minchinSenator Nick Minchin is taking initiative in his fight against Labor’s mandatory ISP filtering policy and unlike his opposition in the Senate, his message is getting stronger. Minchin’s latest press release draws attention to China’s move to bulk-up it’s censorship system by resorting to PC installed filters and he asks whether Labor will continue to ignore the problems that exist with filtering at ISP level given China’s latest move.

I’m impressed Minchin and his staff took hold of this opportunity to highlight Labor’s flawed policy. I guess it’s been a while since I’ve seen a little bit of tech-know-how on either side of the communications portfolio.

Here’s the press release in full:

Will Labor ignore cracks in China’s ‘great firewall’ to introduce a flawed mandatory internet filter?

Mon, 8th June 2009

While the Rudd Government remains fixated on introducing a mandatory Internet Service Provider level filter, from 1 July all computers in pro-censorship China will have to be sold with PC-level filtering software because too many people are said to able to bypass the centralised system.

Under the Chinese edict all computers sold will be required to have ‘Green Dam – Youth Escort’ software pre-loaded or provided on a CD, according to today’s Wall Street Journal, in a move aimed at protecting young people from “harmful content”.

“The Chinese Government is said to operate the most sophisticated network level Internet filtering system in the world, yet it will require computer-level software to be installed because many users are said to be able to circumvent the centralised ‘Great Firewall’,” Shadow Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Senator Nick Minchin said.

“This is very telling for a country that went down the path of network-level Internet filtering from the very beginning and probably has the most advanced system in the world,” he said.

“If it was such an effective system, why would a country like China feel so compelled to require all computers to have pc-level filtering software installed? I suspect it is because pc-level filters are considered a more practical option.”

“While the Chinese are conceding that ISP-level filtering is not a panacea for restricting access to online content, the Rudd Government is spending millions of dollars to pursue this very approach.

“Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has closed the Net Alert free pc-level filtering initiative, established by the previous Coalition Government, which means there is currently no Commonwealth backed filtering option in place,” Senator Minchin said.

“Net Alert enabled Australian families to install software on their home computers, which could be tailored to the needs of each individual household.

“Adult supervision should be central to all online safety efforts, supported by proven products that can be used to provide extra layers of protection, whether they be ISP or PC-level options.

“Mandatory ISP-level filtering is a very radical step, particularly if it is based on a system that can be simply bypassed by the producers and consumers of illegal content, including child pornography and will adversely impact system speeds and performance.

“While technology advances at a great pace, Senator Conroy has so far failed to demonstrate that a mandatory ISP-level filtering regime can be implemented without adversely affecting the online experiences of law abiding Australians.”