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Further delays in protecting children from Internet pornography.

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Further delays in protecting children from Internet pornography

Senator Brian Harradine today expressed concern that the Government was not treating the protection of children from Internet pornography as an urgent issue.

The Government released the long-awaited Review of the Operation of Schedule 5 to the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 this afternoon. The Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, first released an issues paper for this review in September 2002.

“The report will do nothing to improve protection of children from Internet pornography in the near future”, Senator Harradine said.

“Despite the very lengthy process of producing this report, it offers little in the way of practical solutions and recommends yet further research and investigations be undertaken.

“The protection of children from the dangers of Internet pornography is an urgent issue. It demands decisive action, but the Government is avoiding making the hard decisions.

“The report makes the very important finding that:

requiring ISPs to offer filtering services on an ‘opt-out’ basis could also strengthen community safeguards.

“But it quickly backs off from this comment, saying that:

… any increased costs for the ISPs would inevitably be passed on to consumers. These costs may be greater for customers of smaller ISPs, which do not have a large subscriber base over which to distribute costs. Further investigation is needed …

“To address this problem, the Government could provide funds to assist the ISP industry to restructure, covering the set-up and recurring costs for a requirement to offer Internet filters on an opt-out basis. A consultant’s report, prepared by Ovum, and attached to the report has estimated that set-up costs for ISPs would be $45 million with recurring annual costs of $33 million - a very small amount to improve the protection of children.”

13 May 2004

Senator Brian Harradine, Tel. 02 6277 3735