Internet Filter Demonstrably Useless

Earlier this year I speculated that the National Classification Review, set up by the federal government via the Attorney-General’s (AG) department and the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE) might become a vehicle for a tactical retreat on the mandatory internet filtering policy.

Certainly, the government has been noticeably quiet on the issue in recent months while this review has been under way, but we are starting to hear a few new noises.

Notably, yet another discussion paper on the review was issued about three weeks ago, and late last week news came to light that Telstra are claiming that they have had 84,000 hits against a cut-down “voluntary” version of the filter.

This is a number I feel is quite dubious, and of course this version of the filter is anything but voluntary. Telstra users do not get to choose whether or not their connection is filtered. A number of other ISPs – including Optus – are part of this “voluntary” trial also.

Interestingly, both Telstra and Optus have recently signed big-ticket deals to join the government’s National Broadband Network (NBN) project – so they wouldn’t be looking to give the government good press about their filter, would they?

(WARNING: Previous sentence may have contained traces of sarcasm).

So we’re seeing “good press” about the “voluntary” filter and its variants hitting the media, just as the classification review, which came about because of and directly relates to the mandatory filtering plan, comes out.


With the noise starting up again, expect the issue to start becoming more prevalent in the media again.

The government’s primary concern in choosing to seek the introduction of a mandatory filter is to block child pornography and other questionable material from being accessed within Australia.

Opponents of the filter have long argued that the filter – which will be trivial to bypass, not illegal to bypass, and ineffective against encrypted or VPN-based connections – is just a waste of money, because people who want to access this material will be able to do so using these methods.

It will not stop people – and now comes this:

This article quite clearly demonstrates that the child porn websites the government seek to block people from, aren’t even on the open internet, and are accessed through mechanisms they openly admit the filter will not address!

The same can be said of sites with other kinds of questionable material on them.

This is just another demonstration of why the filtering policy is a waste of resources – (money, effort, etc) – and why we don’t need a censorship mechanism in place.

A mechanism which may one day creep away from the initial goals of the filter – (which won’t be met anyway) – and provide a facility by which a current or future government may filter other content.

The filter protects us from nothing. Spend the money on finding the people who produce the content, not on a wasted effort of nothingness.

Their intentions might be noble, but they have no understanding of how irrelevant it will be to the people seeking such access.

Completely irrelevant.