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Beyond the expected

Australian Government to censor the Internet

By Chris Mordd Richards 16 December 2009 54

I know this isn’t strictly an ACT issue, [Ed don’t worry, we’re very much against it here in the Riot bunker as seen here, here and here] but this is something that I believe is still relevant to RiotACT readers as it is something that will affect all Australians, i just want to bring awareness to the issue so i’ll just try and report the latest facts here not go into my opinion in the article itself (expecting some great arguments in the comments though!).

For those that haven’t yet heard the news about Senator Conroy’s announcement that the government will be proceeding to introduce mandatory ISP level filtering in Australia, ITNews.com.au now has a section dedicated to related articles and is a great source of information, here: http://www.itnews.com.au/Topic/146953,internet-filtering.aspx

GetUp is also running a public awareness and lobbying campaign around the issue, for more information go here: http://www.getup.org.au/campaign/SaveTheNet/442

There is also an interesting article on Ars Technica website about the announcement and the exact mechanics of the proposal: http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2009/12/aussie-content-filters-work-if-you-dont-count-im-p2p-ftp.ars

According to one of the articles on the ITNews website, the news has been reported worldwide in the past 24 hours about the plans, including:

Quote: London’s Telegraph led with the headline “Australia plans Chinese-style internet filtering”, reminding its UK readers that the leaked ACMA blacklist had included the “innocent websites of a dentist’s practice in Queensland, a tuck-shop consultant and a kennel operator.”

In the United States, Fox News ran with the headline: “Joining China and Iran, Australia to filter internet.”

The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and the The New York Times ran with a moderated version of an Associated Press story which stated that the Australian Government was introducing a filter “despite concerns it will curtail freedoms and won’t completely work.”


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Australian Government to censor the Internet
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JimiBostock 12:34 am 30 Mar 10

I think that the sad fact is that we will be getting the filter. Maybe it will not be as bad as we think.

I think that the two things that MUST be done are that there needs to be a completly arms-length, representative list committee. I think that there shoudl also be a public list of banned sites, sure not with names and URLS, but just a list of the reasons each one was blocked.

If the Govt does this, I will despite my opposition and reservations, not worry to much about the filter.

Jimi Bostock
PUSH Agency
Brisbane | Canberra | Sydney | Australia

cranky 7:03 pm 23 Feb 10

The proposed filtering does seem to be totally in accordance with the thoughts of the Catholic Church. I suspect this is not a coincidence.

NO religion should have the slightest influence on good governance in Australia.

geriatrixcomputerix 4:26 pm 23 Feb 10

Yes, there is a lot of rubbish on the internet.

Do we think Conroy knows what he is doing? NO.

geriatrixcomputerix 4:23 pm 23 Feb 10

If the Vatican had had an Internet a few hundred years ago, any information about “Galileo” would have been blocked.

If the Romans had had one 2000 years ago any reference to “Christ” would have been blocked.

Lenient 12:24 pm 24 Dec 09

Do you get the idea now?????

Actually unlike most of the anti-clean feed alarmist, I quite get it. It’s not about stopping tech savvy ‘people’ getting access to unsavoury material as they can bypass any filtering and the govt knows this.

It’s difficult the argue ‘the govt will block sites (enuth./abortion/climate change)violating my civil liberties’ argument as being on the blacklist does not destroy the site, it’s still there people will get the information and know it’s blocked… and then the govt would be severely embarrassed. Only Barnaby Joyce would try it (so don’t vote for him).

fgzk 10:49 am 23 Dec 09

Skidbaldnir… Well said. +1.

I-filled. Why do people feel they are entitled to operate outside reasonable norms?

Don’t you mean outside “Christian norms”. Have you ever tried to reason with a “Christian Norm”?

Jim Jones 10:28 am 23 Dec 09

I-filed said :

Why do people feel they are entitled to operate outside reasonable norms?

So the individual is free, just so long as s/he conforms?

If the internet should be censored to ‘protect the vulnerable’, presumably we should also remove all the naughty books from the public library system too.

Thumper 8:04 am 23 Dec 09

I await the coming of the Rudd overlord to control all aspects of my life.

I have not failed. I do love big brother….

Skidbladnir 7:29 pm 22 Dec 09

I-filed said :

Why do people feel they are entitled to operate outside reasonable norms?

Normally, and in most jurisdictions, adults are entitled to act freely, and enjoy their freedoms, so long as they are aware there may be consequences.
Societal norms change, and now its apparently the role of government to decide for parents what theis children can and can’t see, because apparently you have no parenting skills, and can’t deal with the responsibility of protecting your own damn kids.

I-filed said :

I’m curious about pro-anorexia websites – but on balance am quite OK with not being able to access them, as they have long been censored to protect impressionable adolescents.

A parent letting impressionable adolescents have an unsupervised/un-logged information conduit while at the same time calling themselves an informed and responsible adult has some serious questions to ask of themselves.
Let people who aren’t responsible enough to take care of their children either deal with _those_ consequences, or opt-in to a scheme to protect them from themselves.
Anyone thinking themselves superior enough to the rest of the population to be able to decide what content is appropriate for other adults to access on open-web, has a severe ego problem, and needs to justify on what grounds they have assumed the authority to deny other adults their freedom to choose their own enjoyment and assume their own consequences.

I-filed said :

I think it’s fine for cyberspace be subject to “common good, protect the vulnerable” measures.

This ‘protects the vulnerable’ in a wholly new (for this country) and heavy handed way though.
By preventing adults from dealing with their life and coming to terms with the consequences of their choices, and denies the great majority of adults opportunity to utilise their own agency, while still allowing the extreme edge cases of a criminal minority the opportunity to commit their crimes by trafficking child pornography and prohibited content.

I-filed said :

And as James T Kirk has posted, anyone with their heart set on accessing a banned site can get around it.

So, in admitting that its already a failure in that those who want to avoid it will continue to commit crimes, you assert there is a need for it to protect those who will keep being victimised?
Some terrifyingly large supermajority of child abuse is committed in-person, by family members, and is neither trafficked online, or filmed in the first place.
This plan, while exerting government authority in a direction not previously exercised, does not prevent those victims from coming to harm.

You’re supporting a terrible plan based on politicised rhetoric, when you clearly have no familiarity with the issue or technical knowledge of the subject matter.

Evidently “won’t somebody think of the children” and pretending that the scary bogeyman can’t get them is enough reason to strip rights and responsibilities from
grown adults for your mind.
Apparently you’re gullible, so I have this magic rock you can buy, it keeps away tigers.

I-filed 4:29 pm 22 Dec 09

Why do people feel they are entitled to operate outside reasonable norms? I’m curious about pro-anorexia websites – but on balance am quite OK with not being able to access them, as they have long been censored to protect impressionable adolescents. I think it’s fine for cyberspace be subject to “common good, protect the vulnerable” measures. And as James T Kirk has posted, anyone with their heart set on accessing a banned site can get around it.

caf 3:57 pm 22 Dec 09

It is proposed to block material on the RC (“Refused Classification”) list. This list does include material (child pornography/abuse, terrorism instruction) that it is illegal to view or possess, but it also includes material that it is perfectly legal for an adult to view and possess for personal purposes, as long as you don’t live in WA or NT.

Irene Graham’s comprehensive analysis comes highly recommended.

Thumper 2:56 pm 22 Dec 09

Do you honestly think that a government run by extreme right-wing conservatives like Abbot, Bishop, Andrews, Minchin and the rest would be so less likely to engage in this sort of thing?

True, but remember, Howard offered an opt in scheme, not a mandatory one and anyway, one can only deal with current issues, not imagined or anticipated. Besides, Rudd is as fundamental as Abbot anyway.

One thing about the conservatives however, they may decide that it is a core responsibility of the individual given that it is one of the party’s core values. Not that this will make much difference. Labor will be returned.

Katietonia 12:29 pm 22 Dec 09

You should all be writing to people that can actually do something… good arguments have been posted here.. Send them in.

James-T-Kirk 12:01 pm 22 Dec 09

Lenient said :


At the end of the end of the day a couple of rough edges will be knocked off the internet and we can go about browsing lolcats as before.

But – no you won’t – The religion I am considering starting next week finds photographic images of Gods creation being made fun of highly offensive – so I will just have to recommend to the censorship board that lolcats be filtered.

Do you get the idea now?????

James-T-Kirk 11:57 am 22 Dec 09

This is not a problem.

I own a computer in an overseas datacentre – and when at home, I simply set up a VPN tunnel, and pop out of the unfiltered end of the web, in another country.

The government is soooooo dumb it makes me giggle sometimes.

The bit that I love – Is that its running costs are TAX DEDUCTIBLE!!!

Lenient 10:03 am 20 Dec 09

Whistle blowing is generally misunderstood by the public. Most public interest whistle blowing does not result in mistreatment on the employee (and only rarely resulting in termination and you’re probably better off fired than working for a PS dept not working for the public interest). Anyway this is really beside the point in the case of the blacklist as it is very easy to be anonymous. Say a certain website was blocked for political reasons, a public servant need not go public with this information it can just be passed on to anyone at all. It easy to demonstrate that the politcally motivated blocked website is blocked. The public servant is not needed to confirm it was blocked it’s a self evident fact. Anyway it would be politcal suicide to do this, so I really can’t see even the most inept politician trying to pull it.

And if you think this is bad what do think Tony Abbott would do?

shauno 11:33 pm 19 Dec 09

Conroy said there were 15 other western countries with filters but thats bullshit. They are all opt in filters. We will be the only democratic western country to have mandatory internet censorship putting us up there with Iran, North Korea and China. They always bring out the emotive save the children justifications but thats the least of our worries as others and the AFP have said paedophiles dont use the normal web they use VPN’s etc which cant be blocked anyway.

This is extremely worrying and more then enough justification for booting them out of office without even mentioning the rest of there failed policies.

fgzk 9:24 pm 19 Dec 09

Lenient “Whistle blowers don’t get shot here you know.”

No, in Australia they tend to lose there careers.

Lenient 3:41 pm 19 Dec 09

Tinfoil hats everyone.

Is it not just 4,000 of the most vile child prn sites that are being censored? Still leaves a couple of million porn sites that you can pull too.

Hear, hear. This isn’t North Korea. The list will be maintained by public servants not the secret police; so whistle blowers will reveal if our civil liberties are being violated. Whistle blowers don’t get shot here you know.

At the end of the end of the day a couple of rough edges will be knocked off the internet and we can go about browsing lolcats as before.

Of course if conservatives get in, this won’t get expanded, it would get scrapped and replaced with something that is actually draconian… then I might be a little bit bothered.

I have a sneaking suspiscion that people are going to be red faced about their drastic warnings about speed impacts.

Mordd 4:55 pm 18 Dec 09

Id like to comment on 2 more issues raised in the discussion here:

1. That with the NBN the filtering will be less of an issue with faster speeds.

Ok this is MYTH #1 – the FACTS are as follows, the faster our connection speeds get, the worse the effect of the filter will be, this is why:

As speeds increase, the number of simultaneous requests ISP’s will be handling will increase exponentially. The reason that the filtering is more likely to affect us badly with faster access is that the trials show that when a high traffic site is requested if blocked, it can cause the entire filter to fail as a result and then all connections to that ISP would get blocked for a while until someone fixed it.

As the amount of content accessed online increases, so does the need for more server boxes acting as filters increase as well, meaning the costs grow over time and it becomes more likely the sheer amount of traffic will crash these fitler proxy servers regularly causing all traffic to be blocked. The costs of this grow over time until its exorbitantly expensive to filter all the traffic being requested.

2. There is a labor member who has spoken out about the issue so far, just not a Federal member unfortunately, check out this article though: Brave Labor MP rejects Conroy’s filter plan

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