An analysis of ISP filtering schemes in Europe has shown that none have adopted mandatory filtering — a claim Senator Conroy has used to justify such a scheme in Australia.
"With the limited exceptions of Germany and Italy, mandatory ISP level filtering is not a feature of any of the countries reviewed," Tom Edwards and Gareth Griffith wrote in a special research note published by the NSW Parliamentary Library Service.
The department provided the research to a member of the NSW parliament who was interested in the subject, Edwards told ZDNet.com.au. He declined to say who the member was.
The authors noted that on 20 October, Conroy suggested a two-tier filtering scheme in parliament. "Mandatory of illegal material and an option for families to get a clean feed service if they wish", Conroy said.
The research went on to address claims made by Conroy where he had compared the proposed mandatory ISP-level filtering scheme to that adopted by Sweden, the UK, Canada and New Zealand.
The closest model to that proposed for Australia was the UK, the research found, however, even there, participation by ISPs was "encouraged, under threat of regulatory intervention should it fail to do so."
The researchers also highlighted a weakness in any claim that the filtering would prevent paedophiles from accessing child porn. BT admitted that the UK's "Cleanfeed" scheme was "intended to prevent users inadvertently accessing illegal material, rather than to stop hardened paedophiles."
BT also said the filtering technology would not prevent people accessing content outside the UK's equivalent of the Australian Communication and Media Authority's blacklist, which is managed by a non-government organisation, the Internet Watch Foundation.
The Internet Industry Association (IIA) has pointed out that while the authors said that Italy had imposed mandatory filtering, it was "in fact subordinate legislation — not law per se. It gives effect to an agreement that was previously reached by ISPs and the relevant regulator. To that extent, Italy has not enacted mandatory ISP filtering, either."
The IIA added that Germany's regulation of search engines was implemented by agreement.
A summary of other filtering schemes