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Censorship The Internet IT

Australia's Vast, Scattershot Censorship Blacklist Revealed 401

Posted by timothy
from the please-don't-click-here dept.
mask.of.sanity writes "Australia's secretive Internet filter blacklist held by its communications watchdog has been leaked, revealing the government has understated the amount of banned Web pages by more than 1000. Multiple legitimate businesses and Web sites have been banned including two bus companies, online poker sites, multiple Wikipedia entries, Google and Yahoo group pages, a dental surgery and a tour operator. Andrew Twaits, CEO of Betfair, a billion-dollar business blocked by the blacklist, was furious the government has potentially annexed tens of millions of dollars in revenue after the Betfair.com gambling site was blacklisted. The blacklists were reportedly leaked by a Web filter operator to wikileaks which has published the full list of banned URLs. Outraged privacy advocates say the government has effectively lied about the amount of URLs included in the blacklists, totaling more than 2300, and the type of content which it would ban. The leak follows a series of attacks on the watchdog in which irate users successfully lobbied for web sites to be banned, only to be threatened with an $11,000 fine for publishing the link contained in the PR response. It was also revealed the watchdog can ban Web sites at a whim, with no accountability."
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Australia's Vast, Scattershot Censorship Blacklist Revealed

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  • by denzacar (181829) on Thursday March 19, 2009 @11:15PM (#27264565) Journal

    The www.techworld.com.au blog link in the summary is broken. It is missing couple of "s" letters.
    Here is a working link:

    http://www.techworld.com.au/blog/broadbandvoice/2009/03/acmas_blacklist_a_bigots_battleground [techworld.com.au]

  • by muzzy (164903) on Thursday March 19, 2009 @11:21PM (#27264607) Homepage Journal

    My favourite from the list: files.kavefish.com/pictures/collections/funny_cat_pictures/_index-list.html

    It's just funny cat pictures and nothing suggets there's ever been anything else.

    Also, the list (although a month older than one on Wikileaks) can be obtained from Integard filter software. Hex edit the integard.exe and change first occurence of "datetimepicker.js" to websites_ACMA.txt, then login to integard's webUI and request that file. Apparently there's a whitelist of files the webUI server can give to the user. I've confirmed myself that the lolcats URL is indeed in that ACMA file from the filter software...

  • Re:False alarm (Score:2, Informative)

    by ElectricTurtle (1171201) on Thursday March 19, 2009 @11:22PM (#27264621)
    If you believe that I have a bridge to sell you.
  • by NevarMore (248971) on Thursday March 19, 2009 @11:25PM (#27264645) Homepage Journal

    I just loaded up the wikileaks page and I hope I didn't make a mistake I'm going to regret.

    Some of those links at are perfectly normal, the gambling ones, the wikipedia ones, nothing unusual.

    Some of those links at are icky. Things that the extreme pro-lifers like to use in their pamphlets while I'm eating lunch icky.

    Some of those links are actually very nasty and abhorrent. Worse than goatse.

    Don't go randomly clicking.

    Don't go randomly clicking!!

  • by kramulous (977841) * on Thursday March 19, 2009 @11:32PM (#27264693)

    Conroy is going to be on the ABC's QandA next Thursday evening at 9.30pm.

    That should be good viewing :)

  • by Flynsarmy (1071248) on Thursday March 19, 2009 @11:35PM (#27264705)
    It should be noted that this isn't actually the ACMA blacklist. It's actually a list derived from the ACMA blacklist as stated on the wikileaks article in the summary.
  • Not a hoax (Score:5, Informative)

    by muzzy (164903) on Thursday March 19, 2009 @11:35PM (#27264707) Homepage Journal

    Not a hoax. I've confirmed it myself by ripping websites_ACMA.txt out of Integard filtering software. Even if it's not identical to ACMA's own list, it damn well is identical to Integard's version of ACMA's list.

    The list is real.

  • Re:UK and Australia (Score:5, Informative)

    by MichaelSmith (789609) on Thursday March 19, 2009 @11:45PM (#27264773) Homepage Journal
    In the US there is a lot of overlap between the Christian extremists and the Libertarians. The few christian extremists we have in Australia don't subscribe to libertarian views.

    Another factor here is the role of minor parties in the upper house of parliament. The Christian senator pushing the filters got in with less than 1000 primary votes. Most likely he got a lot of preferences because of the number of worse sounding groups on the senate ballot paper.
  • by muzzy (164903) on Thursday March 19, 2009 @11:54PM (#27264825) Homepage Journal

    Before anyone mentiones about it, yes, I did check the commented out images too. They're funny cats as well, probably commented out to ease the load of the page.

    Other gems from the list:
    www.kids.net.au/forward.php?url=www.energizingbuddies.cc/ ... apparently the domain expired, and the ACMA decided to censor the redirect link instead of telling kids.net.au to remove the link!
    The whole forward.php has disappeared since, as well as that entry, the energizingbuddies.cc existed back in 2002...

    The happysong.com.tw url ... which has phpBB2 url with a sid in it. A session ID! So, nobody browsing the forum would actually get their access censored, only the guy with that specific session ID and the people that link to that specific URL.

    Ofcourse, 4chan's /b/ and encyclopedia dramatica are on the list, too. Since they censor stuff like animal cruelty as well I can understand that, because there probably is plenty of risque material on the sites.

    Also spotted sam hocevar's (VLC developer) site on the list, with two urls. Apparently he saved an animal abuse image from 4chan and somehow got it on the ACMA blacklist.

    There are also plenty of porn sites with a referrer in the url, a lot of TGP's like that on the list. Shows that whoever submitted them for review was browsing porn and actively clicking around. Some of the sites are listed multiple times with different referrer IDs in the URLs too, egrep '/\?(id=)?[a-z.]*.?$' for a list. One site is listed 3 times with different referrer in the URL :)

    A bunch of newsgroups have been censored at either myusenet.net, free-usenet.net, groups.google.com, groups.google.com.au or usenet-replayer.com. Only single groups, pages or messages. And ofcourse, the same content is still available at the other usenet archive sites.

    Well, that's some gems to begin with. Haven't bothered doing a full analysis of the content, kinda lacking the willpower to do more than just random dabbling.

  • *This is fake* (Score:3, Informative)

    by kestasjk (933987) * on Friday March 20, 2009 @12:03AM (#27264857) Homepage
    Conroy and ISPs implementing the blacklist confirm that this is a fake:
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/03/19/2520929.htm [abc.net.au]

    I read about this earlier today; news media really have to check WikiLeaks out carefully before reporting it.

    I think the black-list is absurd, it's baffling that we can actually have censorship here in Australia, and my reps know how I feel at least. But I don't think stunts like this help :-(
  • Re:*This is fake* (Score:5, Informative)

    by ElectricTurtle (1171201) on Friday March 20, 2009 @12:15AM (#27264925)
    Don't believe [slashdot.org] what the government or its contracted agents say about themselves. I mean really, how naive do you have to be?
  • Re:*This is fake* (Score:2, Informative)

    by taucross (1330311) on Friday March 20, 2009 @12:40AM (#27265045)
    Actually, Conroy said it wasn't the actual ACMA blacklist, but said that many of the links were in fact part of it. http://www.australianit.news.com.au/story/0,27574,25214571-15306,00.html [news.com.au]
  • Re:I did a CTRL+F (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 20, 2009 @12:56AM (#27265129)

    they blocked lemonparty as well :(

  • Re:UK and Australia (Score:2, Informative)

    by tg123 (1409503) on Friday March 20, 2009 @01:19AM (#27265227)

    ................. The Christian senator pushing the filters got in with less than 1000 primary votes. Most likely he got a lot of preferences because of the number of worse sounding groups on the senate ballot paper.

    Please mod last post up - insight.

    if you want to know why this happening the above explains it in a nutshell. We have some christian loony in the senate who wants to remove porn from the internet.

  • by DiSKiLLeR (17651) on Friday March 20, 2009 @01:45AM (#27265305) Homepage Journal

    Australian's, Start Mirroring that list!

    I just putted it up on my website, hosted here in Adelaide: http://www.diskiller.net/ [diskiller.net] I guess the AFP will be paying me a visit? lulz.

  • by Toonol (1057698) on Friday March 20, 2009 @02:13AM (#27265411)
    Ok, I took it on the chin for the team, and looked at the page.

    It's basically an ad for one of those history/cache/cookie scrubber utilities, and it has some shock pictures about which it says "Look what is in your cache right now!!!" (They're lying, of course, the images are loaded from their server.)

    There are three small images: One bestiality, one bukkake, and one 'lolita[1].jpg'. Plus a bunch of blank frames that would probably all be malware if I was running internet explorer.
  • Re:Warning (Score:3, Informative)

    by AHuxley (892839) on Friday March 20, 2009 @02:35AM (#27265485) Homepage Journal
    Re:" I highly recommend against clicking around on that blacklist."
    Yes you never know what had an FBI/Interpol/other state/federal task force IP logger left in place.
    If your just hitting the site, they may record you. A visit one day to clone your drive.
    Also some might have hacked by vigilante groups.
    They might connect to you if you have a static IP :) If your running OS X or Linux, you should be fine.
  • Re:*This is fake* (Score:5, Informative)

    by xenobyte (446878) on Friday March 20, 2009 @04:04AM (#27265769)

    But I don't think stunts like this help :-(

    Actually they do help... A lot actually!

    1) They make the world aware of the censorship taking place.
    2) They make it obvious that a secret list might contain anything. We can't check.
    3) They make it obvious that the list needs to be public because that would make it possible to avoid non-relevant censorship. Even if the list is publicly available, it cannot be used to find the blocked stuff because - well - the stuff is blocked.
    4) They force the authorities to engage in debates about the censorship thus again making the world aware of what happening.
    5) They show that such secrets can never be kept and thus shouldn't.

    There's no reason to have such a blocklist to begin with except to engage in censorship. You don't protect anybody against anything with a blacklist. For every site listed there's 10 others just like it. List those and each has 10 alternatives... The odds of you hitting one is the same with or without the blacklist.

  • Re:I did a CTRL+F (Score:5, Informative)

    by RMH101 (636144) on Friday March 20, 2009 @04:23AM (#27265835)
    Up until the 1950s, there was a blacklist of books in Australia.
  • by cyxxon (773198) on Friday March 20, 2009 @04:39AM (#27265887) Homepage
    Yep, really just lolcats, just checked, not blocked here at work. Of course, there are pictures like "Oh mai god, ceiling cat is watching me masturbate" (a cat with a surprised face), so there is your sex. And oh, a wet cat that looks like it really enjoyed their owner bathing them, so there is your animal cruelty...
  • Re:*This is fake* (Score:5, Informative)

    by stavros-59 (1102263) * on Friday March 20, 2009 @05:34AM (#27266069)

    Because from a blocked ISP you can access the sites which are listed as blocked.

    The internet censorship system is not yet in place. The leaked list is the sites provided to ISPs that have "family friendly" services and to the vendors of the PC filters supplied under the previous government's NetAlert scheme.

    At the moment you should be able to get anywhere you like unless you chosen a PC based filter, a family friendly ISP or you use one of the ISPs testing the filters at the moment.

    There are 6 ISPs in the trial. One is iPrimus that deals with retail customers. One is Webshield that is a Christadelphian not for profit family friendly ISP and the other 4 are business only ISPs. There are people on facebook with more friends than the 4 business ISPs have as customers.

    You need to check your facts. The list isn't fake. It was pulled out of the definitions provided to one of the NetAlert filter providers. It also matches the dates and number of the published ACMA updates as downloaded from their site.

    What you should be concerned about it that the blacklist was designed for PC "filters" for children and that the government intended to use that list to censor the activities of adult at the level of a child safe filter.

  • not only Australia (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 20, 2009 @05:42AM (#27266105)

    Many countries are currently working on internet filters, they block on the prodivders DNSes.
    They dont really speak of it, an example is Italy. (France to be next in 2010)

    Check the italian list :

    http://www.aams.it/site.php?op=download&page=20060213093339750 [www.aams.it]

    Check number 4, and you will see that betfair is blocked in Italy too btw :-)

  • Re:stupid (Score:2, Informative)

    by mabinogi (74033) on Friday March 20, 2009 @05:53AM (#27266135) Homepage

    No, the Queen of Australia is Australia's monarch.
    It just happens that the Queen of Australia is also, but independently, the Queen of the United Kingdom.

    That aside, the monarch has no law making powers at all, it's entirely in the hands of parliament.

  • Re:I did a CTRL+F (Score:3, Informative)

    by Lord Nerevar (1184053) on Friday March 20, 2009 @06:33AM (#27266283)
    We are not independent. We are constitutional monarchy, which means that the Queen is still the Head of State. However, I think that the law that makes a presentation that may encourage dissent illegal only still stands because the people who can change either don't want to to or can't be bothered.
  • Re:I did a CTRL+F (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 20, 2009 @07:24AM (#27266461)

    It's a wholly inaccurate post. Yes we were a penal colony but yes we did re-write all our laws - or at least those relating to being a penal settlement.

    We introduced a modern constitution with full and serious debate on how the US constitution and others were working out, and eventually decided on very few basic human rights, with the belief that a popularly elected parliament would better resolve competing interests in this area.

  • Re:*This is fake* (Score:3, Informative)

    by makomk (752139) on Friday March 20, 2009 @07:33AM (#27266499) Journal

    iiNet isn't a family friendly ISP but they're participating in the trial.

    No, they're not. They asked to participate in order to demonstrate what a bad idea it was, but weren't included in the trial. The poster you're replying to is correct.

  • Re:UK and Australia (Score:2, Informative)

    by Lunzo (1065904) on Friday March 20, 2009 @07:48AM (#27266565)

    As much as I dislike Fielding, he got into the senate fair and square. The 1000 votes comment is a lie. He personally got over 2000 votes (i.e. people voting below the line) and his Family first party got 53000 of the primary votes in voting above the line.

    He did still get in courtesy of Labor and Liberal (conservative for non-Australian readers) party preferences though, because the Greens got around 243000 primary votes in Victoria and didn't get one of the six senate spots. If you vote above the line your preferences get allocated according to what the party you voted for wants. I bet Labor are wishing they did their usual preference swap with the Greens in the 04 election (Fielding has blocked some of the government's legislation in the past few days).

  • Re:I did a CTRL+F (Score:5, Informative)

    by MicktheMech (697533) on Friday March 20, 2009 @07:55AM (#27266601) Homepage
    For the love of God, learn about your own civic structure. Australia is independent. The Queen rules Australia in right of Australia, completely separately from any other realm. The UK parliament has had zero authority over Australia since the statute of Westminster. The only reason that Australia has the same queen as the UK, Canada, etc... is because we all CHOSE to abide by the same succession criteria. Don't go crying to the rest of us if you don't like your laws. You only have your own selves to blame and we won't be your scapegoats.

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