Budde: Worries remain over ISP-level content filter

Questions will continue to be raised over ISP-level content filter according to leading telco analyst

The Federal Government's decision to go ahead with a controversial ISP-level content filter will raise more questions than it answers, according to a leading telecommunications analyst.

Speaking to Computerworld, Buddecomm director, Paul Budde, said he was worried the move by Senator Stephen Conroy to push ahead with the content filter to block URLs that received a Refused Classification rating by the ACMA in the face of considerable public backlash was setting a precedent for the future.

"With Refused Classification, I have no issue with that – it's not the sort of information that any normal person would want so I have no issue with that," he said. "I am worried about embarking on this; what does it lead to? What will be added to it in future by all the political parties and other people? That is my worry."

In November, Budde, said the 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.

But after much delay the Federal Government released the results of Enex TestLab’s test pilot into mandatory ISP-level content filtering, finding that a technically competent user could circumvent filtering technology based on ACMA’s blacklist.

According to the report, initially all filters had issues with loading the ACMA blacklist indicating a need for routine checking to ensure the blacklist is filtered correctly with each update.

On the up side, testing also revealed that ISPs filtering only the ACMA blacklist during the trial had no noticeable performance degradation that could be attributed to the filter itself.

"I don't think you will ever get, on the Internet, something that works 100 per cent," Budde said. "There is no way in the world. Particularly in contentious situations like this there are a lot of people who make it their hobby or aim in life to get through it and make it available to everyone that wants it.

"I think that will be an uphill battle. In that respect the whole legislation will be interesting. How is it enforceable? How can you enforce something that operates like liquid – today it is here tomorrow it is not? Are you then going to sue the ISPs for not being able to do things like that? So there are so many angles to it."

More information on the Federal Government's plans can be found on the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy website.

The full Enex Testlab report can also be downloaded at the same site.

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Tags Telecommunicationsinternet content filteringpaul buddeSenator Stephen Conroymandatory internet fiteringAustralian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)

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