80% of Aussies support filter

A survey commissioned by the ABC's Hungry Beast, has found that 80 per cent of respondents supported Labor's proposed filter.
Written by Jacquelyn Holt, Contributor

update A survey commissioned by the ABC's Hungry Beast, has found that 80 per cent of respondents supported Labor's proposed filter.

The poll, conducted by McNair Ingenuity Research, chose 1,000 Australian phone numbers to call regarding the Federal Government's proposed mandatory internet filter.

Other findings included 91 per cent disagreeing with the government's current plan to make the list of restricted content (RC) websites secret, with respondents preferring the list be made public.

The season return of Hungry Beast (which airs tonight on the ABC) will also include an interview with Senator Conroy addressing the proposed digital filter. In the interview Conroy acknowledged that filtering, when applied to YouTube, "would slow the internet down".

Conroy told Hungry Beast that the Federal Government was in discussions with Google to outsource the filtering of YouTube.

"What we're saying is that in Australia these are our laws and we'd like you to apply our laws and so that we think that where we can reasonably work with them, we're able to do it. I mean Google at the moment filter enormous amount of material on behalf of the Chinese Government," Conroy told Hungry Beast's Dan Ilic.

Conroy also stated in Senate Estimates yesterday, "Google were very happy to block China's material right up until they found out they had hacked their source code and suddenly discovered that censorship was a bad idea — after they had hacked their source code. But they block in a number of other countries. I understand Thailand is one. There are a number of other countries where Google complies with laws. We are in discussions and they are ongoing."

However, Google has repeatedly opposed the Federal Government's filtering plans in the past.

"At Google we are concerned by the government's plans to introduce a mandatory filtering regime for internet service providers (ISP) in Australia, the first of its kind amongst western democracies. Our primary concern is that the scope of content to be filtered is too wide," Google said on its blog in December.

Google released a statement this week that said while it supported the filtering of abusive materials such as child pornography, "we can't give an assurance that we would voluntarily remove all Refused Classification (RC) content from YouTube".

"The scope of RC is simply too broad and can raise genuine questions about restrictions on access to information. RC includes the grey realms of material instructing in any crime from graffiti to politically controversial crimes such as euthanasia and exposing these topics to public debate is vital for democracy," it said. Google also said it would not do deep packet inspection.

The full findings of the survey will be released on Hungry Beast's website tomorrow.

The government is planning to introduce legislation for mandatory internet filtering sometime before the end of March.

The exact questions asked of the 1,000 people were:

Would you say you are in favour or not in favour of having a mandatory Government Internet filter that would automatically block all access in Australia, to overseas websites containing material that is Refused Classification?

This question followed a definition of 'refused classification' material, as images and information about one or more of the following:

  • child sexual abuse;
  • bestiality;
  • sexual violence;
  • gratuitous, exploitative or offensive sexual fetishes; and
  • detailed instructions on or promotion of crime, violence or use of illegal drugs.

If a mandatory Internet Filter is established, are you in favour or not in favour of the community being advised which websites have been Refused Classification and the reason why they have been refused classification?

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