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Internet filtering meetings: Senior public servants keen on speed

Internet filtering meetings: Senior public servants keen on speed

In meetings between public servants and vendors, questions focus on speed and scalability of filtering, but bureaucrats unsure if it will be mandatory

Senior public servants have focused on speed in technical discussions with industry representatives on the Federal Government’s controversial ISP-level Internet filtering scheme.

Up to eight senior bureaucrats from the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy recently met with a team from security vendor, Marshal8e6, in Canberra.

“They specifically requested we come on that date and time to Canberra and I had to fly in from Melbourne for what was originally a one-hour meeting but it went for two hours,” Marshal8e6 national sales manager, Serdar Yelutas, said.

“The technical scalability was a key question. Speed was a very important feature that they wanted answers on.”

Six of the nine companies currently participating in the ISP filtering trials are using a Marshal8e6 solution. In late July, ARN reported more than half the ISPs were reporting minimal speed disruptions or technology problems.

“They are under the impression that Senator Conroy will eventually release those results, but they’re not sure. The decision lies with Senator Conroy,” he said.

“They just said, ‘look, we don’t know whether it’s going to be mandatory or not’…I think they really weren’t sure.”

Experts in statistics recently labelled the ISP-level Internet filtering trial as unscientific and not representative due to the voluntary nature of the trials and the inadequate sample size of both users and companies participating.

But Enex Testlab, the company brought on by the Federal Government to run the filtering trial, hit back earlier this month. While it could not confirm or deny any questions about the trial due to a confidentiality agreement, Enex principal, Matt Tett, said the firm was neutral and scientific.

“Enex TestLab, as always, remains independent, neutral and approaches all projects with an un-biased scientific approach ensuring that all our methodologies are subjectively constructed to ensure accuracy in the data collected and therefore the results produced, we apply peer-review and confidence factors to our analysis,” he said.

The trial may not be vital to whether or not the filter goes ahead with some experts are arguing that the technology being suggested has been proven to work with minimal speed disruptions.

The proposed mandatory ISP-level filter would block a set list of websites specified by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), which would not be open to public scrutiny.

The Minister for the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE), Senator Stephen Conroy, has previously stated the current trial’s success or failure will help form much of the government’s stance on mandatory nation-wide ISP-level Internet filtering.

“We'll be guided by that trial. We've always said, consistently, we'll be guided by the trial,” the Minister said on the ABC’s Q&A program.

(See some of the best posts on the filtering trial here. And some of the worst here.)

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Tags Enex TestLabinternet content filteringDepartment of Broadband Communications and the Digital EconomyMarshal8e6Senator Stephen Conroy

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