Largest ISPs left out of filter list

Largest ISPs left out of filter list

Summary: Communications Minister Stephen Conroy this afternoon announced the names of six ISPs that will participate in the Federal Government's internet filter trial — but the nation's largest ISPs are not on the list.


Communications Minister Stephen Conroy this afternoon announced the names of six ISPs that will participate in the Federal Government's internet filter trial — but the nation's largest ISPs are not on the list.

Stephen Conroy
(Credit: DBCDE)

Primus Telecommunications, Tech 2U, Webshield, OMNIconnect, Netforce and Highway 1 are set to take part in the six week 'live' ISP filtering tests.

The list notably lacks the country's largest ISPs, such as Telstra and Internode, which had indicated to in December last year that they would not take part in the trials. iiNet, which had said it would take part to prove the technology didn't work, was also left off the list.

The tests with the six ISPs announced today will look at the "efficiency and effectiveness" of a range of filtering products that were tested in closed trials at Telstra last year. The tests will also assess how easily the filters are circumvented as well as the impact on internet speeds.

Customers of the six ISPs will be able to choose whether they want to be included in the trial, according to Conroy's statement.

The tests will have two streams: ACMA's blacklist of banned URLs, and one that tests the effectiveness of filtering non-web protocols, such as peer to peer networks. Optus, which said it would participate in the web filtering trials, had also said it would not participate in the latter one.

Conroy today acknowledged the concerns aired by industry and civil rights groups.

"The government is well-aware of technical concerns about ISP filtering and that is why we are conducting a pilot, to put these claims to the test," Conroy said.

While he admitted that the filtering tests would not be a "silver bullet", Conroy stuck to the argument that the tests met the government's evidence-based approach to the filtering proposal.

"The live pilot will provide evidence on the real-world impacts of ISP content filtering, including for providers and internet users. It will provide evidence to assist the Government in the implementation of its policy," he said.

"ISP filtering is no silver bullet and the government is implementing a comprehensive set of measures to combat online threats."

See's Twisted Wire podcast for more on this topic.

Topics: Censorship, Government AU, Telcos

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

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  • Which ISP's ??

    Apart from Primus, i have never heard of any of those ISP's, and i have a fair knowledge of the industry. What is the govt going to learn from a bunch of 2 bit ISP's who have no siginificant infrastructure or customer base?
  • Although it could be good...

    Although it could be good...

    "All 4 of our customers hated the clean feed, mostly because it didn't work"
  • Inaccurate pilot

    How exactly is a pilot involving five relatively small ISPs and one medium-sized ISP going to provide accurate statistics? You cannot filter an ISP with a client base of 1,000 and then assume that the same results will apply to a Telstra-sized ISP. This trial will only create false facts that will support the government's ridiculous filtering plan.
  • rofl

    This is how they plan to 'show' it 'works' without any 'issues'...

    Man, I really hate conroy....
  • Gazing into the crystal ball...

    I can see how this is going to pan out...

    1. No customers choose to be included in the trials.
    2. Senator Clueless crows "Successful trials! Filtering has zero impact on speeds"
    3. All ISPs are forced to implement it.
    4. Everyone's Internet runs like frozen molasses.
  • What a joke

    Well, if this plan wasn't already proven to be ridiculous and technically unfeasable, we now have this news. Remove this idiot from office and get someone in that actually has a clue.

    Let's hope Conroy falls on his own sword and the rest of the communis.... labor party thrown this stupid plan out.
  • P2P blocking = faster internet

    Blocking P2P has two advantages. It will stop wholesale illegal copying and downloading of music and films. The second advantage is that it will result in faster internet for everyone due to the massive congestion caused by P2P downloading on our existing telecom infrastructure.
  • Can't agree more

    what's more, i can't believe i liked him more than coonan back in the election. I'll take her back anyday.

    seriously...the day we actually get someone who knows how to turn a computer on in the top job for the government IT portfolio will be a wonderful day.
  • This is set to fail

    Using unheard of ISP's with a customer base of 2 and Primus, I mean, Reallly?? There is no way that is going to provide a 'reliable report' on the ability.

    Give it up Conroy. You have no idea about the internet.
  • iiNet

    I'm not surprised iiNet was dumped. They were the most vocal about being willing to expose this idiotic filter for the con job it is.

    If Senator Conroy genuinely believes the filter will work, what better way to prove it to the world than by bringing its strongest critic into the trial and making them eat their words?

    One of the biggest fears of the filter is the throughput impact on the Internet, yet with only bit players involved in the trial, how is any useful load testing to be achieved?

    The trial, like the senator himself, is nothing but a waste of time.
  • Conroy

    How dare he slip this in during bush fires the sneaky bugger.
  • If P2P was blocked...

    imagine the business that rapidshare/megaupload will be getting instead of it.. whichever way you cut it, people will still find ways to get around blocks.. If people pirate your movies/tv shows, whatever, maybe its because your business model sucks.. Who wants to pay $50 to go see a movie with the family.. who wants to pay $30 for a dvd.. who wants to put up with networks playing hot potato with your favourite tv show.. I think its the government that should take a hard look at why people pirate stuff, rather than placing sole blame on pirates.. If media companies actually made it affordable and easy to get what they want, i'm sure piracy figures would plummet (you'll always get people who pirate, fact of life really).. If you've bought a dvd or a cd, and it becomes damaged, or if you've got a dvd of a good movie you now want to own on bluray, why should you have to rebuy it all over again.. Thats fine, RIAA/MPAA, you've only got yourself to blame for high piracy rates..
  • Waste of time & our money....

    I'm sure thousands have been wasted already on consultancy fees etc, but why not cut the losses, call it unworkable & give the allocated money to the Bushfire victims.
  • Uh, no

    There are so many problems with blocking P2P:

    * P2P file-sharing is used legitimately too (Linux distributions, game updates)

    * P2P can be encrypted, making it indistinguishable from VPN, VoIP, and SSL traffic - and those things are utterly essential to telecommuting, modern telephony, and e-commerce respectively.

    * P2P is not responsible for congestion, it just means that whoever is responsible for the link that is congested, needs to upgrade the link. P2P can actually be used to reduce congestion across expensive links, since people near each other can now share files, avoiding expensive international transit.

    * People will still trade in illegal music and films, they were doing it before the Internet

    * You can't expect to block it on privately-run networks that aren't involved with any ISPs.

    (I work at an ISP; though I'm speaking from my own experience and not talking on behalf of my employer)
  • Cost effective solution

    How about just removing the DNS entries for child porn web servers. No additional infrastructure will be required and the Government's requirements will be met. Use the rest of the money for something useful like supporting the bushfire victims.
  • What he said.

    Blocking P2P will cause more problems than it solves. Bad idea.

    Small ISPs = ineffective load testing = invalid test result.

    No iiNet = Conroy knows it won't work, doesn't want to have them prove it to him.
  • Quality selections

    What a complete and utter farce. Tech 2U looks like a QUALITY ISP... Their web page must have been developed in the early "frames & links table" stage of the 'net.

    I can almost guarantee that these ISPs will be applying for (and amazingly, receiving) Government grants...

    Oh, and look, how convenient - Webshield are already using a damned filter!!
  • Nice idea but I doubt it will work

    People will avoid using DNS and might go direct to IP addresses instead. Then people will have to try and block them, playing catch up all the time, whilst the offenders change IP and legitimate people are given a blocked IP address.
    The way to combat child porn is similar to drugs. Unfortunately harm minimisation and proactive strategies to prevent it early on in peoples lives are the only solution.
  • Conroy is a hypocrite

    I reckon he is the one downloading p0rn making it worst for all of us. damn n00b

    Coonan was by far better. At least the woman knew where her place was.