ISP filtering report unlikely to surface: Budde

Continuing the ISP-level filtering debate not a fight Conroy would win and likely to undermine his credibility, the telecommunications analyst argues

The Federal Government commissioned report into the viability of mandatory ISP-level filtering may never see the light of day according to telecommunications analyst, Paul Budde.

Speaking to Computerworld, Budde said the Federal Government’s lack of communication on its ISP-level filtering plans, and its refusal to set a date for the release of its findings, suggested that the Government’s plans had been shelved.

“In my opinion it doesn’t make political sense for [Communications Minister Stephen Conroy] to undermine his work with the NBN by putting emphasis on the whole [ISP filtering] situation,” he said. “[Conroy] has not done anything to suggest that he has withdrawn from the issue, but at the same time it does not make sense [to pursue mandatory ISP filtering]. He is sensible enough to see, and feel and hear that, so why would you pursue something that is really not going to be a winner?”

According to Budde, the ISP industry’s willingness to tackle the issue underpinning mandatory filtering - protecting children online – meant that an industry alternative to mandatory filtering was likely to emerge.

“There is enough common ground that we can start tackling the issue without making such an enormous fuss about it and pointing the finger at the ISPs. [Mandatory ISP-level filtering] is a bit of a non-issue as every serious player in the market … is willing to sit around a table and help the government find a solution to the issue… but the way that the government is going is not inclusive of the whole industry.

“I think in the end [Conroy] would fail with it – it is not an fight he would win and that would undermine his credibility, so why would you do it? So, he might want to take another initiative from here which is more inclusive of the industry, rather than ‘I tell you what to do’.”

IDC telecommunications analyst, David Cannon, said it was likely that the ISP-level filtering report “in some shape or form” would reach the light of day, but the level of detail the report would contain on the viability of the plan was debatable.

Cannon said a number of different solutions were in use by ISPs aimed at addressing the issue of protecting children online, however this did not include major industry adoption of the same kind of filtering at the network layer as the mandatory ISP-level filtering scheme.

“The nature of the internet as a moving target, the administrative cost for ISPs to do it properly, and without any legal exposure you subject yourself to if you advertise yourself as a filtered service mean there aren’t any major movements towards filtering at the network layer,” he said.

In early November, a spokesperson for the Communications Minister, Senator Stephen Conroy, confirmed no date has been set for the report’s release.

Email Computerworld or follow @computerworldau on Twitter.

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