iiNet attacks Stephen Conroy, says it still objects to internet filter

Perth-based ISP iiNet has attacked communications minister Stephen Conroy for saying the company was on board with the Government’s filtering legislation, when it fact it is against the policy and has said so for months.

The comments are a response from a statement Conroy gave over the weekend, in which he said the majority of ISPs support the filtering plan and the policy is still on the Government’s agenda.

”This is a policy that will be going ahead,” Conroy told the SMH. ”We are still consulting on the final details of the scheme. But this policy has been approved by 85% of Australian internet service providers, who have said they would welcome the filter, including Telstra, Optus, iPrimus and iiNet.”

These comments were in response to massive backlash from lobby groups and businesses regarding the filter, with campaign group GetUp! and even internet giant Google speaking out against the program.

But iiNet objects to the senator’s statements, saying it does not and will never support the Federal Government’s plan to filter internet connections at the ISP level.

“The proposed filter is fundamentally flawed, will not achieve its stated purpose and
simply will not work. It is fundamentally bad policy,” iiNet chief executive Michael Malone said in a statement. “We do not and never have supported such a system.”

iiNet was contacted for comment this morning, but no reply was received before publication.

The Government intends to block a list of sites contained a blacklist operated by the Australian Communications and Media Authority. However, Malone, along with a number of other executives in the telecommunications industry, says this plan is flawed.

The filter will slow internet speeds, they say, could block innocent websites and is relatively easy to bypass. Conroy has previously admitted the filter can be bypassed using simple technology and ISPs will not be required to punish users who take that route.

Additionally, Malone said the filter will not apply to peer to peer networks or online chat communities – the two places were illegal material is distributed most often.

“No western country operates a mandatory filter like this,” Malone said. “This proposal lines Australia up with Burma, Saudi Arabia and China, and has rightly attracted criticism from technical experts, the industry, child safety groups and even the US government.”

He said the company has been involved in the Government’s consultation process to have at least some transparency measures introduced, but the telco still objects to the filter in principle.

“Our position is unchanged. This proposed filter is a waste of money that should be instead spent on additional law enforcement and education resources.”

Conroy’s office was contacted for a response to iiNet’s comments, but no reply was received before publication.

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