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
Child abuse material blocked online, removing need for legislation
Minister for Broadband, Communications, and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, has today announced that Australia's major Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are required to block child abuse websites on the INTERPOL ‘worst of’ child abuse list.
“Blocking the INTERPOL ‘worst of’ list meets community expectations and fulfils the government’s commitment to preventing Australian internet users from accessing child abuse material online,” Senator Conroy said.
“Given this successful outcome, the Government has no need to proceed with mandatory filtering legislation.
“In 2010, the Government announced that the Australian Law Reform Commission would review the refused classification category, after community concern that it didn’t reflect community standards.[i]
“Following public consultation, the ALRC recommended in February 2012 that refused classification should be narrowed into a prohibited content category, which includes illegal content like child abuse material.
“In line with this recommendation, Australia’s largest ISPs have been issued with notices requiring them to block these illegal sites in accordance with their obligations under the Telecommunications Act 1997.
“Telstra and Optus agreed to block the INTERPOL list in 2010, with the Australian Federal Police subsequently issuing the relevant notices. They have reported that this has had no impact on internet speeds or congestion and they have had no reports of people being denied access to legitimate web content.
“I welcome the support of Australia’s major ISPs and the Internet Industry Association for taking appropriate steps to meet their lawful obligations. This means that more than 90% of Australians using internet services will have child abuse material blocked by their ISP.”
The CEO of the Internet Industry Association (IIA), Peter Lee, has praised the Government’s initiative.
“ISPs recognise their role in assisting law enforcement agencies and meeting their obligations under the law. Blocking the INTERPOL ‘worst of’ list is a positive step in preventing Australian internet users from committing the offence of accessing child abuse material,” Mr Lee said.
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) will now begin issuing notices to smaller ISPs and will work closely to assist them in meeting their obligation under Australian law and prevent their services being used for illegal activities.
The INTERPOL process for identification of websites for this list is rigorous and transparent. The criteria for websites to be included on the list and the complaints procedure for owners of blocked domains are all available on the INTERPOL website at http://www.interpol.int/Crime-areas/Crimes-against-children/Access-blocking.
A website must be reviewed by agents from two countries before it can be added to the list. Australian internet users who attempt to access these sites will be redirected to a ‘stop page’.
This informs them that the site has been blocked and denies them access to the material. Similar approaches to blocking access to child sexual abuse material have been operating in several countries - including the United Kingdom, Canada and the Scandinavian countries - with very good results.
More information about the INTERPOL list and its action on crimes against children can be found at http://www.interpol.int/Crime-areas/Crimes-against-children/Crimes-against-children
Date: 9 November 2012
Contact: Adam Sims 0407 258 457
[i] Outcome of consultations on Transparency and Accountability for ISP Filtering of RC content - http://www.minister.dbcde.gov.au/media/media_releases/2010/068