Updated: LNP Backflips on Implementing Opt-Out Internet Filter

(The Coalition has now seemingly backed down on this policy. See updates below)

Josh Taylor for ZDNet Australia:

A Liberal National government in Australia would adopt the opt-out UK approach to filtering the internet for all Australians.

…The announcement, buried in an AU$10 million online safety policy published online today announces that under a Tony Abbott government, Australians would have “adult content” filters installed on their phone services and fixed internet services unless they opt out.

Normally I stay out of the political news spectrum, but this news has absolutely crossed a line. This is an total backflip by the LNP–41 hours before an election–on a critical issue that many Australians would strongly oppose.

I joined the protests in Brisbane when the Labor party was trying to implement a compulsory internet filter. I opposed it then. I oppose this plan now.

If you vote for the LNP, you’re not only voting for a second-rate NBN, but you’re also casting a vote to actively filter the internet in Australia.

I urge you; if you care at all about having a fast, reliable, open internet services in Australia, please don’t vote LNP.

Update: Since this afternoon, the Coalition have issued a statement stating the incorrect policy was issued and that it does not support either a mandatory or opt-out filter:

The Coalition has never supported mandatory internet filtering. Indeed, we have a long record of opposing it.

The policy which was issued today was poorly worded and incorrectly indicated that the Coalition supported an “opt out” system of internet filtering for both mobile and fixed line services. That is not our policy and never has been.

The correct position is that the Coalition will encourage mobile phone and internet service providers to make available software which parents can choose to install on their own devices to protect their children from inappropriate material.

The policy posted online today is being replaced with the correct version.

The Coalition have not yet explained why this document was authored. This issued statement also runs contrary to what Coalition MP Paul Fletcher & Chair of the Coalition’s working group on Online Safety repeatedly confirmed to ZDnet journalist Josh Taylor this afternoon:

“The key thing is it is an opt-out, so it will be open to the customer to call up and say, ‘look, I don’t want this’, and indeed, we will work with the industry to make this a streamlined and efficient process,” he said.

Josh has backed up his article with audio of Paul Fletcher confirming this policy.

More damning still, Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull also went on to Triple J program Hack and defended this ‘incorrect’ policy.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports on the backdown by Malcom Turnbull:

In announcing the opt-out filter’s demise, Mr Turnbull later tried to explain his earlier defence of the “incorrect” policy.

‘‘I read the policy for the first time when it was released this afternoon,’’ he said.

‘‘I defended it as best I could and then as soon as I had an opportunity to ensure that it was withdrawn and corrected I did.’’

Both Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott have described the instance as ‘a failure of quality of control’ and defended the rest of the Coalition’s policies announced today.