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Australia wants to improve Internet safety for families starting in 2010

Published on: 18.12.09
Source: Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (Australia)

On 15 December 2009, the Australian Government announced further details of its approach to improve safety on the Internet for Australian families. The Government will make available 17 million AUD for funding counselling, education and awareness measures to improve cyber-safety. These measures will start in 2010 and include mandatory Internet filtering of RC-rated content and optional ISP-level filtering to reduce safety risks. The contents of films or video games were censored by Australian authorities and rated illegal as they do not conform to the national "Classification Code". RC-rated material includes child sex abuse content, sexual violence, and the detailed instruction of drug use.

Moreover, for those families who wish to have a wider range of material filtered, including possibly X18+ and gambling sites, the Government will establish a grants program to encourage ISPs to offer these services on a commercial and optional basis.

A further aim is to extend the cyber-safety counselling program of the "Australian Communications and Media Authority"(ACMA) and the "Cyber-Safety Online Helpline" to improve awareness of online safety. Moreover, Government wants to improve transparency in order to ensure that the public can trust in the process that leads to Refused Classification (RC) material being placed on the "Refused Classification" content list.

The Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, released publicly the Enex Test Laboratory report into the pilot trial of Internet Service Provider (ISP)-level filtering. The "Internet Service Provider Filtering Live" Tests of the laboratory showed, that Internet Service Providers are able to effectively filter a list of Internet addresses (URLs), such as the so-called "ACMA blacklist" (about 1000 URLs) as well as a great variety of RC material with a high degree of accuracy. A number of Internet Service Providers participated in this pilot test, among them Australia’s four largest ISPs: Telstra, Optus, iiNet and Primus.

In 2010, the Government will introduce legislative amendments to the Broadcasting Services Act, which regulates the allocation of broadcasting licenses, to require all ISPs to block RC-rated material hosted on overseas servers. Details of the ISP-level filtering will be agreed with the Internet Service Providers.

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