The DBCDE has published answers to 23 questions submitted by ISP’s about their live filtering pilot. Considering the size of the task proposed and the impact it would have on ISPs, DBCDE’s response is rather barebones. Here’s a selection:

1. If this Pilot is run as a voluntary opt in service for the Pilot, how can we guarantee numbers in the timeline you are requesting?

The timeline outlined in the Request for Expression of Interest is indicative and is provided to ISPs to assist them in their decision making. The Department will discuss with individual ISPs their requirements, including the timelines needed to participate in the Pilot. The Department is happy to discuss with ISPs how they propose to engage their customers in the Pilot.

7. We understand Enex TestLab has conducted tests for DBCDE on the alleged extent of over-blocking using IP addresses rather than URLs. Is the Department prepared to release these findings and the related methodology?

Preliminary laboratory testing was conducted to assess the potential level of over-blocking using IP addresses.

The Department and Enex TestLab will discuss the methodology and findings of the study with ISPs that actually participate in the Pilot and are considering using this technology platform.

8. How will complaints from websites claiming they have been inappropriately blocked (i.e. over-blocking) be managed and by whom?

Dependent on the filtering method chosen by the ISP, mechanisms to report over-blocking may be built into the solution. Enex TestLab will perform accuracy and effectiveness testing early in the Pilot for each solution. If over-blocking is detected Enex TestLab will notify the ISP and re-test until the matter is satisfactorily resolved before proceeding.

For participating ISPs that do not have an over-blocking reporting mechanism, Enex TestLab will engage one-on-one with each respondent organisation in planning and preparation sessions to discuss and address such issues.

12. Is the Commonwealth prepared to offer a statutory ‘safe harbour’ protection or contractual indemnity to participant ISPs who might otherwise be exposed to litigation risk (including from any over blocking or wrongful blacklisting)?

The nature and extent of this issue will depend on the circumstances of individual ISPs, including the nature of their contracts with their customers and the approach to filtering proposed. The Department will discuss this issue with each ISP proposing to participate. The Department considers that the need for an indemnity from the Commonwealth has not been established.

15. Is the ACMA blacklist in a form that potentially could expose ISP staff to websites containing child abuse or other illegal content? If so, what safeguards will be put in place?

Participating ISPs are not required to access the material on the blacklist. Rather, they are required to block access to the URLs on the blacklist. The blacklist will be provided to participating ISPs in a password protected file.

With respect to how it will work, DBCDE says that participating ISPs will apply a filtering solution to a sample of their customer base. ‘Enex will then obtain a sample filtered service and, simultaneously, a sample unfiltered service from the same ISP. If this is not feasible, an ISP could provide a ‘before filtering’ and ‘after filtering’ approach using a single connection.’

In response to a question about whether attempts to reach blocked content would be logged, DBCDE says it is is not required within the scope of the trial.

No wonder so many ISP’s are lining up to take part…