Australia’s biggest ISPs are being asked by regulators to help make sure their services are available in other countries where they’re needed.
The government has launched a new review of its national internet policy to help ensure the services of ISPs, internet service providers and content providers are available to all Australians.
The Government’s internet policy review has been led by the Federal Communications Commission, which last month announced it was examining the feasibility of setting a national internet protocol (IP) standard.
The Federal Government said the review was expected to be completed by the end of this year.
The Federal Government has also promised to set up an international regulatory body to manage the internet access of foreign governments.
The Government has promised to provide the necessary resources to support the international efforts to develop a global internet.
In a submission to the Federal Government, Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCCAN) noted the “significant role of internet intermediary services” in providing services to Australians.
In Australia, internet providers (ISPs) are the major providers of internet access, but they also provide services to third parties such as ISPs, third party mobile phone companies, internet search engines and other internet services.
In many cases, the services provided by the ISPs are not available to Australians, even though they’re technically allowed to be provided under the Telecommunications Act.
In some instances, the ISP has not provided a complete and accurate account of the services it’s providing, such as a list of the number of people using their service or whether the service is free or a paid service.ACCCANTNE, which is advocating for a global standard for internet access and the rights of ISPs to be transparent, said the proposed international standards would help make the internet more accessible to Australians and would provide certainty for Australians who want to use the internet for free and without charge.
The review will consider whether to set standards for international internet service standards and ensure the global internet is accessible to all users.
The recommendations are not binding, but will be considered by the international community, which will then determine how the internet is to be regulated.
“A key issue for ISPs is whether or not to continue providing international internet services,” said ACCCAN chief executive Brendan Barber.
“These international standards will help the global community decide whether the international standards are in the best interests of Australians and international internet users.”ACCCan’s submission also highlighted the importance of the international role for international standards in providing certainty for internet users.
“If international standards for internet service are not established, there is a risk that an international standard could undermine the Australian regulatory framework and the ability of Australian ISPs to provide internet access to Australian customers,” it said.ACCTAN said the international standard would “protect the Australian industry and Australian consumers from a host of risks including increased cost and reduced quality”.
“A global standard would also provide a much stronger framework for the international trade of internet services, which could potentially benefit Australian businesses and consumers,” the submission said.
“The Government is committed to ensuring that Australian internet users are able to access the internet at their convenience and with confidence, while ensuring that Australia’s national security, and economic growth, is protected.”
In a statement to the ABC, the Federal Industry Minister, Scott Emerson, said ISPs would not be exempt from the new regulatory body’s requirements.
“Our current international obligations are in place to ensure that the Australian public and companies enjoy the full range of services that the internet provides, including the freedom to access and use the services that are available through international telecommunications providers,” Mr Emerson said.
In response to a question from the ABC on whether ISPs could be required to provide a complete list of their services, Mr Emerson told the ABC: “We have a list available in our communications portfolio.”