Mandatory ISP filter still on the agenda: Gillard

The Federal Government’s mandatory internet service provider (ISP) level filter is still on the agenda, according to the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard.

The Federal Government’s mandatory internet service provider (ISP) level filter is still on the agenda, according to the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard.

Gillard said the government had “worked through” with ISPs on a system that would meet its stated policy objectives while not slowing internet speeds.

“We obviously want people to have faster internet speeds because this is the transformative technology of the future and that’s why we’re building the National Broadband Network,” she said.

“But we’ve been working with internet service providers to try and make sure that we’re not slowing speeds. People want fast internet, but we are dealing with content that is really repulsive and illegal content.”

The issue of slower internet speeds was highlighted in the results of Enex TestLab’s test pilot into mandatory ISP-level content filtering.

Gillard said the government was persisting with the filter in order to gain consistency in its classification regime across different media.

“There’s a pretty simple concept here; there are some things that we do not allow to be shown in our cinemas or on our TV screens because they’re grossly offensive and wrong, and we don’t want those things percolating throughout our society through the internet,” she said.

However, it is understood that legislation supporting the filtering project may not hit parliament until mid-2013 in time for the next election.

The timing is due to a postponement of the legislation to allow for a review of the Refused Classification category of content — which the filter is intended to block — was carried out by the Minister for Home Affairs, Brendan O’Connor, for the consideration of federal and state attorneys-general.

The attorneys-general were slated to meet in November 2010 to confirm the review then consider the scope of methodology of the review in March this year, with recommendations to be presented back to the attorneys-general in early 2012.

“It may then take [the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General] a number of meetings before it reaches consensus on any recommendations from the review,” read the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy briefing documents on the timing of the filter.

“This suggests legislation for mandatory filtering may not be able to be introduced into parliament before the middle of 2013.”

The decision to push ahead with the filter also comes despite the Coalition and the Greens confirming plans to block legislation associated with the controversial project when it does finally hit parliament.

Follow Tim Lohman on Twitter: @tlohman

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAu

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