Anti Internet filtering rebels hit the streets

Opponents to the government's Internet content filtering scheme will take to the streets in a series of protests planned in Australia's capital cities on December 13.

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The protests, organised by members from activist groups including the Electronic Freedom Project and Digital Liberty Coalition, will be held at Sydney's Town Hall, Brisbane Square, Melbourne's State Library, Adelaide Parliament House, Perth's Stirling Gardens and at Tasmania's Parliament Lawns.

Participants have created Facebook groups and a YouTube video to rally support and direct activists to the events. Opposition and Greens senators have expressed interest in attending the protests.

The government initiative, funded as part of the government's $125.8 million cyber safety plan, will impose mandatory ISP-level Internet content filtering nation-wide, and will block Web pages detailed in two blacklists operated by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

Prescribed filtering technology, short-listed following a July trial, will be tested again by ISPs during the Christmas period.

A spokesperson from one of the country's largest ISPs, who requested anonymity, told Computerworld he expects the filters to fail because the prescribed filtering technology is unsuitable for most networks.

Sources privy to the pilot's EOI documents say the trial will be restricted to 12Mbps mdash; a small fraction of ISP network connections mdash; which they say will undermine the final test results.

Critics made similar comments after the filtering technology was tested last July against a simulated load of 30 users. They said even the most accurate filter, which returned a 94 percent accuracy rating, would incorrectly block up to 10,000 Web pages out of 1 million.

The trial is expected to use a blacklist of 10,000 banned Web pages, using the rumoured 1300-page blacklist held by the ACMA mixed with dummy data.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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