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iiNet’s Michael Malone backs independent review of internet blacklist

Patrick Stafford /

A leading telecommunications industry executive has welcomed the possibility of an independent review of the Government’s blacklist, which is set to form the basis of the proposed mandatory filtering system.

iiNet managing director, Michael Malone welcomed comments made by Senator Stephen Conroy yesterday, which suggested that the blacklist (which lists the sites to be blocked under a mandatory filter) will be open for independent review.

“If there’s going to be a blacklist then there must be an independent review of that. The way the Office of Film and Literature Classification do it, is they publish decisions and submit them to Parliament every six months. Submitting it to the Senate then contains the idea they’re politically motivated to identify mistakes,” he said.

“That’s been our concern from the beginning. Our suggestion was that there should be a clear policy of what’s included, and a transparent review done by an expert panel or the Senate. It certainly appears that’s the direction they’re now considering.”

Malone also said that Conroy may be backing down from some aspects of the filter, after recognising that opposition to the plan is more widespread than he may have originally thought.

“Until Conroy did the interview on ABC’s Q&A, I think he thought it was a fringe group opposing the filter, and from around that time there’s been mainstream concern about it. The questions until then were ‘how do we know the Government will only block kiddy porn’ and when the list was leaked it put those concerns from paranoia to a real problem.”

Meanwhile, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has issued a statement clarifying remarks made in Parliament yesterday that indicated the filtering scheme could be introduced on a voluntary basis.

A spokesman for Senator Conroy said that while ISPs are able to introduce filtering on a voluntary basis, the Government may still need to introduce legislation to ensure filtering occurs.

“ISPs have always had the opportunity to voluntarily introduce ISP filtering of material such as child abuse images. To date, they have not demonstrated a willingness to do this. The Government has therefore determined to take a role and examine the introduction of ISP level filtering…we are looking at the legislative requirements that would underpin this,” he said.

“The Government is examining the introduction of ISP level filtering for Refused Classification material as identified under the National Classification Scheme and the ACMA complaints process. The Government is also considering optional ISP content filtering products for those families who wish to have such a service.”

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Patrick Stafford

Patrick Stafford is a freelance journalist and a former deputy editor of SmartCompany.

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