Telstra BigPond refuses to participate in net filter trials

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Telstra BigPond refuses to participate in net filter trials

Australia’s largest ISP Telstra has ruled out participating in the Federal Government’s controversial Internet filtering trial due to what it calls ‘customer management issues’.

The ISP has released a statement clarifying its position on the impending technical trials.

It is understood the Federal Government has invited some 400-plus ISPs to participate – so Telstra’s decision is undoubtedly a blow to Broadband Minister Stephen Conroy’s proposal.

“Telstra is not in a position to participate in the Government's Internet filtering trial, primarily due to customer management issues,” a Telstra spokesperson said.

“However, Telstra is separately evaluating technology that allows the blocking of defined blacklists and we will continue to work constructively with all stakeholders, including the Federal Government, to help provide a safe Internet environment for children.”

The spokesperson declined to elaborate or confirm the types of customer management ‘issues’ that will keep BigPond from taking part in the trials, when contacted by iTnews.

However, it has been speculated that some of the issues could relate to customer selection, support resources and indemnity.

Service providers in general appear to be concerned that the customer selection process may make customers suspicious of how and why they had been chosen to participate.

ISPs fear a backlash from customers who believe they have been chosen for visiting specific sites. They also appear to be concerned that consumers will blame the filters for any difficulties they have with their Internet connection – resulting in more support calls being placed, and potentially legal action if important Internet transactions fail.

Telstra was careful to state that not taking part in the trial did not equate to lack of concern for cyber safety. It outlined several existing initiatives, including the availability of security software for parents and compliance with ACMA directions.

“We take down individual websites which ACMA judges to be inappropriate,” the spokesperson said.

“We have no fundamental difficulties with a legislated regime for blocking a defined ACMA blacklist of illegal sites.”

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