Internet industry rejects Labor plan

The Internet industry has rejected a plan announced yesterday by the Labor opposition to block violent and pornographic Web sites.

Opposition Leader Kim Beazley announced the plan under which Internet service providers (ISPs) would be responsible for blocking violent and pornographic material before it reached home computers. The policy includes the banning of international Web sites by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

The policy aims to protect the two-thirds of Australian households where no Internet filters are in place.

Beazley said the current system, which required ISPs to offer all subscribers cheap or free filter software for their own computers, was not working. Internet Industry Association executive director Peter Coroneos said the current system in Australia, which involves three enforceable codes of practice, was world-class.

Coroneos said the current model is far more effective than the Labor plan.

He said the key is in educating parents and teachers about the use of filter systems.

The ACMA is currently auditing the top 25 ISPs, which cover about 95 percent of Internet users in Australia, for compliance with the codes of practice. Any ISPs found in breach of the codes could face fines of up to $27,500 a day.

Communications Minister Helen Coonan said PC-based Internet filters, which ISPs offer to subscribers at a cheap price, are being used by one in three families using the Internet.

Coonan said a recent study by Internet safety body NetAlert found the kind of filtering proposed by Labor could slow connection speeds by up to 78 per cent.

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