Conroy delays internet filter plans as RC review takes place

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Opponents to the internet filter have been given a temporary win as Communications Minister Senator Stephen Conroy announced that he will delay the implementation of the controversial filter.

The delay comes as a review into the classification scheme, mainly focusing on what is Refused Classification, is done and what is deemed Refused Classification on the internet – one of the main focuses on Conroy’s filtering plan.

“Some sections of the community have expressed concern about whether the range of material included in the RC (Refused Classification) category, under the National Classification Scheme, correctly reflects current community standards,” Senator Conroy has said.

“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.”

“As the Government’s mandatory ISP filtering policy is underpinned by the strength of our classification system, the legal obligation to commence mandatory ISP filtering will not be imposed until the review is completed.”

The review is to be completed in a year’s time.

Optus, Telstra and Primus – the three ISPs who have agreed to filter out sites – will now voluntary filter child pornography sites in the meantime. Conroy is happy that the larger ISPs have taken the initiative and encourage others to do the same.

“I welcome the socially responsible approach taken by some of Australia’s largest ISPs. Between them they account for around 70% of internet users in Australia,” Senator Conroy said.

“I encourage other Australian ISPs to follow the example of these ISPs, as well as the large number of ISPs in other western democracies, who already block this abhorrent content.”

Other news on the filter, revealed by Senator Conroy, include that ACMA will not determine what goes on the black list, it will be the Classification Board. As well, content owners who are based in Australia will be given a notice before being blocked – hopefully rectifying the situation (especially like a site like ours).

Despite a new leadership, Prime Minister Julia Gillard has put her backing towards the internet filter – despite many opposing such a move, with the exception of the Christian lobby groups. However, she acknowledges that there are some concerns – including the technical side.