Auckland’s Watchdog helps filter Aussie internet

Watchdog International part of trials by the Australian federal government

Auckland internet safety company Watchdog International will work with some of the six Australian internet service providers chosen for the first round of trials of internet filters by the Australian federal government, says managing director Peter Mancer.

He says two products for which his company is the agent for will be used in the trials.

The NetClean Whitebox devised by Swedish company NetClean is used by New Zealand ISPs who voluntarily subscribe to a filter provided through the Department of Internal Affairs. This is directed at blocking addresses carrying illegal content and is currently targeting websites depicting child sexual abuse, says the DIA.

Lobbyists for civil liberties in Australia are concerned the government has mentioned that other “undesirable” but not illegal sites may also be blocked if filtering is implemented permanently in Australian ISPs.

Unlike New Zealand, the Australian government plans to make this level of filtering mandatory, given the success of the trials.

The other Watchdog product, from Marshal8e6, implements discretionary blocking of a broader range of websites with legal material of a kind restricted to adults in other media. The Australian government plans to let adult users opt out of this level of filtering if they wish.

The Marshal8e6 filter uses a different technique to the NetClean filter, as it is designed to minimise impact on internet use while checking page access attempts against the much larger list of websites.

The initial six ISPs chosen for the trials are Primus Telecommunications, Tech 2U, Webshield, OMNIconnect, Netforce and Highway 1. The trials will be for a minimum of six weeks. Mancer declines to name the companies Watchdog is working with.

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