Net filter legislation status uncertain

Draft legislation may still be put to Parliament, but opponents are already celebrating

The Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, is yet to confirm whether the legislation for the contentious Internet filter will be tabled at the next Parliament sittings in May or June or after a Federal election.

Reports of a possible delay in bringing the legislation to Parliament arose this week after reports in several publications suggested a draft had not yet been completed. However, a spokesperson for Conroy could not give a definite date for the legislation.

The spokesperson told Computerworld Australia that consultations with ISPs on implementing the Internet filter were continuing, and the Department was continuing to consider submissions delivered by various parties as to whether "the ideas can be used to enhance the proposed accountability and transparency measures" of the filter.

"Once these processes are complete the legislation will be introduced into Parliament," the spokesperson said.

Those who oppose the bill have already begun celebrating the delay.

Greens Senator Scott Ludlam applauded the delay of the legislation in a statement, saying the Federal Government should simple "hit delete" abandon plans for the filter.

"I am delighted to hear that the Prime Minister has put Senator Stephen Conroy's unworkable plan on the backburner, but they need to go a step further and just hit delete," Ludlam said. "Merely putting it off because it's massively unpopular is a cynical pre-election clearing of the decks. The Government needs to clearly indicate that it's going to scrap the idea completely and work on a new policy in collaboration with all stakeholders.

"Opposition against the internet filter is widespread because it will do precisely nothing to curb the distribution of illegal material online, while establishing the architecture for greater government censorship in the future."

Opposite Communications minister Tony Smith was not available for comment at time of writing.

A discussion forum held between academics and industry experts at the University of Sydney recently highlighted that the blacklist upon which the Internet filter is based is untenable and already out of date.

Several organisations have begun hosting information sessions on how to bypass the filter which, under current legislation would be legal.

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