Filter delayed for a year by RC content review


update Communications Minister Stephen Conroy this morning announced a number of wide-ranging modifications to the Government’s controversial mandatory internet filtering policy, including a delay of at least a year to the project while the state and Federal governments review the Refused Classification category of content which the filter would block.

In addition, major ISPs such as Telstra, Optus and Primus will voluntarily block (at the ISP level) a list of sites which specifically serve child abuse and pornography content, until the mandatory filter is implemented. The list will be compiled and maintained by the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

Conroy’s other additions to the policy this morning include:

  • An annual review of content on the ‘blacklist’ of Refused Classification content by an independent expert, appointed in consultation with industry
  • “Clear” avenues for appeal of classification decisions
  • A policy that all content which is being considered for inclusion on the blacklist on the basis of a public complaint be classified by the existing Classification Board
  • A policy that all parties affected by a content block have the ability to have decisions reviewed by the Classification Review Board
  • The use of a standardised block page notification, which will allow ISPs to notify users that the content that have requested has been blocked, and how to see a review of the block

“The public needs to have confidence that the URLs on the list, and the process by which they get there, is independent, rigorous, free from interference or influence and enables content and site owners access to appropriate review mechanisms,” said Conroy in a statement.”

“This suite of measures will help the public have confidence that only the content specified by the legislation is being blocked.” The additions to the policy will be incorporated into the filter legislation, which is currently being developed.

Conroy acknowledged that “some sections of the community” had expressed concern about whether the range of material currently included in the RC category correctly reflected current community standards.

“In order to address these concerns, the Government will recommend a review of the RC classification to State and Territory Ministers, be conducted at the earliest opportunity. The review would examine the current scope of the existing RC classification, and whether it adequately reflects community standards,” he added.

Crikey correspondent Bernard Keane first revealed the news on Twitter, appearing to be tweeting from Conroy’s press conference in Melbourne this morning on the matter. He noted that the review of RC content was expected to take a year.

The timing of the introduction of the legislation to support the filter, however, may still be later this year. Conroy said this week that he expected the legislation to be out this year — and likely before December.

Earlier this year Greens Communications spokesperson Scott Ludlam predicted the filter legislation was unlikely to be introduced until after the Federal election, when the balance of power in the Senate could change. But it remains unclear when that election will be.

Conroy’s full statement is available for download here (PDF).

Image credit: Office of Stephen Conroy


  1. OK……

    So Telstra, Optus and Ravi’s mob will be happily imposing some form of undefined mandatory kiddyporn filter, based on an undefined secret list supplied from ACMA (experts in dentists, dog trainers and the like), which they really believe will not leak in no time at all?


    Welcome to the mandatory filter you get when you don’t get a mandatory filter…

    • Exactly

      “In addition, major ISPs such as Telstra, Optus and Primus will voluntarily block (at the ISP level) a list of sites which specifically serve child abuse and pornography content, until the mandatory filter is implemented. The list will be compiled and maintained by the Australian Communications and Media Authority.”

      So now we have blocking _without_ legislation; how is that an improvement?

  2. Hah, this is still lame, though at least, hopefully it’s just purely child porn sites and the like.

    Labor, if the Libs weren’t going to can the NBN I’d be voting Liberal this election. At least The Greens seem to have a handle on technology.


  4. I actually laughed out loud when he mentioned ‘consultation with industry’. That’s not Conroy style.

  5. So they’re going to implement it just like they said, on a ‘voluntary’ basis, and then use the fact that it’s already in place as justification for introducing the new legislation next year, after the election. No doubt this was negotiated as part of the NBN contracts

    Optus, Telstra and iPrimus…. screw you, we are taking note

    Let’s just hope Julia Gillard can do enough backflips before the election that people don’t think voting for her is a viable option

    • +1

      Now don’t get me wrong, Kiddy Porn is bad, but you go after these people, you don’t penalize *everyone else*.

      And to do it with such a dangerous method ripe for misuse. I guess it’s like job creation for Politicians they can endlessly debate what’s misuse and what’s not while the rest of us just get screwed.

      Go catch some criminals Conroy and stop screwing with the normal people.

  6. Excellent. Now there might be a chance of measuring the real performance degradation with large numbers of users going through a mandatory filter.

    As long as Internode don’t participate there will be a credible metric to compare with.

  7. So, will Telstra, Optus and iPrimus’ so-called voluntary filters be optional or mandator for their customers?

  8. Like the insanity of gun control, does the government truly believe that those who wish to gather kiddie porn won’t have other means of getting it?

    Here is a crazy thought; how about, instead of punishing the 99% of the population who is law abiding, the government actually chase the 1% that’s not?

    Oh right. That’s be too much like work.

  9. “Telstra, Optus and Primus will voluntarily block (at the ISP level) a list of sites which specifically serve child abuse and pornography content”

    Exactly who’s definition of child abuse URL’s are they blocking here? The type that end up on the RC list which can include anything down to fully clothed, child model sites or actual illegal child porn?
    If its the real illegal child porn, then you don’t filter that you idiots, you report it too the AFP and get it shut down, which will happen way faster then any filter system will end up blocking it.
    If on the other hand it’s the RC definition, then this just sounds like Conroy’s filter is slowly being introduced one step at a time. Especially when Telstra say that while the industry can choose, you’ll then get it weather you like it or not.
    All in all, this actually sounds like a bad day.

  10. This is so simple…
    I can do my own filtering, I don’t need, want, care, request, require or wish to have it filtered for me. Are these people totally thick, does bugger off mean nothing to them?

  11. It seems like Conroy still doesn’t understand the ‘RC’ classification. It’s not “bad stuff”. It’s stuff which doesn’t fall under any other classification: I have a BBC documentary which I bought at EzyDVD which is marked ‘Refused Classification’, and it’s a history of aviation. RC material is not illegal to view, sell, or download. “Child Porn” IS, but my understanding is that child porn isn’t generally distributed on the web anyway. There was a wikileaks document a while ago written by an admitted producer and distributor, which explained that it all went via P2P networks and VPNs. Neither of those are affected by the filter. The whole filter idea is an enormous waste of money which will have no real affect on the distribution of child porn. Either Conroy is ignorant of the issues, or he has some goal for the filter outside controlling child porn. I’m no conspiracy theorist: I’m going with the former.

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