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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, now has a section dedicated to related articles and is a great source of information, here:,internet-filtering.aspx

GetUp is also running a public awareness and lobbying campaign around the issue, for more information go here:

There is also an interesting article on Ars Technica website about the announcement and the exact mechanics of the proposal:

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.”

What’s Your opinion?

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54 Responses to
Australian Government to censor the Internet
S4anta 12:33 pm 17 Dec 09

Not to mebtion tha small problem of once the NBN is rolled and information becomes less static all this palava will ne null and void anyways.

mred 11:50 am 17 Dec 09

The government can not control the internet any more then they can control the weather.

All they will achieve is slow general use and black market access.

eyeLikeCarrots 10:40 am 17 Dec 09

For every individual URL that gets blocked, there are millions more URLs that offer the same content (google domain kiting).

People accessing child exploitation material don’t generally do it via a publicly accessible web-page (All this tool will do is make sickos use other applications and protocols… even some of the same ones that people will use to circumvent the filter)

Placing this tool on the wire and giving the keys to a government achieves nothing but pave the way for abuse, a government already heavily influenced by various churches and interest motivated groups will eventually block content that they find objectionable to their interest.

It being controlled by the public service, the time it will take blocking/unblocking proccess will be not be fast.

This is the single worst decision since Fraser v Whitlam, I will be doing what I can to see this legislation does not pass.

S4anta 9:52 am 17 Dec 09

Useful hit the nail on the head.

Considering that in every other policy/industry area we have started a rear guard practice of cotton wooling the public and legislating for idiots to protect themselves from themselves, arguing against this from a philosophical point of view is a waste of time.

Arguing that techncially it is rubbish and that once implemented it will not be cost effective and the TCO will be astronomical, and not the in the Government’s best interest is the only way to go.

The technical flaws cannot be fixed/tested until it goes live and that will lead to a massive bunfight.

Jim Jones 9:30 am 17 Dec 09

Pandy said :

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.

Also censors stuff such as euthanasia-advocacy, gambling, etc. It will also block downloadable games, flash-based web games and sites which sell physical copies of games that do not meet the MA15+ standard … such as Ebay and Amazon.

Has an overblock rate of 3% (given the size of the internet – this is one hell of a lot of

And as the AFP have pointed out, paedophiles don’t use normal web sites to share files, they use peer to peer software, which the filtering has no effect on.

It doesn’t work, it actually makes things significantly worse, the list of censored sites is itself censored – so the Australian public won’t be allowed to find out what is being censored, it will slow down internet access significantly (the figures are all available – one filter caused a 22% drop in speed even when it was not performing filtering).

I’d suggest doing a bit more research before listening to Conroy’s “everyone who opposes me is a paedophile” argument.

Jim Jones 9:20 am 17 Dec 09
H1NG0 9:09 am 17 Dec 09

Big mistake. The internet in Australia is slow enough as it is without having to proxy filter everything. Sometimes I wonder if Rudd has ever used the internet or knows how it operates.

Thumper 8:43 am 17 Dec 09

how long before the system is adjusted slightly for ‘the good of the country’ to censor religion, ideaology, political beliefs, criticism of governments, public decisions (all though we already see this), etc.

it’s really doesn’t take a great stretch of the imagination to see this happening in the future.

censorship is not a good thing in any way, shape or form. the deprivation of personal liberty and choices is something we do not want to see here.

1984 easily springs to mind.

dr phil 8:16 am 17 Dec 09

No more riotact then?

Would be like living in North Korea.

TAD 8:10 am 17 Dec 09

You know, it’s a pretty good idea if you ask me.

Useful 7:47 am 17 Dec 09

The important point in this debate, whether you agree with censoring or not, is that this proposal is rubbish from a technical standpoint. The government has already spent millions on filtering software that was easily breakable and yet it is keen to repeat the endeavour (see the above linked Ars Technica article on how easily one can avoid the filter). This will cost a lot of money, without effectively achieving it’s goal, yet it will also slow down the internet for everyone else involved.

There’s a good article here on the technical flaws, and why this will slow down the internet for all Australians:

TDMJ 12:09 am 17 Dec 09

Overall, I’ve found this news very worrying. I normally take a fairly pragmatic stance and think, well, we won’t die because of slow(er) internet – maybe it’s worth it…

But I’ve read up on this a lot and am yet to be convinced of the benefits, that it will even achieve what it’s setting out to do (er, whatever that is…) and that the cons don’t far outweigh the pros.


MrPC 11:47 pm 16 Dec 09

Bernard Keane’s guide on writing to politicians (from today’s Crikey) is a must read here. It’s basically a way to tactically DDOS the senior bureaucracy over issues such as this.

deye 11:31 pm 16 Dec 09

WOFTAM and stupid to boot sums it up nicely.

Assuming it gets in Labor will have shot themselves in the foot and given themselves a public relations disaster for years.

The report says that the slow downs and incorrect blocking will be lost in the “noise” of the normal net issues, what they don’t seem to realise is that every bit of noise will become the fault of the “labor party internet filter”. Every time someone can’t get to a site, every time the net is slow, they will end up blaming the filter. I doubt there is anyone on the net on Australia that hasn’t experienced a site not available or slowed down. At the moment we just mutter and put up with it grudgingly, once the filter is in place though there will be a convenient place to blame.

Pandy 10:58 pm 16 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.

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