My thoughts on an opt-in filter

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010 @ 11:55AM

As I have indicated in several blog posts, I am working to change the Internet filtering policy to better achieve the policy goals of protecting children through empowering and educating parents. I have spoken before about the two key amendments I am advocating, ie: a) protect in legislation the availability of an unfiltered, open Internet service, and b) require all Internet subscribers to make an active choice as to whether they want an unfiltered, RC filtered or additionally filtered Internet service (with the latter being personally customisable at any time).

Most people have been quite supportive of this approach, but there has been some contention about the second proposed amendment in regards to what the default option should be, should a user not actively select any option. Aka, whether it should be opt-in or opt-out.

My original blog post provided for parents (& all users) to exercise their option by allowing them to actively choose to ‘opt-out’ within a reasonable time frame and if they do not, they will received the filtered service. They can thereafter choose to opt-out at any time. This is ‘OPT-OUT’.  This would still allow those with a genuine principled objection, or a business or other concern, to OPT-OUT and receive the open service.

However, it has become clear that the community has a preference for OPT-IN approach, rather than an OPT-OUT compromise.

So this blog post is to signal to the community that I now intend to present both an OPT-IN and OPT-OUT approach to the Labor caucus along with the merits and the level of community support for each when the legislation is brought forward.

From what I can see in the many community discussions happening all over the web, an OPT-IN would attract the endorsement of a wide range of community organisations. I believe the incorporation of the other amendment – the world’s first legislated protection of an unfiltered, open Internet service – would also be strongly supported.

I hope that these amendments would address the primary concerns of the community and would act to strengthen the ability to achieve the primary goals of the policy by empowering parents to make the best choice for children in their care.

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    261 Comments to "My thoughts on an opt-in filter" add comment
    June 18, 2010 at 6:58 pm

    No Internet filter, written into LAW to protect free speech and oppressive anti-democratic laws FOREVER.

    June 18, 2010 at 6:59 pm

    No Internet filter, written into LAW to protect free speech and protect against harm from oppressive anti-democratic laws FOREVER.

    June 18, 2010 at 7:10 pm

    No Internet filter, written into LAW to protect YOU and ME, to allow free speech/self expression and protect YOU from oppressive anti-democratic laws FOREVER.

    Put more simply, while you’re busy “protecting” us, who’s protecting US from YOU!

    June 19, 2010 at 8:19 am

    Kate. Thank you for listening and thinking.
    I don’t want to agree with Mark Newton.
    I WANT an Opt-in system. I would use it. I want to be able to choose a ‘clean feed’, but I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY don’t trust ANY Australian government not to overreact to some incident or bow to a foreign pressure and ‘flick the switch’ to make it mandatory.
    But I think Mark is on the money. And the lesser of two evils for me is just being as careful as I can be when using the Internet.

    June 19, 2010 at 10:38 am

    Ryan said; “I WANT an Opt-in system. I would use it. I want to be able to choose a ‘clean feed'”.

    So Ryan, what’s stoppoing you now..??

    Why are you not using the Google filter?

    Why are you not using the filter built into your operating system?

    Why are you not using a commerical PC filter?

    Why are you not using a free PC filter?

    Why are you not using the filtered Webshield ISP?

    Why are you not using the filtered iPrimus ISP?

    and lastly…

    What the hell are you doing on the net that “disgusting” things appear magically on your screen..??

    June 19, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    Perfect filtering does not (and arguably cannot) exist, but most of the filter advocates (mandatory or opt-in alike) seem to be operating on an assumption that it does. They seem to think that it is possible that they can just flick a switch and then the internet is magically filtered without any effort or input on their behalf.

    All they are prepared to do is tick a checkbox for filtering. Anything else is too much trouble and too hard. As you rightly point out, there are already plenty of filtering solutions on the market today – but they won’t use them because they’d have to make an effort and implement those solutions themselves. They’d have to make sure they worked, they’d be the ones that had to deal with the false positives and other support issues. They be the ones that were responsible in the end. That’s more effort than they are prepared to commit.

    That’s what I find so galling about these kind of ridiculous moral panics – the idea that the situation is so dire and urgent that the very people that are complaining the loudest about it refuse to lift a finger to do anything to solve it. They have solutions right in front of themselves that they refuse to use out of sheer indolence. Am I really supposed to take these people seriously? I find I cannot.

    June 22, 2010 at 5:29 pm


    You have missed my point entirely.

    As Stuart (below) correctly asserts, ‘No filter can be perfect’. That is absolutely correct. The advantage of using a Government feed would give you all the benefits of protection of any of the systems you have mentioned, but it would also give you a legal means of protection for any point at which the system failed. The Government could not prosecute you for a failure in their own system. But who do you think would come to your defense if any of the other systems you mentioned failed – nobody.

    That idea aside, I agreed that there should NOT be an Internet filter!! It was the point of what I wrote!!

    …and lastly

    I don’t understand your rant at all with regard to ‘what am doing such that disgusting things appear’. It seems to be a petty accusation that I am looking for porn/erotica and therefore it is my fault that I should be exposed to whatever “disgusting”(quoted by you but not a word I used nor relevant to my point) trash befalls me….. seriously…that is just wrong on so many levels.

    June 22, 2010 at 5:41 pm


    You exact words were..

    “I WANT an Opt-in system. I would use it. I want to be able to choose a ‘clean feed’…..seems pretty clear to me.

    I gave you 6 options, (7 if you include combinations)…

    As for my ‘rant”…I have to ask, why do you ‘WANT’ a clean feed..?? What are you seeing on the net that makes you want to choose a clean feed? Again, it was pretty clear..

    July 2, 2010 at 5:29 am


    Your re-iteration only serves to underline that you are missing the point I am making. You could name 100 non-government alternatives to the filter and what you have written would still be irrelevant to the point I was making.

    I have re-read my words and thought I had been sufficiently clear, but perhaps I am mistaken. I can only encourage you to let go of what you think I am saying and try to see the actual point I am making.

    As for your innuendo with regard to my motives, well, that just doesn’t deserve the dignity of a response.

    June 22, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    IANAL, but I seriously doubt that the Government’s system would offer much more legal protection from prosecution than any other measure offered. The point would be that you could show that you took all reasonable steps – not whether your filter had a ALP sticker on it or not.

    Additionally, the Government would treat the criminal case and it’s own liability as separate legal issues – the DPP aren’t about to let a paedophile walk on a technicality.

    July 2, 2010 at 6:13 am


    IANAL too, and your points are well taken.


    June 19, 2010 at 9:10 am

    Opt-out is a terrible idea, almost no different to Conroy’s system. Opt-in is a step in the right direction, but still introduces a China style firewall to Australia.
    How utterly embarrassing for Australian citizens online with peers from other countries!

    This censorship is the reason I won’t vote Labor this election (I did last election).

    June 19, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    You are aware that none of the polices work to protect special needs children such as the ones who use equipment for the vision impaired? The proposed solutions don’t work for children who know a second language either.

    June 19, 2010 at 3:09 pm

    The filter is irrelevant to me – I already have torbutton installed and a VPN available – and I can easily avoid porn for myself and my grand-children, anyway (I also stop them from drowning, or stealing hub-caps).
    I just want to know whether the commissars of the Labour Party will also offer us the option to have our mail censored by Australia Post.
    It’s probably academic, anyway, as we’re probably going to hang Kevin’s lot out to dry for 10-15 years, regardless of who runs the Libs.

    June 19, 2010 at 10:08 pm

    Ok great, but why not just scrap the whole thing? Parents and citizens can already opt-in to filtering via their own software. So why doesn’t the govt pull their head in and crawl back into the hole from whence they came?

    June 20, 2010 at 2:34 am

    I’m still at a loss as to how this would ever “protect children”. Your party has bleated this phrase since Beazley’s proposal years ago yet the censorship plan has absolutely _nothing_ to do with protecting children.

    Let me and one hundred million other IT professionals spell it out:

    Internet censorship is an inherently technical issue, nothing else. The web pages you view in a browser are not the Internet. The Internet is comprised of machines connected to each other, sending data. That data does not need to be on a web page.

    The web is one of a thousand protocols to send data across the Internet. You are only filtering one way. Are you aware that anyone serious enough to be sharing child pornography in a commercial (or even hobbyist) sense would never put anything on the web where its easily discovered?

    You are not dealing with people meeting to share hard-copy printouts. Commercial child pornographers will be sending data using protocols and services you don’t even know the name of. Peer to peer services, where data is sent from one user’s computer to another directly (roughly a thousand of those and they’ve been around for more than twenty years; instant messenger applications are an example). Torrenting, where data is shared in fragments amongst a hundred users (at least twenty different ways of doing this and easy to build new ones). Encryption, where the transport (eg. the Web) and filters can’t even guess what kind of data is being sent.

    The filtering system your party is advocating understands one protocol of thousands. The real world analogue would be a policeman standing in the centre of a crowd arresting people when they mention a phrase, except the policeman only knows English and everyone is speaking in a variety of languages. Further complicate that by having every conversation converted to hand signals that only two people at a time have the knowledge to decode. Now factor in that those hand signals will completely change every time someone starts talking to a different person.

    Now imagine it is also totally automated by computer. You see the complexity.

    The filtering system will only catch one thousandth of a percent of what’s actually going on, yet your party blindly advocates it even after all the technical briefing and incessant negative feedback from the public. The government spent so much time blinding us with dicussions about how it wouldn’t slow down the Internet but never once actually justified _why_ it was a good idea. At this point I can only conclude that its introduction is a deliberately totalitarian act aimed at establishing a near-automated and non-public-reviewed system for blocking the general public from accessing arbitrary web pages its government doesn’t want it to see. Do you see why people have compared it to Chinese media censorship?

    If you want to protect kids you should start by blocking social networking sites. Block flickr. Demand Google filter its results. Provide decent filtering software to parents. Require phones sold to under 18s to have filtering software installed. Develop systems that detect images of underage genetalia being sent between two twelve year olds on their school laptops. I’m sure you see the complexity evolving already: there’s a thousand social networking sites, a thousand image sharing sites, a thousand search engines… and I’d love to see the public reaction when a politician does something worthwhile like demand Facebook to be blocked. All else is hand-waving and fear-mongering.

    As it stands the filter will not work as advertised and is aimed at the wrong level on the technical stack. Parental education is the only way to protect kids.

    June 20, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    How many people like me will have to wear the t-shirt emblazoned with “I voted Labor last time and yes, I even donated money to help get them elected. I’m sorry to you all” ?

    I voted for change and sadly I believed the hype. Neither Labor or the Libs is an option for me this time around.

    Like the rest of the people complaining, I am an adult, well educated and can decide for myself what I want to see, read and hear. I’m also capable of deciding what’s best for my children. I don’t need the morality police censoring stuff “for my own best interest.”

    Free people in a democratic society deserve to be given respect by those chosen to lead but I haven’t seen any respect for quite a while in Australia. We’re treated like children – as if because they’re in a position of power that somehow makes them more intelligent than we are.

    They serve at our will and if we don’t do something to change things we’ll get the goverment we’ve earned.

    June 21, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    The push towards censorship and intrusive data collection is quite understandable. It has similar roots to the ignorance of corporate governance, lack of management skills and poor fiscal responsibility among our politicians.
    They are there because they have qualities or connections which make them electable. Success in that does not magically impart competence in their new-found roles, but encourages hubris. The power also corrupts, making pressure by lobbyists and often financial incentives more important than principles and logic in decision-making.
    It’s fortunate that we muddle along as well as we do, under the circumstances. We have no option but to control the damage by replacing them with a fresh, but no better group at the next election.

    Eliot Duffy
    June 22, 2010 at 11:05 pm

    Thank you Senator Lundy for finally representing logic and reason! This is the first peice of writing from a political representative which advocates a reasonable approach to internet filtering! I am proud to have a senator for my area as sensible as you!

    That being said, a far more reasonable approach to this silly, useless filter is to scrap it entirely. So far Australia has been a very free, lovely place to live, it still is, but it is teettering ever closer to a regressive and [increasingly] oppresive nation.

    I look forward to hopefully working within the Local and federal governments of this nation.

    James Roper
    June 23, 2010 at 3:44 pm

    How refreshing it is to hear some sense coming from the Government on the topic of Internet filtering :) I would absolutely love it if it was possible to flick a switch and block all child pornography on the Internet. Unfortunately, by design, that’s not possible, and no policy introduced could ever do that. What you’re proposing Kate however are some very good steps forward in combating the issues, the details are hard but I’m glad to hear a voice of sense that is listening to the public and industry experts.

    June 23, 2010 at 10:38 pm

    Good luck to you in the cabinet reshuffle after tomorrow’s spill.

    Hope to see you back in Comms and doing away with this filtering idiocy.

    Richard Ure
    June 23, 2010 at 10:50 pm

    The nation suffered under the previous Prime Minister long past his use by date. Without being reined in by his Prime Minister, Senator Conroy has got carried away with power of the filter and records retention. This is hardly grounds for the premature demotion of the Prime Minister.

    Can’t politicians rein in their lust for power and just get on with running the country?

    And as for the NSW right, didn’t it get enough of a kicking at Saturday’s Penrith bye-election to want to keep their heads down for a while?

    If politicians are so fickle as to withdraw support from a PM who has had more wins than losses, how long before they turn on any successor?

    June 24, 2010 at 12:41 am

    Without being reined in by his Prime Minister, Senator Conroy has got(ten) carried away with power of the filter and records retention. This is hardly grounds for the premature demotion of the Prime Minister.

    Kevin getting the boot has little to do with internet censorship. If you are going to live by factional politics you cannot be surprised when you die by factional politics.

    ALP power brokers are highly unlikely to be pinning this one on censorship (and the dead give away, if one were needed, were the issues of asylum seeker and ETS policy specifically mentioned by the PM in his press conference. Those are what the factions consider his failures to be).

    Richard Ure
    June 30, 2010 at 10:16 am


    If the power brokers think people don’t care about the filter, they won’t care about it either and Conroy keep his job and propaganda mouthpiece and Julia sails on serenely smiling waving to her subjects in the nation’s shopping centres as if nothing was happening. Is that where we leave it? Ranting here hasn’t made much of a difference. The brokers have buckled to the polls selectively.

    What’s the point of washing the car if you don’t vacuum the interior?

    June 24, 2010 at 7:34 am

    This morning’s vote may be a ray of light on an increasingly gloomy horizon. Julia’s a very clever lady. If she replaces Conroy, the rock singer and a few other incompetents with people like you, Labour could regain a lot of lost votes at the next election.

    Richard Ure
    June 24, 2010 at 8:48 am

    It is disappointing to see Kate on RN this morning supporting the challenge to a sitting PM when the going gets a bit rough; there is time enough to satisfy Julia’s ambitions. If the electorate is moving to the Greens, it should not be rocket science to win it back by highlighting the Green’s more fringe policies in an election campaign.

    If you have the middle ground between the left and the right and can’t win elections something is really wrong. But is it? Or are government members too easily spooked by political commentators filling their column centimetres with manufactured crises?

    June 24, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    If the electorate is moving to the Greens, it should not be rocket science to win it back by highlighting the Green’s more fringe policies in an election campaign.

    Internet censorship (along with the other regressive measures proposed by the ALP on basic rights) is utterly unacceptable to me. If that means I have to put up with Green’s ‘save the endangered wombles’ guff, that is an acceptable price to pay. The ALP’s mainstream policies are far worse than the Green’s fringe ones.

    Whilst voting Green is one issue (and frankly, I’ve voted in favour of them in the past, they are far from the worst choice on the ballot) I think the more interesting discussion is voting Liberal. If you had told me prior to the ALP’s censorship drive that I would be seriously considering voting for the Liberals whilst actively disagreeing with most of their policies and thinking their leader was insane, I would have laughed at how preposterous that idea was. I’m not laughing now though, am I?

    June 24, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    Hi Kate,

    Could you please strongly recommend to Julia that this would be the perfect opportunity to get rid of Conroy and this entire filtering/censorship scheme.


    June 24, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    I totally agree.

    At this stage, that’s about the only way I could tempted to give my vote back to Labor again.

    Joshua Goodall
    June 25, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    Also concur.

    Otherwise the Conroy is going at the very bottom of my preference order. Lower even than the loonies and the jokers.


    Paul Elliott
    June 24, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    Hi Kate,

    Could you have a quiet word to Julia about getting rid of Herr Conroy – certainly I might be voting Labour if that happened.

    Many thanks

    Jed Mahoney
    June 25, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    Hi Kate
    Look, you’ve made a start; you’ve demonstrated a willingness to listen … why not go the rest of the way?
    New blood in the cabinet and all; policies up for review(?); a million or two lost votes to recapture. ;)
    I’m ambivalent on the broader ‘nanny state’ debate but, at the end of the day, it’s patronising, invasive and entirely undemocratic for any government to deny anyone personal responsibility – and accountability – for what they allow into their homes.
    To quote the Gruen Transfer: You can’t polish a turd but you can roll it in glitter.
    As the silent majority wakes up to the scam, even the promised ‘glitter’ of ISP-level filtering is rapidly dropping off.

    June 25, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    “Further, a Bill of Rights encourages a litigious, victim oriented society”

    The rights enumerated in a bill of rights are supposed to be so basic, that if you’re not getting them, then yup, you probably are a victim.

    “In my view, a better approach is a bill of responsibilities along the line of:
    All people have the responsibility to foster the safety, and freedom of fear of all people.
    All people have the responsibility to foster the health of all people.
    All people have the responsibility to ensure that all people enjoy the dignity due to all people.”

    Meaningless drivel. No court can uphold such motherhood and apple pie statements.

    June 25, 2010 at 9:53 pm

    I still disagree with a filter of any kind, mostly because even if it is opt in, it is still one step closer to China’s oppression, which is not a direction I wish to go in.

    However, I’m glad to hear that someone in Labor is willing to listen, and has intelligent and thoughtful (as opposed to Conroy’s over-dramatised nonsense) points to make on this issue. This is the first reasonable argument from a politician I’ve heard in a long time, and I wish you’d had Conroy’s job all along.

    Best wishes & good luck for tomorrow.

    Allan Lewis
    June 26, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    This issue is a vote-changer for me. Unless the current policy is either replaced or better still dropped altogether, the ALP will simply not get my vote. I know I’m not alone in this, either.

    Ideally, not only will the policy be dropped, but a constitutional amendment guaranteeing free speech will also be pursued. Such an amendment must be crafted to make it illegal to pass such legislation in the future.

    Richard Ure
    June 28, 2010 at 10:32 am

    Have those who advocate a constitutionally projected right to free speech followed the US Supreme Court’s interpretation of this right? For example, racial vivification laws are struck down as being offensive to that right and consequently Nazi sympathisers are free to gather,demonstrate and spread their evil view of the world. Would you advocate this state of affairs?

    As to Stephen Conroy, who has done he most harm to brand Labor: Conroy or Rudd? And we all know what happened to the PM.

    Mark Newton
    June 28, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    Here you go, Kate: Apparently you’re “in to opting-in to child pornography.”

    Just like the rest of us, eh?

    – mark

    June 28, 2010 at 7:11 pm

    Hi Kate,

    I’m disappointed to see that Conroy is still minister. I like the idea of Julia as PM, but until Labor officially and totally drops the filtering/censorship scheme, internet usage tracking concept, etc., Labor will be last on my ballots.

    This policy has alienated virtually the entire IT community, and I’m not the only one explaining to family/friends why they have to vote against Labor to make sure this framework for censorship doesn’t get established.

    Please push Julia to make an official announcement dropping this proposal before the election.

    Things must be pretty interesting in Canberra these days; enjoy!

    June 28, 2010 at 8:39 pm

    Hi Kate, just saw Senator Conroy’s doorstop (non parliamentary privilege covered) comment that he is “not opting into child porn”. Fascinating. I guess that means that you and I are. Nice to know where we stand then, eh?

    June 28, 2010 at 8:52 pm

    A definite vote loser is mandatory opt in internet censorship, data collection and holding by ISPs also wrong , the government wants to be able to read my correspondenses !!!! no , Ill be preferencing Labor last over these issues alone.
    I am glad you do listen to the Australian public Kate , I can only hope its not too late for the Australian Labor party .It doesnt matter whether Rudd or Gillard is the leader , it matters which party trusts its voters , obviously not labor with its current attitude of wanting draconian , 1984 dictatorial style of governance it is showing .

    June 28, 2010 at 9:13 pm

    Thank you for the effort, Kate.

    Unfortunately with Conroy retaining his post and making it clear that the filter is still on since it was an election commitment (despite the election promise being for an OPT IN filter, as you are suggesting), your efforts appear to have failed in stopping this dreadful plan.

    In fact, when explicitly asked about your opt-in proposal, he said “I’m not into opting in on child porn”. While one can debate the professionalism of implying one’s colleagues promote child pornography, this is a pretty clear indication that the filter is still full-steam ahead.

    I want to vote Labor, I really do. In fact, I have in every federal election I have been eligible to do so in. If this plan is finally dropped, I will happily do so again. But this issue really sticks out like a sore thumb. It’s a perfect demonstration of incompetence, ignorance, arrogance, contempt for freedom of expression and privacy, and it flies in the face of the most fundamental of human rights.

    It’s a deal-breaker.

    It’s clear that the only way the filter will be defeated is if Labor is defeated. As a former Labor voter, I hate to say it, but the defeat of Labor now has my full support.

    Mark M
    June 29, 2010 at 12:50 am

    Yet another example of Conroy falling back to the child porn defence. He has completely lost touch with reality.

    Luke P
    June 29, 2010 at 11:12 am

    Now that Conroy has come out and said that anyone who wants to Opt In to censorship is pro-child porn, will you be taking this matter up with him?

    Given that he wasn’t under Parliamentary Priveledge and that your name was used, I believe you have every right to sue him for slander.


    Quote: When asked about Kate Lundy’s proposed “opt-in” amendments to the proposed legislation, Conroy responded by saying, “I’m not into opting in on child porn”.

    June 29, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    This government’s mandatory internet filter legislation is the main issue for me coming into this year’s election. I will not vote for any party which proposes a mandatory internet filter, no matter what the “official” intentions of the filter are.

    I had hoped that, under Julia Gillard, Labor might back away from the legislation, instead making it opt-in or scrapping it completely. But I have not heard anything in the mainstream media. This worries me.

    I do much prefer Gillard over Rudd as Prime Minister (and I do usually vote Labor), but this issue is a deal breaker.

    Senator Conroy also needs to stop insulting us by implying that because we are against the filter, we must be for child porn. The scope of the filter beyond just child porn web sites (combined with the secret blacklist) is the MAJOR issue I have with this legislation. (“Refused Classification” and “Illegal” are very different beasts – it is not illegal to own most RC material!)

    I would much prefer to see the government tackling the issue of child pornography head-on by tracking down and prosecuting offenders and having their websites removed, rather than simply covering up the problem with filtering. Filtering doesn’t help the children – the websites are still there, and the children depicted on them are still suffering.

    Richard Ure
    June 29, 2010 at 10:22 pm

    If Labor was perceived to have lost its way, who is to say that is not over issues of the filter, censorship and etraffic retention?

    And since Julia Gillard is apparently complicit in letting these policies continue, when is she going to get sprung by dissatisfied factional heavies?

    June 30, 2010 at 12:03 am

    I was sad to see Conroy reject this intelligent proposal so bluntly and thoughtlessly. I don’t think I’ll be able to forgive Labor for quite a few elections to come for making that man Minister for Broadband.

    June 30, 2010 at 9:23 am

    So Conroy doesn’t believe in opting in to child porn, except he does because he knows his filter is trivial to circumvent, except he doesn’t because he knows there’s no child porn on his list.

    The man’s a douche, how about we opt-out of him and the party that put him there.

    – Justin.

    June 30, 2010 at 11:45 pm

    This has got to be the most arrogant government in living memory.

    Lev Lafayette
    July 1, 2010 at 10:17 am

    What is remarkable is that the debate has progressed this far and nobody in the Labor Party has pointed out that Conroy’s proposals are contrary to the very policies he claims were submitted as an election promise.

    The policy from the 2007 election stated, quite clearly, that it would be mandatory for ISPs to *offer* a filter.

    (p5) “Mandatory ISP Filtering

    A Rudd Labor Government will require ISPs to offer a ‘clean feed’ internet service to all homes, schools and public internet points accessible by children, such as public libraries.”

    A mandatory offer is different to the entirely voluntary filter that existed under the previous government and entirely different to the mandatory imposition that Conroy is recommending.

    Kate, your policy is in line with Labor’s policy, Conroy’s policy is against.

    Conroy is acting explicitly against Labor Party policy. He is now the single biggest liability to the Federal Government.

    Luke P
    July 1, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    It’s actually looking like it’s the Labor Party that is the biggest liability to the Federal Government…

    Lev Lafayette
    July 1, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    Alas Luke, the alternative is worse. The opposition, who have been a carping opposition on everything else, has been completely duplicitous about this particular issue. The Mad Monk just isn’t going to campaigning against an Internet Filter, because in principle he supports it.

    In fact a recent interview – published on the Tories own website, praise be – indicates how he wants to expand the filter to include classified as well as Refused Classification “naughty material”

    “I think that it makes sense to try to ensure that the homes of Australia aren’t invaded with pornography via the internet.”

    “Invaded”. Like lewd sites will sending URLs to people’s browsers or something. Note that Abbot wants a filter that is *more* expansive than the current proposals.

    Of course, he does go on to admit that he really shouldn’t be in charge of anything related to contemporary communications technology

    “So it is question of whether this is technically feasible and I just don’t know enough about it at this stage to have an opinion on that.”

    Well, good work Tony. Just avoid all the arguments that say that it is not, but it will have “unfortunate side effects”.

    (All from

    So let’s be utterly clear about this. Abbot will pretend to dither on the Internet filter, but actually wants a filter that is *more* expansive than that being proposed by the current government and will spend more money to ensure that more technological loopholes are closed. Have we all got that?

    As much as I think that Conroy is a technological troglodyte who is a millstone around the neck of the current government, Abbot is a rung lower on that ladder, a much worse alternative. Thank goodness we have preferential voting in this country…

    The sooner Gillard dumps Conroy, or sidelines him into a position where he can’t break anything important (maybe with some soft toys, some coloured paper, safety scissors and a bottle of Clag glue), the better…

    Luke P
    July 2, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    Hey Lev, I actually think that the Liberals are just the other side of the coin that Labor inhabits. On one of these blogs I’ve ranted about the ridiculous duopoly the two parties hold so I won’t repeat it here.

    Needless to say, I don’t vote for either party and always vote below the line for the Senate to ensure no stupid preference deals are done behind the scenes.

    However, and relevant to this thread, I do hope to be proven wrong about my opinion that the Party only ever serves itself (and never the Australian people). I just don’t know if I should be gloating about the fact that I’m right, or bemoaning the fact that I’m right.

    Richard Ure
    July 1, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    That is a good point Lev. There is a difference between “offer” and “provide”. And does “homes, schools and public internet points” include, for example businesses or universities? And how about Catholic presbyteries?

    July 1, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    Kate , I am so sorry that you have been implicated with child porn by Senator Conroys outrageous statement of “I’m not into opting in to child porn,” when asked about your internet proposal.I know , as a mother that these cruelly unfounded accusations towards anyone that disagrees with his (Senator Conroy) views on mandatory internet laws makes me shudder . I am sure you are made to feel quite ill by his comments , as I am.
    I am writing to Julia Gillard to ask that this man be made to stop implying that his opponents are in league with child porn, it is disgusting behaviour on his behalf . Child porn is horrendous – his proposal, as we all know , does nothing to stop it.

    July 2, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    You know, Tony Abbott may or may not be one of “the enemy” on this issue, but as we’ve seen in recent events there is a big difference between the leader’s internal opinions and party policy. Just last week the National Party passed a motion at its federal conference against the idea. A number of Liberal MPs such as Joe Hockey, Jamie Briggs and Alex Hawke have spoken out publicly against the filter.

    Right now, that’s a superior position to have lots of the right noises coming out over there despite the lack of a definitive policy, compared to all the wrong noises coming out of Labor.

    Lev Lafayette
    July 2, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    You have a very good point John. Malcom Turnbull can certainly be added to the list you provided as well, as the following article neatly comments

    As you have implied with the exception of Lundy we’re not hearing many voices, front bench or otherwise, making the sort of comments I would hope for.

    But to reiterate, the sooner Gillard drops the mandatory imposition of the filter and the minister who promotes it the better.

    Dr Brett L Scarlett
    July 5, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    My preference would be no filter at all. Kate’s proposal for OPT-IN together with certainty of availability of an unfiltered service is an ok compromise.


    July 8, 2010 at 11:42 pm

    Dr Scarlett,

    To steal a quote from Captain Jean-Luc Picard:

    “We’ve made too many compromises already, too many retreats. They call us paedophiles, and we fall back. They take away our liberties, and we fall back. Not again. The line must be drawn here! This far and no further!”

    Labor have shown that the only advice they are listening to in relation to this is from the ACL and the censorware vendors.

    Any compromise now just means that that becomes the starting point for the next time a moral panic crops up and ‘something must be done’.

    Either this policy, or this Labor Government, must be thrown out now.

    July 7, 2010 at 8:29 am

    Here’s the external perception:

    Not about Australia? Au contraire – it mentions us:

    “Countries such as Australia and China have already developed filters to block access to certain websites.”

    Nice comparison.

    And look! We’re setting a Western precedent for every questionable government to point to for their draconian censorship schemes.

    How did we manage that, Labor? I am deeply ashamed.

    Pia Waugh
    July 7, 2010 at 8:40 am

    Hi Kosh,

    Interesting article, but the journo is being a bit misleading. To be clear, the mandatory filter policy is not implemented at this time, the legislation has not even been put forward let alone implemented.

    ICT Policy Advisor
    Office of Senator Kate Lundy

    July 7, 2010 at 8:45 am

    Pia – indeed – how easily we look like fools to the world for even contemplating it.

    Imagine the international perspective if we actually go ahead with this ghastly scheme. Time to take it off the election manifesto, no? Before we lose even more voters.

    Mark Newton
    July 7, 2010 at 9:17 am

    It’s a common mistake, Pia.

    A colleague of mine went to the NANOG conference in California last month. He reported that a significant chunk of his time every day was spent batting away queries from American and European delegates who wanted to know what the hell was going on in Australia, and what had happened to make our Government so terrible. The general perception was that Australia had already implemented Conroy’s censorwall, something previously thought too crazy to contemplate.

    In contrast, hardly anyone had heard of the NBN.

    Our international reputation is trashed. It’d be nice if someone in the Government cared about that.

    – mark

    Pia Waugh
    July 7, 2010 at 9:27 am

    Hi Mark,

    If possible, it’d be great if your colleague got in touch with us. That kind of feedback from the international stage is certainly concerning (as are the local concerns being put to us every day).

    Office of Senator Lundy

    Stephen Collins
    July 7, 2010 at 9:18 am

    Pia, you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

    The government’s policy is to impose Internet filtering, you and Kate are on the public record as opposing it. You’re even being vilified and painted with the child porn brush by Senator Conroy – that must rank as a red letter day for you.

    You can’t then defend the government by saying “oh, but it’s only a proposal and there’s no legislation or implementation yet” when you’re criticised.

    That’s a cynical attempt at playing both sides of the fence and I expect a lot better of you.

    Pia Waugh
    July 7, 2010 at 9:24 am

    Hi Steve,

    I’m not defending anything. I’m clarifying (for those who actually read that article) that the policy isn’t actually implemented.

    Office of Senator Lundy

    Stephen Collins
    July 7, 2010 at 9:27 am

    I stand happily corrected. Though, I think the perception of defence is a risk you face.

    July 7, 2010 at 10:27 am

    “Interesting article, but the journo is being a bit misleading. To be clear, the mandatory filter policy is not implemented at this time”

    Let’s face facts. If Conroy had been able to ram this through, he would have done it already. The only reason he hasn’t is because of the widespread opposition to it. And now this government wants to get reelected and we should feel good because it “is not implemented at this time”?

    Richard Ure
    July 7, 2010 at 1:29 pm


    Kosh said “perception”. And just as Julia hopes the electorate oerceives the asylum seeker “problem” is fixed, the world perceives Conroy’s policy is a done deal. Here’s the Guardian on the issue

    In a later post you say the feedback from the international stage is concerning but Kate’s colleagues are giving a good impression of the contrary view.

    July 8, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    How can I help.

    July 8, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    Is the above article correct when it says Kate’s opt-in suggestion has been rejected? I was under the assumption that Kate hadn’t put forth the suggestion to the party yet.

    July 8, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    The ALP is factional politics, pure and simple.

    Lundy, whilst respected by industry (and a great many of us), simply has nothing to bargain with within her own party. She has nothing to bring to the table that Conroy, or Gillard want. Why would they care about anything she has to say? She already knows that her proposals have been slapped down.

    That’s the reality of Australian politics these days. Unfortunately.

    Ben W
    July 8, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    Kate’s suggestion was dismissed with the reasoning that Australians can’t opt-in to child porn. I find it highly offensive that its insinuated that I’m a pro-child porn supporter. It just goes to show the level of gutter politics that Conroy stoops to. I’m surprised that Kate will still happily toe the party line despite being painted with the brush of pro-child porn support.

    Perhaps he should learn to follow the law himself, after all he decided that Victorian laws weren’t to his liking so he went around them to somewhere else. Stephen Conroy, you’re already shown that you like opting out of laws that dont suit you. So why should I believe a word you say?

    July 8, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    “The state must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people. As long as the government is perceived as working for the benefit of the children, the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation.”

    -Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler

    July 8, 2010 at 5:25 pm
    D Porter
    July 9, 2010 at 12:46 am

    Strongly support an Op-in filter…

    Luke P
    July 9, 2010 at 11:43 am

    Well done Kate. You don’t need to be called a child pornographer for at least another year.

    July 9, 2010 at 8:07 pm

    Is it true Telstra ,Primus and Optus will be voluntarily filtering our internet ??

    July 9, 2010 at 8:23 pm

    They have made statements to that effect ( It appears that they will be using the flawed ACMA blocklist too.

    They have said that they won’t filter wholesale customers, so the obvious course of action is to churn to a better provider (make sure to tell them why you’re leaving if you do). If you are one of the unfortunate people that is forced to use one of these ISPs for other reasons, then you should invest in a VPN service to bypass their degraded service.

    Richard Ure
    July 9, 2010 at 8:26 pm

    At least “Everyone benefits from competition between the free enterprise ISPs”… does that show my age?

    Is the long term agenda to sneak the old version back in when people are concentrating their grumbling on the grumble du jour?

    July 9, 2010 at 8:42 pm

    “I don’t think any Australian actually tries to describe blocking child pornography or bestiality or pro-rape websites as censorship,” Senator Conroy told reporters in Melbourne.
    Im so over this man calling me pro any of these things I am a mum and these comments from Conroy make me sick to my stomach. Blocking these sites is like throwing a blanket over crimes They do happen , (Ive never seen any of these things Conroy rants about after over 14 years internet use) prosecute the criminals – dont hide them.

    Molly S
    July 12, 2010 at 9:26 am

    No Filter. More police resources. Don’t block them. Catch them

    Once a filter system is in place, it would be too easy to extend the scope. There is a slippery slope here that is not worth going near.

    History can teach us this. We are repeating the same mistake.

    I just cannot believe that it is labor that is peddling this awful policy. It is so disappointing.

    I am not voting for you until the idea of a filter is banished.

    August 5, 2010 at 10:16 pm
    August 5, 2010 at 11:13 pm

    I was delighted when I saw the news, regardless of the outcome of the election the ALP’s stupidity will never get the votes it needs to pass now. Oh to be a fly on the wall when Conroy reports that failure to his buddies (or is that masters?) in the ACL (I’m also sure that any deals made will be considered null and void, so there’ll be plenty of sour grapes to take back to the party room too).

    As for the Coalition, they are a viable option (one of very few). At this point they will be receiving my vote. I may not agree with all their principles, but at least they have them – the ALP is just about factional backstabbing and the politics of numbers, they’ll support any stupidity, no matter how empty or unprincipled, if they think they’ll get a few more votes for it (subject to the inevitable focus group approval of course). I live in NSW, the last thing we need is the kind of factional poison we have destroying our state doing the same thing to our whole country.

    August 6, 2010 at 8:28 am

    Same here, and i’m in a marginal seat that labor won by 200 votes last election. I’m also pushing family/friends to vote against labor.

    August 6, 2010 at 8:57 am

    Yep, there’ll still be some that will preference Labor on the NBN knowing that the LNP and Greens will vote down this ridiculous censorship policy. But there’s a good deal who’ll just vote of preference LNP now.

    I really don’t understand the bloody mindedness and stupidity of Labor on this ridiculous policy. People don’t want it. But by pusing it you’ve sidelined the one good policy you have in the tech. industry, the NBN. The NBN is important policy but every time Labor and technology is discussed it is predominantly the filter that comes up. Every press conference Conroy has had is overshadowed by filter questions. Stupid policy, stupid politics. And now that it’s pretty much dead Conroy is quoted as saying it’s still our policy and we’re moving ahead with it. What? It will NEVER get through the senate.

    – Justin

    Sally M
    August 6, 2010 at 8:59 am

    Come on labor! Give me the option to vote for you!

    A 100% guarantee the filter is off the table.

    Richard Ure
    August 6, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    And all this time, it was Kevin Rudd who was being accused of white anting Labor’s hopes for victory! The problem wasn’t in Brisbane, it was the Senator for Victoria who was unnecessarily cruelling Labor’s chances.