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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 Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 19, 2009 @11:40PM (#27264749)

    Some of it looks like it would be underage stuff... I clicked a few random links (particularly the google groups and wikipedia ones), and it seems like a lot of the stuff that's on the banned list doesn't even *exist* on the varied websites anymore. I didn't get one valid link out of about five or six I clicked.

  • Re:*This is fake* (Score:2, Interesting)

    by unlametheweak (1102159) on Friday March 20, 2009 @12:44AM (#27265061)

    Strangely the government is still going to try and find out who "leaked" this fake list.

    I could presume it's because the Australian government is intent on fighting fraud, since the blacklist is evidently fraudulent.

  • by beta.services (1396063) on Friday March 20, 2009 @12:59AM (#27265141)
    Also of note: The list displayed is apparently about twice the size of the official list. - This, of course, is the claim of the Government. I would like to see some proof that this is or isn't the official list. From either the Government or WikiLeaks (Un)fortunately, the only way to do this is for the official list to be released.
  • by Cathbard (954906) on Friday March 20, 2009 @01:00AM (#27265147)
    It was a damned if you do and damned if you don't sort of thing. We had to get rid of Howard with his IR laws and his other extreme right policies or we would have become america. However the alternative was a pack of wankas. Still, he had to go or else we would have ended up with the poor dying in the street like other hard core right wing countries (you know who you are).

    As for Rudd? He's one of the richest politicians in Canberra (oh sorry, it's all his wife's money /snark) and he's the leader of the Labour Party - I mean wtf? It just shows that we don't have a Labour Party any more. Thats what we really need, an old school Labour Party so we can switch back and forwards between the left and the right and retain a sensible balance like we once had.

    It's like Lewis Black said about the Bush vs Kerry election - "we were offered two bowls of shit, the only difference was the smell." All you can do really is vote for the opposition at every election so each bowl of shit doesn't create a permanent stain.

  • by Cameron McCormack (690882) on Friday March 20, 2009 @01:01AM (#27265151) Homepage
    I'll be in the audience. Suggestions on the most effective way to point out flaws in the proposed censorship regime welcome. :)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 20, 2009 @01:02AM (#27265157)

    The real victims of internet filtering are those poor souls who are in charge of creating and maintaining the filter list. They are exposed to the most vile, the foulest and most disgusting content on the Internet.

    Imagine the worst Internet sites you have ever been tricked into seeing, and multiply the horror tenfold. That is nothing compared to the daily workload of a filtering technician, who checks thousands of those sites every day.

    Then, they must gather in panels of judges to determine which material must be censored, to ensure greater accountability and protect the moral safety of all citizens. Together they discuss the content and images found on the foulest of Web sites.

    So you know why this whole censorship thing is such a terrible idea? Because these images are so dangerous, so damaging, that they cause irreparable mental trauma to the workers who are exposed all day long. It is a barbaric practice.

    Until the day we can develop an Artificial Intelligence that can automatically censor all content correctly according to moral criteria defined and enforced by the government, we must stop hurting the workers who are condemned to this, the most traumatizing of jobs, and put an end to Internet censorship.

  • by tg123 (1409503) on Friday March 20, 2009 @01:06AM (#27265167)

    That's why I'm voting LNP tomorrow...the local labor mob in charge now are greedy commies; yeah I'm talking to you Bowen mayor Cr Brunker!

    NO!!!!!!!

    please... I'll even beg [beg]

    If you can not vote labor, vote greens at least then you can have a clear conscience and a warm inner glow.

    I do not want the cops to be in charge again.

    http://catalogue.nla.gov.au/Author/Home?author=Whitrod,%20Ray,%201915-2003 [nla.gov.au]

    I least labor lies with a smile on their face.
    (grama nazis are you happy ? correct syntax that time.)

    The nationals, thats what LNP really are (the liberals in qld do not exist anymore), are a corrupt bunch of country bumpkins.

  • Re:*This is fake* (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Swampash (1131503) on Friday March 20, 2009 @01:31AM (#27265259)

    Conroy and ISPs implementing the blacklist confirm that this is a fake

    And yet in spite of this list's confirmed fakeness, Conroy has threatened that anyone distributing this confirmed fake list will be subject to investigation by federal police and suffer criminal prosecution.

    o_O

  • Re:*This is fake* (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rahvin112 (446269) on Friday March 20, 2009 @01:34AM (#27265269)

    "This is fake"

    um ugh, hmph... and...

    "ACMA is investigating this matter and is considering a range of possible actions it may take including referral to the Australian Federal Police. Any Australian involved in making this content publicly available would be at serious risk of criminal prosecution."

    If the list is fake what exactly are they going to prosecute anyone for?

    When my government denied their were secret CIA prisons then threatened to put people in jail for revealing stuff I nodded my head and said their are probably secret prisons. People don't threaten to call the police or put people in jail unless the item in question is real. I'm willing to bet that regardless of the fist pounding and outrage that this might not be today's list, and it might not be the August 8th list but it's the list at one time. No question about it because of the way he responded. The language makes you think they deny it's the list, but it appears to me their denial is very coached. It's not THE list. Not it's never been the list.

  • by dbIII (701233) on Friday March 20, 2009 @02:34AM (#27265479)
    To put the above link in perspective Terry Lewis went from being the top cop in an area with a population of less than 2000 to being police commissioner of the entire state after Whitrod resigned. He later spent time in jail as did several members of the government of the time.
    Borbage's later government was marked with similar corrupt events to a lesser scale. For example the budget of the R&D section of the electricity commission was raided to pay over a million in "Real estate consultancy fees relating to China" to the notable National Party member Max Christmas - far more notable since a state owned electricity commission was not going to buy any land in China and Max Christmas had not even been to that country. Losing most of the budget to a handout to a mate meant several job losses. That's the sort of thing you can expect from a "clean" National Party.

    For a US equivalent there were a few governments in Georgia that were very similar - agrarian socialists on the surface but outright fascists in so far as dealing with city folk.

  • Re:stupid (Score:4, Interesting)

    by fractoid (1076465) on Friday March 20, 2009 @02:44AM (#27265505) Homepage
    Um, we're a democratic republic, somewhat similar to your own country. We have no way of forcibly blocking legislation like this until the next election, excepting widespread civil disobedience or an outright coup.

    They need to weight individual MPs votes by their local approval rating. That would give us a direct way to affect proceedings. As it is, the whole system's a farce. At least with a king, if he gets bad enough you can shoot him and install another one without having to wait until next election.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 20, 2009 @03:01AM (#27265565)

    Dude, Check out Thailand's blacklisted porno. (Also courtesy of Wikileaks) Makes the Aussie blacklisted porno seem like sesame street. Also, some pages that say evil things like, "lets stop it with the martial law and be a democracy again." Such concentrated evil...

  • by rduke15 (721841) <rduke15@noSpaM.gmail.com> on Friday March 20, 2009 @03:28AM (#27265661)

    But apparently, you didn't click the link. You should have. Apart from being funny, it's also a perfect example of the nonsense of these lists. Here it is: http://www.goat.cx [www.goat.cx] (and no, it's not exactly why you think it is)

  • by Yaur (1069446) on Friday March 20, 2009 @03:32AM (#27265669)
    Someone posted a link in the last story about this that showed wikileaks becoming unreachable on the 18th... not sure how reliable it is but I'm sure you could find it if you look.
  • Re:Wikileaks (Score:3, Interesting)

    by digitalchinky (650880) <dtchky@gmail.com> on Friday March 20, 2009 @03:37AM (#27265687)

    It would be utterly trivial. No internet café needed. You're talking about huge Australian ISP's here, it's not that hard to make shit vanish if you drive the network. You have a bunch of very technically literate people that have complete control over what their systems log, this often encompasses some very large chunks of the routing between themselves and the international border. Making all the hops within Australia actually vanish is probably a couple of minutes work, and it's not like wikileaks is actually going to leak what they know just because Conroy is frothing at the mouth so bad and threatening to get the Australian Federal Police on the case.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 20, 2009 @03:52AM (#27265727)

    9/11 didn't just affect you, you know. You would know that Australia, Britain and a bunch of small nations joined the coalition of the willing along with passing "anti terrorist" legislation.

    Also, how can you define Australia as the "fair nation [...] freedom" when we don't even have a right to freedom of speech?

    Let's not get started on other countries affected by 9/11, like Egypt, Pakistan or, hell I don't know, Iraq.

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

    by calmofthestorm (1344385) on Friday March 20, 2009 @04:46AM (#27265909)

    Arguably by making it easy to find you make it easy to avoid.

  • Re:I did a CTRL+F (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Lunzo (1065904) on Friday March 20, 2009 @07:18AM (#27266435)
    Last I heard there are still some books which are banned. For example, I think one of Dr. Nitschke's Euthanasia books is banned here.
  • by Cathbard (954906) on Friday March 20, 2009 @07:47AM (#27266563)
    We did kick out the fascist prick that had his head firmly planted up Bush's arse. He even got booted out of his own electorate (which hasn't happened since the war). Bush even gave the little prick a medal for brown-nosing. The dirtbag trying to bring in this filter was our only alternative!

    There is of course the chance that the filter will never be implemented and is all just a "Yes Minister" ploy (just as the responder to "False Alarm" suggested) to get the senate on side until the Industrial Relations act was passed. Industrial Relations was by far the main reason they won the election and the delay in changing it was making them look REAL bad. Now that that bill has passed there is a good chance that this may all be abandoned - time will tell. Let's all keep our fingers crossed hey?

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

    by shungi (977531) on Friday March 20, 2009 @07:49AM (#27266569)
    Actually, one right right we do enjoy here in Oz is the right to 'political communication'. It would be intersting to see if the abortion people who've been listed took issue with this in the high court what the outcome wouldbe... Indeed, one might take issue with the whole list on that basis...
  • Re:I did a CTRL+F (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dov_0 (1438253) on Friday March 20, 2009 @08:21AM (#27266753)
    I must admit that I was one of the few supporting the blacklist, when all they said they'd block was porn. In the original proposal users could 'opt out' of the automatic censorship by contacting their ISP. Families can cruise the web with more confidence and those who want porn can get it easily. No probs.
    When they put the anti-abortion site on the blacklist they made an enemy of me. That's political. That's an attempt to stifle public debate. Public debate is the basis of democracy. The current Labour government is the most pro abortion government we've ever had in Australia with a number of 'Emily's List' MP's to boot.
    Guess I'd better not annoy anyone in that department too much though or those hairy arm-pitted lesbian feminist civil 'servants' will block my business website as well!
  • Re:*This is fake* (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Ragein (901507) on Friday March 20, 2009 @10:11AM (#27267793)
    I just found out that the dentaldistinction link is blocked where I work. Thats a Uk Local education authority :s wonder where they got that link from.
  • Re:I did a CTRL+F (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Kell Bengal (711123) on Friday March 20, 2009 @11:48AM (#27269227)
    Why would you want opt-out, instead of opt-in? I don't particularly like the idea of having to go to an ISP and identifying myself directly as either a subversive or a pervert. Much easier, don't you think, to have all those people out there who do want something like this to opt-in, so they can be easily identified as people who need someone else to regulate their internet use.

"Pull the wool over your own eyes!" -- J.R. "Bob" Dobbs

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