[LINK] Optus says 'yes' to internet filter plan

Bernard Robertson-Dunn brd at iimetro.com.au
Thu Apr 23 08:50:06 AEST 2009

Optus says 'yes' to internet filter plan
Phillip Hudson
April 23, 2009

OPTUS customers in Sydney and Newcastle will be asked to take part in 
the Federal Government's controversial test of internet filters.

In a boost for the Government, the nation's second-largest internet 
service provider said yesterday it would take part in a six-week trial.

The Government made an election promise to offer households a 
family-friendly clean internet service but has struggled to deliver the 
pledge in the face of severe criticism from some sectors of the internet 
industry that it was censorship that would block legitimate sites and 
dramatically slow internet download speeds.

The Broadband and Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy, said Optus's 
decision to participate would ensure the Government received "robust 
results" to inform the development of the filtering policy.

He said the Government was testing the feasibility of a filter to block 
material that had been "refused classification" such as images of child 
sexual abuse, bestiality, sexual violence and material that advocates 
committing a terrorist act.

Optus said it would send an email to residential customers about the 
trial, which will begin on May 22. Its general manager for regulatory 
compliance, Gary Smith, said customers would be able to opt out even 
after it started and only content on the official Australian 
Communications and Media Authority blacklist would be blocked.

Some observers questioned the timing of Optus's decision to co-operate 
with the Government on this issue and whether the company was trying to 
win favour in Canberra to secure a role in the plan to build the 
national broadband network.

Optus said it had applied to participate last December. Its director of 
government and corporate affairs, Maha Krishnapillai, said the company 
was taking part to explore the ways it could help families to use the 
internet safely.

"Optus believes the best way to accurately gauge the impact that this 
type of filtering may have on our network, including download speeds and 
customer experience, is to play a pro-active role in the pilot," he said.

The Government suffered a blow last month when the nation's 
third-largest internet service provider, iiNet, pulled out of the trial, 
saying it would not work, and a whistleblower website published a list 
of websites it claimed were on the ACMA blacklist that included a 
dentist and online poker sites. ACMA said the list was fake.

Seven other internet service providers, including the fourth-largest, 
Primus, and six smaller companies, have signed on to the trial.


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

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