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Australia's prime minister has backed a controversial plan to filter illegal online content, despite fears that the scheme will affect users who are not breaking the law. 

Internet freedom campaigners bitterly oppose the idea of the state deciding what they can look at online, but in her first comments on the issue, Julia Gillard said that the proposal was an effort to control the "dark side" of communications technology.

She said Stephen Conroy, the Australian communications minister, will come up with a new proposal after tweaking parts of the exisiting plan.

''Images of child abuse, child pornography - they are not legal in our cinemas,'' Gillard told ABC Radio on Wednesday, as quoted in the online edition of the Sydney Morning Herald.

''Why should you be able to see them on the internet? I think that that's the kind of moral, ethical question at the heart of this.''

Conroy said talks are being held with ISPs on aspects of transparency and accountability for illegal content.

"I expect it [the legislation] to be this year. I expect that we will table the legislation this year sooner rather than later," The Australian quoted him as saying.

Similar legislation was first mooted in 2007 and introduction of the latest proposal was postponed by Kevin Rudd, the former prime minister, until after the next election.

Source: Al Jazeera