Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) has told a Senate Estimates hearing that in attempt to block access to the IP address of one investment scam site it also blocked off over 250,000 other sites in March this year.
ASIC has used section 313 of the Telecommunications Act ten times over the last 12 months. It disrupts websites with criminal operators by requesting telecom providers to block access to scam websites.
In March this year, an IP address was blocked by ASIC which was host to 250,000 sites. Of this number, 99.6% appeared to contain no substantive content and the remaining were active sites that may have been temporarily affected. None of them are ‘.au’ sites.
“We have had no indications from telecommunications carriers that this had been a source of complaints,” said Peter Kell, deputy chairman at ASIC. “We have received no indications from other regulators, such as the Australian Communications and Media Authority, that there have been any complaints or concerns raise about ASIC’s actions.”
The latest activity by ASIC caused 1,200 websites that shared the same IP address of another criminal site to be temporarily blocked.
When blocking the particular scam site, ASIC was notified that Melbourne Free University, a site that shared the same IP address, was also blocked. ASIC had no knowledge the IP address was shared by others.
The other eight instances only affected the target criminal site or included a small number of other sites.
“We are consulting with relevant government agencies, AFP cybercrime unit and other law enforcement agencies and the telecommunications carriers to determine how we can best disrupt websites that are part of criminal operations without impacting on legitimate sites,” says Kell.
According to Kell, ASIC will publicly report its use of s313 annually.