18 December 2009

Rudd Labor government censors results from ISP filtering trial

Crucial information on the Rudd Labor government's trial of ISP-level content filtering is conspicuously absent in the Enex TestLab report. Senator Stephen Conroy, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, has failed to disclose the rate of over-blocking that occurs when the filter is configured with the ACMA blacklist. While the report includes results on the degree of over-blocking and under-blocking for a list of URLs provided by Enex, the figures for over-blocking for the ACMA blacklist are more important as this is the list that ISPs will be required to block when mandatory ISP-level filtering is in force.

The reality of Internet content filtering is that as the success rate for blocking of prescribed prohibited content increases, so too does the over-blocking of legitimate content, as Enex makes clear in its own report:

Enex considers it unlikely that any filter vendor would achieve 100 percent blocking of the URLs inappropriate for children without significant over-blocking of the innocuous URLs because the content on different commercial lists varies and there is a high rate at which new content is created on the internet. Enex has also noted, through previous testing, that the higher the accuracy the higher the over-blocking.

Enex reported that they were successful in blocking 100% of the pages listed on the ACMA blacklist, but what was the price paid in blocking of legitimate content? Even though the Minister has not released this information, he is proceeding with the implementation of ISP-level content filtering without consulting the Australian people on whether they are prepared to accept the negative impact it will have on the accessibility of the vast majority of sites on the Internet that do not pose a threat to children.

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