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Big boost for Aussie firewall

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The controversial Great Aussie Firewall got a big boost yesterday when Australia's second largest ISP Optus agreed to join the pilot.

The testing of filtering technology has suffered credibility problems since the refusal of iiNet to take part, after it was unable to reconcile the trial with its opposition to censorship. iiNet said the proposed blacklist of unwanted material was much wider than just child sex abuse images.

Last month the scheme suffered another blow when the list leaked and it was shown to include poker sites, fetish and religious sites, Wikipedia pages and the website for a Queensland dentist.

Gaffe-prone comms minister Stephen Conroy said Optus's decision would help the government obtain "robust results" from the pilot.

Conroy also said the government is working with incumbent telco Telstra - not on actual customer-facing trials but on other ISP filtering technology. This is not part of the official pilot but will influence policy.

The Aussie government effectively wants two levels of control over online content - one to restrict "unwanted material", which they say is content that would be refused a classification, and one for a child-friendly internet which families could sign up for.

Optus joins seven other ISPs - Primus Telecommunications, Highway 1, Nelson Bay Online, Netforce, OMNIconnect, TECH 2U and Webshield. ®

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