Australia’s Internet filtering is only step one in a much broader strategy the Government needs to adopt to regulate the Internet, according to an RMIT University academic.
Minister for Broadband, Senator Stephen Conroy, announced the Government’s intention to introduce a mandatory ISP-level filtering bill to Parliament at a Melbourne press conference yesterday.
The proposed filter has been criticised for not being failproof, but RMIT network engineer program director, Dr Mark Gregory, said it satisfied the Government’s primary objective to reduce the incidents and possibility of users inadvertently encountering illegal material such as child pornography.
“Is it going to stop the hardcore addicts gaining access to such material? No, it’s not going to stop that,” he said. “The Internet filter is in no way there to stop these activities from happening. It is only step one in tackling illegal online activities.”
Mandatory Internet filtering will help the Government learn how to regulate Web content but it is not a long-term solution, Dr Gregory said. The global digital network was never designed for how people are using it today and what really needs to be done is an overhaul of the existing Internet network structure.
He claimed ISP-level filtering is not a practical solution and transit points should be set on international links, similar to how local customers operate in airports. But he conceded it will be a costly, but necessary step to take.
“Different countries have different legislation regarding what is illegal content,” Dr Gregory said. “We need to build the network in a way for countries to access content to conform to local laws. At the moment, there is no delineation across the Internet.”
He agreed the Internet was too unrestrained and needed regulations to reign it in with similar laws that govern other aspects of society. But he saw international co-operation as vital to any content filtering proposal.
“You don’t want Australia running off doing its own thing because it causes problems in dealing with other countries and cause bad press,” he said. “We need to be doing this with all the other countries working together.
“The legislation is, however, generating momentum in discussion and making people aware there is a next step we need to take.”
IDC telecommunications analyst, David Cannon, shared the same sentiment and expected other countries to follow Australia in considering an Internet filtering scheme.