Internet faced with Wild West clean-up

An Aussie technologist claims that the web is about to be cleaned up as ISPs are forced to filter pirated material, child pornography and malware.

Kevin Bermeister, one of the original financial backers of Skype, said he has noticed how ISPs are starting to get chummy with Big Content to bolster their own revenues.

Writing in his blog, he thinks that technology sold by the likes of network equipment giants Cisco, Juniper and Huawei had developed to the point where it would be possible for internet providers to offer a “global file registry filter” that would reduce piracy and net nasties “to a very small problem”.

Bermeister thinks that ISPs will invest in the technology to filter the net if they could redirect customer requests for pirated content to legitimate websites and earn a cut of music and movie sales.

Part of the reason for all this is because the free internet was never much for loyalty, and internet providers don’t get a hell of a lot out of it.

Together with the world’s largest copyright owners and media partners, ISPs may just have sufficient reason to be excited by the new world order in which the wild west days of the internet’s early beginnings are nearing their end, he said.

Cisco New Zealand managing director and former Microsoft New Zealand boss Geoff Lawrie told the Sydney Morning Herald  that Bermeister’s vision was technically feasible. There is firewall software now that can look at the nature of internet traffic and it’s possible to write a filter program that made decisions based on that.

But he thinks that it is just a novel theory as ISPs are “fervently hands-off” and absolutely, passionately committed to avoiding putting themselves in a position of liability.

If they created such filters they would find themselves in a position where they could be sued if anything went wrong.

Of course, then there would be the small matter of ISPs who would make a killing by offering a free internet which would make those that censor look really bad.