TRIALS of mandatory internet censorship will begin within days despite a secret high-level report to the Rudd Government that found the technology simply does not work, will significantly slow internet speeds and will block access to legitimate websites.
The report, commissioned by the Howard government and prepared by the Internet Industry Association, concluded that schemes to block inappropriate content such as child pornography are fundamentally flawed.
If the trials are deemed a success, the Government has earmarked $44 million to impose a compulsory "clean feed" on all internet subscribers in Australia as soon as late next year.
But the report says the filters would slow the internet - as much as 87 per cent by some measures - be easily bypassed and would not come close to capturing all of the nasty content available online. They would also struggle to distinguish between wanted and unwanted content, leading to legitimate sites being blocked. Entire user-generated content sites, such as YouTube and Wikipedia, could be censored over a single suspect posting.
This raises serious freedom of speech questions, such as who will be held accountable for blocked sites and whether the Government will be pressured to expand the blacklist to cover lawful content including pornography, gambling sites and euthanasia material.
The report, based on comprehensive interviews with many parties with a stake in the internet, was written by several independent technical experts including a University of Sydney associate professor, Bjorn Landfeldt. It was handed to the Government in February but has been kept secret.
It has also been revealed that Conroy's filtering trial commencing tomorrow has been expanded to include traffic using P2P and BitTorrent.
I think that one can almost call it official - the Rudd Government is doing all it can to ensure that the Internet is an issue at the next federal election, with at least a third of all potential votes in the Federal Labor seats of Page and Richmond now up for grabs and the hope of winning other NSW North Coast seats in 2010 fast slipping away because Internet use is a fact of life for many residents and businesses.
Want to tell Conroy where to go on Internet filtering? Phone Tim Marshall, Senator Conroy's office, 0408 258 457