Media Release: Monday, 2 February, 2009

It is both crucially important and entirely logical that the Federal Government proceed with ‘real life’ internet filtering trials despite the claims of those who have already pre-judged filtering, the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) said today.

ACL Managing Director Jim Wallace said that in an era when children are growing up using the internet for both education and entertainment it is crucial that safeguards from harmful material are provided in keeping with the Federal Government’s well known election promise.

“The advances in performance and accuracy shown in the Australian Communications and Media Authority trial results released in June last year over the previous 2005 NetAlert Ltd trial show that it is both sensible and responsible to continue with the trial process. Our children can only benefit from the rapidly improving technology, including safety features, which is an attribute of the online world,” Mr Wallace said.

Prior to the 2007 election Federal Labor criticised the Howard Government for not adequately addressing cyber-safety and committed themselves to providing “a mandatory ‘clean feed’ internet service for all homes, schools and public computers that are used by Australian children”.

“It is good to see the Federal Government sticking by this commitment and not bowing to a concerted campaign of misinformation against internet filtering being mainly led by internet industry representatives with a financial interest in maintaining the status quo and the pornography industry which is worried filtering illegal porn will also hit its profits,” Mr Wallace said.

“As the first to take steps towards safeguarding children on the Net, it would be good to see the Federal Opposition placing this issue above politics and supporting the filtering trials.”

Mr Wallace said that claims of ‘censorship’ by filtering opponents are clearly wrong, with the Government making it very clear that it has no plans to prevent adults from viewing legal material.

“The internet is merely being brought into line with classification standards that apply elsewhere in society,” he said.

“A Newspoll commissioned by the Australia Institute in 2003 found that 93 per cent of parents of 12 to 17 year olds were in favour of automatically filtering out internet pornography at ISP level unless adult users asked otherwise. This shows the depth of concern on this issue and is also reflected in the Government’s policy – with only illegal material being blocked for everyone, and adults being able to ‘opt in’ if they want to view other harmful but legal material.”

Media Contact: Glynis Quinlan