Aussie Org Tells Government to Drop Compulsory Web Filter

BRISBANE, Australia - The System Administrators Guild of Australia said Tuesday the widespread publication of a "secret" government blacklist has derailed plans for establishing mandatory filtering by Internet Service Providers.

A non-profit professional organization representing Aussie system administrators, SAGE-AU's President Donna Ashelford said the list of banned websites, which was published on Wikileaks initially and has also appeared elsewhere, is basically a guide to online porn for 15-year-olds.

"The government's trial has both fatally damaged the cause of Internet filtering, and damaged Australia's global reputation, since the government appears to be trying to block legitimate websites from the Australian public," she said in an SAGE-AU press release titled "It's a botch."

"It also appears that the release of the blacklist was not a leak, but rather a reverse-engineering of the software the government provided to home Internet users, which raises serious questions about the security of the list," she added. "If you release it to the public, it becomes a guide to the content you are trying to keep out; if it is neither released nor effectively vetted, it can be used inappropriately to block legitimate content."

SAGE-AU suggested the Australian Government scrap filtering trials and don't waste its time compiling blacklists. The organization advocates a three-tier approach it offered last November, reports

The plan, covered in the press release, calls for "family-friendly" ISPs, greater parental education, and then more stringent enforcement, which includes increasing the budgets of the Australian Communications and Media Authority and the Australian Federal Police.

SAGE-AU's Ashelford said officials need to "step back, define what the problem is and then come up with a workable solution to that problem."

The organization also notes that both Harvard and ACMA released research showing that the biggest problem with children online concerns bullying and identity theft, and an ACMA study said parents rate TV as a bigger threat to their children than the Internet.