TelstraClear, whose ISPs Paradise and ClearNet both use the ISP-based filtering system provided by the Department of Internal Affairs, says it has seen no adverse impact on response times from the presence of the filter.
Leading raised the question of performance among other criticisms of the more complex filtering scheme currently being tested by Australia’s federal government.
“It [the filter] will impact on the performance of internet networks,” says iiNet in a sceptical report on its website. “We know this to be true, because an additional processing load will be placed on the ISP networks to look up blacklists and/or perform other filtering tasks.”
All users will be impacted, says iiNet, as every URL or IP address entered into a browser will have to be checked against a blacklist.
“Individuals will see degraded performance, probably proportional to their internet bandwidth. We have yet to run the trial, but dial-up, satellite and low speed broadband customers will probably be the most affected,” says the ISP.
A TelstraClear spokeswoman, after consulting the company’s technical specialists, says the DIA filter imposes no detectable performance penalty. However, the Australian situation is likely to be different because the blacklist is considerably longer than New Zealand’s, she says.
Former ICT minister David Cunliffe told Computerworld just before the election that the DIA filter “currently blocks access to about 7,000 websites that are known to deal exclusively with child sexual abuse imagery”. The current Australian list of absolutely banned sites also runs into four figures, but there is a much larger list of legal but offensive sites that will be blocked by default. Adult users can opt out of that filtering level.
A Telecom Broadband spokesman says it intends to trial the DIA filter from the end of November, but has not been using it to date, so it has no data on performance impact.
Australia’s minister for broadband and communications, Stephen Conroy, recently added the term “unwanted sites” to the list of those to be absolutely banned, increasing the concerns of civil liberties campaigners.
The statement by iiNet also flags this concern; saying it can be interpreted to mean anything the government of the day wants.
“This is absolutely unacceptable. We have no objection to appropriate legal process, but will not accept that an anonymous government official will make a call on the basis of his or her own judgement.
“The addition of additional websites that someone in Canberra determines are ‘unwanted’ but which may not be illegal, is a high probability and must be avoided,” the ISP says.