The Australian Communications and Media Authority is testing software filters that could become mandatory for ISPs.
The regulator is expected to file its report on the filter tests with Communications Minister Senator Stephen Conroy by the end of this month, after the Federal government pledged a one-off AU$125.8 million (US$118.8 million) subsidy for ISPs to install the required equipment as part of this year's budget, according to ZDNet Australia.
Security experts recently asked for government filters to focus on blocking malware, as opposed to the "inappropriate content" that is under fire. The suggestion has been backed by ISP Internode.
"Mandating [ISP-level malware filtering] would actually add value," said John Lindsay, Internode's carrier relations manager. "But it wouldn't be able to deliver on the government's desire to stamp down on dissent or keep us in a high state of panic about certain things."
"We support the government's desire to keep kids safe on the Internet and, certainly, from any type of exploitation, but we don't support the government crippling high-speed broadband services, which they say are so essential to the development of our economy."
Lindsay said Internode will not attempt "any serious planning" until the government clearly defines its filtering initiative. He said the company has intends to conform to the government's requirements, but he added that he was "intrigued the government seems so confident that users will be happy to have their access slowed down to allow for filtering they don't want."
Lindsay said many of the mandates put forth by the government are troublesome to surfers, unsuccessful in blocking access to specific content and technically impossible.
"What you end up with is everybody being dissatisfied with the filter," he said.
Stephen Dalby, chief regulatory officer of iiNet, said the notion of applying a technological solution to a social issue poses serious obstacles.
"Our only concern is that the government may push this through, raise their hands and say 'Right, we've done something about it,'" he said. "Let's hope there's some sincerity in looking at fixing the community problems associated with this more intently."