Revealed: ISPs detail their Aussie net filter trials

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Revealed: ISPs detail their Aussie net filter trials

Participating ISPs say they will forge ahead with Internet filter trials, regardless of speculation around whether associated legislation will pass or be blocked.

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A report by the Sydney Morning Herald last week indicated that South Australian Independent Senator, Nick Xenaphon could side with the Coalition in an attempt to block content filtering legislation in the Senate.

But ISPs involved in the first round of the trials have told iTnews that while discussion over how the different political parties will vote is "interesting", it won't stop the tests from going ahead.

"Until such time as the Government puts legislation before the parliament, discussion on who goes which way is pure speculation," said Anthony Pillion, managing director of Webshield.

"I've seen a lot of speculation but until there's real live legislation it's just an interesting discussion."

"My understanding is that if legislation is required and if it goes to parliament, then he [Xenophon] may vote against it," said Andrew Robson, general manager of TECH 2U.

"There's so many ‘ifs' we're wasting our time talking about it."

The chosen ISPs have wasted no time in placing orders for content filtering equipment, mostly from the United States.

Highway1 said it expects its equipment will arrive this week; TECH 2U expects to be installing equipment later this month, while Netforce was unable to provide a specific timeline for delivery.

Webshield, which already operates a clean feed service, told iTnews that it already has the equipment running and is "doing some preliminary [tests]" through the Government-appointed Enex Labs.

Enex will conduct all the tests on behalf of the six participating ISPs.

"Most ISPs will have to do the network integration once they receive their [filter] equipment," said Pillion.

"We did that integration five years ago so the same steps they have to go through now we've already done."

iPrimus was unable to respond in time for this article. The other ISP involved in the trials, OMNIconnect, did not return iTnews' calls.

Several of the ISPs also spoke out about criticism they'd received after their selection for the trials. But they said that in all cases, none had experienced it from their own customer bases.

"We've had calls from people - not customers - saying they'll boycott us," said Robson.

"But by boycotting the tests you're skewing the results the wrong way.

"Our customer base is mostly families and elderly users. There hasn't been a lot of anger from them against the tests."

Robson said he also had the support of business customers to conduct tests on their 100Mbps connections.

"The key thing is there is lots of false information out there and it's not helping," said Robson.

"I think people should be open-minded about the tests."

Highway1 general manager Nicholas Power said that customer response to the tests had been "40 per cent positive".

"Given we have mostly business customers it hasn't drawn as hard a response," said Power.

Pillion also defended against criticism that Webshield - or any ISP - would try to alter the test results to support a particular outcome.

"There's been a lot said that ISPs will go out of their way to make sure the results are good," said Pillion.

"Enex Labs are doing the testing. No ISPs have a hand in conducting the tests or the production of the results in any way. All I need to do is provide them [Enex] with access to our network and I'm told I'll receive a copy of the results, but I don't have a chance to fudge them."

Read on to page two for how the ISPs expect their tests to go

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