The vagueness of the Labor government’s planned kid-friendly “clean feed” Internet become a tiny bit less vague last night. The Federal Budget dumped Howard’s NetAlert scheme and replaced it with a $125.8 million Cyber-safety Plan.
Budget Paper No. 2 says there’ll be “a range of initiatives to combat online threats and protect children from inappropriate material on the internet.” There will be ISP-level filtering of “an expanded Australian Communications and Media Authority blacklist” — which presumably means the already-illegal material such as child pornography — plus an “examination of options to allow families to exclude other unwanted content”.
To me, this implies that families will be in control of their Internet filtering, and it’ll be opt-in. As it should be. Presumably this will become clearer once the “options” are “examined”.
The plan includes other measures “such as”:
- an education program for teachers and the community
- a Youth Advisory Group to assist the Government to formulate age-appropriate measures to
- an expanded Consultative Working Group focussed on cyber-safety issues,
- a dedicated website for children
- research projects on cyber-safety issues
ISPs will get a one-off subsidy in 2009-10 to install the filters, with funding in following years only for new providers. The Australian Federal Police and the Director of Public Prosecutions continue to get their funding to combat child sexual exploitation. Again, as they should.