National mobile carrier Vodafone has signalled its support for the new voluntary Internet filtering scheme being implemented by rivals Telstra and Optus, but has refused to clarify whether it will definitely implement the scheme or not.
The nation’s two biggest telcos Telstra and Optus have pledged to implement a voluntary filtering framework developed by the ISP industry’s peak representative body, the Internet Industry Association. The filter, which is being seen as a more moderate industry approach developed in reaction to the Federal Government’s much more comprehensive filter scheme, will see the ISPs block a “worst of the worst” list of child pornography sites generated by international police agency Interpol.
A number of other ISPs, however, such as Internode, TPG and Exetel, have taken a strong stand against the project, stating they will only implement the scheme if the law requires them to do so. iiNet has also cautiously stated that it will comply with the law but has stopped short of backing the scheme.
Late yesterday, Vodafone appeared to cautiously back the IIA’s framework. “VHA (Vodafone) supports the development of the new Internet Industry Association (IIA) ISP code, which will help guide the mobile internet industry in appropriately dealing with illegal content,” a spokesperson for the organisation said.
Pressed on the matter of whether that meant the telco would actually be implementing the filter, the spokesperson would only say that the telco was “currently looking at solutions and working with industry”.
If Vodafone does support the filter, it will add substantial weight to the scheme.
The mobile telco had more than 3 million customers using 3G mobile services as at the end of 2010, according to its most recent set of financial results, with a substantial amount of those accessing Internet services on the company’s network through either a smartphone or a USB or Wi-Fi device connected to a PC, laptop or tablet.
In addition, Vodafone is on the verge of becoming a supplier of fixed broadband services in Australia as well, signalling earlier this year that it was working to conduct a trial over the fledgling National Broadband Network fibre in the second half of 2011.
Telstra has already implemented the Interpol filter, while Optus is planning to do so by the end of this month. If Vodafone follows suit, the IIA will be one major step closer to its stated aim of having ISPs representing between 80-90 percent of the Australian Internet user base complying with its scheme by the end of 2011.