Government internet filter puts consumers at risk

Protecting internet users from illegal material is important, however the proposed mandatory ISP-based filter won’t do the job.
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  • Updated:19 Feb 2009

01.The Issue

Man with his head down on computer keyboard

CHOICE supports the rights of consumers to the safe use of goods and services, including the internet. The existence of illegal and/or offensive material on the internet poses a risk to consumers which we believe should be addressed. However, we hold a number of concerns about the government’s current proposal to introduce mandatory internet filtering at an ISP-level, as we believe it is ultimately not in the interests of consumers.

Initially this proposal’s focus was on blocking access to child-pornography, however, it appears to have evolved to cover "unwanted" materials too. The IT industry has demonstrated that the proposed filter can be circumvented. CHOICE is concerned that the consumers may modify their behaviour based on the mistaken belief that the ISP filter is full-proof, creating a false-sense of security.

We are equally concerned that the imposition of a mandatory filter is likely to adversely affect consumers through slower download speeds, as government trials have demonstrated and increased access costs, as ISPs pass on their own increased costs.

What we want

  • The government to drop the proposed mandatory ISP filtering, in favour an opt-in ISP-filtering system.
  • The government to increase consumer and parental education on how to control access to illegal sites such as child pornography.
  • The government to encourage the continued use of computer-based filters. CHOICE recently tested a wide-range of free and for cost computer-based filters and found that there was adequate choice and availability of filters for consumers.

What we're doing

CHOICE has written to the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, to the Shadow Minister, the Green spokesperson, and Independent Senator Xenophon, opposing the mandatory ISP filter.

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