WA ISPs lash Internet filtering proposal

Western Australia's peak Internet service providers' body has slammed proposals by the Opposition Liberal Party to legally force ISPs to filter the Internet for adult content as "populist but ridiculous".

Western Australia's peak Internet service providers' body has slammed proposals by the Opposition Liberal Party to legally force ISPs to filter the Internet for adult content as "populist but ridiculous".

Western Australian Internet Association (WAIA) president Richard Keeves said while ISP members abhorred "illegal and offensive content on the Internet" and provided filters to help parents shield their children from pornographic material, "it is quite another matter to require ISPs to filter everyone's Internet access, which would be costly, ineffective and provide a false sense of security to parents".

The state Liberal Party is pushing for a review of Internet filtering under its Protecting Our Children policy, despite concerns from her federal counterparts that filtering is highly difficult to make work effectively.

Keeves said the difficulties included the fact filters slowed Internet access and that none were 100 percent accurate, as they filtered some innocuous material out and allowed some objectionable material through.

Knowledgeable Internet users would be able to bypass the filters or access content using peer-to-peer technology that could not be filtered.

The WAIA's secretary, Nathan Thomas -- an employee of a member ISP -- said the cost of compulsory filtering would be such that smaller ISPs who could not pass it on "might well be sent out of business".

Keeves added that with so many ISPs now being nationally-based, it would be impractical for a filtering regime to be imposed on Western Australians only.

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