Labor's Plan To Protect Kids From Internet Pornography
Media Statement - 21st March 2006
A Beazley Labor Government will give peace of mind to parents concerned about their kids' exposure to violent and pornographic material on the internet.
Under Labor, all Internet Service Providers will be required to offer a filtered "clean feed" internet service to all households, and to schools and other public internet points accessible by kids.
Labor's "clean feed" system would prevent users from accessing any content that has been identified as prohibited by the Australian Communications and Media Authority, including sites containing child pornography, acts of extreme violence or cruelty, and X-rated material.
Only Labor understands the concerns of parents who want their kids to access the internet without exposure to pornography and violence.
John Howard has had ten long years to address these concerns but instead he just defends a failing system of regulation which doesn't do enough, by advising parents to "do it themselves" with internet filter software.
The reality is that cost and poor computer literacy mean almost two-thirds of parents don't have internet filters on their family computers.
This is not good enough when research suggests that the exposure of children and others in the community to this sickening content can lead to aggression towards women and child abuse.
Under the current law prohibited content can be removed from the internet if it is based in Australia, but around 85 per cent of prohibited content, like child pornography, is located offshore.
Governments can and should do more to stop extreme Internet content from getting into Australian homes and being accessed by kids.
Through an opt-out system, adults who still want to view currently legal content would advise their ISP that they want to opt out of the "clean feed", and would then face the same regulations which currently apply.
Last year a Government report confirmed that the technology to implement mandatory filtering by ISPs is feasible and won't slow the internet down.
Leading telecommunications companies overseas like British Telecom and Telenor are already employing this technology.
Labor recognises the introduction of this filtering will impose costs on Internet Service Providers. We will work with industry to ensure this service is provided at no extra cost to the householder. We will ensure that the costs of providing a clean feed are shared fairly and competition is not adversely affected, particularly for small providers.
This proposal should be part of a multi-pronged attack on illegal content. Last year, Labor called for a subsidy for a family's purchase of internet filtering software - a good idea ignored by the Howard Government.
Labor would also look to put extra resources into the Net Alert program to promote internet safety for kids and parents and strengthen ties with international law enforcement to bring publishers of illegal content to justice.
An out of touch Howard Government's ignorance of kitchen table issues like these is letting Australian parents down.
The Labor Government I lead will give peace of mind to mums and dads when it comes to violent and pornographic images no child should see.