Coalition filters out its own internet filter policy within hours

Takes a cue out of Microsoft's back-flipping book

Yesterday afternoon saw the Coalition launch an internet filter policy, but it was soon taken down due to it being what opposition spokesperson Malcolm Turnbull said was "poorly worded".

The current government had previously put forth a proposal for an internet filter in Australia, but it had been blocked by parliament.

The Coalition has long since been against mandatory internet filters – that is until a few hours of last night.

Filtered policy

Posted online on the Coalitions website, "The Coalition's Policy to Enhance Online Safety for Children" explained that it would work with telcos "to develop online safety standards for smartphones and other devices with mobile network connectivity".

"As has recently been achieved in the UK, we expect these standards will involve mobile phone operators installing adult content filters on phones which will be switched on as the default unless the customer proves he or she is at least 18 years of age," it continued.

The policy paper then explained a similar set up with ISPs.

"We expect these standards will involve the major internet service providers providing home network filters for all new home broadband services, which will be switched on as the default unless the customer specifies otherwise."

Just a few hours after the policy was posted online, however, it was taken down with a statement from Turnbull.

The Turnbull turnaround

In his statement, Turnbull reaffirmed that 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."

However, according to a report on ZDNet, the author of the policy Liberal backbencher Paul Fletcher said: "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."

Labor's ammunition

Just two days before Election Day, this gaffe could prove harmful to the Coalition's prospects, with Labor today releasing a statement questioning the integrity of the Coalition policy.

"Tony Abbott tonight admitted that he had read the policy before it was released and any suggestion that this was simply a badly worded sentence or two in the policy document is demonstrably wrong," the Labor party wrote on its website.

The Coalition has since posted up a revised policy, which now states that the filter will made available by telcos and ISPs, and would be opt-in for customers who want it.

"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," Turnbull said.