ISP-level filter bad for industry

One of AusNOG's founding members says government decision to be detrimental for the ISP industry

The Federal Government's decision to implement mandatory ISP-level content filtering is a bad day for the industry, according to one of the founding members of the Australian Network Operators Group (Ausnog).

James Spenceley who is also Vocus CEO told Computerworld the announcement by Senator Stephen Conroy that he would push ahead the content filter to block URLs that received a Refused Content classification by the ACMA in the face of considerable public backlash, was potentially detrimental to the industry's reputation.

"Certainly from an industry perspective it marks a particularly bad day," he said. "The number of countries that have mandated internet content filtering is very few. It is not a particularly positive group that we want associated with the country. It is a bad day for retail ISPs but a very good day for people that make content filtering boxes."

Spenceley added the decision would add a significant cost to ISPs and despite the results of Enex TestLab’s test pilot report indicating those that filtered only the ACMA blacklist during the trial had no noticeable performance degradation that could be attributed to the filter itself, there would be other technical issues introduced.

"There will be capital costs to buy the boxes, there will be costs to run the boxes, update the boxes and all that kind of stuff," he said. "It also introduces unreliability into the network. If boxes break are they going to do so nicely and fail traffic over or are they going to take down all the users web experiences until they are rebooted? It is another level of complexity into the ISP network that frankly doesn't need to be there."

Leading telco analyst and Buddecomme director, Paul Budde, also told Computerworld it was unlikely it would be smooth technical sailing for any ISP-level content filter.

"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."

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Tags internet content filteringSenator Stephen Conroymandatory internet fiteringVocusAusNOGJames Spenceley

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