Aussie Govt gives up plan for internet filter

Labor has abandoned its controversial plan to introduce an internet filter, but is banning all websites related to child abuse.

The federal government will use its powers under the Telecommunications Act to block hundreds of child abuse websites already identified by Interpol, Fairfax reports.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said blocking these websites met "community expectations and fulfils the government's commitment to preventing Australian internet users from accessing child abuse material online".

"Given this successful outcome, the government has no need to proceed with mandatory filtering legislation," he said.

Kevin Rudd promised to introduce an internet filter when Labor won office at the 2007 election, but it was always a controversial policy.

Internet lobbyists argued against censorship and predicted a filter would be ineffective and would slow internet speeds.

Both the coalition and the Greens opposed the plan.

The internet filter would have required Australian internet service providers to block overseas-hosted "refused classification" material as identified by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

The list of banned websites would have been based on public complaints to ACMA.

Fairfax said Internet Industry Association chief executive Peter Lee welcomed the decision as "a positive step".

But the Australian Christian Lobby insisted a filter was needed because "it is important to prevent unwanted access to pornography".

"We must protect our children from forming unhealthy attitudes towards women and sex," lobby spokeswoman Wendy Francis said.

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