iiNet slams ASIC's IP-blocking notices

iiNet slams ASIC's IP-blocking notices

Summary: iiNet's chief regulatory officer Steve Dalby has said that iiNet would not have blocked the IP addresses to the websites that ASIC sought to block based on the notices it sent to other ISPs.

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Several of the notices sent to companies such as AAPT, Optus, and Telstra by the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) would not have been sufficient enough for iiNet to block those IP addresses, according to iiNet's chief regulatory officer Steve Dalby.

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request from the Pirate Party of Australia's secretary Brendan Molloy revealed on Friday that AAPT, Telstra, Optus, Pipe, and Pacnet were approached by ASIC to block IP addresses linked to websites that were believed to be in breach of Australian law.

ASIC has been using Section 313 of the Telecommunications Act to request that ISPs block websites. The commission only revealed that it was using this power after the organisation accidentally blocked thousands of websites in seeking to block an investment fraud site.

iiNet has so far not received any request from ASIC to block IPs, but Dalby said that none of the notices, bar the notice that came with a court order attached, would have been sufficient for iiNet to have blocked the IP addresses.

"The ASIC notice is not transparent, does not follow due process, nor is it effective," he said. "There's no way we'd block websites on the strength of 'pursuant to investigations' for 'possible contraventions'. Not only that, but there seems to be no senior authorisation, just a middle manager signing off.

"Imagine your website being blocked for a month, simply because you were under investigation. That is absolutely appalling."

iiNet doesn't disregard all Section 313 notices, however. The Australian Federal Police (AFP) sent iiNet a notice asking for the company to implement the Interpol blacklist filter, which Dalby said that iiNet is now in the process of implementing.

"The Interpol block may not be live yet, but it's happening. That AFP 313 notice was put through the wringer, and we are satisfied that it is effective, has checks and balances, follows due process, and is quite transparent."

Optus, in the meantime, is reviewing the way s313 notices are handled by the company.

"Optus has a formal process to respond to requests from relevant government agencies," a spokesperson said.

"We are currently reviewing how previous Section 313 requests were processed. Optus is in discussions with ASIC regarding the best approach to future requests."

iiNet CEO Michael Malone told ZDNet today that he would like to see oversight of the s313 notice scheme become a priority of new Communications Minister Anthony Albanese.

Topics: Government, Government AU, Privacy

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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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4 comments
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  • At least one ISP has some sense

    iiNet seems to be one of the few ISPs that understand the law.

    Why did any other ISP act on these requests?

    BTW I am with Optus.
    richardw66
  • I am with Optus too

    until my NBN connection is available.

    The other ISPs have rolled over for S313 orders to block to protect their bottom line. They don't want to fight government departments about the validity of the requests. Too bad about the customers.
    Bob.H-819a5
  • Sooooooooo......

    exactly what access do ISP personnel have to the 'worst of the worst' Interpol lists, what security clearances do they have, and who the f... gave Mr Dalby the authority to make the decision that "we are satisfied that it is effective, has checks and balances, follows due process, and is quite transparent". He is an employee of a private company with no more right to make that decision than a janitor.

    Still, given the access that Booz whatever has to the NSA data base nothing really surprises about the outsourcing of our rights to Joe techie these days...
    btone-c5d11
    • What does it matter....

      ...what access ISP personnel have to the list? They don't necessarily require security clearance in order to perform their duties and chances are the list is checked automatically without giving anyone full access. Going by his official title (Chief Regulatory Officer), I could pretty much guarantee he would have a better idea of what authority they have to make the decision whether to implement a block or not - probably on the basis of whether there is a court order attached (proving that it has gone through at least some oversight).
      Swarvester