Internet filter becomes an issue in Australian election campaign

The controversial plan to filter the Internet could be dead in the water after the Liberal-National Coalition, the main opposition group in the Australian parliament, declared it opposed the policy. The current Australian Government announced the filter two years ago as part of its cyber safety program to protect children from pornography and offensive material. With little over a week to go until the elections, the Internet filter has become a controversial issue that is dividing the political parties in Australia.

In their ‘plan for real action to protect Australian Families Online‘, the Liberals contend that an Internet filter would give parents “a false sense of security when it comes to the safety and wellbeing of their children” and that “the best protection parents can give children is guidance about appropriate internet usage and the dangers that can arise from inappropriate usage”. Furthermore, they argue that the filter would be easy to circumvent via via proxy networks and Virtual Private Networks (VPNs).

Internet filtering will, however, not be completely out of the picture when the Liberal-National Coalition wins the upcoming elections. The Liberals do propose a filtering plan of their own: voluntary PC-Based Internet filtering software, which will be provided for free to all Australian families. “PC-based filters are much more dynamic and can assess a wider range of content than a static ISP level filter. They are increasingly easy to use, so that with the right technical support, parents can take control of their family’s Internet use”, say the Liberals in their plan.

In opposing mandatory filter plans, the Liberals join other parties that have long been opposed to this measure. “The Australian Greens have welcomed the Coalition’s announcement that it will not back the ALP’s proposed internet filter, effectively drawing a line under the hugely unpopular plan”, wrote the Green communications spokesman, Senator Scott Ludlam.

About the Author: stefankulk

Stefan is a PhD candidate at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands. He researches the liability of online intermediaries.

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