Australian net filter could block 10,000+ sites

14/11/2008
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Daily News

A blacklist of around 10,000 sites will be tested during the Australian government's upcoming live ISP-level filtering trial, suggesting that if the policy is approved by parliament the number of censored sites could reach at least five figures.

The blocked sites will include 1,300 sites already on the Australian Communications and Media Authority's black-list of prohibited internet content, communications minister Senator Stephen Conroy announced in parliament.

But the trial will also test filtering for a range of around 10,000 URLs in order to test the impact of a larger blacklist on network performance.

The sites on ACMA's blacklist have all been classified by the national Classification Board, using the same guidelines used to classify video content. Under Australia's video classification law, most fetishistic content and pornography portraying actors who appear to be minors is prohibited.

The government's mandatory internet filtering proposal has been attacked from a broad number of sources, who have raised both technical and ideological objections.

Last month, Electronic Frontiers Australia spokesperson Colin Jacobs expressed alarm that Australians would be unable to opt-out from the filtering scheme.

"The news for Australian Internet users just keeps getting worse," he said. "It's starting to look like nothing less than a comprehensive program of real-time Internet censorship."

And Greens Senator Scott Ludlum told parliament this week that the tech community is concerned that the filtering system will degrade internet performance.

"[T]he government's proposal for dynamic filtering is the equivalent of the post office being required to open every single piece of mail," he said.

In reply Senator Conroy said, "I acknowledge the concerns raised by some members of the public about the possible impact of filtering on internet performance and costs. This is one of the reasons we are undertaking the live pilot - that is, to test these issues in a real-world environment."

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