Australian government to educate agencies on internet filter notices

Australian government to educate agencies on internet filter notices

Summary: The Australian government has said it will work with government agencies to ensure Section 313 requests to block websites are "properly targeted".


Following the revelation that the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) accidentally blocked over 1,200 websites after sending a Section 313 request to Australian ISPs to block a website linked to fraud, the Australian government has defended the process and said it will work with agencies to get it right in the future.

In April, ASIC issued a Section 313 notice to telecommunications providers seeking to block access to the website linked to an investment fraud scam where investors were getting cold calls from fraudulent financial services that point investors to the website.

The regulator this afternoon confirmed that in the process of blocking that website, it also blocked over 1,200 other sites, including the Melbourne Free University website. ASIC has since had the block lifted.

However, the revelation that the Australian government was covertly blocking websites without notifying the public, and without any oversight or appeals process, unlike the Interpol "worst of the worst" filter list, has been met with sharp criticism from groups such as Pirate Party Australia and the Greens.

Pirate Party Australia said this afternoon that the legislation that empowers government agencies to seek to block websites was "flawed" and being abused.

A spokesperson for Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said that ASIC had issued the notices because they believed the website was in breach of Australian law, specifically Section 911a of the Corporations Act.

"Under Section 313 of the Telecommunications Act websites that breach Australian law can be blocked. Other websites that were hosted at the same IP address as the fraud website were unintentionally blocked," the spokesperson said.

"The government is working with enforcement agencies to ensure that Section 313 requests are properly targeted in future."

ZDNet understands that Section 313 notices are not uncommon for telcos to be sent, and usually come from the Australian Federal Police. ISPs assess these notices on a case-by-case basis, and the sites that are sought to be blocked will also be assessed before proceeding with any such block. It remains unclear how ASIC was able to get the request that blocked the 1,200 websites that shared the same IP address as the fraudulent website past the ISPs that ultimately blocked those websites.

Greens communications spokesperson Scott Ludlam indicated to ZDNet this afternoon that he intends to follow up the matter with several government departments in Budget estimates hearings later this month.

Topics: Censorship, Government, Government AU


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.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Censorship-Stops me having to think.

    Its for our own good and we all trust the government of the day, and the various government agencies and departments, to do whats best for us, don't we?. ;-)
  • internet

    I am a communist expert in Vietnam war, I fought in battle field and psychological warfare against the Vietcong. After Saigon lost, I was imprisoned 6 years into 9 hell of reeducation camps. I escaped from Vietnam to find freedom and have never returned to where I fled, I have lived in Australia since 1983, so I know Labor wants to take control the media by limited free speech, that is the manner of the most communist regime as China, North Korea, Vietnam, Cuba...The communication minister Stephen Conroy who has not much capacity into the communication and technology, but he and its party want to destroy the free speech, the NBN to be disaster if a day, the scientist discover wireless system, then billion dollars to be wasted. I know Labor wants to transform Australia to socialism by CAPITALIST BEATEN as carbon tax, mining tax...and media control, but there is no room for the Karl Marx's pupil apply.
    Hoa Minh Truong.
    ( author of 3 books: the dark journey, good evening Vietnam & from laborer to author)
    hoa minh truong
    • Hmmmm

      I'm not sure your history actually proves or reveals anything about Labor intentions, although it may make for interesting fodder for a teledrama. Non-socialist countries exercise a fair bit of censorship and media control as well. In capitalist countries it is often via media control by an elite who have vested interests in such things as deregulated banks. I very much doubt it was a socialist plot that led to many Americans falling victim to government rhetoric re WMDs in Iraq going unquestioned by most of the media, nor were commies behind various anti-terror bills that eroded privacy. Does Conroy really want to destroy free speech, or is he merely misguided about the best manners in which to safeguard the public? Wouldn't the creation of the NBN be counter to such a desire for total control?