Conroy Releases Internet Filter Trial Report, Dooms Us All

This afternoon, Senator Conroy released the reports on his internet filtering trial study. Despite the fact that the report sounds like the trial was a rousing success, the truth is that despite the spin, the report doesn’t give enough evidence that a mandatory filter of the internet is a viable solution. Is anyone here surprised?

There’s a lot of boring spin and back information in the report, which you can read for yourself here (pdf link). But here are some things that stand out:

* There’s no mention at all of the number of households/individuals/people/businesses/anything involved in the trial. All that’s mentioned is that nine ISPs played a part in trialling. But how can you seriously consider blocking 100 per cent of the ACMA blacklist a success if one ISP only had15 customers opt in?

* As the EFA response to the report argues, there are still way too many questions surrounding this report. Like who will be responsible for blocking content, and what happens if your site ends up on a secret government blacklist by mistake? How do you fix it if the fact you’re on there is supposed to be a secret?

* The report says that all participants of the trial experienced some over-blocking of innocuous content, although that figure is less than 3.4 per cent. As Leslie Nassar (he of fake Stephen Conroy fame on Twitter) put it so eloquently: “To be fair, false-positives of 3.4% is only about SEVEN MILLION websites.”

* Every filtering product tested could cause bottlenecks with high volume sites like YouTube. From the report:

However, in situations where there is a potential for very high traffic sites, such as YouTube, to have pages on the filtering list, this could result in significantly higher traffic rates passing through the filter, even though the specific pages being accessed are not those on the blacklist. This could cause additional load on the filtering infrastructure and subsequent performance bottlenecks.

Now what happens if content on YouTube ends up RC? Considering the current state of gaming classification in this country, that’s a real possibility.

So what happens now? According to the ABC, the government plans on introducing amendments to legislation that would make it compulsory for ISPs to block RC content. I suggest you shout (in a civilised, eloquent manner) as loud as you can to your local federal representative that you don’t believe this should be introduced. And now would be a good time to sign the No Clean Feed petition, if you haven’t already…

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