Home Industry Strategy Telstra's Interpol filter goes live

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The nation's largest telco Telstra tonight confirmed it had started filtering its customers' Internet traffic for a blacklist of sites containing child pornography as compiled by international policing agency Interpol.

The move to switch on Telstra's filter is the first known implementation of a voluntary filtering framework developed by the ISP industry's peak representative body, the Internet Industry Association. Publicly unveiled just several days ago on Monday this week, the voluntary filter is expected to be adopted by most Australian Internet service providers this year.

Customers who visit one of the sites on Interpol's list will be greeted by an Interpol 'stop page' which will explain that the content they have attempted to access is illegal, along with instructions as to how they can challenge Interpol's ruling. Those who believe their web site has been inadvertently blocked by Interpol are able to ask for a review via the agency's own website, or will be able to contact the Australian Federal Police, which Telstra has worked closely with on the filter's implementation.

The Interpol list is believed to have been in use for a number of years, with telcos such as BT, O2 and Virgin having blocked addresses on it from reaching customers for some time. For a site to get onto the list, law enforcement agencies in at least two separate jurisdictions have to validate the entry as being illegal and not just potentially offensive. In addition, the age of children depicted through content on the sites must be younger than 13 years of age, or perceived to be less than 13.

Under the IIA's scheme, ISPs who use the Interpol list to block access to child pornography would be doing so in accordance with 'a legal request for assistance' under Australia's existing Telecommunications Act (section 313). Because of this, and unlike the wider mandatory filtering scheme, the IIA believes that no new legislation will be required to implement the Interpol-focused framework.

The implementation of Telstra's filter follows a whirlwind process over the past week, since the telco first revealed it was considering using the list generated by Interpol.

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