Coalition backflips on internet filtering policy

In a massive backflip, the Coalition has claimed it was 'poor wording' in a policy for opt-out internet filtering, despite Liberal MP Paul Fletcher defending it to ZDNet.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

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Less than five hours after releasing the policy (now deleted, but original PDF here), the Coalition is seeking to deny that a policy around opt-out internet filtering is the current Coalition policy, despite Liberal MP and author of the policy Paul Fletcher speaking to ZDNet confirming the policy.

Fletcher confirmed to ZDNet tonight that the reason the Coalition had decided to go down this path was to take out the confusion for parents who are unsure of who or where to get filtering products from.

"What we intend to do is work with the industry to arrive at an arrangement where the default is that there is a filter in the home device, the home network, that is very similar to the filters that are available today. This is very much about protecting children from inappropriate content, particularly pornography," he said.

"The key thing is it is an opt-out, so it will be open to the customer to call up and say, 'look, I don't want this', and indeed, we will work with the industry to make this a streamlined and efficient process," he said.

Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said tonight that opt-out internet filtering is not the policy of the Coalition.

"The Coalition has never supported mandatory internet filtering. Indeed, we have a long record of opposing it," he said.

"The policy which was issued today was poorly worded and incorrectly indicated that the Coalition supported an 'opt-out' system of internet filtering for both mobile and fixed-line services. That is not our policy and never has been.

"The correct position is that the Coalition will encourage mobile phone and internet service providers to make available software, which parents can choose to install on their own devices to protect their children from inappropriate material."

Turnbull said a "correct" version of policy has since been uploaded.

Audio from ZDNet's interview with Paul Fletcher, however, proves that opt-out was the original policy.

Turnbull had also originally defended the policy on Triple J's Hack program.

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