Quickhit: Internet censorship trials to go ahead

The Federal Government’s mandatory internet filtering trials, which were scheduled to begin on Christmas Eve 2008, are now set to go ahead.

Telstra, Optus, and Iinet, Australia’s three biggest ISPs, are not involved. Half of the ISPs that are involved focus on business custom, not home internet.

The Australian IT reports:

The federal Government’s controversial live ISP filtering trial will finally kick-off with six internet service providers chosen to participate. Primus Telecommunications, Tech 2U, Webshield, OMNIconnect, Netforce and Highway 1 have been selected.

The live tests will last for a minimum of six weeks and the ISPs’ customers have the option of taking part in the trial.

The pilot aims to investigate the efficiency and effectiveness of a mandatory internet filtering scheme — a key election pledge by Labor.

It will test against a blacklist of 1370 illegal web pages, including 674 pages containing child sexual abuse content. The list is managed by the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

ISPs have the option of testing against 10,000 web pages but this excludes actual customers.

So far, the only positive commentary I’ve seen from inside the IT industry is from the vendors of filtering technology. Everyone else who actually knows what they’re talking about opposes the plan.

Consultation? What consultation?

Mark Newton notes the scope creep in a post at the Whirlpool forums:

From page 5 of “Labor’s Plan for Cyber Safety“:

A Rudd Labor Government will require ISPs to offer a ‘clean feed’ internet service to all homes, schools and public internet points accessible by children, such as public libraries.

Putting aside for one moment the fact that “offer” is not the same as “supply”, note the exclusion of business services.

Then note the focus of the ISPs in Conroy’s press release:

* Highway 1: SOHO and business services, no residential [information here ~L]

* Netforce: Assuming they’re talking about this and not this, these guys do business services too.

* OMNIconnect: Small business, Medium to large enterprise. They don’t even list ADSL prices on their website, they claim they’re “business grade” and you need to “Call for Details and Pricing”.

If the Government is scope-creeping its plan to include business, I think it has some explaining to do.

Categories: culture wars, law & order, Politics, technology

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5 replies

  1. What happened with iinet? I thought they’d volunteered to participate with the express purpose of showing it wouldn’t work. Perhaps they were knocked back. I wonder why that would have been….*snigger*

  2. mimbles: Yes, they’ve been excluded. APC mag says:

    When asked if iiNet was excluded from the trial because it stated that it simply wanted to show that the scheme wouldn’t work, a spokesman for Senator Conroy said, “Is that a serious question?

    I’m pretty sure my six year old used that question-avoidance tactic with me just an hour or so ago.

  3. My local provider has a contract with iPrimus, so I’ve emailed them to find out if it’s just iPrimus (the company whose power back-ups totally failed and messed up thousands of internet connections; my email is still wonky 11 days later). I’m hoping that because I don’t get my internet directly through iPrimus, I won’t be affected, but I don’t know yet.

  4. They’re testing with a blacklist of less than 1500 sites if I read that correctly. It’s not just me, right, this is a ludicrously small test list?
    And yes, the exclusion of iiNet seems to be telling.

  5. It’s ludicrous on so many levels, Ricky! And that’s one of them. The compulsory list currently has fewer than 1500 sites. This is the one we keep getting told is all OMGCHILDPORN, whereas fewer than half of the URLs on it actually have anything to do with depiction of children. We have no way of knowing how much larger this list will get if the mandatory filtering ever comes into play. We do know that it does not purely consist of illegal material, and that the government has lied about that.
    And the non-compulsory list, which is much larger, isn’t going to be tested on actual humans.
    There is something else important to note. One of the six ISPs in this “evidence-based” test, Webshield, is a vendor of internet filters, so that’s an obvious conflict of interest. Another, Netforce, seems to be thoroughly tied up with the filtering industry. Nobody’s ever heard of Tech2U, and their homepage doesn’t exactly inspire confidence that they’re anything more than a tinpot teeny ISP. It’s all as dodgy as all get-out.

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