Greens drop Net filter in cyber safety policy

Single contact point for cyber crime reporting

A national broadband network is a necessity, but Australian’s don’t need a mandatory Internet filter to decide what is appropriate to view online, according to the Greens which announced its cyber safety policy today.

The Greens propose the government spend the $40 million cyber safety budget on PC-based filtering, research into cyber safety risks, stronger laws and education programs.

Greens Senator Scott Ludlam said he has always been a critic of the government's proposed mandatory Internet filter because of the “simple fact that it won't work and it risks a number of unacceptable consequences”.

The Greens will launch a cyber safety initiative at a forum in Brisbane later today.

Earlier this month, the Coalition announced it would not proceed with mandatory Internet filtering if it won the 2010 election.

Meanwhile, over the past term in government Labor has ignited and persisted with a mandatory Internet filter policy despite vocal protests from the IT community and civil libertarian groups in general.

"Queensland's online community has been particularly disparaging of Labor's mandatory Internet filter and want it to be dumped, not just suspended,” he said. “They can see that a voluntary filter at the household level would be more effective to protect kids.”

"Filtering has a role in preventing accidental exposure to material that is inappropriate for a young audience. But rather than filtering a very limited range of material at the ISP level that does not include, for example, X-rated pornography or gambling sites, let's place an obligation upon ISPs to offer PC-based filtering solutions that can be customised to block a much broader range of content at the PC level."

Both the Internet filter and NBN have become central themes for debate in TechWorld :: NBN gets a turn at political football this year’s election campaign.

Ludlam said it is important to understand the nature of the threats to young people online like cyber bullying and “grooming”, which have even resulted in loss of life.

The Greens would prioritise research into such threats and will seek advice from experts for ways to combat them.

"The response that most people would like to see to child abuse is law enforcement. They would like to see the people responsible identified and prosecuted,” he said, adding the Greens advocate funding to boost cyber crime units in police forces and the establishment of a single, online contact point for cyber crime reporting.

"Young people must be assisted to develop the skills to critically evaluate what they encounter online, and respond in a way that keeps them safe and comfortable. We need comprehensive, consistent online education and media literacy skills taught throughout our schools.”

On broadband, the Greens believe Queensland's country areas urgently need high-quality, high-speed broadband and described the Coalition's plan as “cheap and nasty”.

However, according to the party, Queenslanders are “not impressed” that Labor's NBN would be sold off after five years.

The Greens support the NBN being kept in public ownership “to ensure prices don't skyrocket”.

Rodney Gedda is Editor of TechWorld Australia. Follow Rodney on Twitter at @rodneygedda. Rodney's e-mail address is rodney_gedda@idg.com.au. Follow TechWorld Australia on Twitter at @Techworld_AU.

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Tags cyber safetyinternet content filterThe GreensLaborisp filteringCoalitionpoliticsNBN

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