Australia's Coalition Backs Off Porn Filtering

Sep 5, 2013 8:15 AM PST

EAST SYDNEY, Australia — Australia’s Liberal National Coalition has backed off on a porn filtering plan it proposed last week.

A policy document issued at the eleventh hour of the country’s election campaigns outlined a default opt-out plan that would have ISPs apply filters to all home Internet connections and mobile access for people under 18 across all of Australia.

At the time, the Coalition referenced the U.K’s proposed filtering plan as a possible blueprint but didn’t specifically define what it deemed to be adult content.

“The Coalition believes that keeping children safe online is ultimately the responsibility of parents and others charged with the welfare of children – but they need better support from government and industry,” the policy statement said.

According to The Guardian, the Coalition planned to work with major ISPs including Telstra, Optus, Vodafone and their resellers to develop the filters.

But Malcolm Turnbull, the Shadow Communications Minister, did an about-face almost immediately after the policy was announced. He tweeted: “Policy released today wrongly indicated we supported an opt out system of Internet filtering. That is not our policy and never has been.”

He maintained that the Coalition never supported mandatory Internet filtering and in fact “have a long record of opposing it.”

He added: “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.”

Turnbull instead said that the Coalition’s stance is to put the onus on parents to take the responsibility for what their children access on the Internet and for ISPs to provide software that they can install themselves.

However, a follow-up report by ZDNet revealed that despite statements from Liberal MP and the policy’s author, Paul Fletcher, that the original intention was to take out the confusion for parents who are unsure of who or where to get filtering products, audio from a ZDNet interview proves that the Coalition’s original intention was to push an opt-out plan.


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