Senator the Hon Stephen Conroy
Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy
Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Digital Productivity
Minister welcomes advances in internet filtering technology
The Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy today welcomed a report demonstrating advances in internet content filtering technologies.
“The internet is a wonderful tool that is delivering benefits to increasing numbers of Australian families but the Government wants to find ways to make it safer, particularly for children. This report will assist the Government to deliver on its election commitment to create a safer online environment,” Senator Conroy said.
Senator Conroy today released the findings of the report by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), Closed Environment Testing of ISP-Level Internet Content Filtering.
The report details the results of extensive laboratory tests into the current effectiveness of commercial Internet Service Provider (ISP) filtering products.
ISP filtering is one element of the Government’s $125.8 million Plan for Cyber-Safety which also includes education, international cooperation, research and law enforcement.
“The next step is to test filter technologies in a real world environment with a number of ISPs and internet users,” Senator Conroy said.
The Australian Government is committed to ensuring all Australian families can utilise ISP filters that block prohibited content as identified by the Australian Communications and Media Authority. Families should also be able to access filters that can be customised to block more material if they choose.
Tests undertaken during the laboratory investigation found that the quality of ISP-level filtering technology has significantly improved compared with the technology used in a previous trial conducted in 2005.
“It is very encouraging to see that the industry has made significant progress with ISP filtering products and we are heartened that many of the products tested are commercially available, with many of them already deployed overseas,” Senator Conroy said.
The results in the ACMA trial were based on illegal and inappropriate content. The tests included filtering over and above simple black-list filtering, and the trial did not specifically test the impact of black-list filtering on its own.
“Filtering specifically against a black-list of illegal content as well as the ability to filter additional material will be one part of the upcoming pilot trial,” Senator Conroy said.
“We are interested to see the results of filtering in real-world conditions and I encourage ISPs to participate. This will enable the implementation of ISP filtering in Australia to be undertaken in an informed and effective way.”
An Expression of Interest request will be released shortly seeking participation in the live pilot from ISPs.
The ACMA report Closed Environment Testing of ISP-Level Internet Content Filtering can be accessed via the ACMA website: www.acma.gov.au
Date: 28 July 2008
Contact: Tim Marshall 0408 258 457
The previous Government issued ACMA with a Direction in June 2007 to conduct closed environment testing of ISP level content filters.
The laboratory trial looked specifically at the effect of a range of filter products on network performance, effectiveness in identifying and blocking illegal and inappropriate content, scope to filter non-web traffic and adaptability to differing requirements of end-users.
The report found:
- The median network degradation of the tested filters dropped indicating a significant improvement since the previous trial. The performance or ‘network degradation’ for one of the tested products was less than 2%, whilst three products were less than 30% and two products were in excess of 75%.
- Successful blocking (the proportion of illegal and inappropriate content that should have been blocked that was successfully blocked) was between 88% and 97% with most achieving over 92%. The median rate of successful blocking was improved from the previous trial.
- Overblocking (the proportion of content that was blocked that should not have been blocked) was between 1% and 6%, with most falling under 3%. The median overblocking rate was significantly improved from the previous trial.
- All filter products tested were able to block traffic entirely across a wide range of non-web protocols such as instant messaging and peer-to-peer protocols. However, most filters are not presently able to identify illegal content and content that may be regarded as inappropriate that is carried via the majority of non-web protocols.
- All filter products tested allow for the customisation of filtering levels for groups of users, for individual customers of an ISP and for individual users.