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ECU Professor contributes to internet filtering debate

Wednesday, 16 December 2009


Professor Lelia Green, of ECU’s School of Communications and Arts, is the co-author of a new report that addresses some of the issues being discussed it the public domain in the wake of the Federal Government’s release of the results of the ISP Filtering Live Pilot.

The report, called Untangling the Net: The Scope of Content Caught By Mandatory Internet Filtering examines the nature and scope of content filtered under a mandatory regime, associated public policy implications, and flaws in existing regulatory frameworks.

According to a consultation paper released yesterday by Minister Stephen Conroy, the Government will introduce legislation which will enable the creation of an RC (Refused Classification) list.

Legislation will then be introduced to require all ISPs to mandatorily filter this list. Under the classification guidelines for RC content there is clear potential for a far wider range of material to be placed on this list than clearly abhorrent categories of material such as child pornography or active incitement to violence.

Professor Green says the proposed Australian government mandatory filter threatens to align the Australian internet regime with online environments policed by some of the world’s least democratic countries

“If the ACMA blacklist informs the list of sites to be barred or filtered then this is additional cause for concern. The blacklist goes far beyond the blocking of illegal child pornography sites (as used by Germany and Italy), and the prohibition of illegal gambling sites (forbidden by Italy).”

Professor Green and her co-authors, Professor Catharine Lumby from the University of NSW and Professor John Hartley from Queensland University of Technology, argue that it is time to review Australia’s complex and inconsistent media content regulation system to take account of the online era.

“The internet is not a medium: it is an entirely new media environment. We need to rethink our flawed and complex system of media content regulation to respond to this new era,” said Professor Lumby.

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