Gay porn mix-up embarrasses Australian ISP

BigPond messes up - and then decides to re-route traffic away from porn star's site

Telstra's internet service provider, BigPond, has turned self-appointed content cop after accidentally steering millions of unwitting Australian teenagers to the tribute site of a gay porn star.

According to statements issued by BigPond, a "human error" caused the URL for the website of the winner of talent quest Australian Idol Casey Donovan to be substituted with the URL of the dead gay porn icon Casey Donovan.

The incorrect URL was advertised on Monday in Sydney's Daily Telegraph and Melbourne's Herald Sun newspapers.

The porn Donovan's site, which has been running for a number of years, features a naked frontal picture of the erstwhile adult star. A government source looking into the matter described an aspect of the picture of Mr Donovan as "frighteningly large".

The same source added that "heads will roll" over the incident.

Having alerted every second teenager in Australia to the errant link to the adult site, BigPond set about redirecting subscriber requests from the porn Donovan's site back to the site of Australia's latest pop sensation at around 2pm on Monday.

BigPond spokesman Craig Middleton says the emergency redirection of BigPond subscribers had been done to protect young teenage minds from "inappropriate or potentially offensive material".

"We are a family-friendly company," Middleton says, adding that adult BigPond subscribers could still access the adult site after being redirected.

BigPond also took the unusual step of formally complaining to the Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA) about the mess it created. The complaint is based on the adult nature of content on Mr Donovan's site — even though it is only R-rated and hosted overseas.

An ABA spokesman confirms BigPond lodged a formal complaint with the ABA on the basis the adult site may contain X-rated material or material that would be denied classification by the Office of Film and Literature Classification.

The ABA spokesman says Mr Donovan's site was still being assessed, but cautions that issuing a take-down notice could prove difficult as BigPond is not actually a broadcaster — quite apart from the fact that is BigPond that provided the link to the porn Donovan's site in error.

BigPond's Middleton says the ISP made the complaint to the ABA so as to "leave no stone unturned" in a bid to protect the interests of Australian teenagers.

Middleton says BigPond will not seek to find out how much traffic went through its servers the site and that no BigPond staff are being sacked over the incident.

"But we're still feeling the pain," he says.

ISP customers not connected to BigPond were still able to access Donovan's site at press time without benevolent re-direction.

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