• Filter looks as though it is delayed

    Apr 29 2010, 3:58

    The Australian is reporting that the Government has shelved the introduction of the filter until after the election:

    KEVIN Rudd has put another election promise on the backburner with his controversial internet filtering legislation set to be shelved until after the next election.

    A spokeswoman for Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said yesterday the legislation would not be introduced next month’s or the June sittings of parliament.

    With parliament not sitting again until the last week of August, the laws are unlikely to be passed before the election.

    Labor promised before the last election it would force internet service providers to block access to illegal content such as child pornography and X-rated images.

    But the US government, Google and free speech advocates have said any efforts to censor the internet would slow download speeds, stop the free flow of information and be ineffective.

    Senator Conroy’s spokeswoman said the government was not deterred by this criticism.

    The government was still consulting with internet service providers and considering public submissions; once that process was complete, it would introduce the legislation into parliament, the spokeswoman said.

    Read more here.

    However, in a blog post for ZDNet, Ben Grubb reports that neither Kevin Rudd nor Stephen Conroy are commenting on the reported delay:

    Prime Minister Kevin Rudd today said he had “no advice” to suggest that the Federal Government’s plans to implement a mandatory internet filter would be delayed until after the federal election, despite a report saying it would.

    At a press conference announcing the Federal Government’s “anti-smoking action” this morning, ZDNet Australia asked the Prime Minister about a report that appeared in The Australian today saying that the introduction of the legislation required for the filter would likely be delayed until after the federal election.

    The Prime Minister said he had “no advice to that effect”. He later said when questioned if the legislation would be introduced this year: “Look, can I ask that you put that to the relevant minister. I don’t have any other advice to what I put to you earlier.”

    ZDNet Australia had already this morning questioned the office of the relevant minister, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, about the reported delay.

    “The government is committed to the cyber-safety policy, which includes [internet service provider (ISP)] level filtering of refused classification content,” Conroy’s office replied in a statement.

    “A public consultation on improved transparency measures has been held and the department is now working with other government agencies to consider the submissions and examine whether the ideas can be used to enhance the proposed accountability and transparency measures. The department is also continuing to consult ISPs on the implementation of ISP-level filtering.

    “Once these processes are complete the legislation will be introduced into Parliament.”

    When the minister’s office was asked again whether the report in The Australian, which said the legislation would not be introduced in the May or June sittings, was correct, the office said that the legislation would be introduced once the processes mentioned in the original statement were complete. Since then the office has said it is unlikely to be heard in the May sitting.

    So what’s the deal? Has the filter been ditched because it’s a political lemon? And why won’t the government talk?

    Read more here.  Either way, it looks as though the Government is feeling the pressure and that this delay is most likely related to the growing opposition to the filter in Australia and around the world.  That said, it appears that the filter is still Government policy, and as such Electronic Frontiers Australia will continue to fight the introduction of the filter, regardless of whether the legislation is introduced before or after the election.