Uncertainty reigns about whether Stephen Conroy's Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE) has received Enex Testlabs' report into the feasibility of ISP-level content filtering.
Neither Enex nor Conroy's office today could confirm whether the labs' report has been delivered to the department, following debate about the issue in parliamentary Question Time yesterday.
During Question Time in Senate yesterday, Conroy replied to a question from Greens Senator Scott Ludlam, saying that "the live pilot trial into ISP-level filtering has recently been completed. The report has not yet been finalised. I have undertaken to release it in due course".
Although the research, conducted by Enex Test Labs, had been completed, Conroy yesterday was able to dodge questions from Ludlam over what proportion of the internet's content that had been rated Restricted Content would be blocked in comparison to the amount of information exchanged on the internet.
He stated that he had not yet received the report, but did not clear up whether DBCDE had the document.
"As I have not received the report, I am not able to answer your question," Conroy responded. He went on to say, "There has never been a suggestion that peer to peer would or could be blocked by our filter. We are not attempting to suggest that that can capture this."
Ludlam challenged Conroy on oversight of the filter's blacklist, currently managed by Australian Communications and Media Authority. Earlier this year there was uproar following a version of the blacklist being leaked to the public via Wikileaks, which revealed a Queensland dentist's website had been blacklisted after it had been hacked.
At a Senate Estimates hearing in May, Conroy had promised to consider additional checks and balances to ensure the integrity of the list. "Were those commitments serious?" asked Ludlam.
"I have been in discussions with some in the industry about enhanced practical measures to ensure confidence that a government minister or government bureaucrat is not the sole arbiter [of the list]," said Conroy.
Conroy canvassed several options under consideration, including secondary oversight of the list by the Classifications Board or even, like the UK system which is overseen by the Internet Watch Foundation, an industry body in conjunction with a government department.
"Another is a parliamentary committee that could examine the classification process," said Conroy. "The internet is the most powerful platform for information and entertainment that we have known; however, it also has potential dangers."