The controversial internet filtration system that was proposed a few years ago by Australia’s Labor party may be mandatory by 2013. The plan has seen several significant delays since it was introduced, and more work needs to be done before it goes online, but the project appears to still be in the books.
The filter system would block “refused-classification content” at the ISP level. This RC category includes everything from child pornography to online gambling sites in Australia. The exact list of sites that the system would block is still being compiled by the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (SCAG), and a full review of the RC category is expected to take 12 months.
By March 2011 the SCAG expects to draw up a more complete proposal outlining the scope and methodology of the plan, and will provide recommendations for its implementation by early 2012.
In the meantime, millions of dollars have been set aside to help ISPs encourage Australian internet users to implement existing filtering software that has a similar aim, though it is much narrower in scope. The software filters some RC content sites, including some websites that offer internet gambling in Australia.
Other entities involved in the plan include the Australian Communications and Media Authority, which is to receive $400,000 each year to maintain the secret blacklist of RC sites that ISPs will use to filter the internet. The Department of Broadband is also receiving money to work on the project, receiving over $800,000 over the next three years to develop the toolkit required to put the filter into action.
The list of blacklisted sites will never be made public, but if one were to speculate about its contents, it most likely targets online gambling sites that are operated out of other countries, and which target Australian gamblers without being licensed to do so under Australian gambling laws. Because such sites would be blocked at the ISP level, players would have little recourse if the filter system goes into action in 2013.