Child porn filter move hits snag

Child porn filter move hits snag

ARI SHARP

July 13, 2010

Comments 10

HOPES that a voluntary filter of child pornography will become industry standard across all internet service providers have been dealt a blow, with significant mid-sized carrier Internode declaring yesterday that it will not participate.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy late last week announced the government would hold off on its filter proposal until a year-long review of refused classification rules had been completed.

At the same time the government said three internet service providers – Telstra, Optus and Primus, which between them represent about 70 per cent of Australian internet connections – would voluntarily block child abuse content, with the prospect that others might follow.

At first this seemed like a great step forward. If the internet industry voluntarily blocked the worst child abuse from the web (http protocol) then the pressure is off the government to follow through with the highly contentious mandatory internet filter. Even though the content that will be blocked under the voluntary ISP filter is just a fraction of the worst child abuse content, web access to child porn is the most commonly identified ‘problem’ of unfiltered internet. As many critics of the mandatory internet filtering scheme have pointed out – other protocols such as ftp, smtp (email) and message boards are used to share the really bad stuff.
Now internode are on their high horse about how useless this measure is and that there is no transparency or accountability in the filter list and the keepers of the list. What no one is pointing out is that the majority of ISPs are going ahead with the voluntary filter, which has a real feel good factor, but has absolutely none of the accountability and transparency of the very flawed government model. We are handing over control, yet again, to corporate interests, because the debate is getting too damn difficult. Hello, democracy.

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