Conroy plans filter 'surprise' announcement

Summary:Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said today that he has been meeting with the internet industry on implementing the voluntary internet filter and is expecting a positive outcome.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said today that he has been meeting with the internet industry on implementing the voluntary internet filter and is expecting a positive outcome.

(Credit: Josh Taylor/ZDNet Australia)

After the government shelved its plans for a mandatory internet filter last year, Optus, Telstra and CyberOne all implemented a voluntary internet filter that blocks access to the Interpol blacklist of the "worst of the worst" of child abuse websites. The government had pledged to continue down the path of mandatory internet filtering once a review of the classification system had been completed.

This review was released earlier this month, with a recommendation that the definition of the content that would be blocked under a mandatory filter should be narrowed to exclude sexual fetish-type material and minor criminal activities such as graffiti or use of proscribed drugs.

At a press conference today, Conroy said that the government was still reviewing the report, but added that it was in discussions with industry associations about getting member internet service providers (ISPs) to implement the filter.

"There are a number of companies already introducing the voluntary filter against the Interpol list. We welcome that, we think it's a very, very positive step. I would hope all companies would introduce that voluntarily," he said. "We're in a situation where we're having some discussions with the industry association and I think we may come to a very positive outcome."

Conroy wouldn't say what announcement may come from these discussions.

"I wouldn't want to spoil the surprise," he said.

The voluntary filter has been controversial since its implementation, but not to the degree that the mandatory filter had seen in the past. In the first three-and-a-half months of operation, Telstra facilitated 84,000 redirects from attempts to access sites on the blacklist. The majority of these attempts were made in the first month of the filter's implementation and significantly dropped in the last two months. Telstra couldn't confirm exactly how many people were attempting to access those websites, and the customers who did attempt to access those sites did not have their details passed onto the Australian Federal Police.

While Telstra and Optus have voluntarily implemented the filter, other ISPs such as Internode have refused to follow suit, saying it will only act when the government forces them to.

Topics: Censorship, Government : AU

About

Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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