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Censorship Your Rights Online

Australia Plans to Censor the Internet 258

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the yeah-good-luck-with-that-mate dept.
SenatorLuddite writes "From January 20, 2008 new content laws introduced by the Federal Government will force sites to verify the age of users before accessing content intended for mature audiences (MA15+ and R18+). The laws bring internet classification into line with Film and Book classification laws and completely prohibits X18+ and RC content from the internet. ACMA (The Australian Communications and Media Authority) claims that adults will not be affected by the new laws, yet user-generated and even chatrooms are required to be assessed for classification and powers are granted to ACMA to send 'take down' notices to offending sites."
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Australia Plans to Censor the Internet

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  • Time to invest some money into DPI and cache vendor stocks. Pity that most of them are either private or diluted by humongous conglomerates like cisco. It is also DPI and cache, not content control. Most of content control is geared towards the corporate police, not ISPs so it is not what is going to be deployed down under.
  • by mbone (558574) on Sunday December 23, 2007 @12:17PM (#21798282)
    Oh, I can see that this will work out well.

    My guess is that a lot of small operators won't be able to comply, and that a lot of traffic will move offshore if this is really implemented. This law could take us back to the good old days, when almost Aussie web traffic went across the Pacific.
    • You get what you want and pay for.

      Want to be treated like a serf? Consent to be governed by others and be told what to do... consent to have some depraved power hungry, child molesting lunatics legislate morality to you and your children. (Sort of how the "conservatives" permit boy raping priests to tell them how to be good "Christian" men... which, if priests actually lead by example, is obviously "lie your ass off, rape little boys, be a hypocrite about it, don't get caught, and become a diocese before
      • by Yetihehe (971185) on Sunday December 23, 2007 @01:20PM (#21798720)
        Yeah, but if I don't register or vote, others will choose for me. And if I register and vote, I would like to be able to select those who will represent me. In my country it's possible. In USA there are only two parties, so it's not possible.
        • by Beer_Smurf (700116) on Sunday December 23, 2007 @01:35PM (#21798806) Homepage
          The system has broken down.
          We really are down to Kang and Kodos with our current system.
          Unless we all step up and have the balls to vote for someone different, this kind of thing will be coming your way soon.
          The whole "save the babies" bit gets votes.
          Me? I'm voting for Ron Paul.
        • by ashridah (72567) on Sunday December 23, 2007 @02:23PM (#21799104)
          That's okay. In Australia, we'll fine you if you don't vote. (Hint: in Australia, it's illegal to not vote, everyone has to, whether they want to or not. It changes the political system significantly, and judging by the way you people complain all the time, for the better.)

          • by poptones (653660)
            Uh huh. Because, in spite of rampant soccer moms and closeted politicians we still don't have to worry about nonsense like "the great firewall of Australia."

            And what exactly does the rest of the world have to lose? What Ozzie generated content, besides the Register, even matters outside that weird little island?
            • by jazir1979 (637570)
              1) It's Aussie
              2) Last I knew of it, the Register was British (weird little island)
              3) Australia is a weird HUGE island
            • by ashridah (72567)
              Hm. Zero Punctuation? [escapistmagazine.com]
              That's published in the US, but produced in Australia, by a British guy.

              Also, as an Australian currently working abroad, stuff like Chaser's war on everything, media watch, and other assorted publications matter to me (although they're all on hiatus since it's christmas time there.)

              The bigger problem is that it might start other countries from just throwing their hands up and blocking Australia outright, since there's probably no simple (hell, probably not even a complex) solution to th
              • Please, if that's the way you feel, feel free to stay right where you are.
                • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                  by ashridah (72567)
                  Please, if that's the way you feel, feel free to stay right where you are

                  Huh? If that's the way I feel I should stay out? How does that make sense? Because I'm not happy with the conservative nature of both parties right now?

                  There's still a *lot* that I like about the Australian political system. It's certainly not the three-ring circus that America has, and while it's clearly unbalanced some of the time, it's usually fairly sane, and gets quite a fair bit right, particularly it's ability to represent small
                • by poptones (653660)
                  Ha. I see it's not just the US that also has its fair share of "love it or leave it" redneck types.
            • No, you only have to worry about "free speech zones", Guantanamo Bay, sneak and peak searches, massive surveillance in violation of FISA, Electronic Voting with a non-open standard... and Fox News. :-)

              The truth is, that was legislation passed by the previous Liberal govt. It's quite possible the Labor Party overturns the decision.
      • by bug1 (96678)
        "Voting is a lottery. It isn't the will of the "majority" or the "will of the people". Voting is a gamble..."

        The strength of democracy is not its tendency to elect great leaders, its the ease at which you can get rid of the bad ones.

        When you think about it, it doesnt matter how a leader gets power, whats important is whether they are good leader and if you can get rid of them.

        So dont think of it as voting for someone, think of it as voting against the government (or not).

      • by dangitman (862676)
        Yeah, but someone has to build the roads, the schools and the hospitals. How are you going to pay for them, if not through taxes? How are you going to adminster them, if not via a government? I think most people don't give a shit about "moral" issues, they just want their infrastructure. That's why government moral crusades are rarely effective. But fuck with the infrastructure, and people will be up in arms.
      • In the worst case scenario you can always vote from the rooftops. Oh wait, even airsoft is illegal in Australia. You and Britain can enjoy your police states, while in America corrupt politicians have nightmares of crazy libertarians voting with a .30-06.
  • I have a better idea (Score:5, Interesting)

    by skinfitz (564041) on Sunday December 23, 2007 @12:17PM (#21798290) Journal
    Ban children from the Internets. By all means build a kindernet and police an regulate it to fuck, but leave the adult net alone.
    • .kid domain? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by iknownuttin (1099999) on Sunday December 23, 2007 @12:37PM (#21798440)
      Ban children from the Internets. By all means build a kindernet and police an regulate it to fuck, but leave the adult net alone.

      Why not? Have a .kid domain, have the kid oriented content publishers (ex. Disney, FisherPrice ) finance it, and let parents restrict the internet to that domain.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by smash (1351)
        But that would be too sensible, just like the notion of .xxx to enable easy filtering.

        My reaction, being an aussie, to all this is "meh". They have enough problems classifying movies in time for release, they sure as fuck aren't going to manage to rate the internet.

        • But that would be too sensible, just like the notion of .xxx to enable easy filtering.
          Hold it right there. A .kids namespace and associated content makes sense; but a .xxx space does not, and would not work. They are fundamentally different concepts.

          A .kids TLD (or better yet, .kids.us or .kids.au or whatever) is a WHITELIST. You only allow content into it that's been reviewed, and is guaranteed-clean. It's trivial to restrict browsers to it. You can set up whatever kind of review committee you want to keep tabs on it. It's strictly opt-in by design.

          However, .xxx or .porn or .adult are exactly the opposite. They are BLACKLISTS and can only function when you effectively censor the rest of the Internet, in order to force adult content into the "adult" TLDs. This is hugely impractical and spectacularly dangerous from a freedom-of-speech perspective. Essentially what this tries to do is turn the entire Internet EXCEPT one corner of it into a "kids"-zone, and that's just not going to happen. It's impossible to police effectively without a national firewall (because unlike a TLD, which you could put under your country's namespace and easily apply national laws to, you'd be trying to censor all of the 'net), and such a scheme would lead to fragmentation of the network in short order.

          Do not confuse .kids, which is a good idea, with .xxx, which is dangerous and stupid.
          • No doubt you'll be able to lobby/bribe your way onto the whitelist the way McDonalds do into classrooms etc. What kind of parent would let their kids into that world?
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        For the last time, DNS is not a content classification system. [ietf.org] But I've got this idea that'll work, it's called parental responsibility. I know, what a concept...
      • by thegnu (557446) <thegnu@@@gmail...com> on Sunday December 23, 2007 @01:11PM (#21798662) Journal

        Have a .kid domain, have the kid oriented content publishers (ex. Disney, FisherPrice ) finance it, and let parents restrict the internet to that domain.

        I would probably actually prefer my kids running rampant on an unprotected internet than living in Disney/Fisher-Price world. Kids are stupid enough as it is today. They need real experience, and while the Internet barely qualifies as "real," it's more real than a fake Disney Internet. As fucked up as I am from all the porn I've seen, I think I'm pretty OK. Especially when I compare myself to kids who grew up sheltered. And I'm probably more fucked up from all the things real live humans did to me. So let's just leave the Internet alone, no?

        That being said, as long as filtering along a top-level domain were voluntary to the parents, then I'm fine with it.

        OT:
        I finally watched Wizard People, Dear Readers, and it is the best thing in the world. If you die before you watch it, you lose.
        • A lot of us learned to experiment and use our minds as kids on fisher-price stuff.
          However that being said censoring adults is no substitute for supervising children.

          Just in case you did want a fisher-price internet for your 3 year old slashdotter-in-training.
          http://www.walmart.com/catalog/product.do?product_id=5788078 [walmart.com]
          Fisher-Price Easy-Link Internet Launch Pad, Elmo and Dragon Tales
          • by thegnu (557446)
            Well, I'm more opposed to Disney. I just mean that even a Fisher-Price Internet is a sad excuse for an open communication medium. There are plenty of games that use internet access on a closed network as a way to move the game forward. That would be an excellent way to introduce young children to the Internet. In fact, having a game from within which you could only access .kid domains would be pretty nifty.

            My other problem with this as a "solution" is that parents are increasingly content to use electro
        • by syousef (465911)
          As fucked up as I am from all the porn I've seen, I think I'm pretty OK.

          If you were as you put it f*cked up, you'd have no need for porn now would you!?
    • by Tom (822) on Sunday December 23, 2007 @01:01PM (#21798602) Homepage Journal
      The problem being, of course, that the "kindernet" will be of zero interest to exactly the kids this legislation wants to "protect".

      Very small kids aren't interested in sex. It means nothing to them. At the age where kids start to get interested in sex, there's maybe one thing that rivals that desire: Doing whatever the adults are doing. Those 12 and 14 year olds won't stay in their "kindernet". They will get on the (adult) Internet, if only because that's what the adults are doing.

      I mean, really, can you imagine a better invitation to come in and look around than a "you must be 18 years old to view this page. click below to indicate that you are that old, kids must go elsewhere" boilerplate? No matter if it takes the form of the current porn website front pages or some legislation. Kids will find a way past.
  • by c0d3h4x0r (604141) on Sunday December 23, 2007 @12:22PM (#21798318) Homepage Journal
    An internet service (web site, chat room, etc) cannot possibly be expected to accurately determine anything about an internet user. Even credit card verification doesn't work, since any kid can borrow their parents' credit card and any identity thief can supply someone else's stolen credit card information.

    I hate seeing any kind of law that burdens internet services with having to "verify" anything. Instead, what I want to see are laws that throw irresponsible parents and conservative holier-than-thou types in prison for dragging the rest of society down.

    Your 13-year-old daughter was raped when she met up in real life with a 40 year old man from MySpace? Then you should be thrown in prison for not making yourself aware of what your daughter was doing online and for failing to teach your daughter to be smarter than that.

    Your 14 year old son was looking at porn? So what? Neither YOU nor anyone you knew ever looked at porn when YOU were 14? And every man who snuck looks at boobies and crotches when he was a teen has grown up to be some kind of dysfunctional degenerate psychopath? Hardly. Get off your conservative high horse.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tinkerghost (944862)

      Even credit card verification doesn't work, since any kid can borrow their parents' credit card and any identity thief can supply someone else's stolen credit card information.

      My favorite was a website requesting CC# for verification purposes. Right next to the entry field was a link to a CC# generator website. To me that was the ultimate example of the futility of the proposed US legislation. Without requiring every website that hosts adult content have a CC processing account, there is no way to even val

    • Neither YOU nor anyone you knew ever looked at porn when YOU were 14?

      You must be young. There was a time when getting ones hands on quality porn was not easy for a kid. Some days it was just National Geographics and the underwear section of the Sears catalog. :-(

      However, this frustration probably led to the gestation of the video game industry. :)
    • by gronofer (838299)

      An internet service (web site, chat room, etc) cannot possibly be expected to accurately determine anything about an internet user. Even credit card verification doesn't work, since any kid can borrow their parents' credit card and any identity thief can supply someone else's stolen credit card information.

      I'd say it's even worse than that. Any ID that provides age verification is also likely to be useful for the scam/phishing websites. What confidence would you have, when surfing to a random porn site

  • The ACMA claims

    The main elements of the new content regulatory framework in Schedule 7 to the BSA are:
    a prohibition on X18+ and RC content;

    and also

    "In developing these new content rules, ACMA was guided by its disposition to allow adults to continue to read, hear and see what they want, while protecting children from exposure to inappropriate content, regardless of the delivery mechanism," Mr Chapman said in a statement.

    what's the primary audience for X18+? Children?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by ScrewMaster (602015)
      what's the primary audience for X18+? Children?

      Well, if it's anything like the X rating here in the U.S., I'd say ... yeah, pretty much.
    • by deniable (76198)

      what's the primary audience for X18+? Children?

      Our federal government actually. :) The only place that can sell X rated material is the Australian Capitol Territory. (And if you go one suburb over, you can get fire-works too.) Actually, that may have changed, it's not like I've been monitoring the situation.

      Yes, American friends, it's like Washington, D.C. being the porn capitol of America. Actually, that might be a good thing, some of your politicians look like they need some relief.

  • by Pseydtonne (915547) on Sunday December 23, 2007 @12:26PM (#21798356) Homepage
    Neither link provides any detail about how they're going to make such rules stick. What will be the fine for a blogger in Brisbane that talks about goat sodomy?

    Also, how would such a crime be prosecuted? Most police work in Australia is state-based and not federal. I'm assuming there is an equivalent to the FBI which will handle detection, evidence collection and prosecution.

    Are they going to use packet filtering to detect what people download or will they simply be picking on ISPs hosting content for not hassling their web serving customers?

    Honestly, I'm not being sarcastic. I'm just looking at this as a scare tactic without teeth, since the notice from Canberra makes no mention of tactics. Please provide links if you find them.
    • by 1u3hr (530656)
      Neither link provides any detail about how they're going to make such rules stick. What will be the fine for a blogger in Brisbane that talks about goat sodomy?

      According to TFA, it applies:

      tougher rules for companies that sell entertainment-related content on subscription internet sites and mobile phones.

      I emphasise the word "sell"; thus your blogger, unless he charges for access, is free to discuss goat sodomy or whatever else they do up in Queensland.

      • And that, together with the fact that the rules target "content providers", not ISPs, mean that most of the Slashdot discussion is irrelevant.

        Slashbots, please RTFA before being outraged. It is just the editors trolling you again.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 23, 2007 @12:26PM (#21798358)
    If you have age verification for children, you have to verify EVERYONE. If you have to classify "mature" content, you have to classify EVERYTHING.

    It sounds just like the calls for special tamper-proof ID for resident aliens here in the USA which will require that EVERYONE will have to show their papers please.
  • FTFA (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dcollins (135727) on Sunday December 23, 2007 @12:26PM (#21798362) Homepage
    "Personal emails and other private communications would be excluded from the new laws..."

    Oh, well, thank god for that. For now.
  • Just wait until they try to shut down 4chan. The Internet Hate Machine will sort things out.
    • As if anonymous is THAT organized.

      But it still begs the question, how does the government expect to deal with internet content that comes in from foreign soil? Beyond that, are they planning to have some kind of task force independently hunting down adult material, or are they expecting concerned consumers to file complaints? Neither the article nor the ACMA website seems to address just how any of this is going to be dealt with.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Of course they are.

        1. Post thread explaining the plan. Include picture of a kangaroo. Or boobs.

        2. Say "go go go".

        PROFIT!!!

    • Was just thinking the same thing.

      Fox "News" will have a fucking field day with this.... LuL.

    • by meringuoid (568297) on Sunday December 23, 2007 @01:08PM (#21798638)
      Just wait until they try to shut down 4chan. The Internet Hate Machine will sort things out.

      In the UK, BT's internet service blocks /b/. It's on some blacklist because, well, you know that bear mascot of theirs? Yeah. That stuff. To their credit they left the rest of 4chan alone, which is impressive given that if they blocked /b/ they must at least have looked at what goes on in /d/.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by 1u3hr (530656)
      Just wait until they try to shut down 4chan.

      TFA: "rules for companies that sell entertainment-related content".

      Not free sites.

  • Personal emails and other private communications would be excluded from the new laws and so would news or current affairs services.

    So does this mean if someone setup a web site called "SlashSlash - News for pervs", with articles and pictures about all the latest news and events in the world of 'X18-plus content' ... then it would be exempt from regulation ?

  • fuck the kids (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tom (822) on Sunday December 23, 2007 @12:56PM (#21798558) Homepage Journal
    Because, you know, in a world of war, terrorism, economic depression and a climate change that just might wipe us out as a species, protecting the children from something their hormones will drive them to in five or ten years (if that) with a force that nukes pale against is certainly the most important thing to do.

    I say fuck the children - not literally, except if they want to fuck each other, they've got my blessings as long as they know some basic health principles (for both physical and mental health). So how about we stop worrying about the children and start worrying about the real issues?

    Because, when you think about it, things are very simple. Either, growing up the way past generations did wasn't totally fucked up, and the kids will be just fine, or if growing up the way past generations did was totally fucked up, and is something we must protect the kids from at all costs, then those who grew up in that fucked up way are the last ones you should entrust those decisions to.
    • if growing up the way past generations did was totally fucked up, and is something we must protect the kids from at all costs, then those who grew up in that fucked up way are the last ones you should entrust those decisions to.
      I think the ones trying to do this grew up without transistors. This intertubes thingamajigger scares them, and they want it off their e-lawn.
    • Because, when you think about it, things are very simple. Either, growing up the way past generations did wasn't totally fucked up, and the kids will be just fine, or if growing up the way past generations did was totally fucked up, and is something we must protect the kids from at all costs, then those who grew up in that fucked up way are the last ones you should entrust those decisions to.

      No, it is not simple at all. Your great-grandparents lived in a world of increased daily crime and violence, oppression of women and infant death. It was not common for schools to teach sex education, but marriage around the age of 13 was. Society generally cooperated to keep sexually explicit imagery away from children. Abortion was largely illegal and birth control was hard to acquire.

      In the interim what has happened is that people have fallen away from the traditional centers of morality such as the Chu

    • they've got my blessings as long as they know some basic health principles (for both physical and mental health).

      Yeah, well, there's the rub, you see. (So to speak) They don't, no matter how much sex ed you give them, and then I, as a taxpayer, get to pay for all those little mistakes. Fuck that. *Mandatory* abortions, I say.
  • Accidental Idiocy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SQL Error (16383) on Sunday December 23, 2007 @01:06PM (#21798622)
    This is an update to the existing law regarding access to phone chat services. Realising that the wording of the law only covered traditional telephony, the ACMA seems to have simply stuck "and teh internets" into the wording wherever they deemed it appropriate, rendering a total hash of the regulations. Defining "content" when you're talking about fixed-line phones is easy. When it comes to the internet, it's effectively impossible.

    In the US, this would get stomped by the Supreme Court as unconstitutionally broad in five minutes flat. Here in Australia that may take longer, but I expect it to be largely ignored in the meantime.
  • Bull.

    The only way this could be instituted is that you are assumed to be a child. Upon going to a particular site that may or may not have 'adult' content, the user will have to attempt to prove he is not a child. Of course, such 'proof' is impossible. You never really know who is behind the keyboard.
    That impossibility is primarily why the Communications Decency Act [wikipedia.org] of 1996 got shot down. It puts the onus on the adult to prove his legality.

    A .kids or .xxx TLD is equally stupid.
  • Huh? (Score:3, Funny)

    by ScrewMaster (602015) on Sunday December 23, 2007 @01:22PM (#21798738)
    Australia Plans to Censor the Internet

    Yeah well ... good luck with that.
  • thumbs up (Score:2, Funny)

    by Corson (746347)
    it would be great and all countries should follow suit, provided it works out.
  • Domino Effect... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by aephoenix (1122129)
    So.. How long until America tries this? I'm shocked we haven't already. I mean, then we'll really be living in a dictatorship.
  • King Canute? (Score:3, Informative)

    by serviscope_minor (664417) on Sunday December 23, 2007 @03:05PM (#21799416) Journal
    People keep tagging these stories "kingcanute". Canute was trying to prove to his courtiers by demonstration that he could not hold back the tide. Somehow I doubt these would-be censors are trying to demonstrate its ineffectiveness.
  • The WTO has a lot of control ( blackmail ) over other sovereign countries when another with lesser laws gets irritated.

  • It does NOT say X18+ is banned.

    In fact is specifically calls out that it is allowed as long as you "verify" that you are over 18.

    I quote: "service providers will have to check that people accessing MA15-plus content are aged over 15 years and those accessing R18-plus and X18-plus content are over 18."

    How could that have possibly be interpereted as X18+ is banned?!?!?

    Please explain.
  • most prisons already do this! ;-)
  • Who cares? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Dash Hash (955484)
    Who cares about sex and porn? That stuff is so over-rated, it's pathetic.

    Now, murder (and violence in general), showing people's heads get splattered against a wall, watching people get thrown through a window and land twenty stories below in a heap of gore, watching people get skinned alive, now /that/ stuff is the good stuff!

    All this talk about penises and vaginae and sex is just so tiring.
    I think I'll go watch a few murder movies to get my mind off it.

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