Dear Minister Conroy,
I'm an IT professional living in Melbourne and I have been following discussions about the proposal to filter all internet traffic coming into Australia. This proposal has me both worried and somewhat bemused.
The worry stems from a lack of any clear information on what "illegal content" is and no way of determining what sites would be blocked. Support group websites? Politically inconvenient sites? Overseas news papers? Proposing such broad censorship laws in the name of protecting children is wrong. The state is not a parent.
My bemusement stems from the fact any web content filtering put in place would only be partially effective and trivial to circumvent.
"[The filters] allowed access to between 2 per cent and 13 per cent of material that should have been blocked, and wrongly blocked between 1.3 percent and 7.8 per cent of websites that should have been allowed."1
With 181,277,835 web sites on the internet2, that means at best 2.4 million and at worst 14.1 million web sites would be incorrectly blocked, with no way of determining which sites these were. Once a site wrongfully disappears into this black hole, there appears to be no way of rectifying the problem.
It is relatively trivial to circumvent web filtering by using web proxies based overseas, and this is impossible to enforce without making the use of encryption technologies illegal as well. Doing that would probably result in a departure of high technology industry from Australia and loss of jobs.
I'm concerned this will be an expensive waste of tax payer time and resources.