Australia's nutter MP, Fred Nile, is red-faced after Parliament's IT audit suggests he checked porn sites – clicking them up to
The Daily Telegraph has the scoop, but Nile today claims his staff were using his log-in to conduct research purposes. Particularly researching the Sex Party according to his staff.
The Christian Democrat adds that a huge 200,000 hit-count on the suspect' NSFW sites is surely impossible.
Nile is holding on, though another NSW politician's career is over after he was similarly discovered having accessed porn at work. Ports Minister Paul McLeay resigned following his net history revelation.
In a teary media conference, McLeay said he had apologised to the Premier. The audit, by the Department of Parliamentary Services, is understood to have found more than 60,000 suspect hits on McLeay's log-on. I am quite embarrassed to be standing here
before you. This behaviour is not the standard expected of Government ministers, he said.
A firewall was installed in July for Legislative Assembly MPs so they could not view pornography, but Legislative Council President Amanda Fazio elected not to install a firewall for the Upper House. Before news of McLeay's resignation broke, Ms Fazio
yesterday said she was refusing to implement a similar ban in the Upper House saying she was against internet censorship . She said MPs should be able to research pornography.
Nile's comeuppance follows a long line of attacks against LGBT communities from from the early 80s right up to this week. Wading unhelpfully into the NSW debate on same-sex couples adopting children, he bizarrely claimed at a rally on Tuesday that
some women would abort their children rather than risk them being raised by gay couples.
The Bible-thumper's hatred towards homosexuality is well-documented through his long political career. He used to frequently state that being gay was an "immoral and unnatural lifestyle choice" and described Mardi Gras as a "public
parade of immorality and blasphemy." He has labels his Green Party rivals as "anti-family."
Update: Crap filter definitions make for false accusations
An audit of politicians' internet use that claimed the scalp of a state minister ranked the newspaper site news.com.au as the most visited adult website .
The audit supposedly showed whether NSW MPs had been visiting adult links such as gambling and pornography sites. However Legislative Council president Amanda Fazio yesterday revealed the audit had incorrectly classified news sites as adult because they
contained links to or advertisements for adult dating sites.
Both news.com.au and smh.com.au (Sydney Morning Herald) were classified as adult sites in the audit.
The definition of what has been classed as an adult site is something we're reviewing, she said: What surprised us... the biggest (site) of what is classed as an adult site being hit by the parliament is the news.com.au site. Because there are
adult matchmaking links or ads on their site, every time someone accesses news.com.au and they go from one article to another, that's counted as an individual hit on an adult site.
The bungle is one of the most embarrassing examples to date of the problems that can occur when governments and organisations try to regulate internet use.
The revelation could also absolve some MPs tangled in the web porn scandal at NSW parliamentary offices that erupted this week.
Opposition Leader Barry O'Farrell said every politician had been tainted by the scandal and asked for the matter to be settled quickly.
Update: Democratically elected representatives have to ask permission to access more adult areas of the internet such as news websites
Politicians at New South Wales Parliament House will now be able to access porn sites (including mainstream news sites
with links to porn sites) with prior permission and only if it's for research .
Upper House President Amanda Fazio has reviewed the policies over Internet use. The new guidelines will allow staffers to seek an exemption to view adult sites if they need to research, reports the Daily Telegraph.
Fazio said a memo will be issued to MPs this week of the new arrangements, with the permission slip already available on the parliament intranet.
The parliamentary staff member who commissioned an unauthorised audit of internet use which forced the sudden resignation of a minister last week
has herself resigned.
Lisa Vineburg, a human resources executive in the NSW Department of Parliamentary (Dis)Services, left her position after it emerged she had asked the IT department to trawl through the computers of all ministers and MPs, their staffers and all
The raw data, which suggested about five people had recorded an usually high level of activity or hits from adult or gaming websites, was subsequently leaked to the media.
Ms Vineburg took it upon herself to audit everyone in the building , a senior parliamentary source said.
Update: Government inquiry finds crap internet filter definitions
A state government investigation into Internet use among Australian politicians has been revealed as an embarrassing
bungle after mainstream news websites were classified as adult sites.
The audit, conducted by the Australian state government of New South Wales, labeled Fred Nile, president of Australia's right-wing Christian Democratic Party, as one of the most prolific visitors to adult websites in the Aussie parliament.
Paul McLeay, the minister for the state's ports and waterways, resigned after admitting he looked at adult and gambling websites on his parliamentary computer.
However, further investigation revealed that McLeay -- guilt aside -- possibly resigned prematurely, while Nile probably was using the Internet for research purposes.
Analysis of the audit left investigators red-faced when it was discovered that mainstream news websites had been classified as adult because of advertisements or links to matchmaking and dating sites.
The definition of what has been classed as an adult site is something we're reviewing, said Amanda Fazio, president of the New South Wales state Legislative Counci.
Critics of the hotly debated Australian proposal believe the latest episode demonstrates exactly why Web censorship is unworkable. The [Australian government] audit shows how a system that automatically classifies Web pages is going to be flawed, Colin Jacobs, of the Internet civil liberties lobby group Electronic Frontiers Australia, told AOL News.
The Australian Sex Party have outlined their key polices re state media censorship:
* To establish a national classification scheme that includes uniform ratings for explicit adult material across all jurisdictions and through all media (including computer games, magazines and films)
*To legalise the sale of and making of X rated films nationally
* To move away from privileging narrow moulds of sexual taste, acts and cultures to expressly include depictions of fetish (currently excluded from Australia's X rating) in a new rating category called Non Violent Erotica
* To actively promote the responsible enjoyment of erotica, endorsing positive messages about consensual and safe sexual activity, and condemning non-consensual sexual activity and sexual violence
*To develop a best practice model with recommendations for the ethical production of pornography that is rewarding and positive for the contributor
*To provide training for all appointees of the Classification Board and Classification Review Board in the latest developments around sexuality to bring them up to date with a pluralistic range of adult sexualities, subcultures,
behaviours and body types
* To introduce R, X and NVE ratings for computer games
Australia's TV censor, The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), has found that ABC TV breached the rules by incorrectly classifying Australian film The Proposition as M, despite it containing frequent and realistic scenes of
Correct classification of films on television meaningfully guides the audience in deciding what is appropriate for them and their families, said ACMA Chairman, Chris Chapman. In this instance, the ABC did not go far enough to modify The
Proposition from its cinematic release—classified MA 15+—so as to be suitable for classification and broadcast as M.
M is an advisory certificate recommending a 'mature' audience. MA15+ is mandatory age 15 rating.
The ACMA investigation found that The Proposition , as broadcast by the ABC, contained frequent, realistic treatments of detailed violence. The broadcast also included a high impact and prolonged scene of violence at the film's climax that was
unsuitable for an M audience.
The ABC has indicated it will ensure any future broadcasts of the film will be televised with an MA15+ classification. It will also provide a copy of the final investigation report to its classification staff as part of training sessions.
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has been rejigging her government.
As expected, Senator Conroy retains the Broadband, Communications and Digital Economy portfolio in the Gillard Government's new Ministry, and has been given an additional role as Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Digital Productivity.
The Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy, is ploughing ahead with his internet filter policy despite there being virtually no chance any enabling legislation will pass either house of Parliament.
Independent MP Rob Oakeshott, the Opposition and the Greens have all come out against the policy, leaving it effectively dead in the water. The Greens communications spokesman, Scott Ludlam, has called on the government to end the facade and drop the
internet censorship scheme once and for all, as it was wasting time and taxpayers' money.
University of Sydney Associate Professor Bjorn Landfeldt said, given the catastrophic election result after only one term in government, it was remarkable the government was pushing the very issues that undermined their credibility, rather than
focusing their energy on important societal issues . One may wonder exactly what underlies this relentless pursuit of a mirage, given that there is just about zero support outside the cabinet . Surely it is no longer a matter of believing
that the policy would benefit the general public.
Senator Ludlam said in a phone interview that he wanted the review of RC guidelines to still go ahead but the government should drop the internet filtering policy altogether.
It [the RC review] was quite transparently a political stalling tactic but that didn't make it a bad idea, he said: [The filter] is just a complete waste of chamber time. It's a waste of public servants' time who for the next 10 months are
going to be progressing a mandatory filter proposal that has no chance of passing either house of parliament now.
Australia's sex industry lobby has condemned proposed new laws which will give New South Wales police powers to classify adult films.
The new laws introduced to NSW parliament on Wednesday lower evidence requirements for police pursuing prosecutions against persons suspected of illegally selling adult films.
Under current laws, police are required submit films to the film censors to verify their rating. However, under the proposed new laws, police would be able to side-step the requirement by offering film vendors facing pornography charges agreements that
the films would be found to be classed illegal to sell if submitted to the classification board.
Those who demand that films be submitted to the board for formal classification will be forced to foot the bill if they're found guilty of pornography offences.
The sex industry lobby says it's an attempt to coerce adult video sellers to plead guilty to illegal pornography charges without evidence.
The laws would see large numbers of adult film vendors jailed and encourage police corruption, Australian Sex Party President Fiona Patten said: Most police officers do not understand the differences between R18+, X18+ and Refused Classification (RC)
material. This is a truly frightening move toward a police state in NSW. If the shop owners say they are not happy with the police evaluation of their films then under the new laws they will have to pay for the classification fee themselves. But this is
what is already happening so the Attorney General is being extremely disingenuous in his reasons for this .
NSW Parliamentary Secretary Barry Collier introduced the bill, the Classification (Films, Publications and Computer Games) Enforcement Amendment Bill 2010, for in-principle agreement on Wednesday. He said that it would address rising costs for police
enforcing NSW classification laws.
The bill also introduces measures that will allow the Director of the Classification Board to pull material for sale in NSW once it has been flagged by another state and territory.
Labor's bollox internet filter plan faces near-death despite the ascension of Julia Gillard as Australia's 28th prime minister.
Ms Gillard won the backing of independent MPs turned powerbrokers Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott despite Bob Katter supporting the Coalition and Tony Abbott.
The Coalition vowed to dismantle the plan regardless of last month's election outcome. And with the Greens set to hold the balance of power in the Senate from next July, it is almost certain Labor's filtering aspirations are as good as dead.
The illegal screening of a banned zombie porn film went ahead last night after police failed to arrive at the viewing.
LA Zombie played to a crowd of about 200 people at 1000 £ Bend - a cafe-bar in the city - as part of the Melbourne Underground Film Festival.
The audience cheered as some of the more shocking scenes, including a zombie sexually penetrating a dying man's open chest wound, played out on the big screen.
The ban made screening the movie illegal but festival director Richard Wolstencroft said he was defying the ban to support freedom of speech: When MIFF dropped the ball [by not showing it] we felt we had to do something . This is about
freedom of speech … I believe in it. You can't just protect speech you agree with.
The Australian Sex Party is up in arms over what it claims as censorship from Google. The company reclassified the party's lampoon advertisement Jerk Choices as Adult Only content in spite the fact that it has already aired on primetime on
free to air television.
The campaign, which is meant to highlight wowsers in Australian society, had already appeared on shows such as The 7pm Project and Gruen Nation .
Fiona Patten, the Sex Party's president, says that the advertisement, which had been considered suitable for general release, was suddenly reclassified as Adults Only two days before the election. Patten says that the change hurt the campaign's
The reclassification was said to have taken the ad out of circulation when advertising for the elections was at its heaviest. Google did not give the party any warning about the reclassification. It also did not tell the political party what
measures it can take to have the original rating reinstated.
In its first federal election, the Australian Sex Party has laid claim to the major minor party status in
Outside of Coalition, Labor and Greens parties, the Sex Party is fighting neck and neck with Family First for fourth place in the national Senate vote, without even standing candidates in either the ACT or Tasmania.
In Victoria, the party is level pegging and vying with the DLP for the last Senate seat, in the NT it has received more than 4% of the vote and nationally, Sex Party preferences have significantly boosted the Greens vote.
In the six House of Representatives seats that the Sex Party contested, it came fourth in all but one, beating Family First in all.
Party President, Fiona Patten, said the Sex Party welcomed a hung parliament: Suddenly the smaller members of the parliament have become the big boys and are worthy of courting.
Ms Patten said that the major minor party status had been achieved on the smell of an oily rag. We had our name, our policies and a handful of hardworking volunteers , she said. We had no momentum from previous elections, virtually no
funds for advertising, virgin candidates and the ability to hand out how to vote cards at only two per cent of polling booths around the country. Its been a remarkable effort really .
She said that from today, she would start looking for candidates to contest every House of Reps seat and the Senate in all states for the next federal election. We're off and running from a standing start and we'll shake things up a bit before
the next federal election comes around , she said.
Family First which made a splash in Australian politics six years ago, grabbing a key Senate seat and direct access to
the Prime Minister's office, appears to be on the brink of political collapse.
Its federal campaign is in chaos with a dumped candidate who supports gay marriage, a Twitter scandal and an alleged flirtation with the Australian Sex Party threatening the standing of the standard bearer of the religious right and its backing by
well-financed evangelical churches.
Family First is struggling to repeat its success of 2004. That year, the party's federal branch raked in more than $1.6 million in donations and loans, but by June last year it was mired in more than $200,000 of debt, according to its financial
South Australian church figure Peter Harris, Family First's one-time figurehead and financial backer, is facing financial woes after the collapse of his private company last year.
The deep pockets and political ambition of chairman and South Australian Senate candidate Bob Day, a residential property tycoon, may yet save Family First from financial collapse though.
But Family First is set to lose its one Victorian Senate seat , with Labor declining to repeat its 2004 tactic of preferencing Family First ahead of the Greens, a move which gifted Steve Fielding the state's final Senate spot.
Day is rated only a slim chance to win a seat in South Australia. In other seats, Family First candidates have reportedly refused to campaign at all, but will turn out on election day to man the booths.
Australian ISPs Telstra and Optus will impose a filter on child abuse websites for all internet subscribers from halfway through
The filter will apply to the 450 child abuse websites identified by the Classification Board in a list maintained by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA). The filter will not apply to all refused classification (RC) material,
as originally intended under the Labor party's filter proposal.
Under the plans users won't get a say as to whether the filter will be applied to them, nor will there be an opt-in or opt-out exclusion to it.
Like Labor's proposal, however, the filter will only block offending material travelling over standard web protocols such as HTTP. Other traffic from FTP sites, email as well as peer-to-peer networks such as BitTorrent will not be stopped.
The Australian Labor Party has flagged it will extend state censorship to smart phone games and applications
It has emerged that thousands of smartphone games and applications are being sold or distributed without going through a classification check, supposedly in contravention of the National Classification Scheme.
The largest distributor of smartphone applications, Apple, is accused of bypassing millions of dollars in fees, as classification fees range from $470 to $2040 for computer games, costing the government revenue.
More than 220,000 applications, most of them trivial, are available in Australia for download.
At a conservative estimate, one-third of them are games, suggesting compliance costs would be in the millions. Of course in reality any attempt to impose such censorship fees would keep the vast majority off the market.
A spokeswoman for Minister of Home Affairs Brendan O'Connor said he was concerned about the classification of games playable on mobile telephones and had put the wheels in motion to address this with his state and territory counterparts .
Definitions of computer games under the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 do not exclude games distributable or playable on mobile phones. At the May meeting of the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General, it was
requested that the classification of mobile phone games be considered out of session.
Rising Star Games has told Kotaku that due to classification concerns they have no plans to release Deadly Premonition in Australia.
We'd heard from Rising Star's Aussie distributor All Interactive Entertainment that Deadly Premonition had been refused classification in Australia, effectively banning it from sale. However, upon contacting the Classification Board, we
were told that the game had never been submitted for classification.
Rising Star said in a statement: As part of our normal procedures in submitting any game for classification, it was determined internally at Rising Star Games that the game would not satisfy the criteria for an MA15+ rating
in Australia and further that any changes to the game would not be possible. It was therefore decided, with regret, the game will not be released in Australia.
Banned gay horror porn film LA Zombie is still scheduled to screen in Melbourne on August 29 in defiance of the federal
The movie, from American director Bruce LaBruce, was scheduled to appear in the Melbourne International Film Festival, but on July 20 it was 'refused classification' by the Censorship Board, meaning it could not legally be screened in Australia.
Despite that, Richard Wolstencroft, director of the Melbourne Underground Film Festival, yesterday announced his intention to stage a public disobedience freedom of speech event on August 29.
Joe Hockey, shadow treasurer, has told Australian radio that the Liberal Party will oppose the Australian
government's planned compulsory net filter.
Hockey said his party would not support the policy. We believe the internet filter will not work and we believe its a flawed policy. It is not going to capture a whole lot of images and chatter that we all find offensive... that are going
He told ABC's Hack show that he was in favour of technologies which give parents more control and promised a more detailed announcement soon.
Hockey added: I know it's a contentious issue but the filter does not work, it does not work. The ISP-based filter system does not work. Therefore it creates an assumption of trust which cannot be met by the technology.
Colin Jacobs of Electronic Freedom Australia welcomed the move. He said: We applaud Mr Hockey's announcement that the Liberal Party will vote against Labor's filter. The Opposition are very welcome among the ranks of those many organisations
and individuals that see the filter as a policy failure.
Political parties have responded to a survey by the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) that canvassed policy positions on
ACMA content classification and ISP-level filtering.
The Christian Democratic Party fully [supported] the filtering of RC [refused classification] material at the ISP level to protect children.
Self-regulation is not working, the Christian Democratic Party stated. A new scheme is required. Serious breaches should result in loss of license for the broadcaster.
Socially conservative Family First stated that it was one of the first groups to begin the campaign for tighter regulation of RC material.
While it did not directly reject Labor's mandatory filtering proposal, the party appeared to support a voluntary regime, stating: Family First ... welcomes industry moves to voluntarily block certain RC content.
However, it also recognises that it [filtering] is not a complete solution. New technologies, including peer-to-peer networks which cannot be filtered, remain an ongoing challenge.
Ultimately, parents must be responsible for monitoring their children's internet use and be provided with the tools and information required to do so.
The man who is trying to protect Australia from all the evils of the world and
block the Internet to online gambling websites and dentist offices, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, was recently voted the Dumbest Politician in a magazine survey.
Zoo Weekly magazine conducted the online survey of 1200 voters to dub Senator Conroy the dumbest politician, followed by Family First senator Steve Fielding, and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott.
Stephen Conroy has relentlessly been working to filter various websites in Australia, though his efforts to date have been all for naught.
At the launch of National Cyber Security Awareness Week in Melbourne last June, Senator Conroy puzzled listeners by declaring: There's a staggering number of Australians being in having their computers infected at the moment, up to 20,000, uh,
can regularly be getting infected by these spams, or scams, that come through, the portal (sic).
In the face of supposed new evidence of the increasing levels of children sexually abusing other children the Australian
Christian Lobby (ACL) has called for both major political parties to immediately commit to a comprehensive review of the classification system across all media.
ACL Managing Director Jim Wallace said the classification system is broken and that the lack of effective regulation of what is being viewed and read in the community must be acknowledged as at least part of the reason behind the appalling growth
in sexualised and sexually abusive behaviour in children.
Revelations by the Australian Crime Commission's National Indigenous Task Force that between 40 and 90% of sexual offending against children was committed by other children – and that the problem is not confined to indigenous communities –
should deeply concern all Australians and demand an urgent response from our political leaders, Wallace said.
There has been widespread acknowledgement of the role of the media environment in sexualising children but despite inquiries and talkfests, nothing gets done.
Children don't learn sexualised behaviour in a vacuum and we know that viewing pornography is often associated with this problem. However it goes much further than this, with children continually being bombarded with overtly sexual messages by
everything from billboards to films to music videos. When the problem is getting this bad it is time for real action to be taken.
Wallace said a comprehensive review is needed because Australia's classification system has not kept pace with technology and is effectively a toothless tiger even when standards are breached – with no real penalties for those involved.
Growth in technology has meant that Australia's classification system doesn't even apply to a range of new media content, such as mobile phone applications. And where the classification system does apply it is completely ineffective – with
standards rarely being enforced and the penalties being laughable even when they are.
Refusing to Classify
An Australian Senate Committee has censored a link to a morally-ambiguous parody on the US TV show Family Guy that was included in a written submission by prominent anti-filter campaigner Mark Newton.
The censored Family Guy episode was legally available for sale in Australia with a MA15+ rating from later this month.
It showed the family's dog, Brian, showing baby Stewie the legendary scat video: 2 Girls 1 Cup . The video became an internet sensation when viewers posted videos online of their friends' reactions to the always offscreen video; about 6500
such responses are on YouTube with many generating millions of views.
The animated parody mimics the phenomenon by showing Stewie's reaction to the contentious video.
Newton said it was the cartoon character's facial expression that ran afoul of public servants: Stewie Griffin needs to be redacted for even hinting at something that might be RC if ever assessed .
The redaction gave ammunition to critics who warned the filter will expand to cover content not originally under its mantle. And it underscored fears held by campaigners such as Newton over the types of borderline content that could be swept up.
A committee spokesman told iTnews it had exercised its discretion in not publishing the link: The committee reserves the right to exercise its discretion not to publish any submission, or part of a submission, which in its view contains
objectionable material, or material that is or purports to be refused classification or links directly to refused classification material .
Newton wrote the Government had conflated the terms illegal with inappropriate in respect to proscribed content to the point where various types of legal but controversial content [were being portrayed] as if it were illegal .
Three other links included in footnotes were also redacted for pointing to RC content. They included a graffiti film and an Amazon.com web page where the banned film Ken Park could be bought on DVD.
Newton used his submission to argue that at Senator Conroy has variously portrayed types of legal but controversial content as if they were illegal . The current Government has created the manifestly false impression that material can
become illegal by means of a decision by the Commonwealth Classification Board to rate it as refused classification. RC content is not, and never has been, illegal.
It is lawful for Australian citizens to possess, own, read or view, give away and purchase RC content in all forms, except in Western Australia (which has a state law which criminalises possession of RC content) and parts of Western Australia
and the Northern Territory associated with the Aboriginal Intervention (where possession of content rated higher than MA 15+ is an offence). It is also legal to transmit RC content over a telecommunications network everywhere except Western
In 2008, the full uncut version of Caligula was resubmitted to the BBFC for DVD release. The passage of nearly 30 years had significantly diminished the film's impact and after careful consideration it was decided that it
could now be classified '18' uncut.
This decision accords with the BBFC Guidelines, which state that At '18', the BBFC's guideline concerns will not normally override the wish that adults should be free to chose their own entertainment, within the law.
Although there are scenes in Caligula that some people will find shocking, offensive or disgusting, the film does not contain any material that is illegal in terms of current UK law and nor does it contain any material that
is likely to give rise to harm for adults audiences, most of whom will be well aware of its controversial reputation.
The DVD version was classified '18' uncut with the consumer advice Contains strong violence, sexual violence and strong real sex.
The government of Australia has said that it will censor almost 90% of
the document showings its plan to monitor browsing habits of the ordinary citizens in the country.
The 18 page document was obtained through a freedom of information (FOI) request however most of the document is blanked out. The government says that it does not want a premature debate on the issue and thus is censoring the details.
The censorship is so detailed that the document has several pages with a single word. The proposal has been criticized as the government has asked the internet service providers in the country to store some aspects of the user's online behavior.
The government has been discussing the proposal with the industry members as it would require snooping on even those who have not committed any wrong doing. All parties involved in the discussion have been asked to remain secret about the matter.
An expert from the uncensored part of the document states, The UK experience has also shown the availability of information can be of great benefit providing exculpatory evidence, allowing police to rule out a person from an investigation, and
to Coroners in determining circumstances leading up to death.
The Attorney-General's Department legal officer, FoI and Privacy Section, Claudia Hernandez said after releasing the document that the release of some sections of it may lead to premature unnecessary debate and could potentially prejudice and
impede government decision making .
The Australian government has delayed discussion once again on an R18+ rating. The Standing Committee of Attorneys-Generals were
set to have a meeting this month to discuss implementing an R18+ ratings system, along with a host of other issues, but the meeting was cancelled due to the upcoming Federal Election.
The next meeting will take place in Canberra on November 4-5.
The Australian film censor has banned a film from screening at the Melbourne International Film Festival, a work described as gay zombie porn
Festival director Richard Moore received a letter yesterday from the Film Classification Board director Donald McDonald, stating that L.A. Zombie , the latest offering from Canadian provocateur Bruce LaBruce, could not be screened as it
would in his opinion be refused classification.
The festival is not generally required to submit films for classification, but after reading a synopsis of the plot of L.A. Zombie , which features wound penetration and implied sex with corpses, the Classification Board requested a DVD to
watch, and then refused to issue an exemption.
Australia's government will select an expert to manually check up to 10,000 blacklisted online web pages.
The proposal will come to fruition over the next year if Labor wins the August 21 election. Labor will take to the polls its controversial policy of mandatory ISP-level filtering of refused classification (RC) content.
An annual review of the RC content list would be conducted by an independent expert who would be appointed in consultation with industry, the government said.
A spokeswoman for Senator Conroy confirmed the expert would be a person and not an organisation. When asked if that person would enter into a browser each URL on the entire RC list to ensure its legitimacy, she said: Yes, the independent expert
would be a person (such as a retired judge) and they would examine the list to ensure it includes only RC content.
Meanwhile the Coalition refused to say if it would scrap Labor's controversial mandatory ISP filter plan. It kept mum on whether a Tony Abbott-led government would resurrect NetAlert or introduce an opt-in filtering version instead. The Coalition
will announce some practical and effective measures to enhance online safety and security in coming weeks, opposition communications spokesman Tony Smith said.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Australia's largest ISPs are to voluntarily block child abuse content, with the
prospect that others might follow
But one ISP, Internode, says it has significant concerns with administration of the blacklist of child porn URLs used for the voluntary filter, and will not apply it.
Internode's regulatory and corporate affairs manager, John Lindsay, said that the child porn list contains a fraction of what would need to be blocked for it to be effective and has already been shown to contain URLs of legal content.
The list of child porn websites is maintained by the government's Australian Communications and Media Authority. But it also contains links to online poker sites, YouTube links, regular porn sites, and websites of fringe religions.
Internode is the country's sixth-largest internet service provider, with about 190,000 customers, but its refusal to voluntarily censor what the government is dubbing child porn is a bit of a blow to the government. If it could get
filtering in voluntarily it would not have to make a politically unpopular decision to back the censorship scheme. It would also classify all the sites it did not like as child porn and get away with it.
Australia's Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy, has announced that implementation of his policy would be delayed until a
review of RC classification guidelines can be conducted by state and territory censorship ministers.
This is not expected to begin until at least the middle of next year.
Some sections of the community have expressed concern about whether the range of material included in the RC category ... correctly reflects current community standards, Senator Conroy said.
As the Government's mandatory ISP filtering policy is underpinned by the strength of our classification system, the legal obligation to commence mandatory ISP filtering will not be imposed until the review is completed.
In the meantime, major ISPs including Optus, Telstra and iPrimus have pledged to voluntarily block child abuse websites. This narrower, voluntary approach has long been advocated by internet experts and brings Australia into line with other
countries such as Britain.
But the Government does not seem to be backing out of the deeply unpopular mandatory filtering policy altogether, as it has today announced a suite of transparency and accountability measures to address concerns about the scheme.
an annual review of content on the blacklist by an independent expert .
clear avenues of appeal for people whose sites are blocked.
content will be added to the blacklist by the Classification Board, instead of the Australian Communications and Media Authority.
affected parties will have the ability to have decisions reviewed by the Classification Review Board.
people will know when they surf to a blocked page as a notification will appear.
The public needs to have confidence that the URLs on the list, and the process by which they get there, is independent, rigorous, free from interference or influence and enables content and site owners access to appropriate review mechanisms,
Senator Conroy said.
Gamers4Croydon, the fledgling Australian political party that was created to challenge former South Australia
Attorney General and notorious gaming critic Michael Atkinson, has disbanded.
Gamers4Croydon was formed last year with the intent of running game-friendly candidates in the Australian election held in March. It didn't win any seats but it did help to highlight the messy videogame situation in Australia, which doesn't have
an R18 rating for games and therefore either crams games into the MA15+ category that really shouldn't be there, or simply bans them outright.
Now, in a post on the Gamers4Croydon website, founder David Doe has announced that the party is shutting down less than a year after it was formed. Doe suggested that gamers and other supporters check out political alternatives like the Greens and
the Australian Sex Party, which is opposed to Australia's planned internet filter. They're the closet aligned to use ideologically and we all share many common policies, he explained.
Atkinson stepped down from his post as Attorney General soon after the March election, but Australia still has no R18 rating for videogames, and there's no sign it'll be getting on anytime soon either.