Aussie Web Filter Foibles

NEW SOUTH WALES—A plan for "The Great Aussie Firewall" to block blacklisted websites has been in the news all year, but a regional school filter has shown how such a scheme is susceptible to errors.

The New South Wales Education Department found itself backpedaling last week over use of a porn filter when it blocked more than was intended and failed to stop other content, The Register reports. A female school student from the town of Greenfell searched on a school computer for "swallow," as in the bird, not adult content. The installed filter blocked access to a documentary on swallowing toothpaste but allowed viewing a male site talking about "inappropriate material."

The student's father, George Cochrane, was irritated over the entire matter and said, "The system isn't actually protecting anybody, especially isolated kids."

This is not the only report of erratic filtering; others have included blocks of educational sites as well as web pages for a local member of the Aussie Parliament and NSW Education Minister Verity Firth’s site.

"On rare occasions inappropriate websites are not captured," a ministry spokesperson said, adding that adjustments would be made and that blocks are updated daily.

Acting Opposition education spokesman Andrew Stoner fired back that officials are “quick to claim credit for the good news, so they should accept responsibility for this debacle and fix it as soon as possible."

For more on Australian web filter plans, view the news archives.