Friday, 12 March 2010 15:33

EFA welcomes Hockey stance on Internet filter


Electronic Frontiers Australia has welcomed remarks made by Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey concerning proposed mandatory Internet filtering.

As previously reported, Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey last night described Internet filtering as Government over-reach - not because people should have access to unlawful material, but because the infrastructure represents a danger in itself.

"Protecting liberty is about protecting freedoms against both known and future threats. Some may argue that we can surely trust a democratically-elected government in Australia to never try to introduce more widespread censorship. I am not so sure!," said Hockey.

"One of our main concerns is how the list might expand in the future," said EFA vice-chair Colin Jacobs.

"With pressure from the media and special interest groups, it's hard to imagine this government forever resisting the temptation to add to the list - let alone all future governments," he added.

Hockey was seen as a potential party leader in the run-up to Tony Abbott's ascension to the role, and is widely regarded as a moderate with broad appeal to the electorate.


That said, he is known to have relatively conservative family values, though not as conservative as those recently expressed by Abbott.

EFA campaign manager Peter Black said "Mr Hockey correctly identified several of the fundamental problems in the Government's mandatory Internet filtering policy."

"Most importantly that the filter will not stop children from accessing inappropriate content and will not prevent criminals from accessing and distributing sexual abuse material," he added.

"Parental supervision is actually the most effective way to protect children from accessing inappropriate content."

EFA officials expressed the hope that other coalition members will follow Hockey's example and conclude that increased education and law enforcement would be better than censorship.

To that end, the organisation launched its Lobby a Lib campaign this week, calling on individuals who share EFA's concern about filtering to encourage Liberal MPs and senators to vote against the proposal.


There is a certain irony in the EFA turning to the Liberal Party for support, as it has in the past expressed concerns about the Lyons Forum ("a secretive Christian faction of the Federal Coalition which attempts to influence policy in areas such as censorship and other so-called 'family' issues"), and opposed the former Coalition Government's move to introduce the 'Access Card' which had the potential to become a de facto national identity card.

On the other hand, a leading opponent of the (EFA backed) push to introduce an R18+ category for games is Michael Atkinson, Attorney-General in the South Australia's Labor Government.

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Stephen Withers

Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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