ISPs give clean feed filter a technical green-light

ISPs give clean feed filter a technical green-light

The majority of Internet filter trial participants report no slowdowns or accidental blockings despite ISP filtering

More than half of the Internet service providers (ISPs) taking part in the Federal Government’s ISP filtering trial have reported minimal speed disruptions or technology problems.

Of the nine participating ISPs, iPrimus, Netforce, Webshield, Nelson Bay Online and OMNIconnect told ARN they had seen no slowdowns in Internet speeds or problems with the filtering solutions in place.

Of the remaining four ISPs, Tech2U and Highway1 were unable to respond by time of publication while Unwired and Optus refused to comment.

iPrimus Australia CEO, Ravi Bhatia, said his company’s ISP filtering trial, which must be opted into by its customers, had “probably involved a few thousand users”.

“The users have not experienced any problems, they haven’t experienced any service degradation so it’s been a pretty good experience,” he said.

The results would be finalised by next week, Bhatia said.

Webshield managing director, Anthony Pillion, said his entire customer base of a few thousand end-users experienced no slow-down in Internet speeds whatsoever.

“From a technical perspective we’re more than confident that if the government decided to roll out a mandatory Internet filter based on or around an Australian Communications and Media Authority [ACMA] blacklist or subset thereof, then it can be done without any impact whatsoever to the speed of the Internet,” he said.

Although OMNIconnect’s managing director, Peter Hutton, received no complaints about slowed speeds or technical problems after the filtering hardware was in place, he said the blacklist provided by ACMA had banned legitimate websites and caused customer dissatisfaction.

“Some of the customers complained because the block list really hadn’t been moderated well enough,” OMNIconnect chief technician, Graeme Lee, said. “One in particular was a site called The whole site had been blocked and it was just a standard pornography site,” Hutton said.

“Relating to that particular site we did have complaints that people couldn’t get through to it. They opted out of the trial straight away. It was a very embarrassing experience.”

ACMA refused to confirm or deny the website's legality or if it was currently on the blacklist and advised users to read its guidelines for rating internet content.

One common issue with most of the ISPs was the lack of voluntary participants, especially with companies using an opt-in system.

Managing director of Nelson Bay Online, Patrick Sayer, said only 1 per cent of his entire customer base decided to opt-into the system, resulting in just 15 users.

When asked if he believed the trials provided a fair representative study, Hutton’s answer was an unequivocal “no”.

“That’s why we’ve asked for an extension to continue the trial till the end of this month and I understand a number of other ISPs have done the same thing,” he said.

The results come on the back of earlier comments from the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy that the current trial’s success or failure would help form much of the government’s opinions on mandatory nation-wide ISP 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.

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Tags UnwiredoptusiprimusWebshieldOMNIConnectNelson Bay OnlineTech2UNetforceHighway1

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