|The origins of the ALP's "Clean Feed" proposal (from Google Desktop cache)
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Plan to shield young from net vice
By Kim Beazley, Federal Labor Leader
Kids will be protected from violent and pornographic material on the internet by Labor’s plan for the filtering of internet services to households, schools and other public internet points.
Date: 23 March 2006
A Beazley Labor Government will give peace of mind to parents concerned about their kids’ exposure to violent and pornographic material on the internet. Under Labor, all Internet Service Providers will be required to offer a filtered clean feed internet service to households, schools and other public internet points accessible by kids.
The clean feed system would prevent users from accessing any content that has been identified as prohibited by the Australian Communications and Media Authority, including sites containing child pornography, acts of extreme violence or cruelty, and X-rated material.
Only Labor understands the concerns of parents who want their kids to access the internet without exposure to pornography and violence. John Howard has had ten long years to address these concerns but instead he just defends a failing system of regulation which doesn’t do enough, by advising parents to “do it themselves” with internet filter software.
The reality is that cost and poor computer literacy mean almost two-thirds of parents don’t have internet filters on their family computers. This is not good enough when research suggests that the exposure of children and others in the community to this sickening content can lead to aggression towards women and child abuse.
Under the current law prohibited content can be removed from the internet if it is based in Australia, but around 85% of prohibited content, like child pornography, is located offshore.
Governments can and should do more to stop extreme Internet content from getting into Australian homes and being accessed by kids. Through an opt-out system, adults who still want to view currently legal content would advise their ISP that they want to opt out of the clean feed, and would then face the same regulations which currently apply.
A good idea ignored
Last year a Government report confirmed that the technology to implement mandatory filtering by ISPs is feasible and won't slow the internet down. Leading telecommunications companies overseas like British Telecom and Telenor are already employing this technology.
Labor recognises the introduction of this filtering will impose costs on Internet Service Providers. We will work with industry to ensure this service is provided at no extra cost to the householder. We will ensure that the costs of providing a clean feed are shared fairly and competition is not adversely affected, particularly for small providers.
This proposal should be part of a multi-pronged attack on illegal content. Last year, Labor called for a subsidy for a family's purchase of internet filtering software – a good idea ignored by the Howard Government.
Labor would also look to put extra resources into the Net Alert program to promote internet safety for kids and parents and strengthen ties with international law enforcement to bring publishers of illegal content to justice.
An out of touch Howard Government’s ignorance of kitchen table issues like these is letting Australian parents down. The Labor Government I lead will give peace of mind to mums and dads when it comes to violent and pornographic images no child should see.
CLEAN FEED POLICY: Q & A
What category of material will be banned under Labor’s plan?
Labor will require ISPs to filter out R, RC and X rated material as part of a clean feed for home internet connections. For adults who wish to opt out of the clean feed system, current Howard Government regulation would apply.
How is that different from current laws?
Currently, it is illegal to host X-rated material on Australian websites. This material can be ‘taken down’ if it is identified by the Australian Communications and Media Authority. However there is no effective protection for families from X-rated content hosted on overseas websites. Labor’s proposal would require ISPs to filter this material out of a clean feed.
Currently, it is also illegal to host R-rated material on Australian websites unless the website is age-protected so that children cannot get access. Again, there is no effective protection for families from R-rated material hosted on overseas websites which is not age protected.
How does this clean feed work?
The Australian Communications and Media Authority currently identifies R, RC and X sites as part of its work. Under Labor’s plan, ACMA would inform ISPs of these sites and ISPs would be required to block access to these sites for people with a clean feed.
How much will this cost?
Labor will work with industry to ensure this service is provided at no extra cost to the householder. We will ensure that the costs of providing a clean feed are shared fairly and competition is not adversely affected, particularly for small providers.
Is this technically feasible?
Yes. The Government got an independent report in 2004 that confirmed that what we are proposing is possible. Internationally, large telecommunications companies like British Telcom and TeleNor in Norway and Sweden are already using the sort of technology that we are talking about. These schemes have been successful.
This type of filtering requires ISPs to check internet access requests against the list of banned websites compiled by the Australian Communications and Media Authority.
Does Labor’s policy for a tax rebate on internet filtering software still apply?
No. That was a good idea the Government didn’t pick up. But our new policy does more to protect kids from exposure to internet porn. If we implement this policy there’s less need for the tax rebate; all families could access the clean feed instead.
Did Labor vote against a similar plan proposed by the Government during the 1990s when Kim Beazley was last Labor leader?
No. This is a different plan to the Online Services Amendment (to the Broadcasting Services Act in 1999) because it is technically feasible and helps small ISPs. This plan is realistic and assists families
NOTE: This is the ALP policy as documented by Labor leader Kim Christian Beazley on 21st. March 2006.
See also Electronic Frontiers Australia
On 21 March 2006, the Federal Labor Opposition announced in a media release that a Labor Government would require all Internet Service Providers (”ISPs”) to implement a mandatory Internet filtering/blocking system.
This proposal was retained as policy by the Rudd Labor government elected on 24th November 2007 (see Media Release by Stephen Conroy 19 November 2007 - Federal Labor To Lead On Cyber-Safety). Further information about the policy is in Labor’s Plan for Cyber-safety released prior to the election. Few concrete details have been announced since the election, but early in January 2008 Minister Conroy confirmed that the policy remained in place. EFA and other concerned groups are currently attempting to obtain additional information. EFA is strongly opposed to this policy, for the reasons outlined below.