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Oz gov in confusion over net filter plans

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The Australian government appears confused as to whether or not it will try to pass laws concerning net filtering before a general election.

The Australian Labor party has previously promised to pass laws that would oblige ISPs to apply net filters to block pornography and other illegal content. Critics argue that the measures are badly thought out, and likely to result only in lower net speeds and a suppression of information on controversial subjects while failing to block access to illegal content for those with enough internet savvy to bypass controls.

A spokesman for Australian Communications Minister Stephen Conroy told The Australian last week that plans to introduce net filter legislation had been postponed at least until August, leaving virtually no time to get the laws through Parliament before an October general election.

However, later a different spin doctor on the Conroy team said the government remained committed to its plans to introduce mandatory net filters. Without giving a timetable for legislation she told told the AAP news agency that earlier reports of a post-election delay were "incorrect".

Anger that Australia was about to apply internet controls as draconian as anywhere in the world outside China prompted cyberactivists to organise a partially successful DDoS against Australian government websites back in February.

Meanwhile Google, one of the net industry critics of the filtering plans, said that removing RC-rated content from YouTube would threaten free speech on politically controversial subjects such as euthanasia. ®

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