[LINK] Net filtering may not be mandatory
brd at iimetro.com.au
Wed May 27 09:35:28 EST 2009
Net filtering may not be mandatory
May 26, 2009
The Australian IT
The Rudd Government has indicated that it may back away from its
mandatory internet filtering plan.
Communications Minister Stephen Conroy today told a Senate estimates
committee that the filtering scheme could be implemented by a voluntary
Senator Conroy’s statement is a departure from the internet filtering
policy Labor took into the October 2007 election to make it mandatory
for ISPs to block offensive and illegal content.
Responding to questions from shadow communications minister Nick Minchin
on how the government may go about imposing the internet filtering
scheme, Senator Conroy said that legislation may not be required and
ISPs may adopt an industry consensus to block restricted content on a
“Mandatory ISP filtering would conceivably involve legislation …
voluntary is available currently to ISPs,” Senator Conroy said.
“One option is potentially legislation. One other option is that it
could be (on a) voluntary basis that they (ISPs) could voluntarily agree
to introduce it.”
In response Senator Minchin said he had never heard of a voluntary
Senator Conroy responded with “well they could agree to all introduce it”.
The Government is currently spending around $300,000 on an industry
filtering trial involving nine internet providers. The results of the
trial, which are expected to inform its final policy, are expected to be
handed to Senator Conroy in late July or early August.
The estimates committee was told that 30,000 internet users across the
nine ISPs had been invited to participate in the trial.
Advisors from within the Department of Broadband, Communications and the
Digital Economy took on notice a question as to how many customers had
agreed to sign up for the pilot.
Late today a spokesman for Senator Conroy said that the department was
not allowed to reveal how many subscribers had participated in the trial
due to terms of its agreement with the participating ISPs. He referred
to previous statements affirming that the outcome of the trial would not
be affected by the number of participants.
“The trial is examining different filtering technologies in a live
internet environment. In particular, Enex Testlab will assess the
performance of the filter on internet speeds. A scalability assessment
will also be undertaken to assess the impact of the filtering solution
on internet access speeds with higher levels of traffic and customers,”
the spokesman said.
He refused to clarify the minister's comments when asked whether the
Labor government was prepared to accept a voluntary ISP-level internet
The committee was also told that the department had recently agreed to
give internet provider Primus around $14,300 to purchase equipment that
would help test how the filter would perform when large numbers of
customers were involved.
The primary goals of the trial are to measure how accurately the
filtering technology can perform in recognising and blocking sites on
the communications watchdog’s blacklist of refused classification web
pages and its impact on internet speeds.
brd at iimetro.com.au
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