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