"This was always a bad idea" ... Shadow Minister for Communications Malcolm Turnbull. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
THE abolition of plans to filter the internet has met little resistance, with the opposition and Greens wishing the policy good riddance and the industry rejoicing.
After five years the Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy, announced the government had dropped the policy, which would have blocked sites blacklisted by the Australian Communications and Media Authority.
These sites would have ranged from child abuse to bestiality, detailed instruction in crime, violence or drug use, and material that advocates terrorist activity. Instead, the government will use the existing Telecommunications Act to instruct internet service providers to block 1400 known child abuse sites.
The policy was an election promise in 2007 by Kevin Rudd.
Senator Conroy said yesterday the policy change was prompted by the findings of a Law Reform Commission inquiry which suggested the plan was too broad.
The shadow communications spokesman, Malcolm Turnbull, said Senator Conroy was ''a control freak'' and the only reason he scrapped the policy was because the legislation would never have passed Parliament.
''This was always a bad idea. It was bad for freedom, it was bad for freedom of speech,'' Mr Turnbull said. ''But above all, it was going to create a sense of false security among parents.
''His scheme would not be effective in stopping material about child pornography and other dangerous material being available online.
''People who trade child pornography and other material of that kind do so through peer-to-peer networks, they're not posting it up on websites.''
The Greens leader, Christine Milne, said Labor should have ditched the policy years ago. ''What I'm really pleased about is finally the minister has recognised it's unworkable and that we're going to abandon this notion of the internet filter.''
The Australian Christian Lobby was disappointed with the decision, saying the compromise fell short of the original policy proposal.
''Although child abuse material is the most heinous element of the 'refused classification' category, it is just a part of the prohibited online content the government committed to blocking at the ISP level prior to the last election,'' the lobby's managing director, Jim Wallace, said.