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Australian Internet Censorship Plan Torpedoed 308

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the take-that-old-people dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Australian Government's plan to introduce mandatory internet censorship has been scuttled, following an independent senator's decision to join the Greens and Opposition in blocking any legislation needed to start the scheme. Anti-Gambling Senator Nick Xenophon previously supported the filter because it could also block gambling web sites, but today withdrew support saying 'the more evidence that's come out, the more questions there are on this.' This week surveys found only less than 10% of Australians supported the censorship. Censorship Senator Stephen Conroy has consistently ignored advice from technical experts saying the filters would slow the internet, block legitimate sites, be easily bypassed and fall short of capturing all of the nasty content available online. Conroy expanded the list to block Adult R18+ and X18+ web sites, and this week said it would also block sites depicting drug use, crime, sex, cruelty, violence or 'revolting and abhorrent phenomena' that 'offend against the standards of morality.' Last week an anti-abortion website was added to the blacklist, and Conroy said he was considering expanding the blacklist to 10,000 sites and beyond."
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Australian Internet Censorship Plan Torpedoed

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  • by TheMeuge (645043) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @09:21AM (#26997465)

    Conroy expanded the list to block Adult R18+ and X18+ web sites, and this week said it would also block sites depicting drug use, crime, sex, cruelty, violence or "revolting and abhorrent phenomena" that "offend against the standards of morality".

    So the filter would block the Internet?

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @09:24AM (#26997513) Journal
      Unfortunately for Conroy, ridiculous web censorship mechanisms are themselves a revolting and abhorrent phenomenon...
    • by MadDogX (1365487) * on Thursday February 26, 2009 @09:28AM (#26997571)
      I don't know about the rest of the internet, but by "abhorrent phenomena that offend against the standards of morality" I'm pretty sure they mean MySpace.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I don't know about the rest of the internet, but by "abhorrent phenomena that offend against the standards of morality" I'm pretty sure they mean MySpace.

        Couldn't the morality part also apply to anything for gay rights?

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by tuxgeek (872962)

          "abhorrent phenomena that offend against the standards of morality"

          Depending upon your perspective of what defines morality this could also mean
          1. US congressional members that look like TV evangelists with homosexual closet fetish's they act on in airport restrooms.
          2. US congressional members that look like TV evangelists that test how many prostitutes they can bang on a quick road trip across state lines.
          3. US congressional members that look like TV evangelists, but have a secret fascination with young

          • by tuxgeek (872962)

            oops, misprint & correction
            3. US congressional members that look like TV evangelists, but have a secret fascination with young *male* interns and sodomy in *quiet* back room closets.

            Hate it when that happens
            Note to self: don't post comments until the coffee has kicked in

      • ...I would have assumed they were going to block sites like Rapture Ready and the Hannity forums.
    • by moose_hp (179683) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @09:28AM (#26997575) Homepage

      Conroy expanded the list to block Adult R18+ and X18+ web sites, and this week said it would also block sites depicting drug use, crime, sex, cruelty, violence or "revolting and abhorrent phenomena" that "offend against the standards of morality".

      So the filter would block the Internet?

      If they applied the same filter to television, most channels would only display white noise.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Z00L00K (682162)

      Anything that's offensive will be blocked, so the aussies will stick to watch flowers and waterfalls and only happy news on the web.

      Big brother is watching you! But who is watching the watchmen?

      Another problem is that sites on the net changes all the time and one site may appear and another disappear. And who frees old blocked addresses?

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by jggimi (1279324)

        Big brother is watching you! But who is watching the watchmen?

        I'll guess [leasticoulddo.com]

      • One reason... (Score:2, Interesting)

        by BrokenHalo (565198)
        One reason why support for the blocking is so low in this nanny state might well stem from the fact that there is still a significantly large proportion of the population who cannot get any connection better than dialup (if that), who would find their snail-like traffic grind to a halt.

        If you're a city-dweller, you're fine, but there are lots of areas, not necessarily even very far from cities, where broadband access is poor or non-existent. Needless to say, our government's priorities are not appreciated
    • Conroy expanded the list to block Adult R18+ and X18+ web sites, and this week said it would also block sites depicting drug use, crime, sex, cruelty, violence or "revolting and abhorrent phenomena" that "offend against the standards of morality".

      So the filter would block the Internet?

      Maybe not quite all of it. There may be a few web-sites which are bland enough to pass.

      Of course, the parliament in Canberra would trigger a bunch of those filters (crime, sex, revolting, immoral, etc.) and get blocked immediately.

    • by MadKeithV (102058)
      You know, it's technically feasible, cheap, and 100% effective for their goals. STOP GIVING THEM IDEAS!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by purpledinoz (573045)
      The only time where I wished such a filter existed was when my room mate in university set my default homepage to goatse.cx on my browser. Yikes!
    • by Gordonjcp (186804)

      They're Australians, what the hell is sufficiently "revolting or abhorrent phenomena" to shock them? In fact, no, don't answer that.

    • by frieko (855745) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @11:11AM (#26999037)
      <FreeFrag> The most secure computer in the world is one not connected to the internet.
      <FreeFrag> Thats why I recommend Telstra ADSL.
  • by Cornwallis (1188489) * on Thursday February 26, 2009 @09:23AM (#26997495)
    ...but my daughter spent a summer there a few years aback and loved it and I've always admired the people so let me ask... Who can I send money to in order to get Conroy voted out of office ASAP?
    • by Kell Bengal (711123) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @10:09AM (#26998197)
      I'm an Aussie! But I don't want your money - I'll do it for free as a public good. Virtually no one here wants this crap - it's just the nanny-state nitwits voted in by the over-60s, who probably don't even know what the internets are only that they're full of Terrible Things because Today Tonight told them so.
    • by blind monkey 3 (773904) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @12:16PM (#26999997)
      Who can I send money to in order to get Conroy voted out of office ASAP?

      That's easy, you send your money to Conroy - you'd be surprised what politicians would do for money.
  • Censorship (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @09:24AM (#26997515) Journal

    Censorship is a "revolting and abhorrent phenomena" that "offends against the standards of morality".

  • Gambling is evil but midget porn is awesome apparently .
  • Xenophobe? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    After RTFS, xenophobe doesn't even begin to describe Stephen Conroy. Pluriphobe would be a better description, for want of a better word. In Holland we would use the phrase "more pious than the pope", but I know of no English expression that can explain his thickheadedness. He should be tried for blatant disregard of personal freedoms.

    it would also block sites depicting drug use, crime, sex, cruelty, violence

    Really? Is he also going to block all Hollywood movies from entering Australia.

    • by Andr T. (1006215)
      Do you think Steve Irwing movies will be blocked as well? He seemed pretty abhorrent to me:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6HgHhHNC92M [youtube.com]

      Man, I wish the stingray would pierce Conroy instead of him.

    • But you forget! Anything on television or in movies is blessed and brings families together so they can bake lamingtons and have barbies together (with shrimp!). Anything on the internet is evil because it isn't controlled by personal friends of the politicians and it Must Be Stopped.
    • by digitig (1056110)

      After RTFS, xenophobe doesn't even begin to describe Stephen Conroy. Pluriphobe would be a better description, for want of a better word. In Holland we would use the phrase "more pious than the pope", but I know of no English expression that can explain his thickheadedness.

      The phrase exists in English too. In England we might describe such a person as "Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells [wikipedia.org], but I doubt that phrase crosses the Atlantic well, never mind making it all the way across the Pacific too.

      • >>>>>"more pious than the pope", but I know of no English expression t

        >"Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells"

        Wow that's obscure. In the U.S. we say "holier than thou" or "holier than God" meaning somebody who committed the sin of pride. They think they are so self-righteous that they are better than Jesus himself.

        • by digitig (1056110)

          >>>>>"more pious than the pope", but I know of no English expression t

          >"Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells"

          Wow that's obscure

          Not in England :-)

    • by Xest (935314) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @11:04AM (#26998937)

      "Pluriphobe would be a better description, for want of a better word. In Holland we would use the phrase "more pious than the pope", but I know of no English expression that can explain his thickheadedness."

      How about dickhead? nobend? tosspot? Here in England we've mastered our language to produce plenty of simple yet effective and widely applicable words for situations and for people like this. For additional effect you may prefix a language construct which could only be defined as a pre-offensive such as "fucking".

      Hopefully we will soon update our finest Oxford dictionaries to include these useful and flexible language constructs and terms.

      • by zooblethorpe (686757) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @01:00PM (#27000787)

        For additional effect you may prefix a language construct which could only be defined as a pre-offensive such as "fucking".

        Hopefully we will soon update our finest Oxford dictionaries to include these useful and flexible language constructs and terms.

        Meanwhile, on the other side of the puddle, we already have this useful word fully incorporated in our official lexicon, even to the point of being included in English language lessons, such as this one [youtube.com] (though the atrocious spelling might also be indicative of something...).

        The useful and versatile F word is one of the few that may be used in just about every major grammatical category -- sometimes even all in the same sentence.

        That fucking fucker's fucking fucked!

        (And, lest I miss out on the Meme Train:)

        Also, fuck you. :)

  • by VShael (62735) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @09:51AM (#26997903) Journal

    and you know they'll try for a mile.

    This is why those types of idiots have to be resisted at every single step of the way.

    • If they have an inch, they'll brag to the girls that it's at least a foot. And promptly try to block any access to evidence and squelch any opinion close to the truth.

      Look carefully at any would-be censors, for they likely have something to hide, and merely seek to conceal it behind a bigger screen...

      • >>>If they have an inch, they'll brag to the girls that it's at least a foot

        I just tell them that all the nerves are at the entrance, and therefore you don't need more than 1-2 inches anyway. ..... Ooops. I've said too much.

    • This is why those types of idiots have to be resisted at every single step of the way.

      Hey now! I like to mess with australians as much as anyone, but calling them all idiots is just going to far!

  • Conroy expanded the list to block Adult R18+ and X18+ web sites, and this week said it would also block sites depicting drug use, crime, sex, cruelty, violence or "revolting and abhorrent phenomena" that "offend against the standards of morality". Last week an anti-abortion website was added to the blacklist, and Conroy said he was considering expanding the blacklist to 10,000 sites and beyond."

    He wants to block all of that content and has narrowed it down to a mere 10,000 sites? Conroy's depth of knowledge in this field is simply stunning! Next, he'll find the only five or six sites on the web that depict bestiality!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 26, 2009 @09:56AM (#26998009)

    "If it offends me, I want it banned for everyone." seems to be the mentality of so many. I understand the general intent of blocking that stuff, but it'll never, ever truly work. Besides, people like him will never listen to any other opinions, let alone listen to numerous experts telling them their ideas are wrong.

    Heck, you could tell him that water was wet while soaking him in a bathtub floating in the ocean during a rain storm. But if his mind is set on water not being wet, he'll never listen.

    • >>>understand the general intent of blocking that stuff, but it'll never, ever truly work.

      Even if it did work, I do not understand the intent. NOTHING I've ever seen on the net has offended me. Nothing. Therefore I don't see any reason to block any of it. I want access to every website created all around the world, without censorship.

      As Democratic Party founder Thomas Jefferson observed (with modification): "Whether my neighbor worships one [goat], many [goats], or no [goats] matters not to me.

  • Nick Xenophon actually announced is withdrawl of support for the filter around Jan 20th.

    The news is, it was revealed the government will require full senate cooperation to introduce new legislation, that will surely fail to pass without Xenophon's support.

  • Great to see that common sense has at last prevailed. I would like to see this as a triumph of democracy but it perhaps appears to be as much due to a lucky accident of the numbers in the Senate. Now, if only the UK would drop its misguided plans to implement filtering of the internet, albeit by different means iirc. And you in the US - don't think you're far behind. Your bunch of idiots wait to see what oppressive regime the bunch of idiots in Europe can impose on their populace before imposing it on you
    • Great to see that common sense has at last prevailed.

      Because ONE man in power is not a complete asshole? What if he gets hit by a bus?

    • And you in the US - don't think you're far behind. Your bunch of idiots wait to see what oppressive regime the bunch of idiots in Europe can impose on their populace before imposing it on you...

      Oh, there's no doubt about this. I mentioned in a previous post that we in the US appear to be using things like this as a test case (without actually committing to it) to determine if the concept would fly. There are a few members of Congress who have openly expressed their sentiments as pro-filtration.

      Unfortunately

  • Fight not over yet (Score:5, Informative)

    by Xanni (29201) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @10:00AM (#26998051) Homepage

    While it is true that a mandatory filtering proposal is likely to require legislation to implement (especially without the support of the Internet Industry Association and a voluntary code of conduct), it is not clear that any future legislation is dead in the water just yet.

    http://www.efa.org.au/2009/02/26/xenophon-opposes-mandatory-isp-filtering-but-fight-not-over-yet/ [efa.org.au]

  • by kestasjk (933987) *
    And I will now track down Nick Xenophon's address and mail him a letter of thanks. There may be hope for democracy yet!
  • This week surveys found only less than 10% of Australians supported the censorship.

    Yet almost 50% of their elected representatives, and probably media outlets, supported it. How do we account for this?

    • They were asked by somebody for their opinion, instead of having to get up from the sofa, turn off "Aussie's Next Top Model" or whatever, and voice their opinions by their own volition.
    • When you have the power of a censor list, you have the power to censor anybody.

      Opposition party starting up and happens to believe that lolicon isn't child porn? Oh, that's obscene - filtered! Independent media outlet reporting on a war with gruesome photos of the carnage? Oh, that's too shocking - filtered!

      The standards for blocking a site are also quite vague. What if you are on a shared host and one of the sites on the shared host has porn the nanny state doesn't like? Does that mean you get filtere

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Trentus (1017602)

      Yet almost 50% of their elected representatives, and probably media outlets, supported it.

      I recall someone busting Conroy's chops on the ABC radio show Media Watch a short while back. I also remember another ABC radio announcer slipping in some filter related questions to one of the people involved in a child porn ring bust. Something to the effect of:

      interviewer: "What about filtering, does that help the problem?"
      police guy dude: "Oh, they don't do anything."

      I should really try and find a source for that. There were a few other radio shows talking about it as well (I think "Spoonman" on Tripple

    • by dcollins (135727)

      Yet almost 50% of their elected representatives, and probably media outlets, supported it. How do we account for this?

      Hypothesis: Representation is a trailing indicator (that is, people's opinions flip-flop more often than they elect new leaders). The majority of people may have actually supported censoring when they first heard of it, around the time of the last election.

      Consider US opinion on invading Iraq, and how long after that opinion changed it took for US leadership to follow suit.

  • by hansamurai (907719) <hansamurai@gmail.com> on Thursday February 26, 2009 @10:24AM (#26998391) Homepage Journal

    Is there like a master list of all the R18 and X18 sites...? I think I need to check it over to make sure they all deserve to be there.

  • Squeeze (Score:4, Insightful)

    by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @10:48AM (#26998727)

    The harder you squeeze the more you piss off the electorate.

  • by amorphic101 (1224794) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @11:11AM (#26999039)
    I'm elated to hear that Senator Xenophon has withdrawn his support and I agree that this is a major blow to the (dis)honourable Senator Conroy and his cronies. However this is still far from over, as the EFA point out: http://www.efa.org.au/2009/02/26/xenophon-opposes-mandatory-isp-filtering-but-fight-not-over-yet/ [efa.org.au]

    However doomed, this is still government policy and it's entirely possible that Xenophon's vote could be won back if the government agrees to back other causes close to his heart. There's also the possiblity of Liberal senators crossing the floor, (the Liberals were the ones to introduce the "Black List" after all) or of Labor winning more Senate seats in the future to give them a more powerful standing in the senate.

    Having said all that this is definitely the best news we've had for a while on the Aussie net censorship issue. In your face Conroy!
  • Transparent (Score:3, Interesting)

    by anomaly256 (1243020) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @11:12AM (#26999059)
    Ignored all expert advice.. Expanded the scope beyond it's original intention despite this.. Decided to bypass the larger, more popular, more mainstream ISPs during trialling and instead used a very select few mainly used by 'ma and pa kettle' types who would be ignorant of anything should their net one day be slow and half missing.. Isn't it obvious? This was never about morality or protecting the innocent. This was about instigating a control mechanism. The ability to shut you up and control your perceptions. Or.. perhaps he really thought he was doing the right thing, and going about it the right way. Really, either way you look at it, either his motives or his competency do nothing but put Australians at risk of being subjugated. He needs to be impeached. Now, I'm all for his originally claimed intention. But I think we need to find someone else to implement it. Someone with half a fricken clue and no ulterior motives.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 26, 2009 @11:17AM (#26999129)

    http://www.somebodythinkofthechildren.com/acma-anti-abortion-prohibited/

    In response to a complaint about an anti-abortion web page showing photographs of what appears to be aborted fetuses, ACMA has declared the page âprohibited or potential prohibited contentâ(TM). The Whirlpool member who made the complaint, presumably to gauge ACMAâ(TM)s response to such content, has published the departmentâ(TM)s email:

    Subject: Complaint Reference: 2009000009/ ACMA-691604278
    Date: Wed, 21 Jan 2009 15:45:00 +1100
    From: online@acma.gov.au

    Complaint Reference: 2009000009/ ACMA-691604278

    I refer to the complaint that you lodged with the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) on 5th January 2009 about certain content made available at:

    http://www.abortiontv.com/Pics/AbortionPictures6.htm

    Following investigation of your complaint, ACMA is satisfied that the internet content is hosted outside Australia, and that the content is prohibited or potential prohibited content.

    The Internet Industry Association (IIA) has a code of practice (http://www.iia.net.au/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=415&Itemid=33) for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) which, among other things, set out arrangements for dealing with such content. In accordance with the code, ACMA has notified the above content to the makers of IIA approved filters, for their attention and appropriate action. The code requires ISPs to make available to customers an IIA approved filter.

    Information about ACMAâ(TM)s role in regulating online content (including internet and mobile content), including what is prohibited or potentially prohibited content is available at ACMAâ(TM)s website at www.acma.gov.au/hotline

    Thank you for bringing this matter to ACMAâ(TM)s attention.

  • Any politician who gets behind this will not get re-elected. When less than 10% of the population supports something, it is political suicide to try and hitch your wagon to it. This can only weed out the moronic politicians, let them idiots say they support this. Then when it fails, everyone will know who NOT to vote for next time.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by amorphic101 (1224794)
      I heard a conspiracy theory of sorts back when the censorship plan was first coming to light. Apparently Conroy isn't particularly popular even within his own party and the story went that the 'net censorship legislation was given to him in the hope that it would fail as catastrophically as it seems on track to do.

      After it blows up in his face, his peers in the Labor party would have a good excuse to push him out. It does sound a bit far-fetched but hope springs eternal...
  • by wastedlife (1319259) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @11:55AM (#26999685) Homepage Journal
    Now, I'm not saying being against abortion is wrong, you have the right to your beliefs, but if the web page they blocked was like the signs they posted on the roads when protesting the Planned Parenthood going up in the Aurora/Naperville IL area, I can understand why it went on the filter(note that I am against the filter in general, just playing devil's advocate on why that specific page may have been blocked). They would post shit like pictures of cut-up late stage abortions and dead fully developed babies (as in, unlikely to have come from a legal abortion anyway). Now, I've never seen a pro-choice campaign smear ads everywhere with pictures of crack-babies, kids with fetal alcohol syndrome, and other abused children, so why do anti-abortion campaigners have to basically troll shock pictures to get their point across?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      For the same reason that all life is sacred, but killing abortion doctors is a ok.

      Extreme groups are (almost) always wrong.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by dancpsu (822623)
        For the same reason that all life is sacred, but killing abortion doctors is a ok.

        I'm not going to argue against abortion or defend fringe groups, but your logic does not follow.

        If there was a serial killer who had escaped from maximum security prison several times to continue killing, then by killing him, it would preserve more lives. Therefore, killing someone is in line with protecting all life, because all alternatives lead to more lives lost.

        • by wastedlife (1319259) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @03:27PM (#27003043) Homepage Journal
          I understand that you are not defending them, but how does your logic follow? Abortion doctors aren't serial killers escaping from prison. They are certified physicians performing a legal, albeit controversial, practice. If one does not agree with the law of the land, then they should work to get it changed or leave. Vigilantism of this kind is just not acceptable. Besides, it seems to me that one of the major foundations of many religions is the 10 Commandments. "Thou shalt not kill" is a statement that in no uncertain terms people should not kill other people. Not at all. Never. Under no circumstances is this acceptable. Yet many are killing others in the name of God. Can anyone make sense of this?
  • Stephen Conroy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cparker15 (779546) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @12:08PM (#26999855) Homepage Journal

    Stephen Conroy is an asshat.

    That is all. Carry on.

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