Coalition confirms: Internet filtering by default

The Coalition MP put in charge of policy around child safety online, Paul Fletcher, has confirmed that filtering of adult content from fixed-line internet services and mobile internet will be turned on by default unless a user opts out of it.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

The Australia Coalition's proposed opt-out internet filter will be for everyone, regardless of whether they have children, Liberal MP Paul Fletcher has told ZDNet.

As first reported by ZDNet, buried in a new policy document released today, the Coalition announced that if it wins the federal election on Saturday, it would follow the UK in implementing opt-out internet filtering of all adult content for all Australians.

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 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.

"The default is that you have the system turned on. You have the filter turned on, but anybody who doesn't want it is free to have it off ... irrespective if you're a parent or not."

On whether it would be dangerous for ISPs to have a database full of users who have opted in to access pornographic material, Fletcher said there would be "proper protocols in terms of privacy".

He said that much of the detail is still yet to be worked out on how the filter would work, but would likely be hardware included on an internet connection in each user's home.

Fletcher defended the Coalition's decision to announce the policy just two days out from the election, stating that it was designed to align with the broader release of the Coalition's policy costings.

"No particular science or reason there at all. Simply a factor of the broad approach on which a range of policies get announced and then get released," he said.

"Quite a number of policies were announced today."

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