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Censorship Government The Internet News Politics

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 Xest (935314) on Friday October 17, 2008 @05:00AM (#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.

  • Re:WTF?! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wrmrxxx (696969) on Friday October 17, 2008 @05:12AM (#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 @05:15AM (#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:WTF?! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Bifurcati (699683) on Friday October 17, 2008 @05:17AM (#25410105) Homepage
    Thanks for the link - very useful! Mod parent up.
  • Re:WTF?! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by theaveng (1243528) on Friday October 17, 2008 @05:17AM (#25410109)

    >>>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:2, Insightful)

    by Jaysyn (203771) <jaysyn+slashdot@NoSPAm.gmail.com> on Friday October 17, 2008 @05:32AM (#25410197) Homepage Journal

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

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

    by PinkyDead (862370) on Friday October 17, 2008 @05:38AM (#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 @05:41AM (#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.

  • by richie2000 (159732) <rickard.olsson@gmail.com> on Friday October 17, 2008 @05:53AM (#25410295) Homepage Journal

    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.

  • Re:WTF?! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by QuoteMstr (55051) <dan.colascione@gmail.com> on Friday October 17, 2008 @06:00AM (#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:WTF?! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Whiteox (919863) <htcstech@gmREDHATail.com minus distro> on Friday October 17, 2008 @06:03AM (#25410331) Journal

    There are other political parties out there that will fix the issues: Try the LDP:
    http://www.ldp.org.au/federal/policies/index.html [ldp.org.au]

    I'm sure I can get a policy statement from them if I try hard enough...

  • by B5_geek (638928) on Friday October 17, 2008 @06:05AM (#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.

  • by thermian (1267986) on Friday October 17, 2008 @06:06AM (#25410361)

    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 Icelandic banks. Didn't take long to justify using them out of their intended area, nor will it take long to misuse these blacklists.

  • by B5_geek (638928) on Friday October 17, 2008 @06:09AM (#25410395)

    Age of consent varies from one country to another. Who's rule is right?

  • Re:WTF?! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by omeomi (675045) on Friday October 17, 2008 @06:35AM (#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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 17, 2008 @06:54AM (#25410683)

    I'll repeat the GP's question:

    tell me exactly what kind of material that should get someone in trouble for simply reading or watching it?

    And I do not mean legal trouble, because that's arbitrary. Even though we all seem to agree that watching KP is as bad as producing it, I don't understand why. And note that viewing KP is not the same as financially endorsing it. Using the MAFIAAs logic, actually pirating KP will kill the business...

    Child pornography featuring actual children. (Not computer generated.)

    To give you an example of the arbitrariness of legal systems: you are aware that viewing computer-generated KP is illegal in the UK?

  • Re:WTF?! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by digitalchinky (650880) <dtchky@gmail.com> on Friday October 17, 2008 @06:54AM (#25410687)

    I've seen a lot of posts from you, I guess it's your sig that I remember. Anyway, you're pretty hard line, I'd consider you as someone at the extremities on most topics. Don't be offended though, it's just an observation gleaned from a few hundred lines of text and subject to stereotype and various inaccuracies.

    I'm happy you are all for censorship (which is really to say that I don't care either way), and I'll defend your right to do whatever you please so long as it doesn't affect me. If you want to censor my own inane disgruntled rantings as a former secret 3 letter agency worker drone, then I'll be more than happy to censor your.... (insert whatever it is you hold most dearly)

    If you want to protect me from the ogrish of the world, don't bother. I don't need it. I'm big enough to handle my own affairs and sane enough to give my baby girl a happy and balanced childhood filled with pony's, daffodils, geek, and a sense of place and purpose within society. I can do this without the help of the government, so thanks anyway, but censorship is not for me.

  • Mudoch countries (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Presto Vivace (882157) <marshall@prestovivace.biz> on Friday October 17, 2008 @07:49AM (#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:3, Insightful)

    by edmicman (830206) on Friday October 17, 2008 @07:59AM (#25411123) Homepage Journal

    I can stand at the corner shouting kill all muslims, but if the authorities do nothing, then the muslims think that the authorities agree and that causes trouble for everybody.

    Yes, you can, and no, it doesn't. You can rightfully say anything you want, peaceably, and the government has NO authority otherwise. Sure, you have to pay the consequences from the person punching you in the face for being a racist bigot (and they, in turn face consequences for punching you in the face). But the government CANNOT keep you from expressing your opinion. Same for the newspaper - it's not censorship if the editor chooses not to publish goatse - that is their right and responsibility as a private entity.

  • Re:WTF?! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by theaveng (1243528) on Friday October 17, 2008 @08:01AM (#25411141)

    >>>So you're ok with child porn then ?

    No because involuntary sex is wrong (it's rape), but I don't have any objections to Nudist sites which feature family photos. God created the human body; there's no reason to censor his artistry.

  • by Lachlan Hunt (1021263) on Friday October 17, 2008 @08:04AM (#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:WTF?! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Pharmboy (216950) on Friday October 17, 2008 @08:05AM (#25411181) Journal

    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.

  • by HungryHobo (1314109) on Friday October 17, 2008 @08:08AM (#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:WTF?! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by theaveng (1243528) on Friday October 17, 2008 @08:14AM (#25411257)

    That's not censorship (blocking the source).

    It's filtering (blocking access at the destination).

    I have no objections to the latter, but STRONG objections to the former. I don't mind if you don't want to hear my ideas, but I do mind if you gag my mouth.

  • by 1u3hr (530656) on Friday October 17, 2008 @08:17AM (#25411293)
    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 for an indefinite period?

    You can't just assume it will be sorted out and go ahead. It will not. It hasn't in any country that has tried to do this.

    Those really trading in real "illegal" content will route around it. Some will certainly do so by hijacking legit sites, using them till they're blocked, and them moving on to another.

    The question is, what GOOD will it do? Bad guys will be mildly inconvenienced. The rest will have their connections slowed down and occasionally randomly blocked.

  • Re:WTF?! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 17, 2008 @08:20AM (#25411323)

    So you're ok with child porn then ?

    The images themselves? Fine, as long as I don't have to look at them. Keep them where they will only be found by those actually looking for them.

    As for the production of said images - that's a completely different matter, not related to censorship at all.

    You might disagree on it being a different matter, but look at other crimes. Hitting people with baseball bats are a crime. Showing footage of someone hitting people with baseball bats on the news is not. Outlawing that would be considered
    censorship by most people.

    Photographic evidence of a crime is not the same as the crime.

    Or your bank details appearing on the web ?

    No, because they are my business only. But if you wanted your bank details to appear on the web, they should not be censored for you. See the difference?

    Now, there is a relation between those two questions other than the censorship. The person in those pictures might not want them out there. However, them being out there does not harm said person (as opposed to abusing the bank details), only the knowledge of them being out there. However, censorship does not solve this point. The pictures are still out there, the knowledge that they exist are just the same. If you know or think that pictures were taken, you know someone somewhere is jacking off to them. If you are not aware that pictures were taken, you don't go looking for them.

  • Re:WTF?! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mdwh2 (535323) on Friday October 17, 2008 @08:31AM (#25411459) Journal

    Because there's never been any reduction of people's freedoms in the US lately...

  • Re:WTF?! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jandersen (462034) on Friday October 17, 2008 @08:34AM (#25411513)

    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 you are allowed to visit, it is no longer arbitrary, and the only way to get around it, as far as I can see, is by either proving that it is unconstitutional or by getting somebody elected that are willing to repeal this law.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 17, 2008 @09:05AM (#25411877)

    Looks like Australia is still a giant prison colony, eh?

    No wonder all you Aussies call each other "mates". It's short for "inmates".

    All you Aussies need to grow a pair, and rise up and fight your oppressive regime, or else you might as well continue to be sheep and invite the New Zealanders over to shear you too.

    Ever notice how the word colony contains "colon"?

  • by Cinnaman (954100) on Friday October 17, 2008 @09:08AM (#25411925)

    Strangely the discussion is more civilised here than at Ars Technica, hopefully this revelation will be the beginning of the end of the net filtering idea.
    When I first heard of it, it sounded like a valid way to make it easier for people with children to filter their internet, and there was an opt-out option (I really disliked the idea of opt-out rather than opt-in though).
    Now it sounds like it will turn us into a second great firewall of China, so I think the further this goes the more consternation will increase.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 17, 2008 @09:10AM (#25411955)

    "Due to the shotgun nature of blocking filters, there will be many pages wrongfully blocked."

    In a society that values freedom of speech, any page blocked is done so wrongfully.

  • Re:WTF?! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) <obsessivemathsfreak@ei r c o m .net> on Friday October 17, 2008 @09:18AM (#25412053) Homepage Journal

    So you're ok with child porn then ? Or your bank details appearing on the web ?

    At this point, Unequivocally, I say that; Yes I am willing to accept an internet, and a wider world, with child porn, Bank details, terrorists videos or what have you. Let me repeat my point. I would put up with any amount of child porn and pedophiles, any amount, before I would put up with taking one more step down the road that society is taking.

    People need to make a stand on this issue. People have to take away the ability for authoritarians and enemies of free society to use certain words, concepts and arguments as unassailable and irrefutable weapons. The Taboo of countering these arguments must end.

    It's better that a thousand children be molested than one website blocked. You think this idea is shocking? I think this image is more shocking [wikipedia.org]. And make no mistake, this image is exactly where our society is headed if we allow our honest protests to be silenced with no more than a single word.

    If you think I'm being too radical, I'll leave you with a Frederick Douglas quote to chew on: "Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground."

  • China (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Godji (957148) on Friday October 17, 2008 @09:44AM (#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.
  • by Talla (95956) on Friday October 17, 2008 @09:58AM (#25412577)

    > Wow, a couple of networks may at some point be wrongly blocked by mistake for a short period of time till the mistake is identified.

    You REALLY believe these mistakes will happen seldom and be fixed quickly? You must be new here.

  • by lysergic.acid (845423) on Friday October 17, 2008 @10:27AM (#25413047) Homepage

    yes, because free health care is exactly like government censorship. how dare the government take away one's right to be too poor to afford medical treatment.

    let's do away with public education too. after all, the Nazi government killed millions of Jews. so how can we ever trust the government with anything?

    let's just abandon all notions of a civil society because a single undemocratic decision to impose government censorship on the internet. that makes much more sense than exercising your moral prerogative as a member of a democratic society and protesting such violations of fundamental civil liberties. i mean, why participate in the democratic process when you can instead sit back and be a passive observer and simply blame everything on "the government" when things go bad? it's not like it's up to the people to make sure the government serves public interest.

  • Re:WTF?! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Sperbels (1008585) on Friday October 17, 2008 @10:40AM (#25413239)

    What protects us is that the army is made up of citizens who (we hope) believe in freedom, democracy, and (hopefully) take their oath to uphold the Constitution [1] seriously. The army would mutiny if it were ordered to occupy, say, New York City and enforce blatantly anti-Constitutional laws. That is what protects freedom in America. Not my guns, not the promises of politicians, but the simple fact that our army is made up of us

    Ask yourself this...if there is a large group of people united in a just cause...and the government is willing to use force to pacify them...the military is just going to pop some tear gas in there and the problem is taken care. When the people are armed it's not so easy. You have to escalate matters to a whole new level. The military will be willing to pacify these unarmed people on a whim (just as the police do now). But if the people are armed, it requires deadly force to pacify them. The politicians giving the orders, and military personel doing the violent pacifying suddenly need a damn good reason to do it. If things ever got so bad that large portions of the population were willing to take up arms against the US government, a population carrying pitchforks could easily be dismissed. An armed population could not. Lastly, it's NOT futile for a bunch of people armed with hunting rifles to take on a modern military. It's called guerrilla warfare and small bands of people employ it against large technologically advanced armies all the time and having been doing it for centuries... with varying degrees of success.

    During Saddam Hussein's dictatorial regime an Iraqi could walk into a gun shop and buy an AK-47 with the full auto function enabled. By your argument, therefore, Iraq under Saddam should have been a very free place, but you'll note that it wasn't

    You're making the assumption that Saddam was so bad that the people were willing to risk their lives to overthrow him. Maybe the majority of people were willing to live with things as they were...especially considering Saddam's history of gassing whole towns to quell an uprising.

  • by MoonBuggy (611105) on Friday October 17, 2008 @10:50AM (#25413401) Journal

    Actually what I'd say is even more worrying is that it won't annoy 'everyone' with the false positives. Sure, if a site like YouTube, or Gmail or even Slashdot were blocked there would be outcry, but what about all those little sites that might be blocked or might just be down? What about the single page on the whole internet with the obscure information you need that's been up on some university server since 1996?

    I'd be much more inclined to believe that you'll just get a generic error bounced to your browser than an actual redirect explaining that the government required blocking is filtering out the page you want. How are you going to know what you're missing out on and what's really not there? That's perhaps an even greater worry - once they do have this in place it'd be very easy to make the whole system effectively invisible to the vast majority of users. Few people (at least nobody considered worth listening to, unfortunately) will complain about something they don't notice.

  • Re:WTF?! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Friday October 17, 2008 @12:13PM (#25414699) Homepage Journal

    Puritanism in the general sense -- "the desperate fear that someone, somewhere, is having a good time" -- seems to be a trait that pops up in just about every type of authoritarian system. Authoritarians of the right, authoritarians of the left, and authoritarians with no discernable political philosophy other than maintaining their own power all seem to put an inordinate amount of effort into "protecting the morals" of the societies they control. A good measure of a government's attitude toward freedom in general is its attitude toward sex and other pleasures of the body.

    Honestly, I think it's a bit of a stretch to blame American small-p puritanism on those grim old pilgrims. The Mayflower landed almost four hundred years ago; a lot has changed since then, and the descendents of the Puritans are now held up as models of licentiousness and decadence by the descendants of Cavaliers ... Australia has a history almost as long and just as tangled. Whatever a country's origins, the people who live there now constitute their own society, and history informs but in no way determines how that society works.

  • by vtcodger (957785) on Friday October 17, 2008 @01:08PM (#25415485)

    ***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 "undesirable"sites via false negatives. One might think that only the very clever or very bored will be able to master that. But in fact, kids talk to one another. The URL of any porn site that is not blocked will probably be known by 50% of the 13 year old males (and 20% of the 13 year old females) on your continent within 3.4 days of its discovery by any one of them.

    Filters are a really dubious idea. They are expensive to buy, expensive to administer, and don't work very well. The concept probably is not fixable although the volume of available material could be cut substantially and cheaply by things like .xxx domains.

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

    by Sibko (1036168) on Friday October 17, 2008 @08:13PM (#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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