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Tuesday, 3 February 2009
Page: 190

Senator Ludlam asked the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, upon notice, on 20 November 2008:

(1)   On what basis does the Government claim that Internet service provider (ISP)-based filtering is more effective than personal computer-based solutions.

(2)   What is the Government’s justification for making the dynamic content analysis filtering component of the regime opt-out rather than opt-in.

(3)   Why is it necessary to compel all Australian ISPs to supply a filtered Internet service when there are already some ISPs offering such a service in the market.

(4)   If the demand within the Australian public for filtered Internet connections from their ISP exists as claimed by the Government, why has this not manifested itself in the market to date.

(5)   What evidence does the Government have to support the claimed public demand for filtered Internet connections.

(6)   Can details be provided of organisations that have assisted the department through providing advice, information and examples that have contributed directly to the Government’s proposed filtering plan.

Senator Conroy (Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy) —The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:

(1)   The Howard Government’s personal computer based filtering scheme was a failure. Despite a $15 million advertising campaign less than 2% of households with children took up the filters. In addition 16 year old Tom Wood circumvented the government provided PC filter in less than 30 minutes. The process of installing and maintaining this software can be difficult for some people. ISP filtering of a blacklist does not require users to undertake this task.

(2)   The Government has no such policy.

(3)   The Government has an election commitment to implement ISP filtering. Australian society has accepted that there is some material which is not appropriate, particularly for children, to view. The Australian Parliament has passed laws to this effect. The live pilot trial will examine the technical feasibility of this.

(4)   The Government is not convinced that market forces alone will deliver appropriate outcomes in this regard.

(5)   The Government has made Election commitments in the area of cyber-safety which include introducing ISP filtering.

(6)   The Government’s policy in respect of filtering was part of the ALP’s election platform developed in the lead up to the 2007 election. The details of this policy will be developed following the live Pilot and further consultations with stakeholders.