Internet filter dumped

5 years after originally being proposed, watered-down version adopted

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Internet users will be cheering following news that the federal government has dumped plans to introduce a national internet filter, after being compared to repressive governments such as China and Iran.

The original policy was widely decried by almost every stakeholder and expert including ISPs, the opposition, Labor MPs, Google and the Director of Public Prosecutions. Concerns were raised that the technology wouldn’t work, as anyone determined to access restricted content could find a way to do so, while at the same time blocking sites that were legitimate and legal.  Some experts suggested it could also slow down internet speeds for Australian consumers.

There are still some lobby groups pushing for the original plan to go ahead, with the Australian Christian Lobby upset by this latest news.

Five years after former prime minister, Kevin Rudd promised to implement the cyber filter, communications minister Stephen Conroy has said that the government will instead go with a watered-down version. The filter is being replaced by a finite list of child abuse sites identified by Interpol, which many ISPs already voluntarily block.

The Australian Federal Police will direct telecommunications companies to follow the blacklist of sites identified by Interpol, which is regularly updated.

For ISPs such as Telstra Corporation (ASX: TLS), TPG Internet (ASX: TPM) , iiNet Limited (ASDX: IIN) and Singapore Telecommunications (ASX: SGT) subsidiary, Optus, the original plan would have been a nightmare to administer, and likely a costly process. They now will only be required to block around 1,400 sites, and Senator Conroy has said that a trial of filtering by some of the major and some smaller ISPs, of the Interpol list, had been proven successful.

Foolish takeaway

The new filter should block the worst-of-the-worst internet sites, which most people would probably agree with anyway, and this version is much more workable for ISPs and the government, while having little or no impact on the majority of Australian internet users. A win-win in my view.

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Motley Fool writer/analyst Mike King doesn’t own shares in any companies mentioned. The Motley Fool’s purpose is to help the world invest, better. Take Stock is The Motley Fool’s free investing newsletter. Packed with stock ideas and investing advice, it is essential reading for anyone looking to build and grow their wealth in the years ahead. Click here now to request your free subscription, whilst it’s still available. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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