Webshield’s Anthony Pillion is an idiot

Anthony Pillion

The neckbearded Anthony Pillion

Of the six ISPs participating in Stephen Conroy’s mandatory filtering trial, none have had a higher profile than Webshield. Webshield’s managing director, Anthony Pillion, has frequently made himself available for comment, generally offering his heartfelt support of filtering.

Webshield, who voluntarily offers ISP level filtering to its customers, could see its niche in the market destroyed by Conroy’s MIF scheme. This makes some of Anthony Pillion’s comments all the more bizarre. In a terrible article published by AustralianIT, he had this to say:

The mandatory level of filtering proposed by the government is not some pipe dream; filtering large volumes of traffic for small lists of URLs is possible and viable with technology available today.

Another complaint is that content will be blocked when it shouldn’t be. Over blocking is an issue for dynamic filtering not for blacklist filtering.

This is absolute nonsense. Considering that the blacklist will be handled by government bureaucrats, it will be subject to the full array of human error, or more likely, human stupidity. As the recent ACMA leak shows, popular and completely innocent websites have made their way onto the blacklist.

The most telling comments from Pillion emerged following the first ACMA blacklist leak, which was said to have been inaccurate:

Anthony Pillion, managing director of Webshield, one of six ISPs participating in the Federal Government’s internet filtering trial also said “there is a giant question mark over the motive and credibility of the content in the leak”.

Pillion said the leaked list was not a list of URLs in use during the trials.

“It seems as if it is a compilation of information available on the web, and includes some URL’s never investigated by ACMA,” he said.

“That makes it questionable at least.”

“It has more basis in michief than in credibility.”

[…]

An online story in a Sydney newspaper earlier today attributed the leak without qualification to a Government-approved maker of internet filtering products.

Pillion doubted those companies would leak the information.

“The only motive could be somebody that dislikes intensely what the Government is proposing at the moment, and will go to any lengths to undermine it.”

For the past two years, ACMA has sent weekly updates of its lists to makers of internet filters, Pillion said: “There would have to be copies of various lists floating around”.

The lists used in filtering trial are encrypted and “far more secure”, he said.

While it’s not easy to work out exactly what Pillion is trying to say, it seems he’s unaware that the blacklist can be easily extracted from filtering software by people who have the relevant technical knowledge. The companies themselves don’t need to leak the information as, by design, the list must be stored somewhere within the program. Is Pillion computer illiterate, or just completely stupid?

It seems amazing that Pillion could talk about leakers lacking “credibility” when he’s supporting actions which are bound to hurt his company.

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2 Responses to “Webshield’s Anthony Pillion is an idiot”


  1. 1 Matti Nikki March 24, 2009 at 16:34

    Maybe by “encrypted” he’s hinting that the trial will use a list of hashes only? That’d certainly be interesting.

  2. 2 stephenconroyisacunt March 24, 2009 at 18:00

    Well, Pillion saying it’s not the list used in the trials is just a red herring, seeing as Conroy has said that the trials will involve an expanded blacklist of up to 10,000 URLs. The leaked list most likely is the official ACMA blacklist, and Pillion has no authority to say otherwise.


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