Senator Conroy’s office could spin a thread of gold from a lump of crap, I’ll give them that. But if you’ve read the Tasmanian filtering report, it probably didn’t take long before you noticed red flags. I decided to compare the report to what Mr Conroy says in his press release and show why the trial is nothing but a miserable failure.
What Senator Conroy says: The performance or ‘network degradation’ for one of the tested products was less than 2%, whilst three products were less than 30% and two products were in excess of 75%.
What the report really says: The filter that showed less than 2% network degradation was also one of the least accurate filters at identifying illegal and inappropriate sites. The more accurate filters showed a larger drop in network performance.
What Senator Conroy says: Successful blocking (the proportion of illegal and inappropriate content that should have been blocked that was successfully blocked) was between 88% and 97% with most achieving over 92%.
What the report really says: It probably won’t take any more than 12 or 13 clicks before a filtered user can access a site containing adult or inappropriate content.
What Senator Conroy says: Overblocking (the proportion of content that was blocked that should not have been blocked) was between 1% and 6%, with most falling under 3%.
What the report really says: Even if you choose the best result (1%), out of every one million websites, 10,000 will be blocked when they shouldn’t be.
What Senator Conroy says: All filter products tested were able to block traffic entirely across a wide range of non-web protocols such as instant messaging and peer-to-peer protocols. However, most filters are not presently able to identify illegal content and content that may be regarded as inappropriate that is carried via the majority of non-web protocols.
What the report really says: The only way the filters could block traffic on non web protocols was to ban access to them completely. That means if you want to chat to Gran about her garden or drinking habit on Messenger, you wouldn’t be able to. No matter how innocent.
Those are just the starters. Here’s the main course:
1) The number of simulated users was too low. Large ISPs have hundreds of thousands of customers and even small ISPs have thousands.
2) During the trial, only 3930 URLs were filtered. When you consider Mr Conroy wants to block ‘inappropriate content’ to children, 3930 URLs is simply too low and doesn’t show the potential real impact on network performance or filtering effectiveness. The Internet contains hundreds of thousands of websites not appropriate for children by our classification standards.
3) The report claims all but one of the six filters was able to ‘filter’ HTTPS traffic. That means the Government could intercept your private and secure banking details (or PayPal transactions) and leave the door open to fraud and identity theft. Nobody wants their online purchases monitored by the Government let alone their banking put at risk.
4) There is no analysis of circumvention methods and that’s crucial to understanding why filters – ISP and software based – are ineffective. Filtering can be bypassed in minutes by a savvy net user and in hour by anyone following instructions.
5) There is no analysis of the costs of deploying and implementing a filter at ISP level, nor is there any analysis of the associated costs that will be passed onto customers.
That to me looks like a failure dressed up by a Senator with an obsession on controlling what you can and can’t see.
Visit NoCleanFeed.com to find out how you can take action. I for one wouldn’t want my blog or businesses website blocked for no reason.
Oh! If you spotted other doozies in the report, please post them in the comments. No doubt I’ve missed many.
Update: More flaws surface.