Senator the Hon Stephen Conroy
Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy
Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Digital Productivity
Rudd Government welcomes Secretary Clinton’s comments on the internet
The Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, today welcomed Secretary Hilary Clinton's speech at the Newseum in Washington DC overnight.
"The Rudd Government agrees with Secretary Clinton that the internet can transform societies and enable and empower individuals to engage, connect and have a greater impact than they ever have," Senator Conroy said.
"That is why the Rudd Government is building the National Broadband Network to deliver high-speed broadband to all Australians.
"We are also working hard to ensure Australia has a thriving digital future by enabling new business models, e-health applications, e-government, smart infrastructure and digital communities."
Secretary Clinton rightly acknowledged the power of the internet to break down language barriers, overcome illiteracy, connect people to information and services, exchange ideas and hold their government's to account.
Mrs Clinton also highlighted the importance of the internet in promoting the freedom to express political views.
"Political and religious freedom is central to any democracy," Senator Conroy said.
"The Rudd Government also agrees with Secretary Clinton's observation that 'all societies recognise that freedom of expression has its limits'.
"Australians have always recognised that there is some content which is not acceptable in any civilised society. In Australia the independent national Classification Board classifies material according to criteria set out in the National Classification Scheme's Code and guidelines, including in relation to Refused Classification material. The Guidelines are reviewed periodically to ensure they reflect community standards.
"RC-rated material includes child sex abuse content, bestiality, sexual violence including rape and the detailed instruction of crime or drug use. It does not include political content or discussion. It is already illegal in Australia to distribute, sell or make available for hire RC-rated films, computer games and publications.
"RC-rated content can't be bought in newsagencies, it is not on the library shelves, you certainly cannot watch it on a DVD or at the cinema, and it is not shown on television. For this reason the Government will require ISPs to block RC-rated content at the ISP level.
"Critics of the policy continue to mislead the Australian public by suggesting that any content other than RC-rated content will be blocked," Senator Conroy said.
More information online: www.dbcde.gov.au/cybersafetyplan
Date: 22 January 2010
Contact: DBCDE Media Team 02 6271 1777
The Government announced in December 2009 a policy to require Internet Service Providers to block a defined list of URL's (or specific web-pages) that has been determined to be Refused Classification content against the National Classification Scheme criteria, following a public complaint. URLs of known child abuse content will also be added to the RC content list through international cooperation with law enforcement agencies.