Opposition, Xenophon unswayed by Optus support for filter trials

The opposition and independent senator, Nick Xenophon, maintain uncertainty over the effectiveness and legitimacy of the filter, despite increased telco support for the initiative

Optus’ decision to join the Federal Government's controversial Internet filtering trial has been shrugged off by the Opposition and independent, Nick Xenophon.

The telco's participation, which has received criticism from at least one leading analyst, will begin in select areas within Sydney and Newcastle, on an opt-out basis, on May 22.

Opposition communications Minister, Senator Nick Minchin, said the move was a boon for a Government needing to legitimise the trials.

“It is pleasing the Minister listened to the Opposition when it said these trials would have no semblance of credibility without the involvement of the nation’s biggest ISPs,” Senator Minchin said.

However, the Opposition remains unconvinced on the viability of the project.

“The Coalition maintains that the onus remains on Senator Conroy to prove this unpopular proposal is workable, because all the available evidence suggests it is not,” Senator Minchin said.

Independent Senator, Nick Xenophon, also maintained his position on the filter, saying Optus’ decision to participate hasn’t swayed him.

“I still believe there are better ways to tackle the kinds of problems the Government are trying to address,” Senator Xenophon said.

Optus director of Government and corporate affairs, Maha Krishnapillai, said the telco was looking forward to working with the Government on the initiative.

“We are looking forward to working with Government on this initiative, and to better understand the implications of internet filtering,” he said.

“The telecommunications industry must be able to demonstrate that using the internet can be as easy, safe and secure as possible - especially for families using the internet to live, work and play.”

The trial will last for about six weeks, and Optus claims participation will be strictly limited to filtering only the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) blacklist which contains URLs of prohibited content.

The national clean feed Internet scheme, is part of the Government's $128 million Plan for Cyber Safety. It will impose national content filtering for all Internet connections and will block Web pages detailed in a blacklist operated by ACMA.

Supporters of the trial have called for critics to wait and see the results of the trial before dismissing it and claimed it could help in the fight against child pornography.

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