Pirate Party Recommends Full Disclosure of Internet Filtering Requests

Pirate Party Australia raises concerns over the mandatory nature of the new Interpol Internet filtering regime, in regards to its opaque nature and the dubious use of §313 of the Telecommunications Act.

ISPs have been ordered to implement Interpol’s “worst-of-the-worst” filter that specifically targets websites that provide access to child abuse material. This order has been made under §313 of the Telecommunications Act 1997. It is unclear whether or not the use of §313 for the purposes of Internet censorship is appropriate or even legal.

“While an Internet filtering regime that focuses squarely on the Interpol blacklist is a major step back from the proposed mandatory censorship regime which would have encompassed all Refused Classification content — and even some R18+ and MA15+ content — the opaque nature and lack of control over the blacklist are still issues that raise significant concern,” said Brendan Molloy, Secretary of Pirate Party Australia.

“At this stage, we recommend ISPs to at least publicly list all received §313 requests for the purposes of full disclosure and transparency, not unlike the “Chilling Effects”[1] website that Google uses for disclosing DMCA requests. Without taking steps to make this process transparent, §313 of the Act could be completely open to abuse as a censorship tool by enforcement agencies.”

Pirate Party Australia is opposed to all Internet censorship regimes as the scope for abuse and lack of transparency is so great. The Party maintains that the best approach to dealing with the spread of child abuse material online is to target the source by closing down offending sites and prosecuting offenders.

“We have raised concerns before that with a small amount of easily obtainable knowledge any filter such as this is ineffective. In a few easy steps the material can be accessed by those looking for it. This only prevents individuals from accidently viewing illegal and offensive materials — it does not do anything to prevent child abuse. Opt-in filters exist, and can be applied by parents, businesses and schools themselves,” concluded Mozart Olbrycht-Palmer, Deputy Secretary of Pirate Party Australia.

[1] http://www.chillingeffects.org/