Refused classification could prove death knell for Labor filter

Labor party braces itself amid fears filter debates could lose votes in the Federal election

The Classification Board’s review of refused classification (RC) material could signal the death of the Labor party’s proposed mandatory ISP-level internet filter, pending its results next year.

Communications minister, Stephen Conroy, told Triple J radio’s Hack program that the classification board review, announced last month, could see the filter “change substantially”.

“We’ve done the test on speed and now we’re going through a process to see what’s contained in refused classification, and we’re happy to live with the outcome of that,” he said, noting that the Federal Government had no influence on the board’s decision.

Federal Treasurer and Deputy Prime Minister, Wayne Swan, told the Hack program in July that the filter could still “move in slightly different directions”.

"Stephen Conroy... has announced some changes to the filter - he's talking to industry about those now," he said. "We have responded to the legitimate concerns of many of your listeners in this area and Stephen Conroy is going through that process now.”

However, Opposition Treasurer, Joe Hockey, told the same radio program that the Liberal party would block the filter whether or not it won Government on 21 August.

Along with the filter, the Labor party’s proposed cybersafety policy includes improved education of issues around internet safety, as well as greater powers for the Australian Federal Police (AFP) to address relevant issues.

To address concerns that the scope of refused classification could be expanded to other issues under future governments, Conroy announced in July that the Classification Board would review the material, to be administered in a blacklist by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA). Until the review is completed, internet service providers Telstra, Primus and Optus will voluntarily implement filters for the 430 child porn sites already identified, affecting around 70 per cent of Australian internet users.

Though the Labor party has been careful to steer away from the filter as a potential election issue, it remains a key point of criticism for the Labor party and the point of differentiation for alternative cybersafety policies from the Greens and the Liberal party.

([[xref:http://www.computerworld.com.au/article/356072/updated_-_election_2010_policies_far/?pp=2&fp=4&fpid=5|The Internet filter policies of the three major parties compared|Computerworld Australia: Election 2010: The policies so far)

Given both the Liberal party’s and Greens’ opposition to the filter, any legislation presented to Parliament is likely to be blocked from passing. Conroy said the Labor party would simply accept any result from public debate on the issue.

“The Parliament is a robust chamber, as you’d expect, and there are many many different points of view. The debate that will be had will be a good thing and if it loses, it loses. That’s democracy.”

However, Greens senator, Scott Ludlam, told Hack that continued pushes by Labor to introduce legislation that will ultimately fail is a waste of resources.

“We’re still going to have a government department working on a proposal that has no chance of getting through the parliament,” he said. “We’d rather see those resources redeployed towards education research and law enforcement.

“People aren’t asking for changes or minor changes to the refused classification category; they’re saying they want the internet filter dumped.”

Tags ALPjoe hockeyisp-level internet content filteringSenator Stephen Conroyrefused classificationWayne Swan

More about Australian Federal PoliceFederal GovernmentFederal PoliceOptusPrimus AustraliaTelstra Corporation

9 Comments

Akiradoe

1

If banks can remove fraudulent pages in a matter of hours, why can't the Australian Government have the 355 Child Abuse websites which have now grown to 430 removed from the Internet also?

Are they even trying or are these "Child Abuse" sites classified as RC - Child Depiction and are actually adults in the material not children, in which case the material doesn't contain any children and is not "Child Abuse" material (so no wonder overseas web hosts refuse to remove the content, it's not child abuse material and therefore not illegal)...

Or even worse, in the highly unlikely even that it may be genuine Child Abuse material, Conroy/ACMA have not sought to have the sites removed for political reason to strengthen the case for ISP Filtering?

The Minister has some serious explaining to do in this regard but even if Tony Smith (or someone representing him in the Senate) was to do ANYTHING and ask the hard questions of Conroy, history shows Conroy would fail to answer them anyway.

If only Politics was more like the real world, both Tony Smith and Conroy would be out on the street for their poor performances or dishonourable professional conduct and their roles would be filled by people actually suitable for the positions.

Too much to ask for?

Sadly... Yes.

gnome

2


@Akiradoe - Yes and yes!

+10

AFP forever...

3

Akiradoe, are you seriously suggesting that outfits that put up or host RC - Child Depiction content abide by and are governed by the same governance and regulatory standards as banks?

Is that the basis of your logic?

The process of take down notices works well ijn Australia as the govt and AFP have jurisdiction. This is not some fantasy world where some ultra cool goodguy govt secret agent flits over to Pornostan and blows up the web server of some hosting company... (Images of Jason Porne taking out 27 beefy security guards of Child Porn Inc and reprogramming the web servers to show LaLa Movies flit across the screen...)

You question should not be aimed at the govt Akira, it should be aimed squarely at the AFP, as international crime is their jurisdiction.

Or would you have the govt, incl. the previous Lib govt, go around the constitution?

Images emerge of Johhny Howard or Coonan on the phone to the CEO of Filthatron Inc, speaking with Kidzpliz Ramalot, explaining why it would be considered a personal favour if they could just take down those RC images...

So, have you ever addressed those questions to the AFP?

I am sure, between spending $millions and using dozens of agents on taking down Indian doctors who left SIM cards with the family in the UK (Capital offence that one), they could jump on the blower and sweetalk Ramalot into taking down the pics.

The good folks of Pornostan have always been ready, willing and able to adhere to Australian law. Thanks to a total lack of corruption in these countries, they abide by all police requests pronto.

Now, you were about to table the proof that the 430 images named here for voluntary blocking, do indeed contain no child abuse content, right?

Perhaps you can get Jason Porne onto that...?

TK421

4

@AFP Forever...

Are YOU suggesting phishing sites "abide by and are governed by the same governance and regulatory standards as banks?"

Is that the basis of your logic?

I'm sure the rest of your post was massively hillarious and very 'logical' but it was too long I didn't read it. TLDR.

Scion

5

If they have identified 430 "child abuse" sites why not investigate how they got put up, who put them up and who regularly / frequently visits them? If they wanted to protect children and actually help how come they can have a list of "child abuse" web sites and not take assertive action?
The best they can come up with is "oh don't look at them, you might not like what you see (or you might?)" I'd rather the money being wasted on the filter was spent on finding the people responsible for these sites and asking them some pointed questions.
As a nation how can we stand by and simply turn a blind eye to this?
Oh easy. The government isn't actually interested in protecting children but rather controlling and monitoring us.

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6

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Lindsay

7

Oh Akiradoe...

"If banks can remove fraudulent pages in a matter of hours, why can't the Australian Government have the 355 Child Abuse websites which have now grown to 430 removed from the Internet also?"

This question is based on a faulty premise; that phishing sites are taken down as a direct result of action by the banks they target. What you'll find is actually the case with phishing sites is that they exist for only as long as necessary following the release of the emails that send bank users there. They don't need to remain online for eternity.

There's a secondary faulty premise in your assumption that the so-called "child abuse sites" are necessarily static. And there's your laughable assumption that the Australian government can turn off a website in another jurisdiction.

While we're here, I might point out that blocking a list of websites doesn't stop, or even dent, the trade in illegal material. It just forces it on to other internet subsystems that aren't touched by the internet filter.

Daniel

8

Anyone with common sense and knowledge in this area, know it's not about filtering child porn. Why? Because sites change all the time, filters can be bypassed, such unpleasant material can be exchanged through p2p software, and so on and so on...

And, there are better ways through policing etc to stamp down on such material.

This is all about so called 'national security'. The ability for our government to intercept and monitor our communications on the internet. To decide what we can and can't see based on some hidden list that the public aren't allow to know about its contents!

That is what it's all about. That is why other governments around the world have pursued such policy's.

That's why no logical argument you put to Conroy will be accepted. He is determined to have this filter no matter what.

Question is, should we allow our government to do this?

Conroy, stop hiding behind this ludicrous 'child porn' argument and start telling the people what this filter is really about.

Jason

9

How can you POSSIBLY think the Australian government should go overseas to child porn websites hosted in countries like Slovenia and shut them down?

The Australian government can't control what foreign websites do. It can only block them from the country. And that is exactly what they are trying to do.

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