ASIC internet filter blocked 250,000 web addresses: who’s next?

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Australia's corporate watchdog accidentally blocked one quarter of a million web addresses this March, Greens Senator for WA Scott Ludlam uncovered in last night's Senate Estimates hearings.

ASIC admitted to inadvertently filtering 250,000 addresses in March on top of 1200 websites it was known to have accidentally blocked in April. ASIC directed internet service providers to block sites it believed were defrauding Australian citizens by IP address instead of domain name, dragging thousands of innocuous or dormant sites into the same trap as a handful of ‘illegal' ones.

"Three government agencies are using section 313 of the Telecommunications Act to block websites - with no oversight and no transparency," said Senator Ludlam. "In response, the Government has convened a meeting of various Departments who may or may not be blocking websites, to decide whether greater transparency might be required."

"ASIC has used section 313 to block websites ten times in the past 12 months, and though the law has been on the books since 1997, by startling coincidence the agency started using the power under s 313 at the same time as the Australian Federal Police.

"The Government has refused to reveal the third agency using the filter power, it obfuscated when asked which agencies attended the private meeting in May on the issue, and it has also been less than frank about its pursuit of a data retention scheme. This Estimates session has revealed much about the Government's views on freedom of information as well as online privacy."

VIDEO - Senator Ludlam questions ASIC on net filtering: http://greensmps.org.au/content/estimates/asic-internet-filtering