[LINK] Internet filtering trial date is close

Bernard Robertson-Dunn brd at iimetro.com.au
Tue Jan 27 17:12:46 AEDT 2009

Internet filtering trial date is close
Fran Foo
January 27, 2009
Australian IT

A decision on the starting date for the federal Government's live 
internet service provider filtering trials is imminent, as 16 applicants 
are in the final round of the selection process.

In November the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital 
Economy called for expressions of interest from service providers for 
the content filtering trials.

Telstra, the largest service provider, snubbed the process, leaving a 
small pool of 16, including Optus and iiNet, to apply.

Once the department has decided which applicants are eligible to 
participate, the service providers will be notified. Not all applicants 
will automatically participate in the trials.

A spokesperson for Communications Minister Stephen Conroy could not 
provide a date for the beginning of the trial but the Government 
initially hoped it would begin on December 24.

One issue understood to be stalling the process is that service 
providers have been negotiating for extra funding.

A mere $300,000 has been allocated to fund the live trials although 
$44.2 million out of the Government's $125.8 million cyber-safety plan 
has been allocated to filtering.

The plan to censor the internet based on a web page blacklist run by the 
Australian Communications and Media Authority was one of Labor's key 
election promises.

The blacklist currently stands at 1300 but could be increased to 10,000.

The mandatory filtering proposal has drawn the ire of privacy advocates 
and the federal opposition, while others have welcomed it.

Children's groups Save the Children, and the National Children's and 
Youth Law Centre, said they were yet to be convinced of the 
effectiveness of a mandatory filter but would wait until children were 
properly consulted before making a judgement.

"We're agnostic about the mandatory filtering trials," Save the Children 
Australia child rights adviser Holly Doel-Mackaway said. "If it's an 
opt-in filter we would agree," she said.

She also called on the Government to take children's input seriously 
when forming policy.

The Government has established a youth advisory group based on 15 
schools to guide it on cyber-safety matters.

"We've been advised by the department that the consultation process with 
the children will start in March," Ms Doel-Mackaway said. "We want the 
children's comments to be documented and made public."

She warned that the mandatory filter was in danger of giving parents a 
false sense of security as internet nasties were present in many other 
forms of electronic platforms, such as instant messaging.


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

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