Pipe Networks blacks out as Internode sees red

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Pipe Networks blacks out as Internode sees red

Hackett's lengthy defence of Node's non-participation.

Pipe Networks has picked up where ISP iiNet left off by joining the internet blackout protest overnight, claiming the Government's plan will filter less than 0.1 percent of ‘bad sites'.

In a letter to staff, managing director Bevan Slattery slammed the Government's plan as "politically motivated and ill conceived".

He labelled the list of refused classification material maintained by the Australian Communication and Media Authority (ACMA) "pathetically small" and said it would "fail to block 99 percent of content it is designed to stop".

"In 1998, the world's largest filtering database (N2H2) had over 4,500,000 URL's filtered or classified. In the year 2000 that list grew to almost 10,000,000 URL's," Slattery said.

"The ACMA government list which is powering the government's filter apparently has around 1,300 URL's. I say apparently, because it's hard to find out exactly what is on it.

"But in its first implementation, I would suggest that it would filter less than 0.1 percent of 'bad sites'."

Slattery was also critical of the types of content that were refused classification in Australia based on lobbying from special interest groups.

He said that without public oversight into the classification process "we may not know which special interests will be served.

"You will hear about an openness and disclosure regime being spoken of, but you won't actually get to see in detail what it is, and if one day you do, you'll be underwhelmed," Slattery warned.

Pipe's decision to join the online protest, which is backed by Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA), came hours after Internode managing director Simon Hackett defended his decision not to participate in the blackout via the Whirlpool forums.

"Just because iiNet decides to participate in this specific publicity exercise and neither Telstra nor Internode happen to - does that mean that Internode and Telstra are now supplicant supporters of the government stance?" Hackett said.

"Of course it doesn't. To deliberately and mischievously suggest otherwise is pretty darn rude [in my humble opinion]."

Hackett attributed Internode's decision to a lack of notice from protest organisers and concerns about annoying customers with the ‘black out'.

"Anyone who thinks it's OK to make a substantial production change to our public facing web sites at zero notice, running third party code we've not checked, and that generates a substantial change to the user experience (with attendant risks of it failing on specific browsers etc) doesn't appreciate that this isn't a game," Hackett said.

"We don't routinely want to mess with our customers' experience of the Internet without some reasonable consideration of the issues."

Hackett feared the ISP's non-geek customers would interpret it "as our site being broken (really) [or as] forcing a pop-up advertisement upon them [or] forcing them to be a part of our lobbying effort (forcing, not asking)."

He - like the Internet Industry Association yesterday - backed more direct forms of Government engagement and lobbying over the issue.

"[Internet blackout] would have been a far more effective exercise had it had a longer lead-in process and more publicity of the sites that'd participate (to encourage a far higher participation than just a few hundred, generally small, sites, or about one metric zillionth of the Internet web sites out there)," Hackett said.

"Throw your rocks at the instigators of this flawed policy, guys - not at Internode."

The EFA received over 500 pledges to participate in the blackout by the end of last week. About 125 websites started the blackout on Monday and more were being added daily to a list maintained on the internet blackout website.

Perth ISP iiNet was the first - and only - ISP to throw its support behind the campaign. It participated for approximately 24 hours over Australia Day.

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