Prime Minister Kevin Rudd this morning threw more wood on the fiery debate about the Government’s internet filtering plans, saying it wouldn’t apologise for pushing ahead with the initiative.
The politician took several strongly worded questions from a viewer of Channel 7’s Sunrise program, who asked why the Government was implementing a plan that he claimed would fail in its objective to protect the children, and whether Rudd could guarantee business would not suffer a loss in productivity from decreased internet speeds.
In response, Rudd pointed to the Refused Classification material the filter aims to block. “What does it involve? Acts of child abuse. Acts of sexual abuse against children, including material which also provides ‘how to’ kits in terms of conducting terrorist acts,” he said.
“I think this stuff is filthy, I can’t stand it. i think these are the right measures. You’re running a business, we’re pro-internet, but we don’t make apologies for this.”
The news came as efforts have stepped up within Rudd’s own party to push an amendment to the legislation to implement an “opt-out” option for Australians who don’t want their internet to be filtered. Labor Senator Kate Lundy is hoping to gain the support of other Labor MPs and Senators in the days before the legislation is tabled in Federal Parliament.
However, some have criticised even Lundy’s moderated proposal.
Australia’s Pirate Party last night said the opt-out idea was “censorship lite” and a hollow response to community concerns that the filtering project could lead to legitimate online information being blocked off from Australians.
On Sunrise, Rudd also responded to growing concerns about offensive material being posted on social networking site Facebook related to several traumatic events in Queensland, such as the death of schoolgirl Trinity Bates.
Queensland Premier Anna Bligh has written to Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg to express concern about the issue. News Ltd commentary site The Punch today reported the company was planning to respond, but would not consider a policy change to addess online material.
Rudd said he would investigate an idea being promoted by Sunrise and independent senator Nick Xenophon to setup an online ombudsman to deal with such complaints. He said it was obvious which material went too far, and rejected any criticism that it was draconian to address offensive online material.
“This is where we get into this really stupid debate, with what I describe as extreme civil libertarianism, which says any such move in that direction means soviet communism, a’la 1980,” he said. “Look, it’s not like that. People out there, mums and dads, they know where the balance lies.”
Image credit: Office of the Prime Minister