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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 pecosdave (536896) * on Thursday March 19, 2009 @10:04PM (#27264495) Homepage Journal

    Then I typed the word "Goat" - I saw the .cx variation - well, at least they're making some attempt at saving the populace from the horrors of the web.

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

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 19, 2009 @10:13PM (#27264553)

      As I stated on the petition to reinstate Goatse's domain, instead of having a single site to block there we are now stuck with dozens of mirrors. The internet now has more gaping arsehole to gaze at than ever before. Furthermore, the constant attempts to shut down shock site's domains leads to them registering multiple domains in various TLDs to ensure at least one or two of the domains stays registered.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by SupremoMan (912191)
      I thought that was the best part of the internet.
    • Re:I did a CTRL+F (Score:5, Insightful)

      by unlametheweak (1102159) on Thursday March 19, 2009 @10:21PM (#27264609)

      Then I typed the word "Goat" - I saw the .cx variation - well, at least they're making some attempt at saving the populace from the horrors of the web.

      So that would mean that Slashdot has (or likely will be) blacklisted, because it has most of the criteria for blacklisting: it posts secret, patented numbers; sites about gay Negroes, goats, gambling, and references the links to banned and immoral Internet domains (like in this front page story).

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

        by ghostcorps (975146) on Thursday March 19, 2009 @11:30PM (#27264997) Homepage

        Yes! That is exactly what it means. Australians have very few 'rights'. The free speech thing.. forget it.

        There is a big issue with blogs, because, by Australian Law any presentation that may encourage dissent is illegal (remember: we were originally a penal colony). So the very nature of blogs.. ie opinionated ranting, ensures that they can be shut off without notice if anyone says they were offended. Indeed we have already seen this with wikipedia, wikileaks, yahoo and google group pages. Essentially, any ideas that have not been vetted by the govt is open to any misinterperetation and repurcusions..

        Behold ... the future

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

          by RMH101 (636144) on Friday March 20, 2009 @03:23AM (#27265835)
          Up until the 1950s, there was a blacklist of books in Australia.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Xest (935314)

          "(remember: we were originally a penal colony)"

          Did someone forget to re-write the law books when you became independent or something??

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Lord Nerevar (1184053)
            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:5, Informative)

              by MicktheMech (697533) on Friday March 20, 2009 @06:55AM (#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.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by shungi (977531)
          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 @07:21AM (#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: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Kell Bengal (711123)
            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.
      • Re:I did a CTRL+F (Score:5, Insightful)

        by eln (21727) on Friday March 20, 2009 @01:08AM (#27265385) Homepage

        So that would mean that Slashdot has (or likely will be) blacklisted

        On the bright side, productivity in Australian IT departments will skyrocket.

      • by dbIII (701233) on Friday March 20, 2009 @02:54AM (#27265735)
        Guess who owns the "cx" top level domain? The Australian government since they own the territory of Christmas Island.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      So they're banning perfectly legal gay porn?
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        It is unlikely that Mr. Goatse is completely gay because you can see his wedding ring in the famous shot.

        Mr. Goatse may be bi, or he may just like to put stuff in his butt. According to Cosmopolitan magazine, a surprising number of men enjoy inserting things in their anuses. Additionally, God invented homosexuality -- why else would a man be able to have a prostate orgasm? So Mr. Goatse and his wife may have fooled around, starting with a finger or two and moving on to inserting whole forearms years lat
    • by rduke15 (721841) <rduke15.gmail@com> on Friday March 20, 2009 @02:28AM (#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 Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 19, 2009 @10:10PM (#27264527)
    i took a quick look at the blacklist and found some porn sites that i didn't know about. awesome! it's like a pre-filtered list of quality porn links! they saved me a lot of surfing time!
    • *This is fake* (Score:3, Informative)

      by kestasjk (933987) *
      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, Insightful)

        by nedlohs (1335013) on Thursday March 19, 2009 @11:11PM (#27264903)

        And we would take him at his word, why?

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

        by ElectricTurtle (1171201) on Thursday March 19, 2009 @11:15PM (#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: (Score:2, Informative)

        by taucross (1330311)
        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:*This is fake* (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Hecatonchires (231908) on Thursday March 19, 2009 @11:46PM (#27265065) Homepage

        I don't believe Conroy. Do you?

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

        by Swampash (1131503) on Friday March 20, 2009 @12:31AM (#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 @12:34AM (#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.

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

        by xenobyte (446878) on Friday March 20, 2009 @03:04AM (#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: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mpe (36238)
        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]

        Would they say anything else? Also Conroy appears to be a "career politician" so it's probably wise to take anything he says with a few kg of salt :)
    • by Spit (23158) on Thursday March 19, 2009 @11:04PM (#27264861)

      It's like a "What's HOT!" zeitgeist for the discerning pervert.

  • by Fluffeh (1273756) on Thursday March 19, 2009 @10:11PM (#27264537)
    I can only watch as my jaw is hanging limply. I can't believe that anyone who got power to do something would abuse that power. Really. Truly. They promised they wouldn't when we brought it up before. They said they were only doing it for us.
    • by zappepcs (820751) on Thursday March 19, 2009 @10:44PM (#27264767) Journal

      Is I told you so redundant?

      There is NO reason to trust any government, ever. period.

      The more they ask you to trust them with, the less you should trust them. This is the rule of the land. Governments are not here to help anyone but themselves. When you get rid of one bad politician, 10 more are ready to take their place. They say that absolute power corrupts absolutely. Think about that for a minute. These people are not absolute rulers and look how fucked up they are. The more we trust them with, the more fucked up they will get.

      No, there is no simple answer, but citizens should never allow such things as this to exist in the first place. In the US, the second amendment helps to ensure that citizens have a method for revoking license given to governments... if it comes to that.

      P.S. They are NEVER doing anything for you, they (the government) always do things for themselves. They just say it's for you, kind of in the same way that a rapist says "this is for you" before they start in on you.

      • by Oswald (235719)
        Very earnest. However, I think the poster you have "educated" was simply being a smartass. The. One. Word. Sentences. Are. A. Tipoff.
    • by gravos (912628)
      "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

      -- John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton
  • by denzacar (181829) on Thursday March 19, 2009 @10:15PM (#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]

  • Wikileaks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LordKaT (619540) on Thursday March 19, 2009 @10:16PM (#27264569) Homepage Journal

    god bless wikileaks.

  • by unlametheweak (1102159) on Thursday March 19, 2009 @10:16PM (#27264577)

    The blacklists were reportedly leaked by a Web filter operator to wikileaks which has published the full list of banned URLs.

    These numerous government blacklists have proven to be a boon to porn and gambling industries. There are Web sites that I never would have even thought to go to if it weren't for these black lists. I want to thank the government of Australia for helping to open my eyes and my mind to the vast unseen Internet.

  • by muzzy (164903) on Thursday March 19, 2009 @10:21PM (#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...

    • by schon (31600) on Thursday March 19, 2009 @10:40PM (#27264753)

      It's just funny cat pictures

      Well, it's understandable why they blocked it - it's kitty porn. /me ducks.

    • by muzzy (164903) on Thursday March 19, 2009 @10:54PM (#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.

  • by NevarMore (248971) on Thursday March 19, 2009 @10:25PM (#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 happyslayer (750738) <david@isisltd.com> on Thursday March 19, 2009 @10:25PM (#27264649)

    [Bookmarks] -> [Bookmark This Page] -> [Done]

    Australia's Secret Internet Filter: Your one-stop shopping for porn!

  • by twostix (1277166) on Thursday March 19, 2009 @10:32PM (#27264689)

    And I'll say it again.

    In the haste to throw out the smarmy blue blooded $50k a year private school aristocrat wannabes known as the liberals out of government, we've introduced something that's so far been *far* worse. And I say that as someone voted for them!

    At least the liberals had a solid grounding in running the country and seemed to know what the hell they were doing. So far Rudd and that dimwitted treasurer Swan have been blundering about without any sort of cohesive strategy and burning through billions of dollars a day doing it.

    It would seem that like any 'revolution', when the dust settles usually the country ends up worse off when the populist leader takes power.

    Even my father, a dyed in the wool blue collar labour man has started questioning whether Rudd's more interested in selling us out to China, financially AND ideologically than the he is in the national good. What sort of politician pushes something like this onto his own free country?

    Who is Rudd really? (Seriously I'm genuinely interested).

    • by daver00 (1336845)

      With you all of the way there buddy, and as a die hard despiser of wannabe blue bloods myself, I'm so far very tempted to vote for the enemy next time (if and only if Turnbull is still leader). Why? Rudd is a cunt, a slimy arrogant ultraconservative cunt with less than no concept of economics and a dangerous penchant for signing blank cheques. Harsh? Well thats how I'm feeling right now, I am so mad with this useless excuse for a new government. The response to the Henson photos was inexcusable, and now thi

    • by Cathbard (954906) on Friday March 20, 2009 @12:00AM (#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 kramulous (977841) * on Thursday March 19, 2009 @10:32PM (#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 @10:35PM (#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.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      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.
  • Let's all keep in mind that, as we review this list, this entire effort is made to protect the kids from being used for child pornography. Or something.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 19, 2009 @10:40PM (#27264747)

    When Bush took over America and went down many, many bad roads, the world took us to task. For cause. It wasn't news to us, and admittedly many of those taking us to task lived in even more corrupt places, but this is America. We don't do 'wrong', and that shit was clearly wrong, and it should never have happened.

    We're supposed to be the good guys, dammit. Well, now the money's on the table, the vote came, the vote was made, we exorcised our demon and repairs are being made at record pace. We are the good guys, that never changed, and we're cleaning the tarnish that those brought to our shine. It's never perfect, nothing is, but we're at least going to try.

    Well here in America, last we knew, Australia was a land of good guys too. Inviduality. Freedom. The good fight. SO WHAT THE FUCK'S GOING ON DOWN THERE?!? How the hell is this going on WITHOUT a 9/11?

    It's time for the citizens of that fair nation to show us what they got. Time to whip out the vote and make things perfectly clear. Write a letter. Make a sign. Anything. I don't doubt that Australia has it in them, but if you're waiting for the right time, it looks like it's passed!

  • by sam_v1.35b (1296319) on Thursday March 19, 2009 @11:06PM (#27264869) Homepage
    Senator Stephen Conroy would like to recall the message: "ACMA Blacklist - see attachment".
  • Goes without saying for us lot, but be really careful looking at the list if you have a browser with a link accelerator (that crawls forward links and caches them). Could find yourself catching someone's attention, not if you're in Australia though, the feds are too busy running after the people who leaked the list that isn't really the list.
  • Can anyone tell me WTF is wrong with this page?

    WARNING: I haven't checked personally, since I live in Australia, so it may not be work-friendly.

    • The filter here at work thinks it is pornography.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Toonol (1057698)
        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.
  • fascinating (Score:3, Insightful)

    by okmijnuhb (575581) on Friday March 20, 2009 @12:01AM (#27265153)
    It's fascinating to see what occurs behind the kangaroo curtain.
    When the hell did they become Soviet Australia?
  • by vmlojw (1504879) on Friday March 20, 2009 @12:18AM (#27265225)
    I agree with NevarMore. Anti-abortion sites can have some stomach-turning pics. But that's not the real problem. The real reason why that one was blacklisted is pre-term porn. Yep, it's a growing evil. All those nekkid pictures of poor defenceless foetuses: Pre-term porn, a social disaster just waiting to happen. http://vmlojwclog.blogspot.com/2009/03/official-concern.html [blogspot.com]
  • by DiSKiLLeR (17651) on Friday March 20, 2009 @12:45AM (#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 symbolset (646467) on Friday March 20, 2009 @01:08AM (#27265387) Journal

    It's a secret list. You can't know what sites are on it, but you can't link to sites on the list.

    It's like your girlfriend who doesn't want you to say certain things, but won't tell you what they are.

    Only a government weasel could come up with such an idea. It's clear he doesn't know how the Internet works.

  • by Anachragnome (1008495) on Friday March 20, 2009 @02:11AM (#27265603)

    It is nice to know that you do not have to represent a government to engage in "spycraft".

    It is also nice to know that the People have moles in governments and in corporations. Kudos, to whoever you are.

    Sad state of affairs that it is required, though.

     

  • Obligatory (Score:4, Funny)

    by Drakkenmensch (1255800) on Friday March 20, 2009 @07:50AM (#27266951)
    Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

The use of anthropomorphic terminology when dealing with computing systems is a symptom of professional immaturity. -- Edsger Dijkstra

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