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Australian Government Censorship 'Worse Than Iran' 516

Posted by timothy
from the but-the-people-there-are-so-nice dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Australian Government's plan to Censor the Internet is producing problems for ISPs, with filters causing speeds to drop by up to 86% and falsely blocking 10% of safe sites. The Government Minister in charge of the censorship plan, Conservative Stephen Conroy, has been accused of bullying ISP employees critical of his plan: 'If people equate freedom of speech with watching child pornography, then the Rudd Labor Government is going to disagree.'" Read on for more, including an interesting approach to demonstrating the inevitable collision of automated censorship with common sense.
The same reader continues: "Conroy's plan involves censoring at the ISP level to product 'Child-safe' Internet feeds. Initially he said that adults would be able to opt out. He since reversed that position, saying instead they can only go onto an 'Adult-safe' feed censoring 'illegal material', which another senator warned could include 'euthanasia material, politically related material, material about anorexia.' Colin Jacobs of Electronic Frontiers Australia said 'I'm not exaggerating when I say that this model involves more technical interference in the internet infrastructure [note: forum membership required] than what is attempted in Iran, one of the most repressive and regressive censorship regimes in the world.'"

Another anonymous reader suggests this answer to the proposed clone of China's great firewall: "Some of the tested systems use md5 hashes to find illegal content. As proof of concept, how long will it take Slashdot users to create an image with the md5 hash of 5ff742a58529efa02ba00ec8fa2e89bf? This md5 was picked because it is the hash of the current picture of the Prime Minister on his party's web site. A couple of points: The created image should be a jpg. It must be safe for work. It needs the correct MD5. It shouldn't break modern browsers. Its copyright should be free." Any takers?
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Australian Government Censorship 'Worse Than Iran'

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  • Come on already (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kaos07 (1113443) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @11:24PM (#25492937)
    Pretty much everyone in Australia knows this is not actually going to get implemented. The Australian EFF are just enjoying having their moment in the sun. There's no reason to have another story on the exact same topic every few days.
    • Re:Come on already (Score:5, Interesting)

      by deniable (76198) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @11:37PM (#25493073)

      That and Conroy is too busy getting caught rigging Senate hearings over Treasury issues. My worry is he'll push this to get some cover from the other stuff-ups.

    • by Xiroth (917768) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @11:42PM (#25493117)

      An amusing quote from the relevent Wikipedia article [wikipedia.org]:

      Internet censorship in Australia is largely the province of the Federal Government and its laws on Internet censorship are, theoretically, amongst the most restrictive in the Western world. However, the restrictive nature of the laws has been combined with almost complete disinterest in enforcement from the agencies responsible for doing so.

    • Re:Come on already (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Legume (257598) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @11:44PM (#25493139)

      Pretty much everyone in Australia knows this is not actually going to get implemented.

      I wish I could share your optimism. I'd guess most people in Australia are more-or-less oblivious to the whole thing. "Anything that stops those nasty paedopiraterrorists is a good thing, right?"

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Starayo (989319)
        What you have to do is throw some very large numbers at them instead of the small percentages.

        I for one will be "writing" to Sen. Conroy and Co, once I figure out how one "writes" a "letter". I've also been plugging this [nocleanfeed.com] to everyone that'll listen, which is a surprising amount of people. Once you throw the aforementioned numbers at them, and tell them they're paying for this crackpot's scheme, they start to get rather irate about it.
    • Re:Come on already (Score:5, Interesting)

      by teh moges (875080) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @11:44PM (#25493141) Homepage
      Actually I don't know that. Sure, labor governments have a long history of not finishing projects either on time or at all, but this project is just stupid enough to actually be implemented.

      I voted for them at the last election, based mainly on their other policies. I knew that the filtering was something they were going to do, but if I had of know it was going to be this bad, I would of changed my vote.

      Conroy has to get with the times and to stop using the 'nothing to hide' argument (in another light here: if you don't agree with us, they you are a pedo).

      I'll point out here, but this is aimed at Enderandrew's post a couple down. Australian's don't have the right to free speech. We have a concept of free speech and there are some laws supporting it, but its nowhere near the level that America does.
      • by Freaky Spook (811861) on Friday October 24, 2008 @12:24AM (#25493489)
        Conroy has to get with the times and to stop using the 'nothing to hide' argument (in another light here: if you don't agree with us, they you are a pedo). That itself is a completley flawed argument because of the way child porn is distributed. The internet is used to move porn yes, but its largely not through HTTP/HTTPS, and there is no kiddyporn.com webserver to be blocked. ISP WEB filtering won't work. With services like SFTP, Tor, DC++, bit torrent and other encrypted forms of transmission and private networks, these filters will make no difference at all. I've written to Stephen Conroy and his office by letter and email at least a half a dozen times and received nothing but silence on the issue, even my local member doesn't respond on this issue. I also don't understand why this is such an issue, the previous government launched an internet saftey awareness campaign and offered FREE content filtering applications for every Australian if they wanted it, and this program was not well received, highlighting the fact that really most Australians don't care or are satisfied they can control their children's access without them. To me this appears to be nothing more then a government initiated campaign to restrict our access to information, and if it passes, this will be a very sad day for Australia.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by QuantumG (50515) *

          Yes, you can forget the technical effectiveness arguments though. The government's response is "does that mean we shouldn't try?" They've got nothing to lose.

        • by CrypticKev (1322247) on Friday October 24, 2008 @01:38AM (#25494119)
          Society today has a minority of very vocal wowser extremists. Either to shut them up or because they are in influential positions, the governments do what these individuals/minorities want rather than what the general population wants. This mass internet filtering amounts to putting the entire country into jail for the crimes of a few - and as others have noted, it son't stop anything. All it'll do is give the wowser extermists & pollies a warm fuzzy feeling for a very short time until they realise it didn't work - then they'll try and tighten the screws even harder.
    • Even if it did... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Fluffeh (1273756) on Friday October 24, 2008 @12:01AM (#25493287)
      The issue here is to stop people access child porn. While I hate to be a black sheep, if you take speed away from a speed addict, they turn to meth or cocaine. You take ecstasy away from an addict and they turn to heroin.

      What will pedophiles turn to if you take child porn away from their browsers at home?

      Personally, if something like this ever went through, I would become more worried about kids on the street.

      Put offenders into rehabilitation, or stop their contact or do something with a little common sense. This sort of knee jerk reaction solves nothing and generally creates more trouble than anything.
      • Re:Even if it did... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by MikeBabcock (65886) <mtb-slashdot@mikebabcock.ca> on Friday October 24, 2008 @01:18AM (#25493957) Homepage Journal

        The very few studies I've seen about child porn users/viewers is that there's no link between that habit and their personal likelihood to abuse actual children.

        That said, they'll find their taste in porn somewhere, its just very unlikely according to current data that they'd go abuse children to get it.

        • Re:Even if it did... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by rtb61 (674572) on Friday October 24, 2008 @02:22AM (#25494387) Homepage

          More to the point, who should they really be pursuing, the deranged viewer or the sadistic photographer. Of course the reality is it has nothing to do with child porn, or terrorism it is all about control. Control what people can read, controlling what people can say, controlling dissent, controlling criticism of those in power of being able to take control of the public mind scape to promote what profits them most.

          At least they have giving up of the lie of trying to make an internet designed for adults suitable for toddlers. A bit hard to say content suitable for a 17 year old is also suitable for a 5 year old, precisely to what level do they really intend to censor the internet. Most important of all how much is going to cost, what corporations will be profiting by it, who will be sued for illegally blocking legal sites and, who will profit by illegally blocking legal sites.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dropadrop (1057046)

        The issue here is to stop people access child porn. While I hate to be a black sheep, if you take speed away from a speed addict, they turn to meth or cocaine. You take ecstasy away from an addict and they turn to heroin. What will pedophiles turn to if you take child porn away from their browsers at home? Personally, if something like this ever went through, I would become more worried about kids on the street. Put offenders into rehabilitation, or stop their contact or do something with a little common sense. This sort of knee jerk reaction solves nothing and generally creates more trouble than anything.

        A similar filter has been applied in Finland a year or two ago, and just a month ago there was an article that police investigations on child abuse have increased dramatically. Now there was no mention of a link to the filtering in these child abuse articles, and I have doubts that the filtering is actually causing this rise, but it's definately an interesting coincidence.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        citation needed,

        Whats an ecstasy addict? ok there are people who will snort and sniff anything going but they tend to be a minority. Most recreational drug users wouldn't go near heroin.

        What will Peodophiles turn too if they can't get child porn through their browser?

        The kids knicker section in a catalog maybe.

        It's still wanking material to them i would have thought.

        Viewers of adult porn don't usually go out and become rapists do they?
        Most people are aware of the potential consequences of breaking t

        • Hmm (Score:5, Informative)

          by Brian Ribbon (986353) on Friday October 24, 2008 @09:41AM (#25496999) Journal

          You contradict yourself....

          "Viewers of adult porn don't usually go out and become rapists do they?", then "your implication that blocking child porn would increase child abuse doesn't seem credible, in fact it is more likely to reduce it. The current situation probably tends to lead pedophiles to believe that their mindset is relatively normal which is far more dangerous to children."

          In reality, most paedophiles don't molest children for the same reasons that most men don't rape women. Even those who think that sex with children is inherently harmless avoid sexual contact because of the effects of a socio-legal response for both themselves and children. From Freel (2003 [oxfordjournals.org]):

          "[..] an expressed sexual interest in children does not infer actual perpretation. Indeed, the empirical evidence suggests that a much smaller number of men actually abuse children. There are significantly more men who express a sexual interest in children than there are actual perpetrators. This suggests the presence of inhibitors that stop men acting on their sexual interest."

          I suspect that blocking internet access to child pornography would increase rates of child sexual abuse, but not necessarily in the way many would imagine. Digital storage and distribution means that any scannable or digital material can survive forever and be distributed on a much wider scale than would be possible without the internet. This means that there will be less interest in new material being produced, which is obviously a good thing if the material in question is child pornography.

          There will clearly be some paedophiles who would abuse children regardless, but they are in a tiny minority of what is a large but hidden demographic of paedophiles.

          "The current situation probably tends to lead pedophiles to believe that their mindset is relatively normal which is far more dangerous to children."

          What "current situation" are you referring to? I am a paedophile, I know that paedophilia is normal, but I don't molest children. Believing that a fantasy is normal doesn't mean that one considers acting on the fantasy to be acceptable. Freel's research also shows that:

          "If someone is fully inhibited from sexually abusing children, no amount of emotional congruence, sexual arousal, or blockage will lead them to abuse children."

          From Hall, et al (1995 [ipce.info]):

          Consistent with previous data (Barbaree & Marshall, 1989; Briere & Runtz, 1989; Fedora et al., 1992; Freund & Watson, 1991), 20 % of the current subjects self-reported pedophilic interest and 26.25 % exhibited penile arousal to pedophilic stimuli that equaled or exceeded arousal to adult stimuli.

          [..]

          Eighty subjects completed the study. [..] Twenty-six subjects [approximately 33%] exhibited sexual arousal to the child slides that equaled or exceeded their arousal to the adult slides.

          [..]

          a sizable minority of men in normal populations who have not molested children may exhibit pedophilic fantasies and arousal. In recent studies, 12 to 32% of community college samples of men reported sexual attraction to children (B &R, 1989, H,G & C. 1990) or exhibited penile response to pedophilic stimuli (B&M, 1989, F et al, 1992, F&L, 1989, F & W, 1989). Thus, arousal to pedophilic stimuli does not necessarily correspond with pedophilic behavior (Hall, 1990; Schouten & Simon, 1992), although there are arguments to the contrary (Quinsey & Laws, 1990).

          "citation needed"

          If you're referring to the argument that most child porn viewers don't molest children, see a collection of quotes here [newgon.com]

      • by kklein (900361) on Friday October 24, 2008 @05:43AM (#25495443)
        Ecstasy "addicts?" Going to heroin? Do you even know what these drugs are?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Urza9814 (883915)

      So we should ignore everything that we don't think they'll actually have the balls to do? Sorry, but that logic makes no sense to me. The entire reason it won't get done is because people will get so outraged over it. If nobody says anything, they'll figure nobody cares and do it.

    • Re:Come on already (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Jacques Chester (151652) on Friday October 24, 2008 @01:30AM (#25494051)

      It's a sop to the Family First party Senator, Fielding. His mob are convinced porn is the Devil's Work. Idle playthings and all that.

      To pass legislation in the Senate, the government needs its votes, plus the Greens, plus Nick Xenophon, plus Fielding. This is their way of trying to suck up to Fielding.

      The last round of internet censorship laws came about when the previous government was sucking up to another god-bothering Senator who held the balance of power in his own right.

      While the Greens are likely to strike this legislation down, it's important to stop it being introduced in the first place. You never know when Family First might get the balance of power -- so you want to teach major-party politicians the lesson that the Internet is a no-touch subject, thus stopping it from ever gaining traction in the *lower house*.

      That's why the EFF campaign is important.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 23, 2008 @11:25PM (#25492947)
    It's time to pick up stakes and move to Iran, that fabled land of freedom and tolerance--a shining country upon a hill.
    • The parent post is caustic, but on-topic, and even insightful. The title of this story is, "Australian government censorship worse than Iran." That is a strong -- and odd -- claim indeed. Why would the story compair censorship based on a religion against the arbitrary censorship of a fear-mongering government? Apples and oranges.

      Furthermore, I disagree with the title. Forced filtering of the internet is nothing like government control of political speach. If the Australian government were forbidding discus
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by fabs64 (657132)

        'Worse Than Iran' is in quotes precisely because it's a quote. Doing this with a headline is fairly common practice in all forms of media.

      • by Jacques Chester (151652) on Friday October 24, 2008 @01:35AM (#25494091)

        It is not FUD. The scheme proposed requires total interception of web traffic. That is more than Iran does, and puts us in the same league as the Great Firewall of China.

        The point is not *what* is being filtered, it is that it is being filtered at all. Doing so is incredibly intrusive, has a deadening effect on free speech, and leaves open the door to police-state control of Australians' internet connectivity. We're supposed to be better than that.

        As an aside, political speech is protected by the Constitution, according to the High Court of Australia.

        Which raises an interesting point about whether this is constitutional, considering that this scheme will inevitably cause blocks to political speech due to false positives.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by DreamerFi (78710)

        If the Australian government were forbidding discussion of certain key political figures, or of certain religions, the claim world hold

        Aren't they? How do you know? They may claim they're not filtering that, but how do you know for sure? Since Connors is already comparing his critics to child pornography supporters, the step to block his critics is a very small one indeed.

  • Free speech (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrew&gmail,com> on Thursday October 23, 2008 @11:25PM (#25492955) Homepage Journal

    It is an absolute. Either you have it 100%, or you don't have it at all. And the idiots who think that censorship stops child pornography neither understand pedophiles nor censorship. It is akin to DRM, where you don't stop the problem (pirates/pedophiles/whatever) and instead punish everyone else.

    If you're upset by kiddie porn, then treat the problem. Don't shut off the internet.

    • Re:Free speech (Score:5, Insightful)

      by deep_creek (1001191) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @11:36PM (#25493059)
      kind of like actions against guns...
    • Re:Free speech (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TubeSteak (669689) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @11:39PM (#25493089) Journal

      If you're upset by kiddie porn, then treat the problem.

      And how exactly do you propose that governments go about doing that?
      Because I assure you, they'd be very interested in the answer.

      • Re:Free speech (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrew&gmail,com> on Thursday October 23, 2008 @11:44PM (#25493135) Homepage Journal

        I wish I had the answer, but if I were in charge I'd start with medical and psychological studies into pedophilia, and while sex offenders are the group most likely to repeat their crimes once released from prison.

        Locally I keep seeing cities passing laws saying sex offenders can't live in their towns. I see sex registry laws that are doubly-unconstitutional (ex post facto and double-jeopardy). The current plan seems to be shoving sex offenders away and pretending like that will solve anything.

        Chemical castration has worked in extreme cases, and if there is a medical issue with these offenders (biological or psychological) then you will most likely need to treat that problem. Instead of publicly vilifying these people, encourage them to seek out medical treatment anonymously before they victimize others.

        • Re:Free speech (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Jesus_666 (702802) on Friday October 24, 2008 @03:00AM (#25494591)
          Thank you. I thoguht I was the only person on the planet capable of applying rational thought to the issue.

          There's a very simple reason why the current approach doesn't do us ay good: Prohibition doesn't solve problems, at least not alone. It doesn't help when you prohibit alcohol or drugs - it just pushes the users underground, away from any legal control and it also causes them to commit secondary crimes to cover up their drug usage. It helps even less when you prohibit a part of someone's nature. You can't tell someone that everything he's into is illegal and expect him to magically turn off his sex drive.

          As prohibition and the vilification of the affected will not eliminate the problem but rather ensure that virtually all victims end up getting killed afterwards (as well as that there wil be victims in the first place) we really need to rethink some policies. Psychological support, self-help groups and maybe even the distribution of controlled-quality kiddie porn (= drawn or rendered with occasional governmental checks ensuring that no actual children are involved) could help reduce the problem and make paedophiles safe and stable members of society instead of sexually-repressed potential killer rapists.

          Of course that would require society to stop knee-jerking, think about a very emotional topic and treat the offenders as human beings - and as long as media like Fox News or the German BILD exist we are guarateed that won't happen, 1 GG be damned*.

          It's amazing how the people shouting "someone think of the children" are the ones whose policies are guaranteed to end up hurting children later on.


          * A reference to the first paragraph of the German Basic Law ("Grundgesetz"), which is our equivalent to a Constitution. 1 says: "Human dignity shall be inviolable. To respect and protect it shall be the duty of all state authority." If violating someone's dignity was directly punishable, the BILD editorial staff would have a debt of several billion Euros because of that alone.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        And how exactly do you propose that governments go about doing that? Because I assure you, they'd be very interested in the answer.

        Uh, no. That last thing any modern government wants to do is eliminate a source of fear in the population.

      • Re:Free speech (Score:5, Insightful)

        by 1u3hr (530656) on Friday October 24, 2008 @12:03AM (#25493309)
        If you're upset by kiddie porn, then treat the problem.
        And how exactly do you propose that governments go about doing that? Because I assure you, they'd be very interested in the answer.

        Find the people who MAKE it. That's when the damage is done, and the crimes are committed. If some people enjoy looking at such images, that may be repulsive, but no body is getting hurt. If you want to ban that, why allow gore and splatter movies and serial killer novels? Or disturbing (to your) news photos?

        Catching sad lonely guys who whack off over images on their PCs does absolutely nothing except make the cops feel they've done something. "500 arrested in Internet pedophile bust" makes a great headline. And except for destroying the lives of the 500, is nothing more than that.

        It's exactly like most responses to terrorism, (harassing Muslims, confiscating nail scissors and shampoo) completely futile in addressing the real dangers, while creating immense collateral damage.

    • Re:Free speech (Score:5, Informative)

      by deniable (76198) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @11:40PM (#25493095)

      You are correct. Australia doesn't have free speech, and never pretended otherwise.

    • Re:Free speech (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Haoie (1277294) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @11:43PM (#25493125) Homepage

      By that definition, any country that censors anything in the media/press, too, doesn't have free speech.

      So then, how to "treat the problem"?

  • by afaik_ianal (918433) * on Thursday October 23, 2008 @11:28PM (#25492985)

    The real story here is not that the government wants to censor the internet, but that the government has moved to gag a critic of the plan [smh.com.au].

    I think the anonymous reader in the final paragraph of the summary needs to read up a little on the MD5 vulnerability. It's possible to generate two files with the same hash containing a 16-byte block of differing code (where you have no control over the contents of that block in either file), but the rest of the file needs to be identical to the original. That's fine for dynamically generated HTML or even executables where a decision could be made on the contents of the varying block, but doing anything useful with jpeg is a pretty tough ask. Or are they suggesting we brute force it?

  • by Dracophile (140936) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @11:30PM (#25492997)
    1. Cup your hands. That's the filter.
    2. Pour water into your cupped hands. That's the internet.
    3. Drop some blue dye into the water. That's the naughty bits.
    4. If any blue gets through your hands, you lose.
    5. ???
    6. Profit!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      When I got to step 3, I let the water slip through my fingers in order to pick up the blue dye dropper. None of the blue dye made it through my fingers. Do I lose?

  • by leereyno (32197) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @11:30PM (#25493003) Homepage Journal

    In a Democracy, the people get the government they deserve.

    The idea of censoring the internet, especially for the laughable justification that its "for the children" simply indicates to me that the people of Australia need to start taking responsibility for their government and elect candidates who will not pull this kind of crap.

    Don't get fooled into thinking that "the government" did this. It was the people of Australia who elected politicians who are doing it. It is up to the people of Australia to un-elect those politicians, by force if necessary.

    • by catsidhe (454589) <catsidheNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday October 23, 2008 @11:56PM (#25493257) Homepage

      Ahh, yeah. Actually, we voted out the previous Government Most Likely To Censor The Intarwebs in favour of this lot, on the basis that of the two evils this one was lesser.

      I mean, sure, I'd love a Greens-majority parliament -- I even voted that way -- but given achievable goals, getting RatBastard Howard the hell out of power was pretty good too.

      Now we just have to convince our not-as-bad-as-the-other-lot parliamentarians exactly how stunningly bad this idea is, and that this was not one of the things they have a mandate for.

      (Actually, that's one of the things that pisses me off most about the party-based government systems: you can't vote for specific policies, you either pick the Liberal package, or the Labor package (Labour/Tory, Dem/GOP, whatever). If one party is better than the other on most accounts, and has some really stupid ideas as well, then -- given that the other party has its own stupid ideas -- there's no way to tell them "Don't get cocky, we voted for you on the basis that you don't try that"... until it's too late. Or unless there is a huge popular outcry, which is what we're doing, so if you're going to bitch about us 'taking responsibility' for our government, then watch closely: this is what it looks like.)

    • by VShael (62735) on Friday October 24, 2008 @04:44AM (#25495167) Journal

      Don't get fooled into thinking that "the government" did this. It was the people of Australia who elected politicians who are doing it. It is up to the people of Australia to un-elect those politicians, by force if necessary.

      You know, that's a wonderfully simplistic view of the situation, that doesn't really match reality.

      Take Ireland as an example in this topic. The country has a national referendum on whether to ratify the Lisbon Treaty. They say No. The Government wants to ratify it but the people have spoken. However, every single major political party is for the treaty. And they will pass it regardless of the wishes of the people. There is no credible political party which is anti-Lisbon, even though the majority of the population doesn't want Lisbon.

      The problem is, people choose a party based on more than just one position. And it can happen that there is simply no other option for the public.

      If Australia had a legitimate opposition party, perhaps measures like this would not continue, because the public could go to the other party on this issue. But I suspect Australia doesn't have much of an opposition. Like America, the opposition is only different on wedge issues, like immigrants and gay marriage. This is the illusion of choice.

      Like a magician that says "Pick a card, any card" and you wind up picking the one he wants, we are told "Pick a party, any party" and we get shafted.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 23, 2008 @11:34PM (#25493041)

    Hi,

    First time posting a reply so be kind :)
    The Australian Federal Election last year was the first one I had actually voted in (I'm 21).
    I am now sad to say that after watching what has occurred in australia in relation to the NBN (National Broadband Network) and this...filter, I am seriously believing that I made the wrong choice in voting for Labor.

    This is an absolute disaster...I was always under the impression that no matter who got into power here, neither side would actually attempt such a radical censorship let alone be completely willing to implement it.

    Does anyone have any ideas on what little me can do to perhaps turn this around? Writing / calling Conroy or my local MP perhaps?

    Kind Regards,

    Eliminatrix

  • Child pornography? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by eebra82 (907996) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @11:38PM (#25493079) Homepage
    After reading the article, it seems like the entire point of this law is to prohibit users from accessing child pornography.

    Here's what I don't understand: why should the overwhelming majority suffer because of a few perpetrators? And ultimately, blocking child pornography accessibility doesn't help the root of the problem. The offenders will still be there. It's like blocking conventional pornography to fight the sex addicts, but people won't stop being horny just because of that.
  • by Talez (468021) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @11:42PM (#25493113)

    Anything outside of Australia I'll route over a VPN to a VPS in the states.

  • by fabs64 (657132) <beaufabry+slashdot,org&gmail,com> on Thursday October 23, 2008 @11:50PM (#25493187)

    Two fundamental design features of the multiple networks that make up the internet are "transparent encapsulation", and "path redundancy". The upshot of this design is that no filtering mechanism can prevent *simple* circumvention. None. It is simply not possible given the way in which the technology is implemented.
    For the case of parents attempting to stop children looking at pornography this is not a drastic issue, as children likely will not know how this circumvention can be achieved.
    Once you are attempting to filter out "illegal content" however, you have entered a whole new realm of pointlessness. If someone is attempting to access illegal material on the internet, they are presumably already technically savvy enough to find such material, and so will have no problems at all circumventing any filtering mechanism.

    The point being, the government is currently opening itself up to vocal criticism over the implementation of a filter that will not actually do anything. That does not seem particularly clever.

    Presumably it will get worse once the money has been wasted on the filter and videos explaining how to circumvent it start popping up on youtube.

    I sincerely urge you to rethink this technologically naive and fundamentally flawed plan.

    end

    I realise some of this is mostly just magical handwaving. But I was trying to get my point across.

  • by Jimmy_B (129296) <.gro.hmodnarmij. .ta. .todhsals.> on Thursday October 23, 2008 @11:52PM (#25493213) Homepage

    As proof of concept, how long will it take Slashdot users to create an image with the md5 hash of 5ff742a58529efa02ba00ec8fa2e89bf?

    Barring a major advance in cryptography theory, at least a millenium. While the MD5 hash function has been broken, in the sense that you can generate two files which collide with eachother, this only works when you generate both files; generating a file to match a particular hash is still infeasible, and if it were feasible, MD5 would be completely abandoned overnight.

  • As a person in AU (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Psychotria (953670) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @11:57PM (#25493261)
    This is deeply worrying. Not only is it insane, it's, ultimately, Kevin Rudd (the Prime Minister) being a damn hypocrite. Just before the federal election the news media made a big deal of "catching" him visiting an adult bar (strip joint) in Japan or something. His response was something along the lines of he is an adult and can make choices and it was harmless. Now that he is in government there is this insane vendetta to censor the internet. Further, censor anyone who is critical of the plan. The Minister in charge of this (Stephen Conroy) is clueless. Unfortunately the rest of the elected government seems just as clueless and agrees with his recommendations. I don't think that it's been said, but I would guess that circumventing the draconian filters may also be made illegal (or at least the attempt might be made). We already have shitty broadband; what the fuck is mandatory filtering going to do to our already inflated prices and absurd monthly download limits? /rant
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Xiroth (917768)

      Here's the thing. Have you been keeping track of whether or not Rudd has been keeping his election promises. I have, for the most part. And you know what's really, really scary? He's actually following through on them . Seriously. And this is one of the promises he made, so if history is any guide, he's going to do everything in his power to make it happen.

      I don't think anyone knows how to handle this new breed of politician that seems to have ended up PM this time around. I seriously am not sure whether o

  • by WallyDrinkBeer (1136165) on Friday October 24, 2008 @12:57AM (#25493799)

    According to reports: http://forums.mactalk.com.au/20/56127-coming-soon-censored-internet-15.html#post668070 [mactalk.com.au]

    The list of excluded sites used in testing includes sites like: "The Pirate Bay, demonoid, mininova, Erowid (the web's best known haven of drug info) and 4chan"

    Australia's 3 commercial tv stations are struggling under the load of huge debts and poor revenue, time to throw them a bone I guess.

  • by coljac (154587) on Friday October 24, 2008 @02:03AM (#25494279) Homepage

    You'll notice I said "more technical interference", even our communications minister isn't as bad as the Ayatollah. :)

    The quote appeared in the paper here [smh.com.au].

    For anyone interested check out, our (Electronic Frontiers Australia) campaign site [nocleanfeed.com].

  • by CuteSteveJobs (1343851) on Friday October 24, 2008 @03:42AM (#25494817)

    This is what the Opposition Broadband Minister said:

    "Like anything in life it's about finding the right balance between the basic freedoms we all expect to have in a democracy like ours while at the same time wanting to protect minors from exposure to material we prefer they didn't see. We think the arrangements that we had in place when we left office struck that balance. We'll watch the government's trials of this and we are prepared to consider what comes out of those trials. But our presumption is this cannot and will not work, it's very heavy-handed." http://www.computerworld.com.au/index.php/id;879301684;fp;4194304;fpid;1;pf;1 [computerworld.com.au]

    As for Conrad, I can't believe this guy. This is his testimony at a senate estimates hearing:

    Senator Conroy: I trust you are not suggesting that people should have access to child p-rnography.
    Senator Ludlam: No. That is why I was interested in asking about the law enforcement side of it as well.

  • Reply from Conroy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by The Solitaire (1119147) <silk@nOSPAm.heavengames.com> on Friday October 24, 2008 @05:12AM (#25495285) Homepage
    I wrote to my MP, and got a reply back from Stephen Conroy. It's probably just a stock-letter, but some of you might be interested.

    I am aware that the proposal for ISP filtering has attracted some criticism from those, like yourself, who are concerned that it will lead to censorship of the internet. However, the Australian Government has no plans to stop adults from viewing material that is currently legal, if they wish to view such material. The Government regards freedom of speech as very important and the Government's cyber-safety policy is in no way designed to curtail this.

    The internet is an essential tool for all Australian children through which they can exchange information, be entertained, socialise and do school work and research. The ability to use online tools effectively provides both a skill for life and the means to acquire new skills.

    However, while the internet has created substantial benefits for children it has also exposed them to a number of dangers, including exposure to offensive content. As such, parents rightly expect the Government to play its part in the protection of children online.

    The Government has committed $125.8 million over the next four years to a comprehensive range of cyber-safety measures, including law enforcement, filtering and education. Measures include:

    • Australian Federal Police (AFP) Child Protection Operations Team - funding to detect and investigate online child sex exploitation;
    • Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions - funding to help deal with the increased activity resulting from the work of the AFP to ensure that prosecutions are handled quickly;
    • ISP level filtering - funding to develop and implement ISP filtering, including undertaking a real world 'live' pilot;
    • Education activities - funding to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to implement a comprehensive range of education activities;
    • Websites / Online helpline - funding to ACMA to improve current Government cyber-safety website resources and to make them easier for parents to use, and to provide up to date information. ACMA will also develop a children's cyber-safety website to provide information specifically for children, and improve the online helpline to provide a quick and easy way for children to report online incidents that cause them concern;
    • Consultative Working Group - funding for an expanded Consultative Working Group. The Group will consider the broad range of cyber-safety issues and advise the Government, to ensure properly developed and targeted policy initiatives;
    • Youth Advisory Group - funding for a Youth Advisory Group which will provide advice to the Consultative Working Group on cyber-safety issues from a young person's perspective; and
    • Research - funding for ongoing research into the changing digital environment to identify issues and target future policy and funding.

    These initiatives will tackle the issue of cyber-safety from a number of directions to help clean up the online environment and protect Australian children from the dangers of the internet now and into the future. This approach acknowledges the key role parents and carers have in the online safety of children, and provides them with the necessary information to assist with this task. This initiative also recognises that there is no single solution to ensure children can access the internet safely.

    A key part of the Government's plan to make the internet a safer place for children is the introduction of ISP level filtering. The policy reflects our community's growing belief that ISPs should take some responsibility for enabling the blocking of illegal material on the internet. Filtering would cover illegal and prohibited content using an expanded ACMA blacklist of prohibited sites, which includes images of the sexual abuse of children.

    Consideration is being given to more sophisticated filtering techniques for those indi

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