13 Dec 2008

ISPs rebuff net filter plan

3:05 pm on 13 December 2008

Australian government plans to filter cyber use have been rebuffed by internet service providers.

Telstra, Australia's largest ISP, has said it will not join trials of the filters and others say they will back only a scaled-down system.

The government wants to filter all net traffic and block access to 10,000 sites deemed to hold illegal content.

Initial trials of the technology were due to take place before Christmas.

The Age newspaper reports that both Telstra and Internode have declared they will not participate in the trials. iiNet said it wanted to take part to show that the filters do not work and Optus would only work with a scaled back plan.

The BBC reports the plan to set up mandatory filters followed research by the Australian Communications and Media Authority which found that existing filters did a poor job of blocking illegal content.

Responding to the rebuff by ISPs, communications minister Stephen Conroy said the initial trials would not be "closed" and involve no actual customers.

Optus said it would take part in the trial in early 2009 but would only impose filters that blocked access to a 1300-strong list of sites hosting illegal content.

It said it would not block access to the full 10,000 sites demanded by the Australian government nor impose the second tier of filtering that blocks sites unsuitable for children.

Protests expected

The BBC reports the Green Party has called on the government to abandon the filtering plan which has been widely criticised. Protests are expected on 13 December in Sydney and Melbourne.