[LINK] ISPs clustered for filtering trials

Bernard Robertson-Dunn brd at iimetro.com.au
Thu Jan 29 19:13:39 AEDT 2009

ISPs clustered for filtering trials
Fran Foo
January 28, 2009
The Australian IT

Participants in the federal Government's controversial mandatory 
internet filtering scheme will start live trials in batches, instead of 
en masse.

Sixteen expressions of interest for the trial have been received from 
small, medium and large ISPs, and the Department of Broadband, 
Communications and the Digital Economy is considering which providers 
should be invited to take part in the test.

It is understood that since the size of the ISPs vary, they could be 
grouped together in blocks; the start and end date for trials would 
differ depending on the groupings.

Live trials will be conducted by Enex TestLab, the Melbourne outfit that 
conducted the first laboratory, or closed, trials of internet filtering 
products under the Howard regime.

Ideally, ISPs will participate in the pilot for a minimum of six weeks.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy hopes to introduce two forms of 
content filtering: a mandatory scheme based on a blacklist of illegal 
web pages, and an optional "clean feed" of links that would 
automatically block certain types of content, such as adult material.

It would be up to individual ISPs to select customers for trials on the 
blacklisted pages, collated and managed by the Australian Communications 
and Media Authority (ACMA).

ISPs have the option of testing network performance against a list of 
approximately 10,000 sites but without involving customers.

Optus, for example, has only chosen to trial the blacklist, which 
comprises 1370 URLs based on 1125 separate domains. The list is compiled 
based on complaints lodged with ACMA by members of the public.

According to ACMA, 864 web pages relate to content falling under the RC 
classification, including 674 pages containing child sexual abuse content.

The RC classification restricts depictions of child pornography, 
bestiality, excessive violence or sexual violence, detailed instruction 
in crime, violence or drug use, and/or material that advocates terrorism 

Labor's promise to censor the internet was a key election commitment.

However, details of Labor's censorship policy will only be developed 
after the live trials and consultations with stakeholders, Senator 
Conroy has said in answer to parliamentary questions on notice.

Access to search engine tools will not be blocked to prevent 
circumvention of the filter, the minister said.

Child protection lobbyists want more engagement between Government and 
children who are major stakeholders in the internet filtering debate.

As reported yesterday, Save the Children Australia and the National 
Children's and Youth Law Centre have yet to be convinced of the 
effectiveness of a mandatory filter and would wait until the 
Government's youth advisory group was consulted.

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

Following its election, the Government set up a youth advisory group 
comprising 15 schools to guide it on cyber-safety policies.

Ms Doel-Mackaway called on the Government to take children's input 
seriously when forming policy.

"We want the children's comments to be documented and made public," she 

The department has yet to say when trials would kick-off.

Note: This story has been updated since first published. Actual sexual 
activity between consenting adults falls under X18+ classification of 
the films table of the National Classification  Code and not RC 


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

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