A-G: Filter won't drive users to encryption

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Attorney General's Dept backs Conroy's filter plan.

The Attorney-General's Department does not expect to see a rise in the number of users encrypting internet traffic streams to avoid detection by ISP-level filters, according to written responses to questions posed by The Greens.

Greens ICT spokesman Scott Ludlam posted a series of responses yesterday to questions taken on notice by various departments and authorities at Senate Committees held prior to the election.

The responses focused on the Government's planned introduction of internet filtering in Australia, which was currently on hold pending the outcome of an inquiry into refused classification (RC) guidelines.

Among the responses was a rejection by the Attorney-General's department to fears that the introduction of filters would encourage more people to encrypt traffic to and from their networks in an attempt to avoid detection or to access and share contentious or illicit material.

Use of encryption could pose difficulties for law enforcement agencies monitoring or accessing internet traffic streams as part of their jobs.

"The Attorney-General's Department has advised that it has no evidence that an internet filter would increase the volume of encrypted internet traffic," the statement read.

"The [Australian Federal Police] has [also] confirmed that they do not forsee any significant operational issues posed by filtering."

Law enforcement agencies and the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) would likely be exempt from mandatory filters.

"Provision will be made for organisations with a legitimate work requirement to access an unfiltered service," another response to Ludlam read.

Tourists and other visitors connecting to Australian data services would, however, be subjected to a filtered stream.

"Our technical advice suggests that in most circumstances the visitor to Australia would receive a filtered service because they would connect through a network in Australia," another response said.

"When an Australian uses a roaming internet connection overseas, the service is usually provided by the internet service provider's (ISP's) overseas roaming partner.

"In this case, the Australian would receive a filtered service only if such a service is received by all of the ISP's customers in that country."

The questions also touched on a secret ISP filtering online forum held in April this year.

The Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE) was in the process of "preparing a report to the Minister [Stephen Conroy] on the forum," the department said in a response.

"A decision on the public release of the report will be made by the Minister after he has received a copy of the report," the department said.

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