Implementation of the Federal Government’s ISP-level filtering could spark worldwide adoption of Internet content filtering, according to IDC head telecommunications analyst, David Cannon.
Minister for Broadband, Senator Stephen Conroy, released the long-awaited Internet filter trial report yesterday and announced the Government’s plan to introduce a mandatory ISP-level filtering legislation to Parliament.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if most other governments head down this path in the not-to-distant future,” Cannon said. “If this is implemented in Australia and is done successfully, it would be a good case for other countries with much larger populations and broadband access to start looking at it.”
Cannon criticised the unbridled nature of the Internet, claiming existing regulations were too lax. He saw online content control as an inexorable and necessary outcome.
“At this point in time, it’s just too open, free-flowing and too uncontrollable for any of the existing formalities website owners adhere to,” he said. “When a website warns you of content intended for adults, you can just click right through it.
“Anybody that has a good understanding of how the Internet works would agree there needs to be some sort of governance in terms of rules around how the Internet should work and what types of information is ultimately available online.”
While wary of Australia becoming the next “Great Firewall”, like China’s stringent Internet censorship regime, Cannon claimed the ISP filtering plan would be dictated by society and less so by Government.
“I believe there is going to be a collective agreement around the filter and it’s ultimately something that will be governed by the moral standards of society and trying to find a balance with free speech activists,” he said. “Trying some sort of balance is the key issue at hand.”
Despite the storm of controversy the Internet filter trial cause when it was first announced, Cannon was confident the proposed legislation would sit favourably with most consumers. He pointed to a number of ISPs that have stepped out in support of the content filter as well as iiNet, which had dismissed the filter trial as a “waste of taxpayers’ money” before doing a backflip.
“It is a palatable thing and I think the majority of users in Australia, particularly those that pay the bills – mums and dads – will agree with that,” Cannon said.