The Australian federal Government's plan to have internet service providers filter pornography and other internet content deemed inappropriate for
children is going full-steam ahead. The Government wants to evaluate content filters in a controlled environment. Trials are to be conducted soon in a closed environment in Tasmania. Enex TestLab was selected more than six months ago after the Australian Communications and Media Authority closed a tender for an organisation to test ISP-based content filters. ISP-based filters will block inappropriate web pages at service
provider level and automatically relay a clean feed to households. To be exempted, users will have to individually contact their ISPs. The trial will evaluate ISP-level internet content filters in a controlled environment while filtering content inappropriate for children, Enex said. "We invite vendors of all types (hardware appliances, software - proprietary or open-source) of ISP-based internet content filters to participate." The testing is slated for completion by July and will be followed by live field trials.
The internet sector has consistently voiced concern about the Government's ISP filters. Internet Industry Association chief executive Peter Coroneos has said any clean feed policy would have to be balanced against the likely financial and performance costs, and ACMA's first annual report to Senator Conroy confirmed his fears. On the performance impact of filters, ACMA said: "In the case of personal computers the cost of upgrading processing power may be modest (although significant in terms of household income). "However, for ISPs the cost of upgrading or augmenting the expensive hardware that they typically deploy may be substantial, particularly for small providers."
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