Most ISPs will filter Interpol list this year: IIA


The association representing Australia’s internet industry today claimed that 80 to 90 percent of Australians would have their internet connections filtered for child pornography this year, following the release of an industry code in July that will focus on a blacklist of sites supplied by international policing agency Interpol.

“We anticipate that we will have ISPs representing between 80-90 percent of the Australian user base complying with the scheme this year,” said Internet Industry Association chief executive Peter Coroneos in a statement today announcing the imminent finalisation of the code. Both Telstra and Optus have already signed up to support the effort.

Neither Coroneos nor other spokespeople from the IIA have been available today to clarify which ISPs have signed up so far to block Interpol’s list of sites.

The news follows the revelation on Saturday that Telstra was close to achieving internal executive sign-off for its own proposal on filtering child pornography from its users. The news represented the first time that the Interpol blacklist had been named in public as a filter focus for ISPs.

Previously, ISPs Telstra, Optus and Primus had been proposing to filter a blacklist of sites containing child pornography developed by the Australian Communications and Media Authority. The voluntary filtering effort constitutes a limited filtering initiative agreed to by ISPs and the Federal Government in mid-2010, while a review is carried out into the Refused Classification category of content which the Government’s wider mandatory filter project is slated to block.

The Interpol list is believed to have been in use for a number of years, with telcos such as BT, O2 and Virgin having blocked addresses on it from reaching customers for some time. It believed to be a more limited list — with tighter restrictions on how sites are listed — than the ACMA blacklist.

For a site to get onto the list, it is believed that law enforcement agencies in at least two separate jurisdictions have to validate the entry and being illegal and not just objectivable. In addition, the age of children depicted through content on the sites must be younger than 13 years of age, or perceived to be less than 13.

Under the IIA’s scheme, ISPs who use the Interpol list to block access to child pornography would be doing so in accordance with what the IIA today dubbed “a legal request for assistance” under Australia’s existing Telecommunications Act (section 313). Because of this, and unlike the wider mandatory filtering scheme the IIA believes that no new legislation will be required to implement its Interpol-focused framework.

Those who attempt to access blocked sites will be directed to an Interpol page explaining why the site has been blocked, and users will not be tracked or reported under the scheme. Those who believe their site has been blocked unfairly will be able to complain to the Australian Federal Police or Interpol itself and ask for a review.

“The current role of the ACMA in receiving complaints from Australian users will continue,” the IIA said.

The IIA believes that a voluntary code focusing on Interpol will bring Australia into line with Scandinavia and Europe on prohibiting access to child pornography. “While we fundamentally maintain the internet is predominantly safe and useful, we acknowledge community and law enforcement concerns about access to illegal materials online, particularly child pornography and so we are taking these practical steps to help make a positive difference,” Coroneos said this morning.

However, it remains unclear to what extent Australia’s ISPs will actually implement the voluntary code promulgated by the IIA. The nation’s largest ISPs Telstra and Optus have already committed to filtering their traffic for child pornography, and both are now on board with the IIA’s policy.

“Optus can confirm that it will honour its commitment to block child sexual abuse material on the web,” said Optus general manager of regulatory compliance Gary Smith in a statement this afternoon. “Optus will work with the AFP to implement the Interpol ‘Worst of’ list — an approach which blocks the worst of the worst child sexual abuse material.”

“This is a safe, credible and tested approach which has been implemented in other countries with proven results. Optus will work with the IIA and other ISPs to develop a code based on the framework released today by the IIA.”

However, when asked about the issue, this morning both iiNet and Internode reiterated that they would comply with the law when it came to filtering content for their user base. “As always, Internode’s position is that it will continue to do what it is lawfully obliged to do,” a spokesperson for the ISP said. “Throughout the filtering debate, iiNet has maintained it would always cooperate with law enforcement agencies,” a spokesperson for iiNet said.

It is not clear yet whether either will support the IIA model.

Primus, which had initially signed on to support the voluntary filter in mid-2010, has made several posts on Whirlpool over the past several days (now deleted) indicating that it was still considering whether to go ahead with the proposal. Other major ISPs such as TPG have not yet responded to a request for comment.

Image credit: Adrian van Leen, royalty free


  1. Much as I hate the idea of filtering at all, I think I’d prefer an Interpol list than one handled by a partisan govt. Still, if they made them optional and you didn’t feel like a deviant by selecting “unfiltered”, then I’d prefer that to any other filtering solution.

    • Except that what you forget is that governments now collude the world over. You know, things called “treaties” and other off-the-record agreements.

      *nudge, nudge, wink, wink*

      • I suppose, but in my experience, govts are generally simply too incompetent to pull off a proper conspiracy … I also can’t see interpol deciding that pro-euthanasia sites (or the like) are going to be added to their block list.

        • I’d personally like to have a lot more detail about this policy before I pass judgement on it :( I don’t know much about Interpol.

        • You only need to look at the European banking system to see how incompetent they are when trying to collaborate in broad daylight.

          Then again, government incompetence makes room for organized crime and corruption to ensure the hatchet job on us citizens is done by experts. If you want to see very clear examples, look at the European carbon trading certificate system.

  2. “two separate jurisdictions have to validate the entry and being illegal and not just objectivable.”

    god … I’ve read this article twice now, and that sentence is intensely aggravating. I’m begging you: fix the “and” (should be “as”) and the “objectivable” (should surely be “objectionable”).


    • You noticed the word “objectivable” too! I thought I needed new glasses and whisked past it.

  3. If Interpol and other agencies are aware of these sites and know of their existence, wouldn’t it make more sense to either:

    a) monitor traffic going to those addresses and then investigate cases where there’s a lot of access in order to catch pedophiles before they strike


    b) take action to shut them down entirely where possible?

    I just don’t understand how this “LALALALA WE CAN’T SEE OR HEAR YOU” approach is going to benefit anyone. Child porn is reprehensible. If people are stupid enough to put it on a website (or access said website repeatedly), they deserve to be caught. This just strikes me as ignoring the actual problem in order for governments to be seen to be “doing something”.

    (Usual disclaimers – above text represents personal thoughts, not those of my employer, etc etc)

  4. This will not stop it. It is still a head burying exercise to the real problem. I subscribe that it will stop a lot of the curious ones. This does not stop items like peer to peer and torrents and proxy IPing.. One footnote that I will add in regard to peer to peer that is most disturbing, is for the authorities that check a torrent that they have suspicion of being CP. To check it out they have to download the torrent and they become part of the peer to peer, so the become part of the open ports, or making CP available to the public via their IP. mmmm LEA charged with distributed of CP material is quite true and plausible.

  5. Will they also block access to sites that give estimates of how many kids have been killed by the criminal war in Iraq? I believe it’s about 100,000 so far…

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