Optus’ filter to go live later this month


The nation’s number two telco Optus has confirmed it will follow Telstra and start filtering its customers’ Internet traffic for a blacklist of sites containing child pornography within the next few weeks.

Late on Friday night Telstra confirmed its filter implementation had gone live. The move is the first known implementation of a voluntary filtering framework developed by the ISP industry’s peak representative body, the Internet Industry Association. Publicly unveiled just several days ago on Monday last week, the voluntary filter is expected to be adopted by most Australian Internet service providers this year. Over the weekend an Optus spokesperson said: “We will start blocking the Interpol list later this month.”

Optus has previously described the Interpol filter as “a safe, credible and tested approach which has been implemented in other countries with proven results”.

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. For a site to get onto the list, law enforcement agencies in at least two separate jurisdictions have to validate the entry as being illegal and not just potentially offensive. 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.

“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 last week when the telco first confirmed its intention to implement the Interpol list.

“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. Optus will work with the IIA and other ISPs to develop a code based on the framework released today by the IIA.”

It is not yet clear whether other ISPs will follow Telstra and Optus in implementing the Interpol filter. Primus is still evaluating it, while others such as iiNet and Internode have merely stated that they will comply with the law when it came to filtering.

“As always, Internode’s position is that it will continue to do what it is lawfully obliged to do,” a spokesperson for Internode said last week. “Throughout the filtering debate, iiNet has maintained it would always cooperate with law enforcement agencies,” a spokesperson for iiNet said.

The limited filtering initiative is a stop-gap measure 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 Government’s wider mandatory filter project is slated to block. The ISPs’ filter will only block sites with child pornography — instead of those with illlegal content in general.

Image credit: Optus


  1. ” The ISPs’ filter will only block sites with child pornography — instead of those with illlegal content in general.”

    Yeah as its such a proven means of getting rid of CP, instead of going to the actual source of the problem.


  2. I’m against the Australian Filter that blocks “illegal” content or questionable “genuine” material, but this Interpol filter doesn’t seem so bad. if it’s ONLY CP and ALWAYS this list then it’s not too bad… the only issue I can see *if* ‘THIS” list is traded for a “secret” government list. Very easy for them to push their own agenda and block anything they see fit… eg anything they may see as anti current government.

    Biggest problem is once any filter is in its very easy to change it to something else.
    As everyone said, focus should be to take these sites down – catch the people viewing them rather than block them. Doesn’t help if pedo man can’t get his fix online and gets it in real life – also what percentage of the population are we talking here?

    • All that this ‘filter’ is doing is if you go somewhere that is on the list or part of the url is on the list then it’ll push you through a proxy to route you to a page saying this site has been blocked.

      This is done by DNS and so instead of going to for example google.com it’d route you to a page saying “this site has been blocked”

      This is so easily gotten around it won’t stop the people that enjoy CP getting to it, but it will stop lil Johnny accidentally coming across it.

    • I’m sure you can change provider or put a work around in place to get your CP fix if Virgin gets filtered as well because of it using Optus

  3. Flame away, but I think the broader community would have no issue with this move.

    Michael – you sound like the NRA “guns don’t kill people, people kill people”

    Were you against the Howard Government’s gun buyback and control laws? The guns were still being produced, and sure, if you really wanted them enough there were blackmarkets where you could still buy them, but it sure made it harder for someone with limited knowledge of firearms but an unhinged desire to kill as many people as quickly as possible.

    I don’t think there would be many people in Australia today who would argue those reforms were a good thing (even the Fairfax press who thought of Howard as the Devil incarnate applaud this as one of his greatest legacies), but I remember “firearms commentators” (I share housed with a sporting shooter at the time) complaining at the time that the new laws were crazily prohibitive, were never going to stop people who really wanted the guns getting them, and that it wouldn’t stop production.

    Are people with in depth knowledge of why filtering can be a bad thing (which I happen to agree with), out of step with the mainstream on filtering illegal child porn? If the means of distribution are left open, why would production stop?

    Are we the Shooters Party of the 21st century?

    • OK lets look at guns.

      The child porn filter is the same as saying to the gangs you can go ahead and kill people just as long as you don’t do it where jo public can see what is going on. What we are asking for is not for the sites to be hidden behind the internet equivalent of black wrapper but for action to be taken to actually shut the sites down. There was a group in the UK that got a hand on the interpol filter list that local ISP where using and within 24 hours had more than 50% of the site shut down just by sending some emails and making a few phone calls.

      • exactly, most people who’s servers are hosting CP are not aware that there is a site on their server hosting it and if they get notified they’ll bring it down.

        • It’s not a question of either/or:

          Quoting from Interpol.int in regards to child porn blocking:

          “The police must work on investigations into and the deletion of the material through other channels in parallel, but this may be a time consuming and lengthy process.”

          And further:

          “The strategy of blocking access to child sexual abuse material has been operating in several countries for many years, with very good results.”

          But I’m sure the armchair experts @Delimiter know better than those Interpol muppets.

          • …”armchair experts”…

            Okay then – think that if you like.

            DNS poisoning – which is all this filter is doing – is irrelevant, and pointless.

            It takes five minutes and just a few dollars to register a new domain name, delegate some name servers, and adjust your host configuration to suit your new domain name.

            Within a few hours of record propagation, you’re back up again. Gee, that filter was effective.

            A limp wristed filter – (which this and the “Conroy” filter are) – is little more than a minor inconvenience. That law enforcement agencies believe that it is actually achieving something significant is an even greater concern.

            Only by shutting the operators down and putting them in jail for their crimes can any real difference be made.

            By throwing up pointless filters, you force the users of this crap a little further underground, and make them even harder to track. Making them harder to track means a loss of information about where these cretins are getting the material from.

            And if we don’t know where they are getting it from, we don’t know who to shut down, and we certainly won’t rescue any kids from the dangers they are facing.

            Filtering is bullshit – it’s a public relations exercise, and not much more.

            A couple of years ago, a data centre in San Francisco hosting masses of spam bot networks was simply cut off from the internet. Worldwide spam was cut to near zero instantly. The amount of spam hitting my mail server was so low, I thought there was something wrong with my mail server.

            ISP / data centres identified as hosting this crap – (knowingly or unknowingly) – need to shut them down, and if they don’t, they need to be cut off. Completely – even if it affects unrelated customers using the same ISP / DC.

            This is serious shit – it’s not time to be namby-pamby about it. They’ll potentially lose customers over it – and they’ll take action so fast when they figure that out, it will make your neck snap.

            Just like the ISPs servicing the DC in San Francisco did.

            A filter hides the problem – it does NOTHING to fix it. This is not about the internet – it’s about children being abused. Unfortunately, it is being kicked around as a political football, and all the time nothing is happening to FIX it.

          • You seem to be making the assumption that the block list is “all” they are doing, I highly doubt that is the case.

            As for just shutting them down, what about when the servers are located in places that aren’t San Francisco, that in places that really couldn’t give two hoots what Interpol is telling them to do? Do we then try and cut off the entire country’s internet connection?

            As you’ve already said (http://delimiter.com.au/2011/07/04/optus-filter-can-be-defeated-by-trivial-dns-change/#comment-87661) the DNS can be forced on users, and if the government is serious about enforcing a block list it could make restrictions on what DNS can be accessed by Australian’s part of that policy, and so in effect the DNS blocking system would work.

            But ultimately you’re right in that It may be a minor inconvenience to them, but it’s something that slows them down, and that is a step in the right direction.

          • *As for just shutting them down, what about when the servers are located in places that aren’t San Francisco, that in places that really couldn’t give two hoots what Interpol is telling them to do? Do we then try and cut off the entire country’s internet connection?*

            give you one example: Montenegro.

            lots of countries like that in Central Europe/Former USSR where the “political elite” and “organised crime” are virtually indistinguishable.

            and let me tell you, Interpol has bigger problems with Montenegro than lolita porn… stuff like billion dollar smuggling of contraband across borders, etc

          • and the fact that laws are different in different countries would also be a big obstacle. (also, consider that some of these countries are very backward with underdeveloped legal code and enforcement capabilities.)

            to give an example (on differing laws), i remember from watching a current affairs report on SBS that apparently: while it’s illegal to produce underage porn in Japan, it’s not illegal to POSSESS the material.

            (and i’m not suggesting that any of this shit is being hosted on Japanese servers.)

      • *There was a group in the UK that got a hand on the interpol filter list that local ISP where using and within 24 hours had more than 50% of the site shut down just by sending some emails and making a few phone calls.*

        geeez.. “bulletproof hosting” is not what it used to be…

  4. The people still calling for the shut-down of CP sites as the ONLY measure that should be considered, should take up their complaints with Interpol I expect. Ask them why they are not closing down those CSAI sites.

    Claiming that we should not be doing anything except closing down these sites is naive and selfish. If anyone has the ability to close down these sites globally, then it would be Interpol?? Ever thought why Interpol keeps this list??

    Perhaps because even they do not have the ability or jusrisdiction to close them down, which would mean that they cannot at this time be closed down.

    Do you guys really believe that Interpol has not notified the hosters of these sites that CSAI stuff is on their servers? Come on, get real.

    So now a bunch of you are suggesting that Interpol have no idea what they are doing and instead of contacting the people hosting these sites on their list, they just list the domains and go drink coffee??

    You might want to research that a bit further before making such condenscending assumptions and suggestions to an org like Interpol…

    Anyone here actually asked Interpol what they do here, or actually proved the claims made by commenters such as Matthew? Easy to claim, darn hard to sunstantiate.

  5. What we are saying is fix the gaping hole in the wall don’t just put a poster over it and say look at all the work we have done to fix the gaping hole in the wall.

  6. Its like Conjob is asking for people to put “faith” into the filter.
    I put absolutely no faith in internet filters at all none, zip, nudda,and zilch.

    It really worries me that some people think that the filter is a magic carpet and it will make CP completely vanish.

    It doesn’t it hides it and it makes it harder for the criminals to be caught.

    False sense of security that’s what it is, if some people are gullible that thinking the filters will do any good then that’s fine that is your prerogative.

    Whilst some live in the real world knows its not going to work its a pointless piss weak exercise in the end.

    Scary that some people believe in the filter.

  7. iiNet is Australia’s number 2 telco now! Have been for some time.

    Get your facts right Renai!

  8. 1. You can get around the filter (so it doesn’t stop the offenders)
    2. You can’t stumble into a CP site (if it was that easy, I’m sure I would’ve heard about it)

    It only serves to prevents the first time offender who is non-technical from intentionally looking for CP web content.

    The filter only makes people feel easy that something is being done.

    At the end of the day.

    This is a political move. No one argues against something that most of the public are for (Who wants to argue on something attempting to tackle CP?)

    Still waste of money.

    In effect this is just building walls around Australia, it’s only ideal because a country that is completely controlled by the government gives them power and ability to shape it to their desire. Lets all turn now and look at North Korea.

  9. Yes, Interpol gets it wrong and so does the government… all the time!
    Just go back a few odd years and slavery was perfectly normal for the government at the time. My point is every government policy must be evaluated not because it’s sounds traditionally acceptable, but because of it’s current value to society.

    By those standards this filter, any such filter harms society more than it does good. How?

    The good
    – it prevents little Johnny from accidentally stumbling across it. How? I wouldn’t know, cause I’ve never accidentally stumbled across it.

    The bad
    – it brushes a problem under the carpet, out of sight, but doesn’t address the problem.
    – it conditions us to think restriction is a solution rather than education
    – it’s a stepping stone (scope creep) for abuse by the government of the day, like north Korea, china, Iran, etc
    – it promotes a government of secrecy and hidden agendas rather than an open and transparent government

    One provides us with a paper thin notion of safety, the other takes away our basic human right to freedom of expression, which is the only reason we’re not still living in the dark ages!

    Now weigh off the good vs the bad and judge for yourself.

    • But, circumventing the access blocking takes some technical skill, motivation and determination from the Internet user who will, upon detection, be a higher value target for the police.

  10. This is a clever ploy to slowly move Aussies to the full blown filter that Labour has long sort out. Once this filter is shown to be non impacting (because the list is so small) it will be used to push the much larger filter blocking all sorts of secret content. Censorship is just wrong. Look at China for instance.

    And as others have pointed out, when did you last accidently stumble on child porn? You havent..

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