Lundy to call for opt-in ISP filter model

Will take new approach to ISP filtering to Labor caucus shortly

Labor Senator, Kate Lundy, has announced she will push the Federal Government to consider adopting an opt-in version of its proposed mandatory ISP-level Internet filter.

In a blog post, Lundy said she was working to change the government's Internet filtering policy to better achieve the policy goals of protecting children through empowering and educating parents.

“I have spoken before about the two key amendments I am advocating, ie: a) protect in legislation the availability of an unfiltered, open Internet service, and b) require all Internet subscribers to make an active choice as to whether they want an unfiltered, RC filtered or additionally filtered Internet service (with the latter being personally customisable at any time),” the post reads.

“Most people have been quite supportive of this approach, but there has been some contention about the second proposed amendment in regards to what the default option should be, should a user not actively select any option. Aka, whether it should be opt-in or opt-out.”

As a result, Lundy said she intended to present both an opt-in and opt-out approach to the Labor caucus along with the merits and the level of community support for each when the legislation is brought forward.

“From what I can see in the many community discussions happening all over the web, an OPT-IN [filter] would attract the endorsement of a wide range of community organizations,” Lundy wrote. “I believe the incorporation of the other amendment – the world’s first legislated protection of an unfiltered, open Internet service – would also be strongly supported.

“I hope that these amendments would address the primary concerns of the community and would act to strengthen the ability to achieve the primary goals of the policy by empowering parents to make the best choice for children in their care.”

While Lundy’s efforts may be welcomed by some, an opt-in/opt-out ISP-level filter, first suggested in the February 2008 Feasibility Study into ISP Level Content Filtering, has previously been described by academics as an unfeasible alternative to the current ACMA blacklist.

Speaking at a discussion forum hosted by the University of Sydney in April, industry experts and study authors, Louise Collins and Associate Professor Bjorn Landfeldt, agreed that the opt-in solution initially suggested during the early days of filter debates would threaten smaller Internet service providers (ISPs) and reduce competition in the market.

"You're asking an ISP to provide special capabilities to enable that," Collins said. "So that means that's going to take system development, network development. That will involve purchasing special equipment. It will involve training, call centre staff. It's not insignificant."

Lundy told an online discussion forum on Gov 2.0 this week that the filter debate was an obstacle to other government ICT initiatives being developed for the wider community.

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