Christian lobby group reportedly wants mandatory internet filtering for all users in Australia

A Christian lobby group in Australia is said to be pushing to have online pornography blocked for all users in the country.

(REUTERS)A student uses a notebook computer in this undated file photo.

The Australian Family Association, according to Crikey, is calling on the federal government to have a mandatory internet filter put in place, with people who wish to access pornography having to opt-in. However, the publication has obtained, under the freedom of information law, some documents that show that the government is still "sensitive" to the issue and that it is opposed to such a policy.

According to the report, the Coalition released in 2013 -- two days prior to the elections -- its initial policy on online safety for kids. Under the policy, all adult websites would be automatically locked and if anyone wishes to access these, they have to let their internet service provider know that they are opting out of the internet filter.

However, shortly after the document was reported in an article on ZDNet, then-spokesman for the opposition Malcolm Turnbull reportedly said that it was "poorly worded" and it "incorrecly indicated that the Coalition supported an 'opt-out' system of internet filtering," adding that their position is to make software available that parents can use "to protect their children from inappropriate material." While the proposed appointment of a Children's eSafety Commissioner was maintained, the party continued to be in opposition to internet filtering.

Under Prime Minister Turnbull, Alastair MacGibbon was appointed as the first eSafety Commissioner early last year and officially commenced the role in June, after which the AFA asked him in July to implement internet filtering. All requests regarding this issue, he reportedly replied, should be directed to the Department of Communications. He subsequently recommended to Communications Minister Mitch Fifield that education and parenting tools be put in place instead of internet filtering.

His recommendation is said to have suggested replacing "the impact on children from unobstructed access to pornography online" to "trends of online consumption of pornography by children and their impact on the development of healthy and respectful relationships" in the terms of reference used by the senate committee. This would "dovetail nicely with [domestic violence] work and also sexting," the publication quotes a document they obtained, while there were "sensitivities around the concept of filtering for pornography (the politics and the actual efficacy)."

Nonetheless, the Coalition's stance on internet filtering reportedly remains the same.

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