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 Tuesday, August 14, 2007

On Sydney Morning Herald's Veto for Parents on Web Content, it was announced that ISPs in Australia will be obligated to filter web content at the request of parents. This is part of the $189 million Federal Government crackdown on online bad language, pornography and child sex predators. According to the Prime Minister, John Howard, the Government would increase funding for the federal police online child sex exploitation team by $40 million to aid investigators to track those who prey on children through chat rooms and sites such as MySpace and Facebook. The Government is also expected to pay $90 million to provide every concerned household with software to filter internet content.

According to the article, the more efficient compulsory filtering of internet service providers (ISPs) was proposed in March last year by the then Labor leader, Kim Beazley, which the Communications Minister, Helen Coonan, and ISPs criticised as expensive then. Three months later Senator Coonan announced the Government's Net Alert policy, promising free filtering software for every home that was interested. She also announced an ISP filtering trial to be conducted in Tasmania, but that trial was scrapped.

The ISP filtering measure, according to Mr. Howard is a world first by any Government, and is expected to offer funding to help cover the cost. An ISP filter option will be made available to parents when they sign up with an ISP. This service will be compulsory to all ISPs. The measures are expected to be implemented by the end of this month.

US authorities have reported last month that more than 29,000 convicted sex offenders had profiles on MySpace. In Australia, about 26 per cent of Australia's 3.8 million MySpace users are under 18. To protect the users, MySpace has written to all state and territory governments, and the Commonwealth, asking them to create a national child-sex offender database that requires email addresses to enable them to track sex offenders and remove their profiles on the system.

Read the full article here.