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Nation-Wide Internet Censorship Proposed For Australia 424

Posted by timothy
from the unarmed-populace dept.
sparky1240 writes "While Americans are currently fighting the net-neutrality wars, spare a thought for the poor Australians — The Australian government wants to implement a nation-wide 'filtering' scheme to keep everyone safe from the nasties on the internet, with no way of opting out: 'Under the government's $125.8 million Plan for Cyber-Safety, users can switch between two blacklists which block content inappropriate for children, and a separate list which blocks illegal material. ... According to preliminary trials, the best Internet content filters would incorrectly block about 10,000 Web pages from one million."
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Nation-Wide Internet Censorship Proposed For Australia

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  • by cosmocain (1060326) on Friday October 17, 2008 @05:57AM (#25410007)
    Your local government knows best.

    This bill was brought to you by your local censors.
    • by AliasMarlowe (1042386) on Friday October 17, 2008 @08:00AM (#25410731) Journal

      This bill was brought to you by your local censors.

      So Aussies can look forward to a rabid reaming by prurient hypocrites, and the undoubted pleasure of being billed for it, too. The details of the public reaming will also be off-limits, of course (for the public good: can't have people witnessing such lurid acts).

      Due to the shotgun nature of blocking filters, there will be many pages wrongfully blocked. Based on the blocking policies enforced at some workplaces, entire domains may be blocked on account of just a single objectionable page in a single user's subdomain. Whole domains may also be blocked wrongly, through ambivalent ignorance or a mere typo.

      Whole communities might find themselves wrongfully off-limits, as happened a few years ago, when the alt.binaries.pictures.astronomy usenet group was blacklisted by a large US ISP. The ISP did not block all alt.binaries.pictures groups, but chose to lump the astrophotography group in with the porn groups. That's what misinterpretation of phrases such as "heavenly body", "images from last night", "multiple exposure", "open truss", "polar mount", "white dwarf", "full moon" and the like can cause. I doubt if anyone involved in the decision to block the group actually looked at the images being posted there - I never saw an inappropriate image in several years of regularly reading that group.

      Presumably, all anonymizing services will promptly find themselves on the blacklist, lest anyone use them to bypass the filters and look at unapproved pages. Expect also, that anyone acting as a freenet node will be dealt with appropriately (ISP cutoff, or legal action).

    • by Lachlan Hunt (1021263) on Friday October 17, 2008 @09:04AM (#25411161) Homepage

      It's sad that this is happening. As an Australian, I'm appalled that this is happening. Although I'm glad for many reasons that we finally got rid of little Bush Jr. (John Howard) and replaced him Kevin Rudd, it's a disaster that they now want to impose this crap on everyone.

      Personally, I think the whole idea of content filtering to protect the children, as they claim, is bogus. Regardless of whether the filtering is done by the parents on their own computer or by the ISPs on the whole internet, I think it's bullshit.

      Kids don't need overly restrictive blocks in place to prevent them getting access to porn, bomb making instructions or whatever else is deem inappropriate; nor do they need any kind of punishment if they do get access. Rather, they need good parental guidence to let them know what they should and should not look at, and be taught to be responsible with whatever they do get access to.

      Besides, if some 13 or 14 year old boy looks up some porn, good for him. I did when I was that age, as did almost everyone else I knew back then, and it did me no harm at all. (Also, letting kids get porn for free from the internet is better then letting them resort to stealing porno mags that they're not allowed to buy legally)

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by vtcodger (957785)

        ***Kids don't need overly restrictive blocks in place to prevent them getting access to porn, bomb making instructions***

        The bomb making thing actually is kind of concerning. Many parents are fond of their kitchens and will miss them, not to mention the potential impact on neighbors in multiple unit buildings.

        But there is another concern. Not only will legitimate web sites inevitably be accidentally blocked by false positives from the filters, but the kids will still find ways to access porn and other "un

    • by elrous0 (869638) *
      I'm just glad there is finally an issue that the U.S. isn't taking the most heavy-handed puritanical stance on. Even the bible-thumpers and think-of-the-children nutballs in the U.S. don't have the brass balls to push something like THAT through.
  • WTF?! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Bifurcati (699683) on Friday October 17, 2008 @05:58AM (#25410009) Homepage
    Okay, seriously, can anyone with sources verify if this is real? I mean, I might expect this from Liberals - but from Labor? Who decides on the black list? What sort of appeals process is there going to be? Is there 24/7 tech support?

    I want answers, damnit! I'm Aussie, and not used to fighting these sort of things - Americans, what's the best way forward to make my voice heard?!

    • by Bifurcati (699683)
      Also, with a superquick Google not turning up anything obvious, does anyone have links to good case studies where other governments have attempted something like this with disastrous results? Or, at least, they gave up? Coherent arguments against filtering also greatly welcome.

      (Aside from China, I suppose!!!)

      • Re:WTF?! (Score:5, Informative)

        by MindKata (957167) on Friday October 17, 2008 @07:16AM (#25410425) Journal
        "Coherent arguments against filtering also greatly welcome."

        I would start with Article 12 from this... http://www.un.org/Overview/rights.html [un.org]
        i.e. "Article 12 : No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks."

        As for governments trying this sort, the UK is probably in the lead :( ...
        http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/10/15/2222209 [slashdot.org]

        Its interesting how so called free countries are rushing towards censorship, control and out right Big Brother, faster than so called bad countries. The power seekers in each country seem to be treating technology as their dream come true. They can use it to fight for powers previous generations of power seeking leaders couldn't have dreamed possible.

        We all need to speak out against this sort of thing before its to late...
        http://yro.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=997305&cid=25397001 [slashdot.org]
        • Re:WTF?! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by omeomi (675045) on Friday October 17, 2008 @07:35AM (#25410543) Homepage
          Its interesting how so called free countries are rushing towards censorship, control and out right Big Brother, faster than so called bad countries.

          Well, 9-11 9-11 9-11. 9-11 9-11 9-11, 9-11. "9-11". Fear, 9-11. Uncertainty, 9-11. Doubt, 9-11.
          • Mudoch countries (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Presto Vivace (882157) <marshall@prestovivace.biz> on Friday October 17, 2008 @08:49AM (#25411041) Homepage Journal
            I don't think it is an accident that these things are going forward in the English speaking countries where Murdoch has the most influence, US, UK, & Australia. So far as I can make out, Canada and NZ are sticking with freedom.
          • Re:WTF?! (Score:4, Informative)

            by master_p (608214) on Friday October 17, 2008 @09:23AM (#25411359)

            And that's a reason many people believe that 9-11 was not orchestrated by Muslims, but by the secret services of western countries.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jandersen (462034)

          I would start with Article 12 from this... http://www.un.org/Overview/rights.html [un.org]
          i.e. "Article 12 : No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks."

          Please note the little word "arbitrary". Is it arbitrary when it happens systematically? Such philosophical questions aside, what this article really says is that these must not occur except as allowed by law. This is just like when the polica can't arrest you on a whim, "just because" - that would be "arbitrary" - but they can still arrest you if they suspect you of committing a crime, because there is a law that says so.

          In the same way, if the legislators decide to make a law that decides which web-sites

      • Re:WTF?! (Score:5, Informative)

        by grcumb (781340) on Friday October 17, 2008 @07:22AM (#25410453) Homepage Journal

        Also, with a superquick Google not turning up anything obvious, does anyone have links to good case studies where other governments have attempted something like this with disastrous results?

        You're looking for the wrong kind of evidence. What you want is proof that it works....

        ... And works too well.

        Everybody has something to hide, something they'd rather not share with their neighbours, their colleagues, even their chums. Make it clear that all of this will be visible to their government. Government censorship necessarily means that they can monitor everything.

        Then work the problem from the bottom up. This is how Canada's anti-DMCA movement has done it: With loud, credible voices like Michael Geist backed by legions of well informed and activist people. It's no accident that the Canadian bill has died on the order table at least 3 times so far.

        It's hard to imagine how a measure like this would be possible without enabling legislation. Get people organised, inform them about the exposure this creates for them as individuals, then target those few senators that you need to keep this from ever seeing the light of day.

        • Re:WTF?! (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Dorkmaster Flek (1013045) on Friday October 17, 2008 @09:35AM (#25411525)
          It also helped that we have a minority government who wouldn't want to piss off too many people and ended up making copyright law into an issue in several ridings. As a Canadian, I'm genuinely proud of how we derailed that piece of crap. One of the heads of the CRIA, the Canadian arm of the RIAA (they don't actually represent any Canadian labels anymore) was actually ranting in an interview about how Facebook derailed their precious copyright law, which made my day, let me tell you. Our minority government however has already announced their intention to move in the same direction with future copyright bills, so we'll see how long our victory lasts...
    • Re:WTF?! (Score:5, Informative)

      by srjh (1316705) on Friday October 17, 2008 @06:05AM (#25410057)

      This is very real, and very scary.

      http://nocleanfeed.com/ [nocleanfeed.com]

      I'm not sure why you think we're immune from this stupidity in Australia, or why Labor would be any better in this regard. Australia's censorship laws are some of the worst in the Western world.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Bifurcati (699683)
        Thanks for the link - very useful! Mod parent up.
      • Re:WTF?! (Score:5, Funny)

        by vikstar (615372) on Friday October 17, 2008 @07:10AM (#25410401) Journal

        Hmmm, I can't get to that link. It just says "Blocked by EFA".

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Pharmboy (216950)

        If this passed, it would be time for pitchforks and torches. Now you see why so many people are pro 2nd amendment (right to own guns) in the USA. To protect us from our own government.

    • Re:WTF?! (Score:5, Funny)

      by plankrwf (929870) on Friday October 17, 2008 @06:07AM (#25410067)
      We are sorry, no appeal is possible. You see, in order to verify that your website - cnn.com - is actually 'safe', we would have to visit it. However, as the black list is of the 'no opting out' type, we are unable to do so, as temporarely removing it from the black list is not an option: think of the children! Kind regards, your government.
    • Re:WTF?! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by james.mcarthur (154849) on Friday October 17, 2008 @06:08AM (#25410071)

      You been living under a rock since the last election? It was a Rudd policy for ages. Now they're in power they're going to implement their scheme.

      Have a look at http://www.efa.org.au/ [efa.org.au] for some more background.

      • by Bifurcati (699683)
        Hey, don't get me wrong - I was one of those who saw it, disapproved, but knew I would opt out the second it came in. Still a ridiculous waste of money, but fine, whatever. Thinkofthechildren.

        But not being able to opt out - that's new, AFIAKnew. Thanks for the link - very useful.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Why wouldn't you expect this from Labor? This is the party who made taking photos of the rehersal of the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony illegal (for the greater good of course).

      No, sorry, the Labor party is not about individual freedoms, far from it. Maybe you should read policy and have a think about who you are voting for next time.

    • Re:WTF?! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by wrmrxxx (696969) on Friday October 17, 2008 @06:12AM (#25410085)

      It's a real plan alright. It was an election promise/threat made shortly before the federal election last year, but it got surprisingly little attention. At the time I figured it was just an empty attempt to look tougher than the Liberal party (with their taxpayer funded filters for everyone's PC) program, and I hoped it would go the way of most election promises. Here's an EFF article about this from the beginning of the year, including links to Stephen Conroy's media releases: http://www.efa.org.au/2008/01/02/media-release-efa-attacks-clean-feed-proposal/ [efa.org.au] .

      My understanding is that this has progressed as far as some technology demonstrations. I'm still hoping that technical infeasibility and resistance from ISPs will win out, but it's a worry that it has gone this far.

    • Re:WTF?! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by theaveng (1243528) on Friday October 17, 2008 @06:15AM (#25410099)

      Tell your legislator that you are watching them very closely on this issue, and if they vote in favor of it, they won't be your legislator for much longer, because you will organize a campaign to de-elect them in two, four, or however many years it takes. Add that you won't allow your right to free speech to be trampled. That written speech should NEVER be censored no matter what it might be, and that anybody who supports censorship of webpages deserves the label "book burner" and include a picture like so: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/2/2b/1933-may-10-berlin-book-burning.JPG/250px-1933-may-10-berlin-book-burning.JPG [wikimedia.org]

      Here in the States there are certain persons who want to block internet downloads of "Huckleberry Finn" because they think it's racist. Well, anybody who's actually read the book knows it is the exact opposite of racist, and in fact teaches a lesson about how blacks are no different than whites. Fortunately for us, our government agrees and does not censor Mark Twain's greatest novel.

      Unfortunately for Aussies, your government doesn't have the common sense God granted a jackass. They are the 2000-era equivalent of book burners.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by theaveng (1243528)

        >>>Tell your legislator

        Actually don't write just yours. Write ALL of them. With actual letters if you can afford the postage.

      • Re:WTF?! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by QuoteMstr (55051) <dan.colascione@gmail.com> on Friday October 17, 2008 @07:00AM (#25410315)

        So what if Huckleberry Finn were a racist book? That wouldn't be a reason to censor it either. Nothing should be censored, ever.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by davros-too (987732)
      I don't know if its true but crikey ran with this earlier today: http://www.crikey.com.au/Media-Arts-and-Sports/20081017-And-the-Wankley-Award-goes-to-Conroys-net-filtering-scheme.html [crikey.com.au]
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Jaysyn (203771)

      Uh, start voting out every incumbent till you get ones you like.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by AlanNew (981673)

      I might expect this from Liberals - but from Labor?

      Remember that it was Kim Beasley that first came up with this a few years ago

    • Don't ask us, the UK is farther down this crapper. We're going to be as hosed as you are when they come for us in a few months or so (by my reckoning):-(

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by g0es (614709)

      Americans, what's the best way forward to make my voice heard?!

      1.) Form a political party
      2.) Take lots of money from special interest groups.
      3.) Sell soul
      4.) Profit!
      5.) Rule the country with all the money you have made. Profit even more by making sure the special interest groups feel special.

      But really your best chance is to form a group and get your message out, write your politicians and cross your fingers.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Ngarrang (1023425)

      Money. The American way is to donate appropriate amounts of cash to the campaign funds of the particular people you are trying to sway.

  • 10,0000? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 17, 2008 @05:58AM (#25410011)

    Is this some new scheme to confuse use by putting commas in the wrong place?

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by plankrwf (929870)

      No, this is a clever test.
      It is aimed at a certain type of slashdot readers:
      the readers in the following groups:
      - Americans. Or at least: they who are used to using a "." as a seperator. I.e.: "1/2=0.5"
      Beware: there are those who would write the above as "1/2=0,5"!
      - Non Americans, of the 'not enough geek' type.
      They wouldn't fall for the '0,5' thing, but would balk at a sentence 'about 10,0000 in one million'.
      Beware: those in the stock market (non US) would say that 10,0000 in one million is not very precise

    • Re:10,0000? (Score:5, Informative)

      by bundaegi (705619) on Friday October 17, 2008 @06:29AM (#25410177)
      If you are Korean, this makes perfect sense as they have a numeral system based around 10^4. "man" stands for 10000 (10^4). 10,0000 would be "sib man". By the way, listen to a Korean convert a big number (say a house price) from a 10^4 based system to a 10^3 one and hilarity ensues...
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by JonathanR (852748)

      It's just Shatner's version of one million dollars.

  • by Xest (935314) on Friday October 17, 2008 @06:00AM (#25410019)

    www.iwf.org.uk

    Whilst to be fair as far as I understand it does a good job in that it focuses entirely on child porn and hasn't as I'm aware stepped out of this remit I am a little concerned that it came into play without anyone ever really noticing or anyone ever really being told.

    Can we be sure this organisation does only do what it says it does? Can we be sure it doesn't ever abuse it's powers? Would we ever know if it did?

    It is not run by the government and is an independent organisation, so not having a connection to the government increases my confidence in it a million fold at least however.

  • Hypocrisy anyone? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by redscare2k4 (1178243) on Friday October 17, 2008 @06:00AM (#25410025)
    And let me guess, the Australian guys in the government that want this, are the sames that scream "dictatorship!!" any time Venezuela, Cuba, or China is mentioned. Hypocrisy
    • by deniable (76198)

      Yeah, our PM is really tough on the Chinese. He talks tough to them, or so the translator says.

    • Re:Hypocrisy anyone? (Score:4, Informative)

      by kaos07 (1113443) on Friday October 17, 2008 @07:28AM (#25410495)

      100% right. It was most noticeable during the Olympics.

      During the Olympics, the Australian media were in uproar about the "Great Firewall of China". Being a Slashdot reader, I knew all about it but for most people the fact that there's mandatory internet censorship in China was a completey new and abhorrent idea. What they apparently didn't know was that our government was actually testing how to do the exact same thing whilst they were banging on about how bad China is.

      I wrote many letters to all the papers on that very topic but alas, they were all ignored.

  • by TheLink (130905)
    Seems a waste of money since different parents have different ideas of what is appropriate for their children.

    I think it would be better to spend 125 million instead on teaching parents how to domesticate/train their children properly.

    Not saying they should all train their kids to be exactly the same , but if you look at the training programs for dogs, even if you're training a dog to do different things, the concepts and methods are pretty much the same, even if the desired results and objectives might be
  • by g253 (855070)
    That's not how you write "100,000", by the way.
    So it has a 10% error rate? Isn't that pretty huge?

    And please, since I arrive early in the discussion, can we avoid posts like "meh, just use opendns", because that's missing the point completely. It's like telling a brit concerned about the proliferation of CCTVs to just wear a mask on the street.
  • 1% false positive? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by NoNeeeed (157503) <slash@paullea[ ].co.uk ['der' in gap]> on Friday October 17, 2008 @06:12AM (#25410087) Homepage

    I'm actually surprised that it is that low.

    What I particularly object to (in addition to the whole concept) is the capricious nature of many blocks. BoingBoing [boingboing.net] has been blocked by a number of blocklist companies, not because of anything rude or illegal, but because they had articles about filtering companies

    At the end of the day, you have a human organisation making decisions, and even in the best of worlds that will be open to abuse.

    As a brit, I welcome our Aussie friends to the panopticon of fear.

  • What dos it exactly mean?

    Is it: It blocks 100000 websites per every 1m (10% of the internet?)
    or: It simply blocks 100k (what does 1m mean then?)
    or: It blocks 100k of the 1m and this 1m is all you can get in australia anyway
    or: It blocks 100k attempts to access a blacklisted site per 1m of such attempts (that would be very inefficient wouldnt it)
    or: It blocks 100k illegal/harmful websites of 1m known. But if they know 10 times more why include only 10%

    Help me Im lost

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Terrasque (796014)

      It could also mean, that for every 1 mill blocked, 100.000 of them shouldn't get blocked..

      Starting to get a bit confused myself when I start thinking of it.

      Of 1 million requests, it blocks X of them, where 100.000 of those shouldn't get blocked? Who knows..

  • I don't object to an XXX domain. Parents can block it, and people who want it can find it.

    I'm for mandatory tags on adult webpages. Again parents can block it, people who want it can find it.

    I don't mind so much black lists. At least real people maintaining them can correct mistakes. And a black list is good advertising for those who want that sort of thing.

    But mandatory government blocking program, that's just asking for trouble. At least with opt-in problems you can get away with "just don't use it".

  • ...to prevent people from opt-ing out on their own? Router based IP filtering?

    • by g-san (93038)

      Maybe they are buying firewalls from China. This is not unprecedented by any means. But luckily, since a lot of the internet is across an undersea cable, you won't notice an extra 10ms of latency while all your data is filtered.

      You do have a distinct geographical disadvantage, being a continent and all. Avian carriers could make a comeback though.

  • "We have buttiduously canvbutted the industry, [today.com] buttessed what is available and buttembled the finest selection of PFI contractors for this buttignment. The filters will buttociatively clbuttify all communications and filter then, I can butture you, rebuttemble them with surpbutting exacbreastude in any quanbreasty. Consbreastuents can be rebuttured that a mulbreastude of industry compebreastors will butture quality and keep our clbuttrooms safe. EDS Capita Goatse will not embarbutt us."

    The plans have attracted wide criticism. "It will only give supersbreastious rebutturance to medireview thinkers. Automated systems won't solve human problems like loveual harbuttment. Mbuttacring the written word into a Picbutto painting is not the anbreastank missile of Internet safety."

    Unions also butterted that such close buttessment of staff in the workplace would hamper efficiency and could verge on workplace harbuttment. "Watermeloning cranberries."

    The government was unfazed. "Butterting free speech is one thing, but a triparbreaste committee considers that that does not justify mere pbuttive breastillation at the expense of others."

    The first filtering offices will be set up in Arsenal, Penistone and Scunthorpe.

  • Freenet? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by femto (459605) on Friday October 17, 2008 @06:31AM (#25410189) Homepage
    What's people's real world experience of Freenet [freenetproject.org]? Does it work and is it usable? Is it truly secure from government intervention and monitoring? If this proposal goes ahead it will be the thing that prompts me to install Freenet and badger all my friends into joining too.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by nyctopterus (717502)
      I've played around with freenet. I don't know how secure it is, but in any case that was irrelevant, because it was unusably slow (on my 2mb up/20mb down ADSL2 connection). And we're not talking 56k slow here, we're talking 5-10 minutes for a page of text with a couple of little pictures. It's meant to get faster the longer you leave it on. It didn't in the four days I had it running.
    • by Per Wigren (5315)

      What's people's real world experience of Freenet?

      Tried it every time a new major version is released.

      Does it work and is it usable?

      It works, yes. Is it usable? No, because compared to the standard net, it's horribly horribly slow. Besides that, due to the nature of Freenet, all sites are static and because there are so few sites there, and a high percentage of grey area or plain illegal content, almost all sites link to sites which link to sites which link to child porn.

      I2P [i2p2.de] is a much more promising project. It's basically an encrypted, anonymizing IP-layer on top of IP so the web site

  • As a parent... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PinkyDead (862370) on Friday October 17, 2008 @06:38AM (#25410213) Journal

    I would not be in favour of this at all.

    The system we have in our home is simple, the computer is in the kitchen where everyone else is. To my mind that is the only sensible way to keep your children safe on the Internet. If they come across something that is unsuitable then we talk about it. That means they know what's dangerous and how to deal with it, and we know what they're getting involved in.

    Blocking access is just wrapping your kids in cotton wool - and when you can't do that any more, they suddenly become very vulnerable.

  • by Antony-Kyre (807195) on Friday October 17, 2008 @06:41AM (#25410229)

    Why is censorship of illegal material bad? If the material is illegal, why shouldn't it be censored?

    Can anyone make this argument? Because if the material is illegal in the first place, meaning you would normally get in trouble for accessing it, period, then a preemptive measure shouldn't harm you, logically.

    Cast aside the argument that it will make the Internet sluggish, because that argument will be nullified if technology and such improve enormously. Also cast aside the argument that it will be expensive to do, because what if we make it incredibly efficient?

    Also cast aside the false positives occurring, because what if they get it so refined that a false positive is a one in a million occurance. In such a way that the system works exactly as proposed, with no drawbacks (concerning false positives, network lag, etc.) whatsoever.

    I'm not defending censorship. I want someone to make a good argument.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by richie2000 (159732)

      Can you, assuming we are living in a modern democracy which purports to champion freedom of speech, tell me exactly what kind of material that should get someone in trouble for simply reading or watching it? Who would be trusted with deciding where to draw this line?

      / The Gestapo thought Anne Frank was a terrorist, producing illegal material.

    • by B5_geek (638928) on Friday October 17, 2008 @07:05AM (#25410351)

      Simple. Illegal information = Thought Crimes = A very bad thing!

      There is nothing wrong with information, it is what you do with that information that is crucial. Just because somebody get stabbed with a knife, you don't bad all steak knives do you? A screwdriver can be used to steal a car or build a house, it is a TOOL; just like information.

      Then that brings us to to the fact that no filtering software works 100% so you get:

      (A) legit websites get blocked too
      (B) "Bad Stuff" still gets through

      When this happens, what is the point of filtering it anyway?

      Another issue with all laws: People and opinions change, so what is illegal today, might be perfectly acceptable in 40 years. We don't think twice about letting women vote, or mixed-colour couples getting married, or even in some places same-sex marriages. Public opinion changes, but only with information.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by thermian (1267986)

      Its not what they want to censor now, its just that such laws and methods tend to get misapplied later. For example, sites which criticize the current administration in a not too nice way could be added to the list, or sites which recall 'uncomfortable truths' about a countries past. All they have to do is justify it to themselves.

      Laws and government policies which cover such wide topics often get misapplied. Here in the UK, laws passed to fight terrorism just got used to impound money from failing Icelandi

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by sakdoctor (1087155)

      Are you ignorant or just playing devils advocate?
      All the reasons you "cast aside" can't just be ignored. There will always be false positives, and it will always cost the tax payer money.

      First off, what is so sacred about legality? The law is not set in stone, it's constantly being updated, and varies wildly from location to location. I believe all knowledge to be ultimately good, and censorship will necessarily trample on that. It's digital book burning plain and simple.

      Information about illegal Drug, bomb

    • by HungryHobo (1314109) on Friday October 17, 2008 @09:08AM (#25411213)

      "Where one burns books, one will soon burn people." --Heinrich Heine

      1:Censorship of any kind is the same as book burning, it serves to prevent people from accessing information which precludes any reasonable consideration of the topic.
      Want to bet whether forums where people discuss whether whatever material you name as evil should be blocked will suddenly become inaccessiable?

      2:Once you've got a computer sitting listening in on everyones connections and blocking illegal content it's very very tempting to listen for other things. Express an unpopular political opinion with someone listening in on your line and you might very well get your door/head kicked in.

      3:Parallels with groups which used to be treated similarly. Go back a few decades and groups seen as perverts were subjected to the same treatment, books protraying gays as anything other than evil were burned/censored.Hell, gays were burned along with the books in some countries.

      4: It's very very tempting to add sites which you don't like to the list. If you give *government figure* the keys to the database of blocked sites then *government figure* might very well add *site critical of government figure* to the database as one of the -statisticly insignificant- false positives. Sites critical of some of the major blacklist publishers are often themselves blacklisted.

      5: How do you know if you're being fed bullshit? China built it's firewall to "protect" people from the "harmful" content on the internet. What's to stop them from adding more and more and more to the list of things which make up "illegal content" which is of course perfectly OK to block. Until everything your local minister wouldn't like is on the list. The blocking system is there, everyone with a pet peeve will want to get their *thing they hate* added to the list.

      6:Ultimatly it can all be defeated by technical means, the illegal content just sinks deeper, it doesn't disappear.

      7: Comparison to physical situation, imagine being forced by law to wear a headset which blacks out your vision whenever it thinks you are looking at something which the makers of the device considered you shouldn't be looking at. Imagine such a device getting introduced as a measure to stop peeping toms and creepy old men in parks who stare at children. Never mind the tiny proportion of the population who get unlucky as it blacks out their vision while they're doing something totally blameless like driving.
      Does this seem reasonable?
      Stealing is illegal, should someone invent an implant which makes it physicly impossible for you to steal how happy would you be about wearing it? It's for your own good! it would just stop you from accidentally stealing things which would help you! Does this seem reasonable?

      Peeping on people showering without their consent is illegal just like looking at child porn or stealing is illegal and if you get caught you're in trouble, this doesn't mean we have to blindfold/hobble everyone. The responsibility- the choice, to break the law or not is an individuals.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 1u3hr (530656)
      Also cast aside the false positives occurring

      No, you CANNOT do that. It is IMPOSSIBLE to not have false positives.

      They can't do it now when they're testing it. If it goes online and suddenly thousands of people are trying to circumvent it, would it magically get better?

      How on earth could the billions of webpages online at any money be classified correctly?

      How will you stop malicious people planting "illegal" content on a site (eg, attaching to a forum post), the reporting the site to have it blocked

  • Phew (Score:3, Funny)

    by Daimanta (1140543) on Friday October 17, 2008 @06:46AM (#25410251) Journal

    Thank God I live in good old England where this surely won't happen.

  • At least we'll have something worth exporting. I'm sure lots of other countries will be only too happy to buy our blacklists which we have meticulously researched.

    except... we'll probably just be importing them from somewhere else...

  • The more I read about these things, of how internet access is being limited, the more I think there should be a general encryption protocol that could be applied to data traveling on the internet. Sort of like SSL, but without the certificate authorities (webs of trust instead, perhaps? Or some magic P2P technology).

    The point of such a protocol would be to make opaque all traffic going on so that it's impossible to say what it's getting (and perhaps with proxies, where it's going or where it's coming from
  • I did some research earlier in the year and decided that the filtering would either be ineffective due to humans attempting to maintain blacklists, or would result in a ridiculous amount of false positives (as quoted in the summary). And no opt-out? Yipes. I certainly hope this is the hand-picked blacklist that was the original proposition... but I really don't think they'll get anywhere with it. After all, it's alt.binaries you really have to worry about. On a more serious note, Rudd was in China jabbe
  • No more pantomimes in Australia - well, not "Dick Whittington" anyway.
  • Two lists (Score:4, Funny)

    by ark1 (873448) on Friday October 17, 2008 @07:52AM (#25410675)
    "users can switch between two blacklists which block content inappropriate for children, and a separate list which blocks illegal material" Does this mean illegal material is appropriate for children?
  • Walled gardens? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by OmniChamp (874914) on Friday October 17, 2008 @09:51AM (#25411699)
    So people have touched upon censorship, but in the big picture, is this a future trend? China's current implementation of the Great Firewall and now this? This may have a larger impact than most people think and I'm not big on fear mongering. Reduction of the access and free exchange of information breaks down the fundamental usefulness of the internet and if greater organizations (I say organizations because even if a country doesn't do it, but ISP monopolies worldwide do, the results are similar) continue down this path the internet will devolve into something resembling television: a passive experience with controlled and filtered inputs and outputs.

    Last tin-foil hat thought: The reason I'm concerned about this is that I've been confident that these attempts to censor or filter the internet in the past were futile because, like water confronting a rock in its path, the information will flow around the damage. But if things go the way of "1984", the general public just won't know of any better if they are brought up in a filtered environment and what they're missing. I'm straining my memory, but I believe in Orwell's book, they removed terms to describe dissent or hatefulness so that people would be unable to express their dissatisfaction. AOL users thought that their world WAS, in fact, the internet until they changed ISPs.

    Alright I'm digressing. If I lived in Australia, I would fight tooth and nail against this. To redirect the "Think of the Children" play, even if they are not subject to illegal or lewd material early on, it's still out there. A more reasonable action would be educating in school safe surfing of the web, how to determine reliable and unreliable sources and proper teaching of ethics in a more subjective and technologically advanced world. My last example is this: Would you rather have teach someone walking down the street why its important not to break into someone's house or line the doors and windows with spikes and barbwire? Think of the children!!!!

    /rant over. I'm getting some coffee.
  • China (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Godji (957148) on Friday October 17, 2008 @10:44AM (#25412393) Homepage
    And this is different from the Great Firewall of Chine how?

    Not that being similar to the GFC makes it any more acceptable of course.
  • Finland (Score:3, Interesting)

    by weicco (645927) on Friday October 17, 2008 @01:08PM (#25414643)

    Welcome to Finland! We already have secret filter lists that saves us from all the kiddie porn in the internet.

    Hey, wait! It doesn't! It just blocks DNS queries to kiddie porn websites. I'm sure no-one will never ever figure out how to set up DNS server of their own or use P2P networks...

    Funny thing about this law is that it is written so that it can only concern foreign websites containing illegal child porn material but actually it is used to block gayporn websites and domestic websites criticizing the law. And because filter lists are kept secret we really don't know what else is blocked. About those two we at least have some evidence. Well, they also managed to block japanese music shop in the process ;)

    Oh. And did I mention that they are trying to broaden this filterings stuff to concern copyrighted (other than kiddie porn) material also?

    So let me tell you again! Welcome to Finland - where Orwell lives and is well!

  • 4chan and friends (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sibko (1036168) on Friday October 17, 2008 @09:13PM (#25420871)
    So, how much do you want to bet that website like 4chan, 7chan, 99chan, 420chan, anonib, etc. etc. are all blocked as 'illegal' websites?

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