au: ISP-level filters ‘unworkable’

ISPs have labelled the Federal Government’s radical plan to force them to filter web content at the request of their users as unworkable. Communications Minister Helen Coonan admitted feasibility studies surrounding the proposal had yet to be conducted and that the Government would “only introduce filtering measures that are shown to be workable”. see:
Coonan backflip on ISP filters
The announcement of ISP-level internet filtering as part of the federal Government’s NetAlert package has seen a major reversal on the technology, which the government last year derided as having “questionable benefits”. Communications Minister Senator Helen Coonan today announced a $189 million package of measures to improve the safety of using the internet.As well as increased funding for the federal Police to track down online predators and national security threats, the package included $84.8 million to provide households with either internet filtering software packages or pre-filtered internet connections from an internet service provider.,24897,22221132-15306,00.htmlau: IIA Response to Government Filtering Policy [news release]
In relation to the announcement today by the Federal Government expanding the Australian internet filter scheme, the IIA’s response is as follows:We support many elements of this scheme and are, for now, keeping an open mind on other elements pending their better definition.The IIA has long opposed mandatory internet content filtering by ISPs of the entire network. However, since January 2000 we have had in place industry codes of practice that require ISPs to provide customers with filters or a filtered service.For the internet industry, the issues remain cost, practicality and precedent, but we also recognise that for users the desire for control of their own internet experience will in many cases be paramount.The main emphasis of the Government’s announcement is on the provision, free of charge, of CLIENT SIDE filters to the public for installation on their home computers.The IIA believes that filters are no substitute for parental involvement and supervision of their children’s online behaviour.Nevertheless, many families find filters a useful adjunct to supervision. The use of the filters will be voluntary, though we hope all families with children online will avail themselves of the offer. It will be for the end user to determine whether they obtain a filter, whether they use it or whether they request a filtered service.The filters have been selected according to their ease of installation, setup and use by parents with limited technical experience. They are also designed to be resistant to removal or disablement by children. This is achieved by the parent setting a password or pin which must be provided if any attempt is made to disable the software.PC based software providers better end user customisation according to ages of children and family values. Newer versions also allow for the control of contact risks, eg. access to chat rooms; this is something that current server level filters cannot achieve. We recommend PC based filtering for these reasons.In certain, and we expect, limited cases, where parents feel they are simply incapable of installing a PC based filter, there will be provision for their internet feed to be supplied on a filtered basis by ISPs.The exact dimensions of this scheme are still to be determined and industry will investigate the most feasible way for this to be done. The Government will in all cases bear the cost of this alternative.We await the response of the Federal Opposition which has proposed mandatory ISP level filtering be imposed on all internet users in Australia.

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