Australian media authority plugs potential leaks

The Australian Communications and Media Authority is looking at ways to tighten security of its blacklist of banned websites, following a supposed leak, the authenticity of which was later denied

The Australian Communications and Media Authority on Thursday said it was talking to the Internet Industry Association about what action it needed to take to make sure its blacklist stays private and under lock and key.

The comments came after whistle-blower web repository Wikileaks published what appeared to be an Australian Communications and Media (ACMA) blacklist of banned websites; a list that communications minister Stephen Conroy later said was not authentic.

ACMA said it had provided its blacklist to 14 providers of filter software, tested and accredited by the Internet Industry Association (IIA), and would now be looking to close any leaks.

"ACMA is discussing with the IIA what, if any, action it may need to take to help ensure that ACMA's list remains secure," the authority said in a statement. "ACMA considers that any publication of the ACMA blacklist would have a substantial adverse effect on the effective administration of the regulatory scheme which aims to prevent access to harmful and offensive online material."

It added: "Such publication would undermine the public interest outcomes which the current legislation aims to achieve."

The IIA did not return requests for comment by ZDnet.com.au in time for this article.

ACMA echoed Conroy's comments that the list that had been circulating on Thursday was not its own. "The list provided to ACMA differs markedly in length and format to the ACMA blacklist. The ACMA blacklist has at no stage been 2,300 URLs in length and at August 2008 consisted of 1,061 URLs. It is therefore completely inaccurate to say that the list of 2,300 URLs constitutes an ACMA blacklist," the authority said.

It warned those accessing and distributing the links that they were committing an offence.

"Some of the URLs that remain active appear to relate to online depictions of child sexual abuse. Possessing, distributing or accessing such material may amount to an offence under the Commonwealth Criminal Code and relevant state laws," the authority said.

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