Conroy plans filter 'surprise' announcement

Conroy plans filter 'surprise' announcement

Summary: Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said today that he has been meeting with the internet industry on implementing the voluntary internet filter and is expecting a positive outcome.


Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said today that he has been meeting with the internet industry on implementing the voluntary internet filter and is expecting a positive outcome.

(Credit: Josh Taylor/ZDNet Australia)

After the government shelved its plans for a mandatory internet filter last year, Optus, Telstra and CyberOne all implemented a voluntary internet filter that blocks access to the Interpol blacklist of the "worst of the worst" of child abuse websites. The government had pledged to continue down the path of mandatory internet filtering once a review of the classification system had been completed.

This review was released earlier this month, with a recommendation that the definition of the content that would be blocked under a mandatory filter should be narrowed to exclude sexual fetish-type material and minor criminal activities such as graffiti or use of proscribed drugs.

At a press conference today, Conroy said that the government was still reviewing the report, but added that it was in discussions with industry associations about getting member internet service providers (ISPs) to implement the filter.

"There are a number of companies already introducing the voluntary filter against the Interpol list. We welcome that, we think it's a very, very positive step. I would hope all companies would introduce that voluntarily," he said. "We're in a situation where we're having some discussions with the industry association and I think we may come to a very positive outcome."

Conroy wouldn't say what announcement may come from these discussions.

"I wouldn't want to spoil the surprise," he said.

The voluntary filter has been controversial since its implementation, but not to the degree that the mandatory filter had seen in the past. In the first three-and-a-half months of operation, Telstra facilitated 84,000 redirects from attempts to access sites on the blacklist. The majority of these attempts were made in the first month of the filter's implementation and significantly dropped in the last two months. Telstra couldn't confirm exactly how many people were attempting to access those websites, and the customers who did attempt to access those sites did not have their details passed onto the Australian Federal Police.

While Telstra and Optus have voluntarily implemented the filter, other ISPs such as Internode have refused to follow suit, saying it will only act when the government forces them to.

Topics: Censorship, 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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  • Same old thing, politicians wanting to control the information?
    People need to get mad, this is just another #SOPA with a different hat on.
    • Dead right, Wolfie.

      Perhaps the same people who are such generous political donors in the US are also splashing their cash around here?

      It worked a treat for them over there - until the citizens woke up to what was going on.
  • The only "good" that will come out of this is if he drops it completely.
  • Given that Labor's polling only 2% better than QLD Labor, I don't think they'll be around long enough to implement this.
    • Anyone with half a brain knows it won't work. Its that simple.
  • oh no Clueless Conroy is at it again.

    Hasnt he worked out that we do not want him in charge of a phone book ?
  • "Clueless Conroy" has obviously never herd of VPNs. TOR anyone?
  • Will someone buy Conroy a dictionary and highlight the word 'Voluntary'.

    He keeps claiming the filter is 'voluntary' when it's not. Yes, the ISPs may 'volunteer' to use it but the average ISP Customer is not given that same choice, therefore IT IS NOT VOLUNTARY.

    Scrap the filter, it's ineffective and serves no purpose than to further censorship so that the government may more easily control the populace.
    Scott W-ef9ad
  • I've never tried to access the sites that are blocked but, since Australia is a "prisoner island" I expect that Minister Conroy would be upsetting quite a few people. Any person with half a brain that has children would support this filter and I won't miss what I don't use.
    • Ravsta - I agree with you, I have children and I certainly won't miss what I don't use either.

      The problem is the "foot in the door argument". Once filters are active on our internet feeds, true, it may be child pornography now, but what will it be tomorrow? Once the population is desensitized to the fact that there IS a filter, what is to stop the government to slowly start adding blocks for other things?

      I'll keep my feed clean as long as I want thanks. Nothing beats monitoring the kids internet usage for true security in my opinion. Use a router like mine that can schedule connection times for their computers and block what I (me, not the government) deems appropriate.

      Really just another brick in the "Nanny State" wall as far as I'm concerned.
    • Well Ravsta, most persons 'with half a brain' would realise that since most of today's children are by far more computer literate than their parents, they'll easily bypass the filter at whim.
      Might be a bit harder for the oldies though once the creep sets in & pressure groups convince the Government they should block any number of topics such as birth control, abortion, euthanasia etc.
  • The only surprise will be for Jim and the ACL when they (slowly and dimly as always) realise they have been sold a pretend filter pup due to political expediency.
  • ZERO tolerance for both Conroy AND the filter. Both are completely unacceptable to ANY sane person.
  • Is Conroy serious? I thought this idiot dropped his aspirations for controlling what people see after Telstra and Optus put the Interpol invluntary list up, what a pathetic little man. And he wants to block out 'sexual fetishes' and safe use of drugs? WHAT AN IDIOT! Hes actually having a negative impact on society!! Why hasnt this man been impeached? If he gets his way I seriously hope someone heads round to his address with a brick in a stocking.