Internet filtering and censorship
Second workshop - 4 March 2009 (new date)

UNSW's Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre supports the development of collaborative, evidence-based research on Internet filtering and censorship models, and on related means for achieving public interest outcomes on Internet content and interactions, particularly for young people. On 27 November 2008 the Centre hosted our first forum for experts and others interested to explore aspects of the current Australian ISP-based filter proposals. Participants at the first forum asked how to pursue the issues raised, so we are holding a second event in the form of this workshop. We are developing a research project in this area, and invite participation in the project, as well as this workshop.

There is a References page with extensive links to relevant documents.

Date: Wednesday 4 March 2009

Venue: Sydney CBD, Baker and McKenzie , 50 Bridge St

Time: 10:30 am to 4:30, followed by informal refreshments



10:30 Session 1 - Young people and parents (chair David Vaile)
The interests of children and young people, options for supporting and protecting these interests in online interactions; roles for parents, their expectations and needs (including possible purposes and goals of approaches to protect the interests of other vulnerable persons, current state of evidence about effectiveness of these approaches, relative resource priorities between various options).

  • Kerry Graham, Inspire Foundation [slides]
  • James McDougall, National Childrens and Youth Law Centre [slides]

11:45 Tea and coffee break

12:00 Session 2 - Changing role of ISPs and others (chair David Vaile)
Potential legal and technical implications for ISPs, 'content hosts', virtual community organisers, and others of the current proposals and the range of other demands to attempt 'technical' solutions for regulatory issues online; international comparisons and developments.

  • John Selby, School of Business, Macquarie University [slides]
  • Derek Bambauer, Brooklyn Law School
  • Alana Maurushat, UNSW Law Faculty [slides]
  • Peter Coroneos, IIA (responding)

1:00 Lunch

2:00 Session 3 - Technical Architecture (chair Alana Maurshat)
Options for ISP-based filtering from a technical architecture perspective, what they can and can't filter, implications for the interests of users, ISPs, regulators/censors, the state of play of technical assessments and trials, comparisons with other models.

  • Paul Brooks, Layer 10 Advisory/ ISOC-AU [slides]
  • Kevin Bermeister, Brilliant Digital Entertainment
  • Karl Hanmore, AusCERT (responding)

3:15 Tea and coffee break

3:30 Session 4 - Classification and general discussion (chair Alana Maurshat)
The nature and mechanisms of the classification scheme and the 'prohibition' of certain content, the scope of the prohibition, blacklists and other algorithmically targeted content, governance models, implications for implementation, and 'reasonable expectations' about what is actually covered or let through any system.

  • David Vaile, Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre [slides]
  • Peter Black, QUT (responding)

4:30 Refreshments and networking

A persistent issue will be what 'evidence-based policy' means in this context: research done to date in relevant fields, the limitations of 'evidence' derived using various methodologies, the role of 'evidence' in public policy formulation on Internet content, and gaps in current approaches.

There will be one or two short presentations beginning each session to frame the discussion; invited commentary from other experts and stakeholders; and extended discussion. We focus on exploring the current evidence base, assessing the state of play, and directions for further research. Those making substantial contributions include:

Participants are welcome to speak in a personal capacity, although may choose also to comment from the perspective of organisations with whom they have some affiliation.

NB: this will be conducted under a version of Chatham House rules, basically that comments should not be attributed or identifiable as coming from a particular source unless the speaker has agreed.

The aspects we cover should be relevant to a range of interests:

  • the aims of the proposed filtering models
  • comparison with other means towards those aims
  • consequences and implications of the proposed models, or alternatives
  • gaps in knowledge or evidence about the effectiveness of particular approaches for specific purposes
  • priorities for further research, trials and collaborative initiatives.

Further details or queries:

feedback [at]