Update: ACS says ISP filtering is not enough

Update: ACS says ISP filtering is not enough

ICT lobby group chairman claims ISP filtering is the minimum, not the total solution

The Australian Computer Society (ACS) has called for more filters and measures on top of the Government’s controversial plans for an ISP filter, stating that it alone will not stop illegal content.

The recommendation was made in the ICT lobby group’s report, Technical observations on ISP based filtering of the Internet, which was created by its Filtering and E-Security Task Force.

The report outlined challenges and obstacles facing any ISP-level filter and listed methods people may use to circumvent any blocks. A key criticism levelled at the Government was the lack of transparency in the proposed creation of a blacklist, which would not be available for public scrutiny.

“The Government should consider establishing an independent over sighting body and an annual auditing process for the blacklist to… ensure the highest public confidence in the blacklisting process,” the ACS report stated. It also claimed encryption was both a vital tool for businesses and a threat to any ISP filter’s effectiveness.

“Secure communications are an absolute necessity for growth and trust of the digital economy as a means of protecting financial and other sensitive information from cyber criminals,” the ACS report said. “The issue remains that security protocols are beyond the reach of ISP filtering and present a means for those peddling illegal material or Internet fraud to avoid detection.”

Over and under blocking of Internet sites was also listed by the report as a major issue for any potential filter due to its ability to undermine public confidence.

“Both over blocking and under blocking have clear implications for business and end users. While over blocking can lead to a loss of business, under blocking can lead to a loss of confidence particularly where inappropriate material is viewed by minors,” it said.

ACS advocated a variety of filters and measures on top of the Government’s proposed measures. The group’s chairman, professor Vijay Varadharajan, called for a multi-faceted solution.

“In itself, ISP filtering will not be able to deter people who are deliberately intending to break the solution,” he said. “For illegal trafficking, at least one of the measures required would be ISP filtering. But that alone may not be effective.

“Our view is to look at the technical issues and leave the policy issues up to the Government to decide.”

Varadharajan said any approach should have a mix filtering technologies at the ISP, user and enterprise levels, increased professionalism and tighter controls around domain name registration. More education was also needed in society.

“Preventing illegal material online is important. The second thing is filtering is one thing that allows us to do that. And the third thing is in its own right alone, it is not effective because there are ways of circumventing that,” he said.

But the report refrained from commenting on the results of the Enex Testlabs filtering trial, which has been criticised by some statisticians for using an opt-in system and having a small sample size.

“The Task Force believes it is appropriate to wait until the results of the trial are available before commenting on its efficacy, its scalability, methodology and potential impacts on services provided by the ISPs,” the report stated.

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