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

Minister's Media Release

ACMA Report

EFA analysis of the proposal:

EFA clean-feed site:

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/


  1. im sorry....i thought i was living in australia and not china.

    tho with acts of national vandalism like this we are fast heading that way :(

    why is it that whenever we get a minister for anything it related they are either incompetent, easily lead astray by
    other incompetents or both :(

    i hope this plan dies a quick and timely death

    Comment by doubi on 2 August 2008 at 01:33
  2. on a side note...as some reminded me. with the current rants by various world governments over the filtering
    of the internet imposed by china...our own government is condeming that act while at the same time trying to
    emulate it?!?!!?!

    comon krudd....wake up. act like a tool and you will be called a tool....tool.

    Comment by doubi on 2 August 2008 at 01:47
  3. When this happens. I shall complain. Every time My internet slows down.
    Maybe we should all run a flood ping all at the same time that would slow it all down.
    Would tor {the onion router get around this?}
    Remember it was the Labor party that gave their preferences to the family first.
    The party got about 2 percent of the vote in Victoria with their loony intolerant "Christian" values.

    Comment by Nigel Colhoun on 11 August 2008 at 02:31
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  5. Unfortunately this approach seems typical of the new Rudd goverment, legistlate based on the assumption that the populace is too stupid, lazy or both to take any responsibility for their lives.

    Parents should be in charge of what their children view thru the internet at home and school administrators the same for school internet. What right does the goverment have to decide what I can and can't read on the internet.

    Child porn, bomb making instructions etc are currently illegal and rightly so therefore why should what I view on the internet be more restricted than what I can buy at any newsagent, do we live in China or North Korea. Once in place it would be easy for the government to filter based on a political biased basis.

    This is dangerous territory we are moving into, since 9/11 we have seen a steady erosion of many of our civil rights. George Orwells 1984 is not that far away.

    Comment by Stuart on 14 August 2008 at 00:05
  6. Theres good money to be had selling cut price VPNs into the united states. Unless they are banning or planning to intercept SSL links, which is pretty unhinged and will break the net completely.

    This really is quite insane legislation

    Comment by Shayne O'Neill on 6 October 2008 at 19:19
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  8. Surely the Rudd government will just "print" the money to pay for this. We are well on our way to becoming a third world mineral resource state, with no communcations, no education, and a worthless currency.

    Comment by ram on 17 October 2008 at 20:43
  9. This is ridiculous.

    On a proactive note - what can we as common citizens do to try and prevent this from becoming reality? I'm actually after possible courses of action.

    Comment by Kevin on 18 October 2008 at 00:29
  10. @nigel: TOR is very likely to work, yes, because the packets are encrypted, and don't come from any predictable host - making blacklist filters very ineffective.

    Comment by beejamin on 18 October 2008 at 04:13
  11. Don't see why our free citizens should suffer under censorship so that the ignorant and lazy can be over-protected.

    Comment by The Hon. Reverend Fr on 20 October 2008 at 09:39
  12. Being a person who works for the IT industry for over twenty-five years I can see the implementation will fail miserably. Technically you cannot censor Internet. There are many ways to bypass the restrictions. Criminals, law breakers of today will surely find their way to bypass the filters, and majority of law abiding citizens will needlessly suffer from reduced speeds, loss of freedom and increased cost. On top of that millions of dollars of Tax Payer's money (i.e my money) will be wasted.

    I am also deeply disturbed by a strong possibility of prime minister Kevin Rudd's own religious belief system might have played a role in this decision. Ever since the Rudd Government came to power, at every conceivable opportunity the Australian Labor Party hastily attached itself to populist themes, such as "Family Values", behind which a strong religious motive seems present if not obvious. We see it.

    Comment by Ergun Coruh on 27 November 2008 at 07:25
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