Australian Government Moves Forward with Cyber-Safety Plan

Australia's government is moving forward with a mandatory Internet filtering scheme, which could easily block legal content.

Australian organization Family First feels government intrusion is essential to foil the online porn "epidemic," and is proposing the addition of drug content and hardcore sex to the list of "illegal" content. They claim parental monitoring is not working and children are continuing to locate potentially damaging material online, Ars Technica reported.

Despite being a relatively small group, Family First maintains significant regional support and has federal legislator from Parliament Steve Fielding on board, who openly opposes an unfiltered Internet.

Family First stated in an official party plank that, "We will work to achieve government commitment to establish a mandatory filtering scheme at the ISP server level in this country."

When asked by the Sydney Morning Herald what he envisions for the mandatory feed, Fielding said, "Family First would consider a mandatory ISP-based filtering system that protects children by blocking illegal content like child pornography, but allows adults to opt out of filtering to access material classified R 18+ or less." 

The statement specifies R 18+ material, including X 18+ and "refused classification," would be included in the mandatory blacklist and would be inaccessible through Australian ISPs. Currently, said material is legal for Australian adults to view on and offline.

The government supports the claim and is endeavoring to concoct a two-tiered scheme. Tier One would offer optional "clean feed" filters for pornographic and illicit material, while Tier Two would be mandatory and filter "illegal content."

However, the government has been tight-lipped as to what that illegal content would consist of specifically.

Despite worldwide studies and reports that show Internet filtering can be costly and ineffective, and despite public outcry against the plan from Australian citizens, the government has budgeted more than $189 million to fund and promote the Cyber-Safety Plan.