In the SMH, Asher Moses reports that Opposition Senator Minchin has obtained legal advice that the conservative Labor government will almost certainly have to pass legislation to enable net censorship filters to be installed at ISP level.
With Senator Xenophon changing sides on the issue, net censorship legislation would be comfortably blocked in the Senate.
Senator Nick Xenophon previously indicated he may support a filter that blocks online gambling websites but in a phone interview today he withdrew all support, saying “the more evidence that’s come out, the more questions there are on this”.
Xenophon said instead of implementing a blanket mandatory censorship regime the Government should instead put the money towards educating parents on how to supervise their kids online and tackling “pedophiles through cracking open those peer-to-peer groups”.
Technical experts have said the filters proposed by the Government would do nothing to block child porn being transferred on encrypted peer-to-peer networks.
“I’m very skeptical that the Government is going down the best path on this,” said Xenophon.
“I commend their intentions but I think the implementation of this could almost be counter-productive and I think the money could be better spent.”
Of course, Rudd, Conroy and Co. might produce some juicy carrot to entice Xenophon back into the faith-based net totalitarian camp. Yet with recent polls showing immense public disagreement with the government’s censorship proposals along with overwhelming criticism from technical experts, the prudish Pixie mob will face an uphill battle to implement their ludicrous, unworkable filters.
This week, a national telephone poll of 1100 people, conducted by Galaxy and commissioned by online activist group GetUp, found that only 5 per cent of Australians want ISPs to be responsible for protecting children online and only 4 per cent want Government to have this responsibility.
A recent survey by Netspace of 10,000 of the ISP’s customers found 61 per cent strongly opposed mandatory internet filtering with only 6.3 per cent strongly agreeing with the policy.