ISPs: Govt porn filters 'could cripple internet'

ISPs: Govt porn filters 'could cripple internet'

Summary: Broadband providers Internode and iiNet have hit out against the Federal government's ISP-level content filtering initiative — a scheme that could cripple Australia's high-speed internet access, according to one exec.

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Broadband providers Internode and iiNet have hit out against the Federal government's ISP-level content filtering initiative — a scheme that could cripple Australia's high-speed internet access, according to one exec.

Mandatory filtering, one of Kevin Rudd's election promises, is set to move the emphasis from parents onto ISPs to remove "inappropriate content" from Australians' internet experience with potential software filters currently being trialled by ACMA.

The regulator is expected to file its report on the filter tests with Communications Minister Senator Stephen Conroy by the end of this month, after the Federal government pledged a one-off AU$125.8 million subsidy for ISPs to install the required equipment as part of this year's budget.

The plan has already attracted its critics. Security experts recently called government filters to block malware — rather than the "inappropriate content" currently targeted — a suggestion backed by ISP Internode.

"Mandating [ISP-level malware filtering] would actually add value," said John Lindsay, Internode carrier relations manager. "But it wouldn't be able to deliver on the government's desire to stamp down on dissent or keep us in a high state of panic about certain things."

"We support the government's desire to keep kids safe on the internet and certainly from any type of exploitation, but we don't support the government crippling high-speed broadband services which they say are so essential to the development of our economy," he told ZDNet.com.au.

Lindsay said Internode would not be doing "any serious planning" until the government decides exactly what its filtering initiative is going to look like. While the ISP plans to comply with future government requirements, the Internode executive said he was "intrigued the government seems so confident that users will be happy to have their access slowed down to allow for filtering they don't want".

"Some of the things the government could mandate are simply not technically feasible, some could be highly disruptive to users, some could be simply ineffective at blocking access to certain content," he said. "What you end up with is everybody being dissatisfied with the filter."

Stephen Dalby, chief regulatory officer with iiNet, believes the government's push to provide ISP-level filtering represents a knee-jerk response to a far more complex issue.

"This whole notion of taking a technological solution to what is otherwise a social issue really has some problems... Our only concern is that the government may push this through, raise their hands and say 'right, we've done something about it'," he said. "Let's hope there's some sincerity in looking at fixing the community problems associated with this more intently."

Like Internode, iiNet intends to comply with future legislative requirements, but already provides a level of filtering consistent with some of the government's proposed measures.

"In terms of blocking websites, we already do that," he said. "But it all comes down to who's making the call about what's being blocked. We're a business, we don't represent the community."

"We're happy to cooperate with whatever's required of us, but at one stage it was proposed that we'd be the ones who determined what would be blocked, but that responsibility shouldn't fall to us — it's a censorship issue," said Dalby.

Telstra's BigPond, however, takes a different stance. A spokesperson for the ISP said filtering is "part of the overall solution of reducing families' exposure to online risks with education and safe online behaviour being as equally important".

Topics: Censorship, Broadband, Telstra, Telcos, Security, Malware, Government AU, Government, Browser, Enterprise 2.0

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33 comments
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  • Australia will be the new china with this filter

    Does Kevin have chinese in him? as he is sure making this country much more friendly with china day by day and well this is just another thing china already has to add to the list of countries we copy from.
    anonymous
  • Porn Filter.

    Hopefully this is something that people can opt out of. I would hate to think that the government is going to play big brother for adults. And I certainly don't want my internet connection slowed.
    anonymous
  • ISP's scaremongreing again

    Maybe a bit of Government control is not such a bad thing...maybe why the FTTN is a joint venture???

    We all no there is a lot of trash on the internet & dont see why ISP's oppose the Government.

    I noticed BigPond is cooperating with the Rudd Government
    anonymous
  • Band-aid solution for stupid parents

    The responsibility for blocking inappropriate material should not be a government issue or something the ISP's should be forced to do.

    Parents of children should be responsible for keeping their own kids safe on the internet.
    Yes I read alot of people saying "but my child knows more then me about computers so how do i know im protecting them"

    The simple solution to the above is put the money for this grand adult filter scheme into teaching parents what to look out for, what is good what is bad and how to keep track of what their children are doing.

    Australia's internet is slow and expensive enough without having to deal with a massive filter that probably wont work the way they are trying to claim, and hell like everything else filter wise it will be by-passable.

    Also you have to face it this whole system will just block inappropriate content that is discovered. this system will not protect against social networks and instant messaging systems which are the main way kids are contacted my sexual predators.

    Finnaly Kids mature they hit puberty they learn about sex and stuff at a young age and they want to explore that. Most adult filterers are so dumb that they will even block pages providing information about safe sex and STD's so we will end up with a bunch of kids who just go ahead and do without knowing details on protection because of dodgy filters.
    anonymous
  • Let me join in!

    I am totally opposed to filtering of my internet connection. Not because I want to get the stuff they aim to block, but simply because it's going to cripple internet access.

    I run my own filtering at home (DansGuardian) and I'm constantly having to remove sites that are incorrectly ID'ed as porn (including a SMH article about the Catholic church once).
    Imagine the hoops to jump through if the government controls the list!
    anonymous
  • Agreed = Technology does not rerlace sopcial responsibility

    The Government is promoting the use of technology top replace social responsibility.
    Part of bein g a parent is encouraging children to learn, investigate and be able to make their own decisions about what is right and what is not.

    If we replace the ability to make a WRONG decision with technology - then they will not learn.

    How many stories do we see every day about a person that made a bad decision - because they did not have the capacity to sort the information and make a good decision?

    Keving the Blunderer strikes again
    anonymous
  • Apply to the Governement first

    The ISPs should apply the filtering to the governement services first. When they complain about their sevice slowing as the ISP servers screen every word, or that innocuous sites are being blocked, maybe then the government will realise what a stupid idea it is. Why should the rest of us suffer to highlight the idiocy of the idea.
    anonymous
  • Legislating Morality

    Again, the government tries to legislate how we live our lives.

    Filtering software was offered by the last government. It failed because it was OPT IN. That is, people had to get off their asses to install it. But it was available.

    So Rudd and co. decide to fix that problem by taking away the choice.

    And the most disgusting thing is they are using "kiddie porn" to scare people away from dissent. That old line "it's to protect the children, you couldn't possibly object to it" is worn out and I do object to my rights being abridged because of a few bad parents who won't supervise what their child does (I don't even have kids... =P)

    ps. Apparently filtering was implmented on MP's office connections recently and they kicked up a fit about it.
    anonymous
  • Slow Brainer

    We already pay far too much for sub-standard internet infrastructure and service in this country, thanks to the morons who let Telstra continue to monopolise the nation's main internet access system. Now we have to put up with a planned slow-down of our internet speeds by installing filters that will not work 100% anyway. We have only just begun to see half-decent speeds in this country and now the government want to cripple it again by "protecting" families from, what they deem to be, unsuitable content.

    What next, remove all books from public libraries deemed to be unsuitable for the public?
    anonymous
  • more like chinstralia

    I agree, rudd does seem to have quite an obsession with the chinese
    anonymous
  • Filtering. The first step towards 'internet 2'

    If you are having a BBQ, and you have kids, you would supervise them to make sure they didn't get burnt on the coals.
    Has the government spent $125.8 million on fire guards for BBQ's? No, they have left it up to parents to be sensible and look after the safety of their children.
    So why then, would a government want to filter "inappropriate content" and not leave this responsibility with parents?

    First you have to ask "what is inappropriate content?" and how do you define it.
    When we see the phrase "inappropriate content" we immediately think of pornography. But "inappropriate content" means different things to different people.
    Don't forget that this filter will apply to adults as well.
    A government may decide any information to be inappropriate.

    Check out http://www.infowars.com/?p=1715
    also check out http://www.infowars.com/?p=1675
    And of course do your own research.... while you can. This is effecting people world wide.
    anonymous
  • hacked

    Millions of $$ will be spent. Some 15 year old will come along and hack it making it useless.
    It will be able to be hacked. It wont stop anything. It will just slow our net down and make it open to abuse by the government like in China.
    I know people in China. Apparently their 'great firewall' is rather easy to get around. But you can be in a lot of trouble if you get caught.
    anonymous
  • filters @ isp level

    ill bet that rudd,s greeting would be ,sorry comrad you cant visit that site ++++++ his morning call may as well be SIG HEIL,SIG HEIL SIG HEIL the great filter
    anonymous
  • ISP Internet Filter - Not going to help

    After reading through the comments. I am a qualified Computer Technician who details with malware/spyware on a day to day basis.

    The truth about Australian parents is that a good percentage simply do not care about what their children are doing online and the ones who do simply use the wrong software to prevent malware and so forth.

    Parently only seem to take note of what their children are doing then "the computer stops working" and they have to fork out $$$ to get it fixed.

    Most parents beleive purchasing an Internet Security Package will solve everything.

    This is not the case, most packages such as Norton 360, Trend Micro for example do not protect their children from viewing what they want to view.

    99% of the time, those packages will only result in cutting off your Internet due to them malfunctioning or simply not stopping the viruses.

    So as a Computer Technician who see's many computers per day come through out shop will malware and so forth I say this.

    1. Any software containing a Firewall will "NOT" stop your kids from doing what they want to do.

    2. Installing secret parental software even hard to find for a technician is *NOT* going to stop your kids from doing "what they want to do".

    3. ISP's installing a filter to slow down or stop certain sites and malware......... while it's a good idea I dont beleive grounding the Internet in Australia to a halt is the best approach.

    I have tested many solutions available today and filtering does slow using the internet down dramatically and alot of times can ground the whole web surfing experience to a halt as it filters certain websites.

    -- What is the solution?

    It's a million dollar question. I beleive Internet safety simply lies within the family home.

    Parents need to become aware of what is 'going on in their kids lives'. They need to pay more attention to whats going on.

    Kids are smart, 99% of the time they do know more then their parents in terms of using a computer. They know all the ways in getting around any software their parents may install.

    There's 2 solutions I can provide which in real world solutions is practical.

    1. Windows Vista has "guest" account or "limited user" options for creating user accounts. If their children have a limited account they cannot install software.

    2. You can purchase items such as the "D-Link DSD-150 SecureSpot Internet Security Adapter" which you pay a yearly fee and it basically is a box that can filter content which is managed by another company and continouly gets updated.

    Perhaps they should make this is 3-Step-Solution.

    1. Make parents aware, perhaps make parents perform an online "verification" small training course to continue using the Internet every 6 months or simply when a person signs upto broadband (use drivers license for ID) - Only for verification against their account details.

    2. Provide base filtering at the ISP level, but not to the extent it will slow the Internet down.

    3. ISP's and the Government work together to come up with a option for parents to buy such as box as the "D-Link DSD-150 SecureSpot Internet Security Adapter" to provide more detailed filtering and perhaps logging.

    A band-aid fix wont solve the problem with Australian families.

    Parents are too busy for the children and ultimately this is why this happens.

    Parents need to be more involved, they need to know more about the Internet and also simply to have more options then just simply......... I'll buy Norton and it'll fix it.

    *****

    With that said, as this is about Australian Families I will offer my advice as a Computer Tehcnician.

    We do not endorse and Anti-Virus protection that comes with "a firewall". Firewalls only cause problems with computers.

    Your ADSL or Cable modem has an effective firewall built in for 90% of them, Microsoft Windows also has it's own firewall.

    We recommend and only recommend a program called AVG Anti-Virus - Free Edition
    anonymous
  • Previous opt in service

    The prior opt in service was a waste of money. It ended up costing the taxpayer about $1500 per liscence for the filtering software. And from memory, that was for all the liscences shipped, half of the shipped copies were never installed.

    It was a failure then, and if there was so little demand, why on earth are they pushing an opt out system now.

    Crazy!
    anonymous
  • porn

    com`on people this is not about inappropriate content ! this is about control. the only free medium left on the planet, if they want to truly help then make the software available for installation for those that want it. im an adult, if i want porn i should have the right and i dont need the gov`s permission. who defines inappropriate content anyway?? I just need to lean back and imagine Kev da Dud and is missus going at it for that. honestly, were in real trouble and its going to get worse before it gets better.

    sheeple or people.
    anonymous
  • A Blunt Instrument

    Filtering has always been a blunt instrument. What a single young fellow quite reasonably reads of an evening bears no relationship to what a small child should see, so there is no one size to fit all.

    Filtering has tended to catch an awful lot of legitimate information in its net, denying people access to sites on health, news, human rights and so on that of necessity sometimes refer to intimate matters.

    Most importantly though, it is perfectly possible to produce offensive content using normal language etc. that cannot reliably be filtered, and to make it appear to come from perfectly legitimate sources.

    The only filter capable of handling this is the human brain. That means parents not only taking responsibility for what their children see, but also for teaching them how to be critical of what they see. This is the only way to be sure that as they grow they too are able to spot what is offensive for themselves and understand when it may put them at risk.
    anonymous
  • Inappropriate

    Who is to say what is inappropriate? I would block all religious conrtent and all govt propaganda but have no issue with porn and the like. I'm sure Rudd would hold an opposing view and would block porn, antireligious and anti-govt information. So who is right? Answer that question and then I may think about ISP level filtering.
    anonymous
  • 2 options

    There should be a choice, filtered or not filtered - I am sure this can be done.
    anonymous
  • Internet not for kids anyway

    The Internet never was and never will be a place for kids anyway. Kids should not be allowed on it without adequate supervision. Unsupervised kids on the 'net is tantamount to letting them play unsupervised on a highway.

    Any ISP filtering is EASILY overcome with the likes of www.your-freedom.com, not to mention the numerous free proxy and anonomiser services out there. Any kid with half a brain, enough time and determination could easily figure this out.

    The gov't will end up with egg on its face - can't wait for that!
    anonymous