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Tuesday, 13 April 2010 15:27

Ambassador pushes US filter opposition


The Obama Administration would continue to lean on the Australian Government to abandon its plans to introduce its proposed internet filter, the United States Ambassador to Australia Jeff Bleich says.

Australia should be able to achieve its goals of capturing and prosecuting child pornographers and other online criminals without having to resort to censoring the internet.

Bleich told ABC television's Q&A program that the internet "needs to be free," and that it was a shared resource among all nations, like the oceans, the skies and the polar caps.

"They have to be shared. They're shared resources of all of the people of the world," the ambassador said.

"To the extent that there are disagreements and trying to find the right balance between law enforcement and respecting that general principle, we work with our friends and so we've been working with Australia on this issue," he said.

The US position on internet censorship had been well articulated by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in January in a referenced speech about plans to introduce filtering in China.

Bleich said the US had held "healthy" discussions with the Australian Government to find "a way forward," and would continue those disussions.

"We've said is that we have been able to accomplish the goals that Australia has described, which is to capture and prosecute child pornographers and others who use the internet for terrible purposes, without having to use internet filters," he said.

"We have other means and we are willing to share our efforts with them in order to allow them to at least look at a range of choices, as opposed to moving in one particular direction."

Also on Q&A, shadow treasurer Joe Hockey said the Coalition was waiting until it sees the internet filtering legislation before it formalises a position on which way it will vote in the Senate.

But Mr Hockey noted that while the Opposition agrees with the goals of the internet filtering scheme, it is concerned that the filter will slow the internet, while not effectively protecting children from internet nasties.

"I think we should go back to what (the Howard Government) proposed, and that is about families having filters provided to them in the home and people accepting personal responsibility for what goes on in their own home rather than expecting Canberra to do it," Mr Hockey said.

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