Australian Federal Government to introduce mandatory ISP-level filtering

The Federal Government will introduce legislative amendments to the Broadcasting Services Act to require all ISPs to block Refused Classification (RC)-rated material hosted on overseas servers.

The introduction of mandatory ISP-level filtering follows the release of the Enex TestLab report which trialed the viability of ISP-level filtering among nine Australian ISPs.

“ISP filtering reduces the risk of Australians being inadvertently exposed to RC-rated material when they are online,” communications minister Stephen Conroy said in a statement.

“The report into the pilot trial of ISP-level filtering demonstrates that blocking RC-rated material can be done with 100 per cent accuracy and negligible impact on internet speed.”

The move is part of a raft of new cyber safety measures including a grants program to encourage the introduction of optional filtering by Internet Service Providers, to block additional content as requested by households.

The measures also include an expansion of the cyber-safety outreach program run by the ACMA and the Cyber-Safety Online Helpline aimed at improving education and awareness of online safety.

As part of the introduction of ISP filter, the Government has also released a consultation paper on how RC material is placed on the RC content list for the purposes of mandatory ISP filtering and how those decisions can be reviewed.

“Through a combination of additional resources for education and awareness, mandatory internet filtering of RC-rated content, and optional ISP-level filtering, we have a package that balances safety for families and the benefits of the digital revolution,” Conroy said in a statement.

“We welcome the constructive input of Australia’s four largest ISPs – Telstra, Optus, iiNet and Primus. These companies came forward to help inform the Government’s approach. Between them these ISPs account for more than 80 per cent of internet users in Australia.”

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Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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