only these half wits could understand that.

    I'd like to say what I really think of this crap, but it will only get deleted so I'll keep it nice and clean for all the christians out there at might be offended by the rude words...
  • blah

    All the proud masturbators that commented to this thread need to wind back their pumped-up fury a notch and re-read the actual facts: a phone call to your ISP in Britian is all it takes to remove the filter.
    • I think you need to re-read the article yourself

      Did you actually read it yourself? No of course not

      Only one person here masturbating from what I can see
      • blah

        Had you read the linked article, you'd realise that you're wrong. Too late now that youve commented and shown everyone what a hypersensitive clown you are.
        • We're talking AUSTRALIAN INTERNET FILTER so WTF would I call some UK ISP?

          I'll enlighten you seeing you don't get it...

          This is what it says right at the top of this page in really big letters

          "UK internet filtering plan re-energises Australian censorship crusade"

          So what has calling some ISP in another country got to do with what the ACL (That means "Australian" Christian Lobby) being able to turn off a mandatory internet filter in Australia?

          Now just to be crystal clear here, I'll say it again.

          Explain exactly how your ISP in the UK is going to influence an Australian ISP to turn off a mandatory filter?

          And the term "mandatory" means no off switch BTW.

          Hmm, your not the queen working under the alias michaellee321 by any chance? I guess she might have a little influence here, but not for much longer so you better be quick if you are.
        • What no come back?

          Well come on Mr Masturbation give us the answer.

          You come in here big noting yourself claiming to have the answers so please enlighten us.
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