[LINK] $90,000 per blocked web address

Jan Whitaker jwhit at janwhitaker.com
Thu Jun 4 11:58:29 EST 2009

[truth comes out: no criteria for trials; it was a Con from Conroy, 
or complete ineptness. Who is Tim Marshall?]

Internet filter: $44.5m and no goal in sight

Asher Moses
June 3, 2009 - 11:56AM

The Rudd Government's internet censorship policy will cost about 
$90,000 per blocked web address to implement and the Government has 
admitted it has not developed any criteria to determine whether 
trials of the scheme are a success.

The Opposition, Greens and online users' lobby group Electronic 
Frontiers Australia are concerned the lack of success criteria is a 
sign the policy itself has no clear goals and is instead being 
dictated by what the technology will allow.

Nine ISPs are trialling the web censorship plan, which will 
mandatorily block all content that has been "refused classification" 
by the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

Results of the trials are due to be published in July but, in 
response to a freedom of information request, the Government has 
admitted that "there are not success criteria as such".

"This exposes a major shortcoming in the Government's approach," 
Opposition communications spokesman Nick Minchin said.

Greens senator Scott Ludlam said: "It sounds as though we'll filter 
as many sites as the technology allows us to ... that's the reason I 
think people are so concerned about this in that it seems to be 
really open-ended."

EFA spokesman Colin Jacobs said: "The pilot seems to have been a 
political exercise in deflecting criticism. Without any benchmarks, 
the Government can claim it was a success regardless of the cost or 
performance issues that ISPs encounter."

ISP engineer and filtering critic Mark Newton said: "If I spent 
several hundred thousand dollars on a technology trial at work 
without having any idea about what the trial was attempting to test, 
I'd probably be out of a job."

The ACMA blacklist of prohibited URLs, which forms the basis of the 
Government's censorship policy, contained 977 web addresses as at 
April 30, according to ACMA.

The Government initially planned to censor the entire blacklist but, 
after widespread complaints that the list included a slew of legal 
R18+ and X18+ sites, the Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy, 
backtracked, saying he would only block the "refused classification" 
(RC) portion of the blacklist.

According to ACMA, 51 per cent of the blacklist, or 499 URLs, is RC content.

Based on the Government's budgeting of $44.5 million to implement the 
filtering scheme, this means the policy will cost $90,000 per URL.

"For the cost involved with implementing a mandatory filter, you 
could perhaps get far more powerful results in relation to striking 
at the actual heart of the problem, by increasing law enforcement 
resources to assist with the actual targeting of the producers and 
distributors of abhorrent content," Senator Minchin said.

Although the new Government plan to block just RC content will not 
prevent adults from surfing for porn, it is still fraught with 
difficulty as the RC category includes not just child pornography but 
anti-abortion sites, fetish sites and sites containing pro-euthanasia 
material such as The Peaceful Pill Handbook by Dr Philip Nitschke.

Sites added to the blacklist in error were also classified as RC, 
such as one containing PG-rated photographs by Bill Henson.

Senator Ludlam is concerned that the Government is testing an 
expanded blacklist of 10,000 sites - a 20-fold increase on what it 
intends to block - despite having not defined the objectives of the policy.

He said that, if the objective was to stop the flow of child porn, 
filtering sites on a blacklist would not achieve this goal because 
the blacklist would never capture even close to all of the child-porn 
sites on the web and would be ineffective against peer-to-peer file sharing.

"It's like trying to stop the drug trade by blocking one set of 
traffic lights," Senator Ludlam said.

He noted that this week's arrest of 16 Australian men for accessing a 
web video of an eight-year-old Russian girl being raped was the 
result of "people booting down doors, not a net filtering outcome".

Senator Conroy's spokesman, Tim Marshall, did not respond to a 
request for comment.

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
jwhit at janwhitaker.com
blog: http://janwhitaker.com/jansblog/
business: http://www.janwhitaker.com

Our truest response to the irrationality of the world is to paint or 
sing or write, for only in such response do we find truth.
~Madeline L'Engle, writer

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