Porn and pirates offline for Canberra's new public Wi-Fi network, CBRfree
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Porn and pirates offline for Canberra's new public Wi-Fi network, CBRfree

The ACT government is determined that its new citywide Wi-Fi network does not become a magnet for cut-price pirates and porn users.

Web surfers hoping to use the free access to obtain the latest episode of download TV sensation Game of Thrones, or even something a little racier, are in for a disappointment.

Banned: People using Civic's free Wi-Fi service won't be able to see Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones, or any other pirated TV shows, music or movies.

Banned: People using Civic's free Wi-Fi service won't be able to see Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones, or any other pirated TV shows, music or movies.

But Skype, Facebook, Whatsapp and Viber are considered "types of activity that both iiNet and the Territory see as appropriate uses of CBRfree".

The government's contract with service provider iiNet contains some clauses designed to ensure that the network does not become a free ride to the darker parts of the web

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The network will be Australia's largest free public Wi-Fi system and will enable Canberrans to download 100 megabytes of data a day via 745 access points across Canberra, with the first point to be turned on at Garema Place in Civic in October.

The government's service provider iiNet will block any peer-to-peer file sharing, the process used to pirate movies, music and TV shows, as part of its $2.5 million deal to deliver the network.

According to the boss of the Chief Minister's Department, Kathy Leigh, it was iiNet that brought up the need to block file-sharing and other activity on CBRfree.

"During negotiation of the contract, iiNet requested blocking of certain types of traffic generally considered to be bandwidth-intensive and not in the spirit of free public Wi-Fi," Ms Leigh's spokesman told the IT News website.

The ACT also wants iiNet to block out "content considered inappropriate for publicly supported service".

The territory government plans to spend about $2.5 million on the final design of the network. Over its first five years, the project is expected to cost taxpayers about $4 million.

But the government's contract with iiNet makes clear what sort of activity it regards as unacceptable.

There will be no accessing material that is "pornographic, offensive or objectionable, engaging in any conduct that offends Federal or Territory laws and regulations, bullying or harassment (sexually or otherwise) of another person".

Sending defamatory messages is also out, including reading and then forwarding messages.

Distributing abusive, sexist, racist, pornographic, offensive or otherwise illegal material is banned on CBRfree, as are activities of "illegal or fraudulent nature".

There is also a prohibition on "anonymous peer-to-peer file sharing, television restreaming, hosting of internet services or services, unauthenticated email".

Noel Towell is State Political Editor for The Age

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