[LINK] Net filter at test phase

Bernard Robertson-Dunn brd at iimetro.com.au
Tue Feb 26 11:46:35 EST 2008

Net filter at test phase
Fran Foo
February 26, 2008
Australian IT

The federal Government's plan to have internet service providers filter 
pornography and other internet content deemed inappropriate for children 
is going full-steam ahead.

Trials are to be conducted soon in a closed environment in Tasmania.

Today is the deadline for expressions of interest to Enex TestLab, the 
Melbourne company evaluating internet service provider content filters 
on behalf of the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

ISP-based filters will block inappropriate web pages at service provider 
level and automatically relay a clean feed to households.

To be exempted, users will have to individually contact their ISPs.

The trial will evaluate ISP-level internet content filters in a 
controlled environment while filtering content inappropriate for 
children, Enex said.

"We invite vendors of all types (hardware appliances, software - 
proprietary or open-source) of ISP-based internet content filters to 

"Vendors will be involved in the installation and configuration of their 
filters to ensure their correct deployment," Enex said in a newspaper 

The testing is slated for completion by July and will be followed by 
live field trials.

Enex was selected more than six months after ACMA closed a tender for an 
organisation to test ISP-based content filters.

"The contract has been let. It will be completed by June 30, as we 
originally planned," Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said at a 
Senate Estimates hearing last week.

"We have indicated that there will be a field test to follow."

The tender was awarded to Enex on January 16, ACMA spokesman Donald 
Robertson said.

The tender closed in July and evaluation was conducted late last year, 
but ACMA decided not to let the tender until after the federal election 
caretaker period, Mr Robertson said.

Privacy advocates have long argued that ISP-based filters are too 
onerous and web users should be free to choose what they want to access 

They also say several measures, including PC-based filters, would be 
more effective in protecting children online.

The internet sector has consistently voiced concern about the 
Government's ISP filters.

Internet Industry Association chief executive Peter Coroneos has said 
any clean feed policy would have to be balanced against the likely 
financial and performance costs, and ACMA's first annual report to 
Senator Conroy confirmed his fears.

On the performance impact of filters, ACMA said: "In the case of 
personal computers the cost of upgrading processing power may be modest 
(although significant in terms of household income).

"However, for ISPs the cost of upgrading or augmenting the expensive 
hardware that they typically deploy may be substantial, particularly for 
small providers."

The report, released last week, also conceded that Web 2.0 technology 
poses the greatest threat to the younger generation.

"The risks to Australian youth are primarily those associated with Web 
2.0 services - potential contact by sexual predators, cyber-bullying by 
peers and misuse of personal information," ACMA said.

The rise in popularity of social networking websites such as Facebook 
and MySpace, coupled with a dive in the use of email, has made it 
difficult to filter content.

"Filters are currently unable to sift the content of communication 
between users using instant messaging or chat services," ACMA said.

The agency concluded that education was the most effective way of 
addressing risks associated with illegal contact online.



Bernard Robertson-Dunn
Sydney Australia
brd at iimetro.com.au

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