Lundy prepares last-ditch filter pitch

Lundy prepares last-ditch filter pitch

Summary: As various anti-filter protester groups prepare to take their message to streets and parks around Australia, Canberra-based Senator Kate Lundy is whetting her blade for a battle behind Labor's closed doors.

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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.

Kate lundy

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.

Topics: Censorship, Government, Government AU, IT Employment, Tech Industry

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

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Talkback

7 comments
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  • Opt-out or even opt-in, it is still one step away from mandatory

    Opt-out, only means the Government could have access to a list of people to watch. A list must be kept so that ISPs know who to filter and who not to. It only then takes legislation to centralise that list and we have a porn watch list.

    If the filters are mandatory for ISPs to install and optional for people to opt-out, then all the technical problems remain (you-tube anyone).

    But it still leaves it one legislative stroke of a pen away from a mandatory censorship filter that could and history teaches us that it will, be abused by this or a future government. Its like leaving a kid in the candy store and telling him that he must only choose the carrots from his lunch box.

    Of course a future government will follow Conroy's lead and ban political content under the guise that it discusses things that are not meant to. For example drug self help, self harm (help) etc are already been classified as RC and thus will be on the ban list.

    No for people to accept anything, it has to be optional for ISPs to install and optional for people to ask for it. Let people who want a ISP filter to go to an ISP that offers a filtered feed (eg WebShield)

    One only has to ask WHY doesn;t WebSheild have 1/2 of australians connect if the "silent" majority really want it. WebShield have been doing it for years and have received attention since censorship filtering has been proposed by Senator Conroy.,

    The fact remains that the majority of people do not want ISP filtering and WebShield is a perfect example of that. If it was wanted then WebShield would be one of the larger ISPs with the others installing filtering years ago.

    Wake up Labor and realise that political censorship, which is the only conclusion I can see, smells, looks and feels like a turd.
    anonymous
  • Lundy prepares last-ditch filter pitch

    Read my lips Kate "DON'T BE SUCH A BLOODY HYPOCRITE, YOU OPPOSED IT WHEN IT WAS A LIBERAL INITIATIVE AND I EXPECT YOU TO DO THE SAME NOW!!!!!!!!!! WE WILL NOT ACCEPT ANY FORM OF INTERNET CENSORSHIP, IF PEOPLE WANT IT THEY CAN GO TO AN ISP LIKE WEBSHIELD"
    anonymous
  • Good Cop Bad Cop

    A graduated approach that later becomes mandatory - Fail
    anonymous
  • Censorship

    I don't like being told what I can and can't hear or see. My vote will hinge on one issue only, censorship. Only those totally opposing censorship of any kind will get my vote.
    anonymous
  • Rights and responsibilities

    The godbotherers have every right to be responsible for what they do or do not want to see. They have no right, and should have no responsibility, to dictate what anybody else can do.

    It's one of the mysteries of politics and the factional system that we have to put up with the grub Conboy as comms minister instead of the effective Lundy.
    anonymous
  • A good start on common sense

    The filter should be opt-in, not opt-out. Tech-savvy users will effectively opt-out anyway because ISP level filtering is trivial to bypass. This will be a $43 million white elephant. There are plenty of FREE client side filters already available which actually work. In fact the current government shut down the opt-in filter because hardly anybody was using it! Kate Lundy is one of the few politicians with a clue but is part of a party machine.
    anonymous
  • scared

    Im scared, I dont believe Australia has come to this . How can we let it happen ?.
    What will I tell my children?
    You no longer live in a free country because our politicians dont believe your parents can look after you ,
    I hope and pray that that this mandatory filter is seen for what it is. A control measure put in place by our government , we effectively will be more heavily controlled than the Chinese people . I am so ashamed that this government cannot seem to be stopped in its tryrannical dictatorship.
    anonymous