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Last Updated: Monday, 31 December 2007, 13:52 GMT
Australia plans tough web rules
By Phil Mercer
BBC News, Sydney

Generic image of person using computer
Internet providers will be expected to filter all their content
Australia is planning tough new rules to protect children from online pornography and violence.

The new Labor government wants internet service providers to filter content to ensure households and schools do not receive "inappropriate" material.

Civil libertarians have condemned the plan as unnecessary, and say it will erode the freedom of the internet.

But telecommunications minister Stephen Conroy said more needed to be done to protect children.


The Australian government's aim is to ensure that children only have access to family-friendly websites.

Service providers will be expected to stop the flow of pornography and other X-rated or violent content.

The government is set to compile a list of unsuitable sites, although at this stage it is unclear what will be deemed unsuitable.

Australians wanting unfettered access to the web will have to contact their supplier to opt out of the new regime.

Critics of the proposals have insisted they have no place in a liberal democracy, and have accused Canberra of being oppressive.

But Mr Conroy has been unmoved by their arguments.

The minister stressed that if people equated freedom of speech with watching child pornography then he would always disagree with them.

Concerns have also been raised that the government's filters could slow down access to the net, in a country where connection speeds are often below international standards.

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