No opt-out for Optus, Telstra filter

No opt-out for Optus, Telstra filter

Summary: Two of the three major broadband providers that have voluntarily signed up to block child abuse websites have confirmed today that customers would not be able to opt out of the providers' new filter.


Two of the three major broadband providers that have voluntarily signed up to block child abuse websites have confirmed today that customers would not be able to opt out of the companies' new filter, meaning customers may turn to smaller providers that have revealed they will not join the block in the immediate future.

On Friday, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy revealed that three internet service providers (ISPs) would cooperate with his request to voluntarily block child porn online while the government's mandatory internet filtering policy was finalised. The list to be used will be compiled and maintained by the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

Both Telstra and Optus today confirmed to ZDNet Australia that although they would filter this content voluntarily, this block would be mandatory for all of their users.

Primus had not responded to requests for comment at the time of writing.

For users opposed to any level of internet filtering, the only opt out may be to sign up with ISPs such as Internode, iiNet and Adam Internet, which have not signed up to the voluntary block.

Internode general manager of Regulatory & Corporate Affairs John Lindsay said the ISP would not comply and that ACMA's blacklist had been thoroughly discredited.

"It covers a tiny proportion of the content that would need to be blocked for it to be effective and has already been shown to contain URLs of legal content that Australians would expect to access," he said in a statement.

"Internode reminds parents that they will always need to use supervision and that they should activate the filtering tools provided with their computer operating system to protect their children online. There are also numerous tools sold by companies like Symantec and F-Secure that can provide fine-grained filtering that is age-appropriate."

iiNet chief executive Michael Malone said his company would wait to see the detail of the proposal.

"I am a long-time supporter of opt-in, or even opt-out," he said by email. "Still not keen on a blanket mandatory filter though. On the plus side, I'm very happy to see the scope limited to child porn (for now), and to see notice to website owners, an appeals process and regular review."

Adam Internet CEO Scott Hicks told ZDNet Australia that the ISP had no intention of following the lead of the three ISPs in blocking any content in the immediate future.

"We have no intention of implementing any filter until the government's content review has been completed," he said.

Mobile broadband player VHA — which operates the Vodafone and 3 brands in Australia — said in a statement that the company wholly supported the development of the Internet Industry Association's ISP code, which it said would guide the mobile industry in the blocking of unlawful content. ZDNet Australia understands that the broadband provider won't immediately follow the lead of Telstra, Optus and Primus.

Unless forced to by the government legally, Exetel would also not be joining the volunteers.

"Exetel will obey any federal or state law but will not initiate any sort of censoring," Exetel CEO John Linton said in a statement to ZDNet Australia.

The news on Friday came as part of a wider announcement where Conroy revealed the filter project would be delayed for a year, while a review was carried out by federal and state governments into the Refused Classification category of content which it will filter.

In addition, a number of other measures aimed at enhancing the project's transparency and accountability were added to the project.

Topics: Censorship, Government, Government AU, Telcos, Optus, Telstra


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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  • Anyone who wants an opt-out clause just wants to view kiddie porn and beastiality. Just ask Conroy, he'll tell you.
  • There must be some legal limitation to what is available through the internet, just as through any other medium which can transfer content depicting abusive and illegal acts. It's just a pity that the people who are 'in charge' don't know much about the medium in this case, and have some sort of agenda to extend it and enforce their own moral outlook.

    Which leads to a further question, To what extend should the government be able to shape our morality?
  • There are already limitations as to what is available. If you view illegal material, you may be arrested. That is a limitation.

    Laws do not prevent your car being stolen, they only provide consequences. Attempting to physically prevent law-breaking is not going to work. If someone really wants to break the law, then they will find a way to do so.

    The only thing that a filter achieves is censorship.
  • This is very different from the proposed filter given that its child porn only. Since child porn is distributed by non webpage related transfers it will have little impact. Good non the less but the filtering should stop and stick to child porn.
  • Congratulations to the ISPs who are standing up to this backdoor attempt by the Government to implement its absurd 'mandatory filter' via by the back door. These are the ISPs that will get my business.

    The mandatory centralized censorship is a repugant idea. The Government has utterly failed to pursude the community it is necessary or will work as stated. Now, I imagine, it's using it's NBN warchest (of taxpayer funds) to bully ISPs into compliance.

    Bye bye Telstra - it's about time I stopped paying over the odds for second-rate service. I shall encourage my freinds to churn as well.
  • I have no problem with a blacklist of Child porn sites and as long as they are re-evaluated every month I have no problem with supporting it. But an RC filter is NOT something that should be used it does nothing to solve any problem. Anyone how wants the content can always get hold of it. but it limits content which is informative to people with diseases and their support networks.
  • Bloody hell, now I am seriously wishing I could live independently...I hate being under 18 (few months away, but it seems like FOREVER).

    (my home's ISP is Telstra, and not by my choice, and I can't do anything to change that right now *sigh*)
  • It is also true that underage children often have access to alcohol, but I find it appropriate that we do our best to restrict this access from children. Border authorities and police try to restrict the flow of illegal drugs such as herion, cocaine, etc., even though it is illegal to buy, sell or use them. Personally, I feel that this is a positive idea. Just saying, 'This is illegal and you may be caught' is not really enough sometimes. However, the above examples show that not everything should be lumped into the same category (both alcohol and cocaine are drugs with negative side effects, but vary in their degree of damage, and we have different laws as a result).

    I do not feel it is inappropriate to try and restrict the flow of illegal material when we cannot combat the source. The trouble with the filter is that the RC material covers an ambiguous moral category that ignores personal freedom.
  • Down with Telstra. Maggots.