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ISP boss pledges to undermine Great Aussie Firewall

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The Australian technology industry is starting to fight back against the government plan to force all ISPs to filter everyone's internet access.

Michael Malone, boss of iiNet, an Australian ISP with 700,000 customers, said his firm would take part in the trial, but only in order to show the government how stupid it was. Malone described communications minister Stephen Conroy as the worst minister in the internet's 15-year history.

The scheme would force ISPs to offer two types of internet access - one filtered for children and one filtered for adult Australians.

Conroy did not help his cause with a muddled performance in the Australian Senate. Conroy said the pilot would filter a blacklist from the Australian Communications and Media Authority as well as "other unwanted content". ACMA's blacklist includes 1,300 web addresses and another 10,000 would be added to this list. But he failed to answer Senator Scott Ludlam's question as to what "unwanted" meant.

The trial will test the impact on internet speeds as well as costs for providers.

Conroy said the government was aware of technical concerns and happy to have an open debate. He urged the industry to step forward and engage with government.

For his part Malone said he would join the "ridiculous" trial only in order to show the government that the filter would be simple to bypass, would not check peer-to-peer traffic and would slow network speeds.

Malone told the Sydney Morning Herald: "They're not listening to the experts, they're not listening to the industry, they're not listening to consumers, so perhaps some hard numbers will actually help.

"Every time a kid manages to get through this filter, we'll be publicising it and every time it blocks legitimate content, we'll be publicising it."

The trial is due to start on Christmas Eve. ®

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