Mr Darce Cassidy
Electronic Frontiers Australia
PO Box 382
North Adelaide SA 5006
Dear Mr Cassidy,
It has come to my attention, during the current 'passionate' debate surrounding the proposed legislation, your organization conducted a review of the 'Cvue' Internet Service and published a report on your web site. We believe this report is misleading at best and overall does not represent a fair and proper review of our current technology.
Firstly, we would query the 'independence' of your organisation in conducting such a review as your organisation has a long standing and well-known vested interest in representing one particular point of view in the current debate. We believe you failed to follow the normal scientific approach resulting in a rapid and non-structured review. In linking particular product features with then current proposed legislation as couched in your review tends to indicate that the intended 'outcome' of the review was expected before the commissioning of it.
Secondly, the Cvue service that formed the basis of the review is a non-operational R&D ISP, It is no longer marketed and only maintained due to our commitments to our existing long standing customers. We were in fact surprised that you found one of our early connection packs. This particular connection pack uses an early version of 'Internet Sheriff' that is set to a very vigorous level of 'Automatic Detection', and does so in a manner of limited precision. We were pleased however to note that the service effectively blocked offensive material. From this we believe your review cannot provide any comment on the current level of product development.
We would also have been happy to explain the fact that the old version had difficulty in automatically handling, Anonomisers [sic], Embedded web sites (such as Geocities, Ozemail home directories etc), which you accurately found. These sites in the early version require manual review, which in the Cvue Service, continues to occur in a manner consistent with the limited number of customers using the service.
In addition, the older version did not handle non-standard port requests (other than 80/8080 - not raised in your report) and could not elegantly combine various metrics of words and pictures and links and other models (again found in the examination of the Legal site). These issues and others have been addressed in later versions of the product, currently under evaluation by Internet Service Providers around the world.
We agree that Internet Sheriff cannot provide an automatic rating service according to any proposed legislation. The then proposed legislation had no mention of any technology to discovery and rate sites automatically, only upon deeming of the ABA. To suggest that this was the case showed the fundamental ignorance of the detail of the current debate and in our opinion the implicit bias of your rushed 'independent' report.
As to the details of how our technology works, we are now creating a marketing communication program that allows us to disclose exactly how the 'Internet Sheriff' works its strengths and weaknesses. Due to secrecy obligations of lodging Patents both here and around the world, we have been prevented from releasing detailed information about the technology until earlier this month. At no point have we intentionally withheld information. In fact we would have liked to provide this information to potential customers earlier.
We take our duties to our shareholders, customers and fiduciary duty seriously, and we would be happy to have our product claims reviewed by a truly independent body, such as a major accounting firm, CSIRO or the Australian Consumers Association, who have a track record of providing tough, fair and unbiased reviews.
As to the current debate, we hold very strong private views on the whole issue of Internet regulation and strongly support the IIA (of which we are a member) in representing a cohesive industry viewpoint. We have no comment with regards to the current debate, other than to explore what is technically possible and impossible.
Some suggest that technology such as ours or of that of our North American competition will be a panacea to cure the 'ills' of the Internet. Others suggest that the world will end if 'www.sex.com' is blocked. Both views are misinformed and emotional.
We believe that if the IIA had more support previously from the industry, then the current debate may not be occurring. We agree with you in that any media management will have 'errors' and 'unwanted effects', but the question as to whether these are offset by the 'benefit' of such a service is for you and others to debate.
As to our primary position, we believe that consumers can benefit from a choice of Internet Media and deserve a 'right' to a 'freedom of choice' to make the above value judgment. Our company in partnership with ISPs around the world intends to provide such a choice to consumers.
BAppSc, BSc(Hons), MInfoSys, MBA
President and CEO
24 June 1999
Copyright © 1999 Electronic Frontiers Australia Inc.