It was a stock “don’t worry – we’re politicians” letter. Download it here. However it takes the reader for a fool and depends on an uncritical eye being cast over it. Here’s my response.
Conroy, you’re a liar.
Your propaganda PDF states that the UK, Finland, Sweden and Norway have adopted filtering technology without any impact on performance. This is at best a half-truth, since these schemes are opt-in and mean that only a small fraction of traffic need be examined. For the mandatory approach you are mandating, all (HTTP) traffic would be subject to examination. You have no overseas example to fall back on for proof that this will not drastically impact on performance.
The FAQ states clearly that the pilot trial participants (ISPs) are expected to involve actual customer accounts. However the document you sent me states that this is a closed network test that doesn’t involve actual customers. Do you expect that I can’t read, or that I’m just a fool? Either way I’m clearly being lied to.
Given your continued theatrics in parliament, where you avoid answering direct questions, I expect that I won’t get an answer here either, but I have to ask:
- How many customers would an ISP need to enlist for a trial to be credible, and will the results be independently examined and verified?
- What, specifically, is the set of “unwanted content” that you have mentioned?
- Has it been identified, and, if so, by whom?
- What formal mechanisms exist for adding and removing content from the set, and what oversight is there for ensuring that legally viewable material is not added to it?
it looks like there is a separate 10,000 URL trial that will not involve real customers, and this is what the letter from DBCDE refers to. Apparently the department would like to use real customers but can’t (for unexplained reasons). There will be simulated users, and the aim is to do what was done in the Tasmanian trials but in a real network with a testing framework (like JMeter, perhaps?). The problem, of course, with such user simulation, is that you can test for responses for scripted actions – good for basic functionality testing and for load testing – but can’t adequately finding out the response of the system under test to arbitrary actions.
And it’s the unknown when Conroy has appeared to be making reference to when dodging questions – he says that there is no real specification for the trial; that people shouldn’t complain about certain content being blocked since the lists are not definitively set out; that what products and technologies will be used are to worked out as we go.Â This is just more bullshit where testing, and the reporting on that testing, can be molded into a document that says whatever the government wants it to say, and where no real, independent people get to make a determination on whether or not they experience network problems, or under-blocking, or over-blocking.