Web Filtering Will Cause Sex Shop Boom, Aussie Trade Group Says

Tod Hunter
SYDNEY, Australia — Fiona Patten, CEO of Australia adult industry trade group Eros Association, told an anticensorship rally in Sydney that sex shops will proliferate in Queensland if the Australian government's Internet filtering plan is implemented.

Addressing an anticensorship rally organized by Australia's Digital Liberty Coalition on Saturday, Patten said, "If the filtering goes ahead, Queensland will see an explosion of adult shops because, if people can't access adult material online, they'll go to retail outlets instead. Increased demand will lead to more shops."

With a reported 116 sex shops and a population of 4.3 million, Queensland already has more sex shops per capita than any other Australian state.

The Sydney rally was one of several held at state capitals across Australia: Sydney's Town Hall, Brisbane Square, Melbourne's State Library, Adelaide Parliament House, Perth's Stirling Gardens and at Tasmania's Parliament Lawns.

Green party Member of Parliament Scott Ludlam, who spoke at the Perth protest, said before the rally, "This plan is flawed for its infringement on civil liberties, and for being an unnecessary distraction from the important policy objective of protecting children online. The Australian people and Internet service providers are sending a clear message to the government — they don't think mandatory Internet filtering will work, and they are repeatedly making clear that they don't want this flawed policy.

"If the government is serious about combating child pornography it needs to invest in initiatives that target the people propagating this material and expose the causes of sexual violence in our society, rather than taking a blanket out-of-sight-out-of-mind approach to the issue, which will inadvertently penalize all Australians who use the Internet."

Other speakers at the rallies included members of Amnesty International, academics from state and national universities and representatives of Electronic Frontiers Australia, and the Australia Sex Party.

The Internet filtering plan has been controversial since Communications Minister senator Stephen Conroy proposed it early this year.