Just after taking the positive step of opening discussion on the possible inclusion of an R18+ videogame ratings category, Australia is getting ready to implement mandatory Internet Service Provider (ISP) level Internet filtering.
ITNews reports that Australia plans to amend its Broadcasting Services Act next August in order to implement the changes, which are designed to block content that falls under the Refused Classification (RC) category on non-Australian servers.
Communications Minister Stephen Conroy (pictured), a backer of the plan, said that, “Most Australians acknowledge that there is some internet content which is not acceptable in any civilised society".
Australia commissioned a pilot program test of the filtering, conducted by Enex TestLab, on nine live (active) ISP networks. Three ISPs used an Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) blacklist, two used Deep Packet Inspection monitoring technology, while another used proxy filtering technology. All participants were 100% effective in blocking sites on the ACMA blacklist. Non-AMCA blacklist filtering was between 78% and 84% percent accurate.
From a report (PDF) on the pilot program:
A small number of customers indicated they experienced some over-blocking and/or
under-blocking of content during the pilot. A small number of customers also reported
slower network speeds as a result of the service which filtered additional categories of
Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) spokesman Colin Jacobs was not impressed with the news, calling the government’s posture that is simply blocking child pornography rubbish, “Refused classification is definitely more than just illegal child pornography.”
It’s anything that doesn’t fit into the Classification Board’s other ratings and that include video games aimed at adults, criminality and euthanasia and all sorts of controversial things. Our concern is that once there is a secret blacklist in place it is going to be very difficult for the public to know what’s on it and if it will be increased in scope as time goes on.
A list purported to be the actual ACMA blacklist can be viewed on Wikileaks. Released on March 18, 2009, the list contains 2,395 URLs.