Updated - Election 2010: The policies so far

Labor, Liberal and Greens reveal their policies on key ICT topics

Internet filtering

Labor

The Labor party has continued to assert that it will implement a mandatory, ISP-level filter designed to block all HTTP traffic that falls afoul of the Classification Board’s definition of Refused Classification (RC) material, including child sexual abuse imagery, bestiality, sexual violence, detailed instruction in crime, violence or drug use and/or material that advocates the doing of a terrorist act. As many as 10,000 websites would be blocked under the scheme by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), with a placeholder page notifying the visitor it has been blocked and who to contact, though it is believed the number of websites blocked is currently under 2500.

Communications minister, Stephen Conroy, has said a person of “high social standing” - such as a retired judge - would review the list on an annual basis.

However, legislation for the filter has yet to pass Parliament and, in the lead-up to the election, Conroy announced a review of Refused Classification content. Three of the ISPs involved in the initial trial - Telstra, Optus and Primus - have already begun voluntarily implementing a filter for only child porn content. The filter as it originally stood has effectively been delayed pending the result of the RC content review.

Though the filter remains the key piece of Labor cybersafety plans, it will also continue to implement other measures including greater expansion of Australian Federal Police (AFP) Child Protection Operations Team to detect and investigate online child sex exploitation, as well as additional cybersafety education programs organised by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (the ACMA).

Liberal

Shadow Treasurer, Joe Hockey, recently announced that the Liberal party would block legislation pertaining to the mandatory filter even if it doesn’t win government on 21 August.

Shadow communications minister, Tony Smith, instead announced a $90 million program which will see $60 million provided over four years to reintroduce PC-based filters such as those provided to families under the Howard Government. The remaining $30 million will spent on expanding the Australian Communication and Media Authority's (ACMA) existing cyber-safety programs.

Greens

The party’s relevant spokesperson, Scott Ludlam, has been a vocal critic of the Labor party’s mandatory filtering proposal, tabling a petition containing more than 19,000 signatures of those against the filter. Concerns largely circulate around the notion that the scope of refused classification material could conceivably expand to cover other topics in the future, should legislation pass Parliament.

The party has said it will work with any major party who wins government in developing and assuring a pertinent policy, but also released an online safety policy of its own, promoting greater research into online risks and an obligation for ISPs to provide software-based internet filters that are easily customisable by parents and users.

Under the Greens cybersafety plan, State and Territory-based cyber crime units will receive additional funding, and the establishment of an online single portal for reporting cyber crimes, available for use between different authorities.

Next: Telecommunications reform

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Tags Federal Election 2010

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