I've kept out of the internet filter debate in my own name a bit, but I am pleased to see how well it has progressed. Now that Stephen Conroy is clear that the only webpages he wants to block are those that would be "Refused Classification."
This has brought out critics from both sides. Kate Lundy on her blog has suggested a non-mandatory (or opt-in) filter.
More recently Joe Hockey in a speech on liberyy said;
Similarly, we see the current Federal government seeking to introduce laws that will effectively censor the Internet. Of course we all want to stop unlawful material being viewed on the Internet. There are appropriate protections that are in place for that. But I have personal responsibility as a parent. If I want to stop my children from viewing other material that I feel is inappropriate then that is my responsibility to do something about it – not that of the government.
And this was the view of the Howard Government which proposed PC-based internet filters – a policy which I have always strongly supported. But what we have in the government’s Internet filtering proposals is a scheme that is likely to be unworkable in practice. But more perniciously it is a scheme that will create the infrastructure for government censorship on a broader scale. Protecting liberty is about protecting freedoms against both known and future threats. Some may argue that we can surely trust a democratically-elected government in Australia to never try to introduce more wide-spread censorship. I am not so sure!
It is interesting that Hockey falls for one of the Conroy confusions, Refused Classification is not the same as illegal. It seems that Joe, in defence of liberty, thinks that it should be his job as a parent to decide what otherwise refused classification material his kids see.
Both Lundy and Hockey look to me like they need to change party. The only party I can see that has a policy that they'd agree with are the Australian Democrats, who now call for;
the introduction of a simplified classification system that can be applied to all media, including new media forms as they are developed. This consistent classification scheme will enable consumers, in particular parents of young adolescents, to be able to identify what kind of content they can expect to see regardless of whether the media is a magazine, movie, television program, game or website.
The Classification Board will be asked to review and standardise the classification categories so there is no differentiation between media. As part of the review the Australian Democrats will require the removal of the 'refused classification' category, replacing this blanket category with informative categories that allow informed decisions or simply extending the existing R18+ and X18+ categories to
cover all legal material currently refused classification.
The Democrats have long been on the search for a new high profile saviour - the next Don Chipp. Maybe they have two.