So I’ve gotten reports that Senator Conroy has actually managed to get his rediculous proposal off the ground and has a total of 6 ISPs on board with him. Here’s some more info:
The Federal Government’s controversial internet filtering trial has moved a step closer with the announcement of six internet service providers ready to take part.
Primus Telecommunications, Tech 2U, Webshield, OMNIconnect, Netforce and Highway 1 will take part in the first trial, to run for six weeks and start once filtering equipment has been installed.
Clients of participating service providers will be able to opt out of the trial.
Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has been the subject of heavy criticism for the trials, with civil liberties groups labelling the plan ”draconian” and warning a mandatory ”clean feed” internet filter could severely reduce internet speeds in Australia.
Service provider iiNet has previously said it planned to take part in the filter trial to prove to the Government it would not work, while Optus has delayed participation until March. Telstra is not taking part.
But Senator Conroy has rejected the warnings, saying the Government was committed to an ”evidence-based” approach which was why it would trial the filter first. ”The live pilot will provide evidence on the real-world impacts of ISP content filtering, including for providers and internet users. It will provide evidence to assist the Government in the implementation of its policy,” he said.
Now call me cynical but apart from Primus Telecommunications I haven’t actually heard of any of these ISPs before the announcement. This is exactly the kind of behaviour that was expected if big players like iiNet and Internode hadn’t taken part. The Government would cherry pick small providers which would then give a very skewed view of the impact. Just a quick glance at these companies reveals:
- Tech2U: Their website looks like it was done in a raw HTML editor. Their prices are mind boggling insane and I’ve got an inkling that’s because they service more remote clients. The highest speed they offer is only 1.5mb for home users, these guys are far from the big time and a terrible testbed to see how a filter would affect millions of people.
- Webshield: An ISP priding itself on filtered content and is apparently not for profit. Now, don’t get me wrong, they’re providing a service that a certain section of people want and that’s great. However, being a not for profit company has issues when it comes to technology like internet filtering. Firstly, since they have no responsibility to share holders or indeed any directive to grow the company the impact of implementing this technology is minimized. Additionally they’ve marketed themselves around this idea already and so their customers aren’t going to care about any slowdown, since that’s what they asked for! Again, a terrible testbed for the general public.
- Omniconnect: One of the larger (looking) players, specializing in remote broadband solutions. I’m starting to notice a pattern in these ISPs. They’re mostly small time players who deal primarily with remote connections. The problem with this is that they are a terrible representation of the Australian Internet community, since they already suffer from reduced speeds. This company doesn’t even list prices for their services on their website.
- Netforce: Correct me if I’m wrong, but these guys aren’t even an ISP! They are a managed solutions provider and you can’t actually get an Internet connection through them at all. So, really are they even capable of proving insight into what Internet filtering will do to the communtiy at large. Simple answer, NO!
- Highway 1: Ok, these guys look like they run a professional shop. However, the first thing you’ll notice on their website is that they primarily deal with small businesses, and there are no consumer level plans on their website. Granted they’re offering services that could be easily used that way (and they’re priced reasonably) but I’ll bet that most of their customers don’t use their internet as their home connection.
Needless to say this doesn’t inspire confidence in the filter trial. If I saw iiNet, Optus and Internode on that list I might be able to say that it would be getting a fair go but come on, this is a sideshow. There is a deliberate selection bias with these ISPs and I must say that I’m not suprised.
I’d love to hear from anyone who’s actually on these services so I can get an idea about how you heard about them. I’d be really interested to hear from anyone on Netforce, since I’m sure they’re not really an ISP. Email me at [email protected]