Australia is due to start preliminary testing of its new internet filtering system which, officials hope, will block Little Timmy from seeing smut online.
Under the auspices of Enex TestLab – the company awarded the official contract for the project by the Australian Communications and Media Authority, Oz's answer to the FCC – several companies will try out their services in turn to see which offers the best block-to-boob ratio.
Unlike optional – and often at extra-cost – filters offered by individual ISPs this system is planned for a default-block policy. Should the project hit full-scale development (something that will largely depend on the results of this first public test) then all
web traffic in the country will pass through the filtering system. Anyone wanting to download artistic images to test the flesh-tone colour reproduction of their monitor will be faced with the potentially embarrassing prospect of phoning their ISP and asking for the filter to be deactivated.
“Hello, I'd like to browse porn please. Could you arrange for that to happen? Thank you ever so much.
Although the Australian government has dabbled in Internet censorship before, with a £58 million project to use optional PC-level filtering (which flopped massively) this marks the first time a major government outside China has opted to install mandatory filtering which blocks legal
As anyone who has used a filtered connection at a school or university will confirm, filtering solutions are imperfect: there's the ever-present threat of false positives blocking legitimate sites due to the innocuous presence of certain keywords, and they are often as easy to bypass as using a different DNS server.
The testing will begin in a closed beta in Tasmania, and then be rolled out in stages at the end of July this year.
A worrying sign of increased government intervention in the web, or a useful way to prevent minors from seeing grot online? Share your thoughts over in the forums