Australian authorities released a report detailing a test of their plans to require Internet service providers to filter out content deemed objectionable. Australia is expected to make amendments to the Broadcasting Services Act next autumn.
Australia's controversial Web filtering plan
is done, paving the way for the country to join the
list of nations with mandatory Web filtering.
Conroy, who is Australia's minister for Broadband,
Communications and the Digital Economy, released
(PDF) Dec. 15 as he outlined the government's
plans. Australian authorities expect to make amendments to the country's
Broadcasting Services Act next year to require Internet service providers
(ISPs) to block certain content hosted on overseas servers.
system is ready, all content falling under the category of "Refused
Classification" (RC-rating) by the country's official ratings board will
be blocked. Refused Classification includes child sex abuse content, bestiality,
sexual violence and the detailed instruction of crime or drug use. It is
already illegal to distribute, sell or make available for hire RC-rated films,
computer games and publications.
also be encouraged via a grant program to offer expanded filtering services for
customers who want one, according to Conroy.
proposal has been controversial in Australia.
privacy advocacy group Electronic Frontier
the report found that ISPs were generally able to block a
government-provided blacklist of thousands of Websites without a major impact
on service levels, it also found circumventing the filters was "trivial for
few surprises in this document," said EFA spokesperson Colin Jacobs in a media
release. "Given the pilot's modest goals, it was designed from the beginning to
pass. Although it may address some technical issues, what it leaves out is far
more important-exactly what will be blocked, who will decide, and why is it
being attempted in the first place?"
ISPs participating in the test trial were able to block all the sites on the
government's censorship list with 100 percent accuracy and minimal performance
issues. Accuracy fell somewhat when the test went beyond the government's list,
with the highest detection rate standing at 84 percent. The lowest was roughly
"The Government has always maintained there is no
silver bullet solution to cyber-safety," Conroy said in a statement
"That is why we have established a comprehensive range of cyber-safety measures,
including funding for 91 additional online Australian Federal Police officers