Internode maintains filter stance after iiNet buyout


news Internode managing director Simon Hackett said over the weekend that his company’s cautious approach to government Internet filtering schemes would not change after its acquisition by iiNet.

Last week, shortly before Christmas, iiNet announced the acquisition of Internode for $105 million, which made it the third largest Internet service provider (ISP). The announcement also said that despite the acquisition, Internode would continue to operate as a separate brand.

However, on Dec 19, 2011 a few days before the announcement of the acquisition, an Australian Federal Police (AFP) document released under Freedom of Information laws revealed that iiNet and Internode had expressed their interest in implementing the limited Internet filtering scheme being overseen by the Australian Federal Police, in co-operation with international policing agency Interpol. So far Telstra, Optus, Vodafone and Cyberone have voluntarily signed up for the scheme.

The initiative was proposed by the Internet Industry Association in late July this year, as a voluntary code of practice that would see ISPs block a list of a “worst of the worst” list of child pornography sites generated by Interpol and overseen by the AFP. It has been seen as a more moderate industry approach developed in reaction to the Federal Government’s much more comprehensive filter scheme.

While the reason for the current filter is to block sites of child pornography, there is speculation that the same process could be used to block other sites that are considered unacceptable like those on euthanasia or abortion. While ISPs currently have the ‘option’ of voluntarily installing filters, the individual customer has no such choice and would be bound by their ISP’s decision.

Internode has generally taken an ambivalent approach to the scheme. In July this year, when Telstra and Optus had signed up voluntarily for the scheme, Internode said that it had concerns about the administration of the blacklisted URLs related to child pornography and refused to apply it.

In a post on the Whirlpool broadband forum over the weekend, answering a question on Internode’s agreeing to implement Internet filtering systems, Hackett said Internode’s filter stance would not change: “We have no incentive to impose mandatory content filtering without a legal basis that requires us to do so”. There is currently no known method for the Government or the AFP to mandatorily force ISPs to filter content located overseas, although it has been speculated that the Section 313 Telecommunications Act notice process which the limited Interpol filter is using could be applied in a mandatory fashion to ISPs.

Any implementation of Labor’s much wider Internet filtering scheme would likely be dependent on associated legislation passing through Federal Parliament. However, with both the Greens and the Coalition currently opposed to such a scheme, this is unlikely to occur in the medium term.

Hackett emphasised Internode’s need to comply with the law, noting ISPs are bound by the law like every other business entity and have to follow government regulations irrespective of their personal opinion if they hope to stay in business.

“On the other hand, to state the (I hope) bleeding obvious, if we are required to do so because a law requires us to do so, then we would have absolutely no choice than to do so,” the Internode chief wrote. “This is not a matter of morality, money, or opinion – merely a matter of the necessity for any company that expects to remain in business needing to obey the laws of the land.”

“Don’t like the laws of the land? Vote for someone who promises to change them – thats the only avenue you have. Appealing to your ISP to break the law for you (or implying that they should be taking this sort of bullet for you in any context) is just not sane or reasonable. ISPs have to obey the law. This is not complicated. ISPs also have no incentive to ‘over-reach’ the law either. This is, also, not complicated.”

“I can’t figure out why people keep thinking ISPs have any interest in forcing their customers to do things against their will, without the ISP being legally required to do so. What is it with that? You don’t think we have better things to do with our time and money than to spend millions of dollars imposing transparent packet interception equipment just for kicks?”

Image credit: Internode


  1. Help us here Navina, are you talking about the voluntary Interpol list filtering here? If so, do you actually know how that operates at all? You seem to be confused about the differences of the Interpol, ACMA and RC lists.

    Did you research this subject matter at all? Actually look at how the Interpol list and process works at all?

    You might want to check those aspects first and how the Interpol list oversight and twin agency minimum agreements work for URLs to get on the list.

    BTW the Interpol list is a CSAI list. However, if you do believe that the Interpol is also under Conroy’s control or are corrupted here then I can understand your stance.

    Interesting of note: The Interpol list filtering has been applied to the majority of Australian internet users for months now, and no-one has either noticed or been impacted in any discernible manner or dcumented case.

    Speculation is always rife, and amounts to nothing 99% of the time…

    Wishing you and the Delimiter Team and great and successful 2012!

    • hey ‘MuggleRule’, hands off abusing Delimiter writers. We are well aware of the differences between the various lists and how they operate. It’s not 100% clear what list or process Hackett was talking about; I had the impression he was discussing filtering in general.

    • Hey MuggleRule before you whinge about the OP’s research I would strongly suggest that you do your own. Check the Interpol web site and you will find that the so called voluntary filter can be altered by the AFP to include stuff apart from the “worst of the worst” child porn that is described in their inclusion list. and still be called the Interpol list.

      You need to read the fine print!

  2. Hey, “MuggleRule”, regarding “no-one has noticed” … well, um, if we assume that the blacklist is almost all “worst of the worst” child porn then anyone who _has_ noticed is hardly likely to shout it from the rooftops.

    The other side of the coin though is “it hasn’t achieved anything either”. Everyone knows that this is just “security theatre”. Anyone who did bump into the block would just circumvent and move on.

  3. There is no reason this’interpol’ filtering scheme will not be used to filter sites such as thepiratebay. Just wait for the media cartels to start on the government and the focus will all change in a very bad way.

  4. Interesting quote from Hackett:

    “I can’t figure out why people keep thinking ISPs have any interest in forcing their customers to do things against their will, without the ISP being legally required to do so. What is it with that?”

    Yet Telstra, Optus, Vodafone and Cyberone did implement the filters. What’s with that?

  5. Is it a challenge to get around this filter thingy?
    One can use a different DNS server or operate their own. There are proxy servers and TOR. IPV6 has encryption built in so, no packet sniffing there.
    How hard can it be?

  6. Um, how does the old owner of a bought out company expect to have any say over what the bosses want to do with their ISP.

    I think it’s silly for this guy to be saying we will be doing X when he no longer owns said company.

    iiNet get rid of the old company and wipe and convert it all to what ever iiNet are doing, that has happened so many times now.

    • Owner != Operator

      Simon Hackett still is still an executive of Internode. When company A buys out company B it does not automatically mean they merge functions and company B becomes a facsimile of company A.

      Microsoft owns Apple, I don’t see Apple producing Windows, do you?

    • >> “… Convert it to whatever iiNet are doing …”

      That shouldn’t be hard. iiNet and Internode are on the same page on this issue.

    • “… Convert it to whatever iiNet are doing …”

      That shouldn’t be hard. iiNet and Internode are on the same page on this issue.

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