Government web filter stuff-up

1200 Australian websites were blocked by ISPs after an ASIC stuff-up.

Government web filter stuff-up

Under the cloak of a little-known law, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) asked major Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block a website last month causing an additional 1200 websites hosted on the same web server to also be blocked. 

Using section 313 of the Telecommunications Act, Federal Government agency ASIC used the law to ask ISPs Telstra, Optus and Vodafone to block a website believed to be defrauding Australians. The IP address given to the ISPs was that of a shared server the website was hosted on, rather than the website's domain name. This resulted in an additional 1200 websites hosted on that server to be blocked until the issue was rectified days later. 

Section 313 states that ISPs must “give officers and authorities of the Commonwealth and of the states and territories such help as is reasonably necessary” for enforcing criminal law. This section seems to be very loose in terms of who is able to enforce the law. One could suggest that any public servant could be referred to as an officer of the Commonwealth and of the states and territories.

ASIC has confirmed that it is reviewing its processes for future section 313 requests to ensure similar instances don’t occur.

Should the government have the power to block websites and, if so, should the blocked websites be listed for transparency?


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    28th May 2013
    I am not sure that the government should have such powers...but then who else can police them? If they do, then I agree that websites should be listed. Can't be too careful
    28th May 2013
    This is a catch 22 situation, who watches over the policeman, as the Government certainly can't be trusted to get it right, but, I would rather have it than not, also the department should be held accountable if it causes undue loss to companies or individuals through stupidity like what just happened.
    And if a website is ripping people off, it should be removed not just blocked

    28th May 2013
    It is the international nature of the internet that prevents them from removing any web site based overseas only the law enforcement of that country can do that(depending of cause on local laws and customs).

    But I do worry that if the goverment is allowed to stop access to a website that is defrauding poeple, whats to stop them cutitng access to sites that compete with local companies on the grounds that the goverment is being "defauded" of GST revenue. Or for the lack of Australian certification on products as a breach our consumer laws.

    The internet is very much based on Caveat emptor. Its success to date has been based on the lack of control.

    But if you want proction on the internet I think it may be better rather than block bad sites . To let the goverment have access to all traffic and be able use the information to protect and prosecute.

    At the same time have them start an education campaine to point out that the internet is a free for all and anything on it can be used either side of the law.

    At the moment the bad guys get use/access everything and the good guys have to ask nicely. If you want someone to protect you it is a really bad idea to make them wear a blindfold while doing it.
    28th May 2013
    Did you notice such blocking, I didn't and I'm on every day. All depends on what you are supposedly researching, doesn't it.
    28th May 2013
    I agree with above,site blocking without good reason is a serious invasion of privacy. But keep it in perspective! Goo and others go through your personal email. Collection of personal data is the biggest problem on the Internet.

    I put my Android aside after reading permissions for all the apps I wanted to load.
    29th May 2013
    They are trying to do their job of protecting us. Fraud sites need to be blocked, and anyone can make mistakes. So I say, fix your mistakes, try not to make them again, and thank you for making the effort to protect Australians.
    29th May 2013
    fraud sites should be blocked, only problem is it opens the gate for the govt to block any other sites they may deem as unsuitable for the aussie public. I would hate to see conspiracy sites or public forums regarding poor govt performance being blocked.

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