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Web porn blocking sparks war of words

The government and its Labor rivals have been indulging in a slanging match over the Coalition's plans to introduce Internet porn blocking software.
Written by Jo Best, Contributor on

The government and its Labor rivals have been indulging in a slanging match over the Coalition's plans to introduce Internet porn blocking software.

Communications Minister Helen Coonan has slammed the Labor party's plans for mandatory ISP-level filtering which would see service providers forced to block pornographic content over Internet connections to households, schools and libraries.

Coonan labelled the policy a duplicate of a scheme already in use in the UK. "Labor's one policy idea is a complete cut and paste of British Telecom's proprietary Internet filter product, 'Cleanfeed'.

But I am not surprised that Kevin Rudd has done little more than dust off Kim Beazley's old Internet safety policy and re-launch it last week," she said in a statement.

The Cleanfeed system, introduced by BT in 2004, works by blocking attempts to access any child pornography Web sites found on the Internet Watch Foundation's blacklist.

Labor communications spokesman Stephen Conroy also accused his government counterpart of rehashing old policies and calling on the government to go further in its filtering plans.

"Labor believes ISP filtering is urgently needed to protect Australian children from accessing harmful or inappropriate online content. Labor considers that the Australian government should do all that it can to protect Australian children online and that the government should go further and mandate ISP level filtering," he said.

Under the government plan, home users and libraries will be able to request filtering software, either at an individual level, where the blocking application is installed on users' PCs, or at an ISP level.

The AU$189 million NetAlert -- Protecting Australian Families Online program will go live from 20 August, with several new measures including the introduction of more AFP Online Children Sex Exploitation Team officers, more funding for the Director of Prosecutions and an AU$22 million online safety campaign.

Coonan also criticised Labor leader Kevin Rudd's Kevin 07 campaign, which kicked off last week.

"As far as families are concerned, Mr Rudd would do better spending less time working on his Kevin07 Internet site and more time working on their Internet concerns," she said.

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