iiNet slams ASIC's IP-blocking notices

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.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

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.

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