15 December 2009

WAIA President's two opposing positions on ISP-level filtering

Richard Bone, President of the WA Internet Association, appears to have a good understanding of the inherent flaws of using ISP-level filtering to regulate content on the Internet, as he wrote in an article for the Australian Strategic Policy Institute:

  1. It is not an effective way to block or stop the content that it is designed to prevent.
  2. Filters can be bypassed. This would be particularly relevant in radicalisation networks where the participants form a relationship with each other which could involve sharing of techniques to bypass filters.
  3. The introduction of (arguably ineffective) filters will increase the costs to ISPs and impede their ability to provide superior performance. This will ultimately lead to higher costs and lower performance for consumers.
  4. Legislative change is far too slow to be effective. For example, the time to introduce filtering legislation, or revisions to such legislation is months or years whereas technology to bypass and/or avoid filters would occur in days or even hours.
  5. The introduction of filtering legislation would be an impediment to investment and innovation in the Australian internet industry. It is already the case that the lack of safe harbour legislation for hosts within Australia drives Australian content to be hosted offshore. If filtering is introduced this will worsen.

He clearly understands that ISP-level filtering won't work and law enforcement is a better policy alternative:

In forming counter-radicalisation policy it should be remembered that the internet provides a tool to help humans communicate better and more easily. It is a facility that underpins a human activity system. As part of a human activity system, the internet evolves often very rapidly to trends driven by human behaviour. The internet is resistant to impediment—where changes are introduced they are often quickly circumvented.

From an industry perspective, the best way to fight radicalisation is to use human law enforcement, equipped with state-of-the-art technology, assisted by the Australian internet industry.

Despite writing the above for the strategic policy think tank, he publicly stated his support for the government's plan for mandatory ISP-level filtering:

This initiative will help reduce access to significant amounts of harmful content.

It is difficult to see how he was giving an open, honest opinion on this ill-conceived policy after making the earlier remarks for the ASPI.

1 comment:

Richard said...

Hi Justin,

Excellent analysis and comparison of my two publications. Thank-you.