Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) today labelled a recent government trial of ISP-based Internet filtering a failure.

The recently released ACMA report entitled "Closed Environment Testing of ISP-Level Internet Content Filtering" showed that of the six unnamed ISP-based filters evaluated:

  • One filter caused a 22% drop in speed even when it was *not* performing filtering;
  • Only one of the six filters had an acceptable level of performance (a drop of 2% in a laboratory trial), the others causing drops in speed of between 21% and 86%;
  • The most accurate filters were often the slowest;
  • All filters tested had problems with under-blocking, allowing access to between 2% and 13% of material that they should have blocked; and
  • All filters tested had serious problems with over-blocking, wrongly blocking access to between 1.3% and 7.8% of the websites tested.

Despite this report highlighting the inaccuracy of these filters and the loss of performance caused by their use, Senator Conroy announced the government will press ahead with a real-world pilot program in furtherance of Labor's pre-election commitment to force all Australian ISP's to filter their customers' Internet access.
"Leaving aside the serious privacy and free speech implications of mandatory ISP-based Internet filtering, the government's own trial shows that ISP-based filtering can cause serious performance degradation and is not accurate enough to be forced upon people who don't want to use them," said EFA Chair Dale Clapperton.

"On average, these filters wrongly blocked access to 4% of the websites tested. Senator Conroy may regard this as an acceptable level of
'collateral damage', but we think most Australian Internet users would disagree with him," Clapperton continued.

The ACMA report also showed that the average performance drop across all six filters tested was over 40%. "It makes no sense at all for the government to be pushing their National Broadband Network agenda of faster Internet access for more Australians, while at the same time they want to introduce mandatory filtering which will make Internet access unnecessarily slower."

"It is now apparent that the Government's plans extend far beyond merely blocking access to a list of web sites containing illegal material.
Mandatory ISP-based filtering will be disastrous for the Internet in Australia. It will become slower and more expensive, parents will be lulled into a false sense of security, meanwhile the filters can be trivially bypassed by anyone determined to get access to prohibited material online," Clapperton said.

– Ends –

Below is:
- Background information
- Contact details for media

Background:
Minister's Media Release
http://www.minister.dbcde.gov.au/media/media_releases/2008/minister_welcomes_advances_in_internet_filtering_technology

ACMA Report
http://www.acma.gov.au/webwr/_assets/main/lib310554/isp-level_internet_content_filtering_trial-report.pdf

EFA analysis of the proposal:
http://www.efa.org.au/censorship/mandatory-isp-blocking/

EFA clean-feed site:
http://nocleanfeed.com

About EFA:
Electronic Frontiers Australia Inc. (”EFA”) is a non-profit national organisation representing Internet users concerned with on-line rights and freedoms. EFA was established in 1994, is independent of government and commerce, and is funded by membership subscriptions and donations from individuals and organisations with an altruistic interest in promoting online civil liberties.

Media Contacts:
Mr Dale Clapperton
EFA Chair
Phone: 0416 007 100
Email: dclapperton at efa.org.au

Mr Colin Jacobs
EFA Board Member
Phone: 0402 631 955
Email: cjacobs at efa.org.au

Electronic Frontiers Australia Inc — http://www.efa.org.au/

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