The ALP’s grand vision of a “clean feed” Internet safe for Aussie kids is meant to filter out — what, exactly? Labor’s pre-election policy [PDF file] seemed to give the proposed ISP-level filters wide scope indeed, blocking content “inappropriate” or “harmful” for children — however that’s defined. But evidence given to Senate estimates last night suggests it’s little more than what’s already in place.
As I’ve written in Crikey before [1, 2] debate is clouded because sometimes people talk about Internet filtering in terms of child pornography and other very-illegal “prohibited content”, and other times it’s about material as wide-ranging as websites promoting anorexia as a lifestyle choice.
Communications minister Stephen Conroy hasn’t helped by labelling free speech advocates watchers of kiddie porn.
Last night Senator Conroy confirmed that the trial of ISP-level filtering is on schedule. The contract has been issued; the report’s due back on 30 June. But what’s actually being filtered, beyond ACMA’s existing blacklist of about 800 URLs of “prohibited content”? No-one knows. A Ms O’Loughlin from ACMA told us they “haven’t completed discussions” with the Minister’s office about that.