Censorship related funding to watch for in the Budget

May 11, 2009 — 4 Comments

Budget night Tuesday night. Although the Government’s “cyber safety” policy was costed in last years budget, the massive change to Government finances could see a revision to what was announced last year. Here’s what to look for.

Last years costings here as the start point. $125.8m total.

ISP funding

The original commitment included “a one?¢‚Ǩ‚Äòoff subsidy towards the costs of installing Internet Service Providers filters” from 2009-2010. It wasn’t clear who would pay this, but the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy had $32.5m allocated to it under the plan for 08-09 (a huge spike), followed by only $6.6m in 09-10.

AFP Funding

The Government has already stripped $2.8m from the AFP for its Online Child Sexual Exploitation Team. Given the likely cost cutting measures across all Departments, further money could be stripped here.

ACMA Funding

For the implementation of the plan, ACMA was allocated $2.8m for each of 09/10 and 10/11. It’s difficult to break this out, because ACMA receives separate funding for its existing censorship activities.

What we do know though is that the censorship plan must include an increased workload for ACMA, after all, how can you implement a censorship plan without a review and enforcement process.

Now We’re Talking noted on the ACMA direct expenditure after the 2008 budget

ACMA funding is projected to fall from $99m in 2007-08 to $94m in 2008-09 and to $90m thereafter. Consistent with this average staffing levels are projected to fall from 555 in 2007-08 to 530 in 2008-09.

Talking points

If ISP funding is cut for filters, the extra cost to the consumer of internet access if the censorship scheme goes ahead.

If AFP cyber safety funding is cut, why are we doing less to track down child porn etc.

If ACMA funding is cut (further), how is the scheme going to be enforced?

Additional points

If anyone knows of any additional budget items we should be looking at in tonights budget, please leave a comment.

Update: thx to @aussexparty on Twitter, keep an eye on funding through the Attorney Generals Department for funding for the classification board.

A quick Google search and I couldn’t find a break out figure for the board in the AG’s budget allocations, but this isn’t to say that it isn’t there somewhere. Will do some more digging. The implications should be that the implementation of Internet censorship would in theory require more resources for the classification board, given that ACMA must refer take down notices (and presumably entries to the blacklist) to the censorship board for final classification.