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Censorship The Internet Your Rights Online

Clarifying the Next Step in Australia's Net-Censorship Scheme 193

Posted by timothy
from the ah-but-this-is-just-the-proof-of-concept dept.
teh moges writes "I recently received a response from the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, regarding issues I had with the ISP filtering proposed for Australia. My comment can be summed up by 'Any efficient filter won't be effective and any effective filter won't be efficient.' His response clarifies the issue of using the blacklist for censorship." Read on for the gist of Conroy's mistakes-were-made response, which seems to sidestep teh moges' critique, but offers Australian Internet users some idea of what they're in for.
From Conroy's email in response: "...concerns have been raised that filtering a blacklist beyond 10,000 URLs may raise network performance issues... The pilot will therefore seek to also test network performance against a test list of 10,000 URLs ... As this test is only being performed to test the impact on network performance against a list of this size, and actual customers are not involved,the make-up of the list is not an issue."

teh moges continues: "My initial query about the lack of effectiveness of the filter still stands, however it is important that the censorship issue is clarified. It seems, at least for now, that the trial that will begin on December 24th for the '10,000' list is for testing purposes, rather then using a list that will be used later. Still, no information on a guarantee of regulation is provided, so there is still a long way to go before this ISP filtering gains support, especially given Senator Stephen Conroy's lack of ability to answer questions in media conferences."
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Clarifying the Next Step in Australia's Net-Censorship Scheme

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  • Circumvention (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 05, 2008 @04:09AM (#26000083)

    So if I'm running an IPv6 tunnel am I attempting to circumvent the filter or not?

    Excerpt from

    INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDER CONTENT FILTERING
    PILOT
    TECHNICAL TESTING FRAMEWORK

    5. Circumvention
    The Pilot will seek to test the ease with which different filtering solutions can be
    circumvented and the capacity of filters to detect and provide warnings on circumvention
    attempts.

  • by CuteSteveJobs (1343851) on Friday December 05, 2008 @04:11AM (#26000097)

    This got sidespread coverage yesterday. A citizens activist group raised $30,000 in donations to fight the Rudd Firewall IN JUST ONE DAY. There are protests planned around Australia around December 15. I'm going.

    http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/news/technology/cash-floods-in-to-fight-rudds-web-censorship/2008/12/05/1228257284512.html?page=fullpage#contentSwap1 [brisbanetimes.com.au]

    Pro-tip: Writing to Conroy is pointless at this stage. He's quite foolishly staked his career on it, and will never back down no matter what the price for everyone else. The only way out of it is to lobby the senate and convince Rudd that this will cost him the next election. I voted for Rudd but I'm thoroughly disillusioned with him - not just for this, but but this weighs heavily on my mind. I've already decided my vote three years out.

    Now all we have to do is find him. If anyone knows where our jettsetting Prime Minister is, please send him back home because we'd like to talk to him. First place to look: anywhere in China. http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/prime-ministers-600000-flying-circus/2008/12/04/1228257229282.html [smh.com.au]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 05, 2008 @05:10AM (#26000427)

    Rudd IS NOT respecting an election promise. He promised an OPTIONAL internet filtering scheme : one you could opt out if you wanted to.
    There is a huge difference.

  • Re:Not So Radical? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Trentus (1017602) on Friday December 05, 2008 @05:38AM (#26000547)

    I wasn't aware that those countries had filters. Their internet isn't so horrible, is it?

    That's just the thing. Some of them don't. And none of them have a mandatory government controlled filter system. Obviously some ISPs provide filtering for their customers, but they're opt in. The only mandatory filter systems in place are in countries like China or Iran.

    When the minister was asked why he lied out his arse he just dodged the question by prattling on about the trials until his time was up. Bastard.

  • by jamesh (87723) on Friday December 05, 2008 @05:55AM (#26000637)

    Strictly speaking, Godwins law was just an observation about the inevitability of someone likening the opposing party to the nazi's or hitler the longer an online thread ran for, it never said anything about the merits of the association (likening the opposing party to hitler may actually be quite appropriate in some cases).

    What you appear to be referring to is what is sometimes referred to as Dods Law (or something like that?) that says that mentioning the nazi's or hitler is an automatic forfeit of your argument.

  • Scott Ludlum (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 05, 2008 @06:11AM (#26000709)

    Been a labour supporter forever but this prompted me to become a paying member of the Greens, mainly to support Senator Ludlum for actually attacking Controy vigorously on the issue. Here's a video: http://scott-ludlam.greensmps.org.au/content/tv/senator-ludlam-questions-minister-conroy-internet-censorship

    It's clear writing to Conroy would be useless.

  • Re:Not So Radical? (Score:4, Informative)

    by MichaelSmith (789609) on Friday December 05, 2008 @06:38AM (#26000867) Homepage Journal

    I wasn't aware that those countries had filters. Their internet isn't so horrible, is it?

    Their filter works by redirecting the offending hostnames in DNS. That has zero impact on http performance.

    The Australian system works by port blocking http and redirecting it to a proxy which checks every URL against the banned list. This way definitely impacts performance.

  • by Malekin (1079147) on Friday December 05, 2008 @06:46AM (#26000909)

    There are protests planned around Australia around December 15. I'm going.

    All of the protests are on December 13th, including the one in Brisbane (assuming by the fact you link a Brisbane newspaper that that's where you are) Details can be found at http://stopthecleanfeed.com/ [stopthecleanfeed.com]

  • Re:10,000 URLs? (Score:3, Informative)

    by the_womble (580291) on Friday December 05, 2008 @06:56AM (#26000971) Homepage Journal

    Except the British scheme is voluntary for IPSs, and that sort of abuse would probably lead to ISPs just pulling out.

  • by earlymon (1116185) on Friday December 05, 2008 @07:14AM (#26001059) Homepage Journal

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troll_(Internet) [wikipedia.org] --

    An Internet troll, or simply troll in Internet slang, is someone who posts controversial, inflammatory, irrelevant or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum or chat room, with the intention of provoking other users into an emotional response or to generally disrupt normal on-topic discussion.

    I disagree with part of what unlametheweak wrote above. HOWEVER - while controversial, his comment is neither disruptive to the conversation nor is it obviously intended to evoke an emotional response for its own sake.

    As I write this, the above post has been modded Troll - and it is not. That is not an opinion that it's not trolling - it is a statement of fact.

    Will whatever fucking dweeb or dweebs going around abusing their fucking mod privileges please fucking stop? There have been a lot of LOT of unnecessary Troll mods in the last few weeks and I, for one, am getting sick of it. Mod points are here to help us focus and defocus interest - they are not intended for your personal censorship agenda.

    The irony of having to explain this in a thread on free speech is maddening in the extreme.

    Comrades all - N.B. that I am not posting anonymously.

  • Re:10,000 URLs? (Score:3, Informative)

    by acb (2797) on Friday December 05, 2008 @08:28AM (#26001409) Homepage

    Sites such as Piratpartiet (or their local equivalents) would probably be mandatorily blocked in Australia. The mandatory part of the blacklist will include anything illegal, which under Australian law includes copyright violation, advocacy of suicide/euthanasia, hardcore porn and various extremist points of view (which, given Australia's sedition laws, covers a lot).

  • by acb (2797) on Friday December 05, 2008 @08:49AM (#26001527) Homepage

    that the US has a bill of rights and constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech and association. Australia, a former penal colony and military outpost of the British Empire, has no constitutional guarantees of any rights other than there not being a religious test for public office. That, and the apathy of the citizens of the "Lucky Country", allows the government of the day to get away with things such as passing draconian sedition laws, banning online advocacy of suicide or euthanasia, banning video games unsuitable for children and controversial art-house films (never mass-market entertainment; if the films banned are French and highbrow, it wins them anti-elitist culture-war points), and now the national firewall.

    There is no way that the US government could push something like this through.

  • by Gandalf_Greyhame (44144) on Friday December 05, 2008 @08:50AM (#26001539) Journal

    yes we do, it has happened once in the past http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_constitutional_crisis_of_1975 [wikipedia.org] Prime Minister Gough Whitlam (of the Labor party) was dismissed by the Governor General

  • Re:10,000 URLs? (Score:2, Informative)

    by The Lawnmower (953638) on Friday December 05, 2008 @10:43AM (#26002547)
    Well there was controversy over one of Bill Henson's photo exhibits which included artistic photos of a naked 13 y/o girl not long ago. Someone complained and the police acted prematurely, seising the works. But legally there wasn't a leg to stand on.
    So pretty good, I think.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 05, 2008 @02:36PM (#26005475)

    There have been a lot of LOT of unnecessary Troll mods in the last few weeks

    Have you tried meta moderating recently? The reason, methinks, for all these activist mods is because CmdrTaco and team have utterly bollocksed the meta-moderation process. It now works -- or rather doesn't work -- like some sort of weird Digg cast-off.

  • Re:10,000 URLs? (Score:2, Informative)

    by zuperduperman (1206922) on Friday December 05, 2008 @11:02PM (#26010479)

    > drops packets targeted by the blacklist,

    Here is the catch: the blacklist is URLs. Not ip addresses, *URLS*.

    How do you know what URL a packet is going to? Packets are at a different layer in the protocol layer. The only way to filter a URL on a packet basis is to capture the whole stream and statefully decode it, buffering the packets in memory and decoding the HTTP protocol to figure out the URL.

    So yes, dropping a packet going to / coming from an ip address is something a filter can do efficiently. Decoding billions of simultaneous requests at the protocol layer is *not*. It requires linear CPU and memory proportional to the number of connections, and if an ISP has hundreds of thousands of active customers it's not unreasonable to think they may need a farm of at *hundreds* of filters to do all this work.

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