Rudd Government’s internet filter to block up to 10,000 ‘unwanted’ sites Rudd Government’s internet filter to block up to 10,000 ‘unwanted’ sites

By Jennifer Dudley-Nicholson, November 13, 2008 10:44am

AUSTRALIA’S mandatory internet filter is being primed to block 10,000 websites as part of a blacklist of unspecified “unwanted content”, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy revealed in Federal Parliament.

The 10,000 blocked websites would include 1300 websites already blacklisted by the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

Senator Conroy revealed details of the Rudd Government’s proposed web filter as he called for expressions of interest from internet service providers for a live trial of the technology.

As part of the trial, ISPs will test different methods of filtering the web with subscribers who volunteer. The trial is expected to last six weeks and will start before Christmas.

“The pilot will specifically test filtering against the ACMA blacklist of prohibited content, which is mostly child pornography, as well as filtering of other unwanted content,” Senator Conroy told Parliament.

“While the ACMA blacklist is currently around 1300 URLs, the pilot will test against this list as well as filtering for a range of URLs to around 10,000 so that the impacts on network performance of a larger blacklist can be examined.”

ACMA’s laboratory trial of web-filtering technology this year found filtering technology could slow internet access by as much as 87 per cent and by at least 2 per cent.

Electronic Frontiers Australia board member Colin Jacobs says live trials of ISP-based web filters would be rushed, as they were scheduled to occur as internet companies geared down for Christmas.

Mr Jacobs said large internet providers such as Telstra and Optus would find it difficult to participate, while mid-sized providers might take part in the trial simply to prove the technology “unfeasible”.

Mr Jacobs said the civil liberties group was also concerned at what would be deemed “unwanted content”.

“It is unclear how ACMA will scale up their blacklist to 10,000 websites and what will go on the list,” he said.

“Mr Conroy said the list would contain illegal and unwanted content but we still have to see what would end up on that list.

“Under the current mandate that includes adult material, which would mean most material that could be rated R and, in some circumstances, material rated MA15+.”

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