Australian web filter plans meets with mixed response

News by Dan Raywood

The Australian government is to test a web filter that would require ISOs to block access to websites containing illegal content.

The Australian government is to test a web filter that would require ISOs to block access to websites containing illegal content.


As part of an AUS$125.8 million project, the web filter will aim to prevent downloads of content whose possession is illegal in Australia, such as child pornography or terrorist materials.


All Australian service providers would be required to block access to around 10,000 websites on a list maintained by the Australian Communications and Media Authority, the federal monitor that oversees film classifications. Service providers will also offer an optional filter that individuals could apply to block material deemed unsuitable for children.


Colin Jacobs, vice chairman of Electronic Frontiers Australia, said: “Even if the scheme is introduced with the best of intentions, there will be enormous political pressure on the government to expand the list. We worry that the scope of the list would expand at a very rapid rate."


Finjan gave a ‘thumbs up' to Australian plans to block access to thousands of websites with illegal content.


Finjan CTO Yuval Ben-Itzhak, said: “The game plan is for Australian ISPs to be mandated to block access to websites containing illegal content such as child pornography or terrorist materials.


“I would also recommend the Australian government includes in this plan actions against ISPs and other web hosting companies that allow cybercriminals to host their command and control servers and distribute malware.”


However, there has been criticism of the plan, with Facebook groups set up claiming ‘there are no safeguards in place to prevent future governments from exploiting this list and adding websites that oppose their own personal ideals.'


The country's largest service provider, Telstra, also expressed doubts about the plan. Chief operating office, Greg Winn, said that using service-provider filters to stop illicit content was “like trying to boil the ocean”. As soon as the filter was applied, he said, someone would find a way to break it.



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