Australian Christian Lobby renews call for internet filter

The Australian Christian Lobby is seeking to revive the dormant mandatory internet filter issue.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

The lobby group claiming to represent Australia's Christian community has reignited calls for the Australian government to implement a mandatory internet filtering scheme.

Australian Christian Lobby spokesperson Wendy Francis said that the government should review children's access to online pornography.

"Talking to students about what they see online is important, but is too little, too late. It is important to prevent unwanted access to pornography in the first place," Francis said. "We must protect our children from forming unhealthy attitudes towards women and sex."

The government shelved its plans for a mandatory internet filter last year after reaching a compromise with Optus, Telstra, and CyberOne to implement a voluntary internet filter that blocks access to the Interpol blacklist of the "worst of the worst" of child abuse websites.

The government had previously pledged to continue down the path of mandatory internet filtering once a review of the classification system was completed. However, it has been eight months since the review was released, with a recommendation that the definition of the content to 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.

Under such a proposal, the content that the Australian Christian Lobby wants blocked would not be part of the blacklist.

In March, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said that the voluntary filtering scheme was going well, and that he had been in discussions with other internet service providers (ISPs) about implementing the voluntary filter.

"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 said in March.

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

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