Media Release: Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) today encouraged Telstra to reconsider participating in the upcoming ISP filtering trials, saying it is important for the company to demonstrate corporate responsibility on an issue with huge ramifications for the welfare of children.

ACL Managing Director Jim Wallace said he hoped Telstra would not allow its dispute with the Federal Government on plans for a national broadband network to affect its decisions on participating in the pilot of filtering in a real-life environment.

“It is important for a company with the size and influence of Telstra to show strong support for an initiative which will block child pornography and the most degrading illegal material from the internet,” Mr Wallace said.

“Telstra’s Bigpond is popular with many Mums and Dads and the company has a responsibility to the community to do everything it can to see this important initiative rolled out.

“As the nation’s largest internet service provider, Telstra is encouraged to serve its users effectively, and to carefully consider the high social costs of unfettered access to inappropriate content.”

Mr Wallace said that the Australian Institute’s 2003 research on Regulating Youth Access to Pornography found that ‘children in Australia have extensive exposure to pornography’ and that ‘84 per cent of boys and 60 per cent of girls say they have been exposed accidentally to sex sites on the Internet and two in five boys deliberately use the internet to see sexually explicit material, with four to five per cent doing so frequently.’

The research paper noted that: ‘Apart from the intrinsically disturbing nature of much internet pornography, regular consumption of pornography and particularly violent and extreme pornography is a risk factor for boys’ and young men’s perpetration of sexual assault. In addition, it may foster greater tolerance of this behaviour by others.’

“There has been a lot of misinformation on the topic of internet filtering but one key truth clearly stands out – we have a duty to our nation’s children to do all we can to clean up the Net,” Mr Wallace said.

Media Contact: Glynis Quinlan