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Australia Censorship Privacy

Australia Air Travelers' Laptops To Be Searched For Porn 647

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the all-real-problems-solved dept.
bluetoad writes "Australian customs officers have been given the power to search incoming travelers' laptops and mobile phones for porn. Passengers must declare whether they are carrying pornography on their Incoming Passenger Card. The Australian government is also planning to implement an Internet filter. Once these powers are in places, who knows how they will be used."
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Australia Air Travelers' Laptops To Be Searched For Porn

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  • So... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by epiphani (254981) <epiphani.dal@net> on Thursday May 20, 2010 @08:21AM (#32277816)

    So they can search for porn. What can they do if they find it? Is porn illegal in Australia now?

    • Re:So... (Score:5, Funny)

      by houstonbofh (602064) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @08:24AM (#32277846)
      Who knows, but if you thought the lines were long now... On most geek laptops, this could take a while.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Spazztastic (814296)

        Who knows, but if you thought the lines were long now... On most geek laptops, this could take a while.

        No, they're just going to have a third booth for you to go to at customs. One for something to declare, one for nothing to declare, and a third for Pornography. The third one will have a line out to the tarmac.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I call rule 34 on tarmac pr0n.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Dekker3D (989692)

            alright! i've heard people saying "fuck the world", but actually fucking the tarmac? ouch... forgive me if i don't think too much about the how and why of that one.

            • Re:So... (Score:4, Funny)

              by Ihmhi (1206036) <i_have_mental_health_issues@yahoo.com> on Thursday May 20, 2010 @09:34AM (#32279126)

              I've had this fetish for years, but searching any streaming porn site for "hot sticky black" just brings up wholly disappointing results.

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by networkBoy (774728)

                ha ha ha...
                I was thinking more along the lines of a nice open "porn" folder in "My Pictures" (because if you have linux they won't likely be able to search, and instead just confiscate your notebook). In said folder I'll place pictures of all the different dismembered electronics bits (Geek Porn), and one rick roll video.

                While I'm sure this will make my travel times longer, I also think it will be worth it :-)

                • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

                  ha ha ha... I was thinking more along the lines of a nice open "porn" folder in "My Pictures" (because if you have linux they won't likely be able to search, and instead just confiscate your notebook). In said folder I'll place pictures of all the different dismembered electronics bits (Geek Porn), and one rick roll video.

                  I was thinking more along the lines that Goatse, Lemonparty, and Hitler's face photoshopped onto naked women's bodies all constitute porn. Really, after an eyefull of that, they're not gonna go looking for my real porn folder.

        • Re:So... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by AHuxley (892839) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @08:58AM (#32278482) Homepage Journal
          The third one will have a line out to the tarmac.
          Yes the real question is in the "declare" part.
          If you say "no" in good faith and they find you with "anything", things can get legally interesting as you lied on your paperwork.
          Citizen journalist, authors, speakers, protesters with story time limits can all face a long time wasting legal choke point.
          Sitting in detention as they appeal the fine point of "declare" and the material found on their computers.
          Days later they are released with a no comment due to privacy laws from the federal gov. Their story/work lost and reputations damaged.
          Buy a new HD/ssd before entering Australia and install only productivity apps.
          Encrypt anything in/out while networking in Australia and buy a new HD/ssd on exiting.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Forever Nested.

        \pr0n\haha just kidding\ then a symlink back to \pr0n

    • Re:So... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Spazztastic (814296) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [citsatzzaps]> on Thursday May 20, 2010 @08:25AM (#32277872)

      Is porn illegal in Australia now?

      Nope. FTFA:

      Patten said if the question was designed to stop child pornography being smuggled into the country then the question should have been asked about "child pornography", without encompassing regular porn.

      Because you totally need to bring a hard drive into the country to bring along CP, you can't use those newfangled technologies like encrypted network connections and proxies to get around it.

      What a giant circle jerk of pretending they are helping the victims.

      • Re:So... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Shakrai (717556) * on Thursday May 20, 2010 @08:32AM (#32277974) Journal

        What a giant circle jerk of pretending they are helping the victims.

        Now how can you say that? They are ASKING you if you have porn on your computer. Surely no self respecting kiddie porn pervert would disgrace himself by LYING, would he?

      • Re:So... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by dncsky1530 (711564) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @08:40AM (#32278148) Homepage
        This is only the latest in a string of censorship proposals that the government claims are targeted towards protecting people from child pornography.

        As the article says, if child porn is the issue then why not just limit it to that? The same question has been asked about the proposed internet filter, which the government also claims is for protecting people from child porn but has been extended to cover all refused classification [acma.gov.au] material.

        Just as filtering the internet as has been proposed isn't really feasible (at least with little impact on speed), I highly doubt customs agents would or can search the tons of laptops and phones coming into Australia. All it would take is one person with 10GB of porn to keep them busy for a couple hours.
        • Re:So... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 20, 2010 @09:42AM (#32279248)

          This is only the latest in a string of censorship proposals that the government claims are targeted towards protecting people from child pornography.

          The whole idea of protecting people from kiddie porn is just ludicrous. The laws are supposed to be about protecting the _kids_ from being exploited, not "protecting" adults from being exploiters (if you consider downloading free stuff from the internet to be "exploitive"... IMHO the exploitation has already happened and anyone downloading the content isn't doing anything to help the exploiters unless they are paying for it).

      • Re:So... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by commodore64_love (1445365) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @08:40AM (#32278152) Journal

        I imagine this could have serious consequences for Japanese and other Asian travelers were images of child porn (i.e. anime and manga) are perfectly legal. In Australia such drawings are outlawed, even though there's NO victim in this so-called crime. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

        I don't know why our Aussie cousins put up with such nonsense, and do not demand repeal of these laws that infringe upon the individual rights of both artists and users of the art. Freedom of expression is given to us by our Creator (god or nature) and no government has legitimate authority to take away that right, anymore than it has a right to cut off our hands or gouge-out our eyes.

        • Re:So... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Shakrai (717556) * on Thursday May 20, 2010 @08:42AM (#32278194) Journal

          I imagine this could have serious consequences for Japanese and other Asian travelers were images of child porn (i.e. anime and manga) are perfectly legal.

          Tough shit. My handgun is completely legal the United States. If I take it into another country where it's not legal I'm going to be charged. Maybe the Japanese should leave their kiddie porn at home when they travel to the West?

          • Re:So... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @08:57AM (#32278468)
            Anime and manga should be legal. They're cartoons; Fictional representations of a fabricated encounter, often between entities which do not even exist outside of a person's imagination.

            Or do you think there really are impossibly proportioned cartoon people in the real world, with emotions other than those that the artist has attributed to them at the exact time being pictured? Do they have a family history? Are they going to grow up in later life and abuse other cartoon people?
          • >>>Maybe the Japanese should leave their kiddie porn at home when they travel to the West?

            Someone who doesn't know his geography probably doesn't know much about Individual Human Rights or Natural Law Philosophy either. No doubt that's why you ignored the rest of my posting - The Australian government has no more legitimate authority to outlaw art, then it does to cutoff the artist's hand, or to enslave the artist.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by poetmatt (793785)

        Please. why does this have to be so complicated? A flash drive will do. Maybe a 16GB one which is like $30 US? Keep it in your pocket, and they won't even know you have it. Hell, keep one in each pocket, and you have 32GB of porn coming in the country.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Agreed. This is a political play -- an agenda create by those who don't have a clue what they're doing and are too arrogant to consult technical folks that do. It will fizzle when they realize it's fruitless or the media winds no longer blow in a favorable direction.

        I've worked at quite a few businesses that promoted very similar -- doomed to failed because we're business people and don't have any idea what we're doing -- initiatives.

    • Re:So... (Score:4, Informative)

      by Iyonesco (1482555) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @08:43AM (#32278206)

      Yes. Pictures of women over 18 with small breasts are illegal on the grounds that it is "virtual child pornography":

      http://www.somebodythinkofthechildren.com/australia-bans-small-breasts/ [somebodyth...ildren.com]

      Drawings of girls under 18 are banned because that too is virtual child pornography:

      http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2010/01/simpsons-powerpuff-girls-porn-nets-jail-time-for-australian.ars [arstechnica.com]

      Basically then if they want to arrest you I'm sure they could find something in your porn collection that's illegal, whether its a girl with small breasts or some cartoon porn.

      Much like Canada they're very concerned with "virtual" things down there and far less concerned about real crimes. No doubt they'll be banning virtual murder and virtual dangerous driving in computer games next.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        So the problem with the small breasts ban? Most girls who end up with huge knockers usually have decent sized ones well before 18. And the flat chested ones? They're probably not going to increase much between the ages of 17 years, 364 days and 18.

        Ageism at its best. Puberty in women is usually between ages 15 and 17. There's not much happening at the age of 18.
    • by elrous0 (869638) *
      Australia has become the world's equivalent of Alabama in recent years. Every month, we get a new batch of batshit crazy shit from down under. I fully expect them to announce they're outlawing music any day now.
    • Re:So... (Score:4, Informative)

      by Cimexus (1355033) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @09:11AM (#32278718)

      TFA is a bit of a beat-up. Basically, it's just clarifying that customs officers have the right to search your laptop. Just as they do in most other countries (including the US).

      The justification in this case is twofold:

      - Child porn (yes the old 'think of the children');
      - Commercial quantities of regular porn (porn is legal to own and view in Australia, but it is illegal to sell it outside of specific areas and circumstances)

      So this is targeted at people bringing in 50 shrinkwrapped XXX DVDs or child porn, rather than average joe who took some nude shots of his wife while on vacation overseas. You don't honestly think Customs has the time or resources to search everyone's laptop. I mean, EVERYONE travels with one these days. Half the time if you don't look suspicious and haven't declared anything they don't even bother putting you through the scanner ... they just say "go on through".

      Another case of Australia seeming to have scary laws on paper, but which in reality will have no real effect. They are just there so that there's a legal justification for a search of a laptop in extreme cases (previously I don't think there was a justification for this since the Customs laws hadn't been updated in a while).

  • by Dyinobal (1427207) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @08:22AM (#32277822)
    Well there goes my plans to smuggle porn into Australia and use it in a terrorist attack.
    • by FreeUser (11483) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @08:24AM (#32277854)

      Well there goes my plans to smuggle porn into Australia and use it in a terrorist attack.

      Gives 'blowjob' a whole new meaning...

  • Ok (Score:5, Funny)

    by Spazztastic (814296) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [citsatzzaps]> on Thursday May 20, 2010 @08:22AM (#32277826)

    Well, I hope the guards are really desensitized because once they search my laptop they will most likely vomit.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 20, 2010 @08:23AM (#32277832)

    In the US this kind of thing would usually be blamed on politicians pandering to the Christian right. Are there really a lot of fundies in Australia too? I always thought it was a very laid back sort of country.

  • Everyone should start carrying an SD card filled with variations on goatse and 2 girls 1 cup
  • Censorship (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Enderandrew (866215) <.enderandrew. .at. .gmail.com.> on Thursday May 20, 2010 @08:26AM (#32277880) Homepage Journal

    Censorship is not only morally wrong, it is ineffective. You chase your tail wasting time and money often to accomplish nothing.

    When will people learn?

  • ...and? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by KlausBreuer (105581) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @08:27AM (#32277890) Homepage

    What is it with these nutcases and pornography?
    "Eeeeeeek, a woman showing a naked boobie! How horrifying!" ...but sending your own people to an obscure war on the other side of the world to involve them in shooting at civilians, that's okay?

  • What's that you say skippy?
    The porn is trapped in the free world!

    Back to dream time.

  • What if my laptop is encrypted because of PCI compliance? What if it is against the law in my country for me to compromise confidential information, but now Australia demands to see it? Does this mean American businessmen can't travel ao Australia with company laptops?

    Or will Australia not search encrypted laptops?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by NevarMore (248971)

      Why the hell are you browsing porn on a laptop that has PCI information on it!

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Spykk (823586)
        A better question might be why do you have PCI data on a laptop at all? Something tells me that the airport is not part of your cardholder environment...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by schmidt349 (690948)

      Probably it just means corporate and national security outfits will have all sensitive data pass through a nice strong VPN connection. The laptop you carry through customs will be freshly formatted and ready for any amount of probing.

      If you're not afraid of retribution you could have a text document sitting on your computer's desktop explaining the situation and advising their nanny state to please sod off. Include a link to here. [nelsonhaha.com]

      • by BenEnglishAtHome (449670) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @09:43AM (#32279274)

        Probably it just means corporate and national security outfits will have all sensitive data pass through a nice strong VPN connection. The laptop you carry through customs will be freshly formatted and ready for any amount of probing.

        That's exactly the way we [irs.gov] do it. We send people to France with some regularity and it's illegal to take an encrypted device into that country. Thus, we wipe the machine and put a base, unencrypted image on it. User flies to France. Once inside, an encypted blob of user data is VPN'd to the local IT guy who puts it on the laptop. User does his job. Before flying out, local IT guy wipes the machine.

        If Australia is going to start insisting on poking around in our machines, we'll have to do the same for employees going there.

        Of course, if it's optional I imagine our folks won't be subjected to it. Those red passports open a lot of doors. :-)

        (Actually, I've never seen one of our "official business only" passports. International travelers have their official passports stored in a safe in Washington D.C. and only get them issued right before departure. So I'm not sure they're red but that's what I've been told.)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Xugumad (39311)

      > Does this mean American businessmen can't travel ao Australia with company laptops?

      That would be my reading of this law, yes.

      Personally, I already have a travel netbook, with a very limited set of data on it. Partly because it means a search isn't going to find anything interesting, partly because it means if I lose the laptop it's a lot less of an issue.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by fostware (551290)

      What if my laptop is encrypted because of PCI compliance? What if it is against the law in my country for me to compromise confidential information, but now Australia demands to see it? Does this mean American businessmen can't travel ao Australia with company laptops?

      Or will Australia not search encrypted laptops?

      Karma for this:-
      Border Agents Can Search Laptops Without Cause, Appeals Court Rules [wired.com]
      and
      Taking your laptop into the US? Be sure to hide all your data first [guardian.co.uk]

      But the US is not alone. British customs agents search laptops for pornography. And there are reports on the internet of this sort of thing happening at other borders, too.

  • Note to self (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The MAZZTer (911996) <megazzt@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Thursday May 20, 2010 @08:28AM (#32277920) Homepage
    When travelling to Australia, remember to use drive-level encryption and turn off my laptop before passing through customs. I could also keep a LiveCD in the CD drive to keep customs happy since they'll have something to search.
  • by deniable (76198) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @08:32AM (#32277966)
    With the new filter, they need to get their porn somehow. This was the best option.
  • Well, Australia just came off my honeymoon list.
  • How bored the rent-a-cops at airports are? I still remember the two idiots who deliberately attempted to make me miss my flight .. somehow I don't think that type of person is the most qualified to make judgement calls.

    And what exactly is this hoping to achieve anyway? If someone wanted to smuggle illegal porn into Australia a laptop isn't exactly the most efficient means, just use public email systems and some basic encryption. Unless the government is going to demand that all home PCs have monitoring s
  • Wow. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AMSmith42 (60300) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @08:36AM (#32278096)

    Not being Australian, I have to ask, "What does the Australian government have against business and tourism?"

  • Yes, sir, officer (Score:4, Insightful)

    by paiute (550198) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @08:36AM (#32278102)

    Now just define 'porn' for me.

    • the smurfs (Score:3, Insightful)

      are having intercourse with the teddy ruxpins, while the cabbage patch kids are fellating the my little ponies

      the tamagotchi orgy centers on aang the last airbender and spongebob square pants is using the tentacled kate gosselin dildo on adam lambert and dick cheney ...

      oh i'm sorry, you meant define porn IN GENERAL, not my specific porn, sorry

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Anything that makes the censoring officer aroused.

  • Imagine this... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ZeroExistenZ (721849) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @08:54AM (#32278406)

    Scenario 1:
    You have a drive full of happy family pictures, with your 2yo running around naked on the beach.

    Scernario 2:
    You lend your laptop to your 14-15yo something teen for homework or an assignment, who ends up collecting sexy pictures of current love-interest or webcamfling, or whatever. You walk through security with a confident smile because you don't look at pron (on that laptop).

    You're jolly entering Australia for a nice warm vacation or business, but you did not get in because you're now in jail for childpornography.

    "Sir, did you leave your laptop unguarded? Did you pack your laptop yourself?"

    Australia, it could happen to you!

  • SO... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Joce640k (829181) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @09:39AM (#32279202) Homepage

    Have they worked out a good, legal definition of what constitutes 'porn'? If they haven't then you;d better not take *any* gadget into Australia.

  • by spidercoz (947220) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @09:45AM (#32279318) Journal
    go fuck yourself, but don't film it
  • by H0p313ss (811249) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @09:54AM (#32279484)

    These days my personal laptop has a copy of my family photo archive. (All perfectly innocent... unless you find sunsets and landscapes arousing...) I'm sure this is true of a LOT of people, perhaps even the majority of people who travel with laptops. I suspect my current archive is smaller than average, a few thousand images, under 5GB if I recall. Skimming quickly through this meagre archive is not a quick exercise

    If they really intend to inspect every single image on every single incoming laptop then they had better have lots of employees who are not likely to fall asleep...

  • by cpghost (719344) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @09:56AM (#32279516) Homepage
    A friend of mine usually puts a couple of Penthouse mags in his suitcase when traveling to some third world countries (North Africa in this case) on purpose to bribe local customs officers. Works like a charm every time: they "confiscate" the material and wave him through with a big grin without bothering him anymore with his electronic gadgets, netbooks, video cam etc... I guess Australia is finally catching up with those countries.
  • These inspectors should be required to keep their laptops on site, so that I may search their private information whilst they search mine. It's only fair.
  • Wow (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ThatsNotPudding (1045640) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @12:36PM (#32282102)
    I would never have guessed the Aussies (of all people) would be as terrified of human sexuality as Steve Jobs.
    • Re:Wow (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Sasayaki (1096761) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @05:57PM (#32286798)

      Australian here- It's pretty simple really.

      We have a political system where, instead of directly voting for a prime minister, we instead vote for our local representative; the party with the most seats gets to elect the prime minister. Essentially.

      The problem comes when the two main political parties own almost equal seats, but many seats are "safe" seats. Think Texas. Is a Democrat ever going to be elected in a landslide in Texas? Nah. Is a Republican going to take San Fransisco in a landslide? Nah.

      So, politicians focus on the marginal seats. Think Florida, which could go either way.

      It just so happens a number of those seats are, currently, in and around Adelaide; a highly religious, conservative city known as "The City of Churches". So, politicians on all sides of the political spectrum are metaphorically sucking the bible belt's dick in order to get those precious one or two seats, which means they can keep/gain government.

      Which means our current administration is pushing through knee-jerk think-of-the-children legislation while the opposition is basically screaming "US TOO BUT BIGGER, BETTER, MORE KNEE-JERKY."

      It's pure horseshit and doesn't represent the will of the Australian people at all.

  • by isobvious (1816126) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @12:56PM (#32282428)
    They are just respecting their history as a penal colony. It stands to reason, all visitors will be searched for contraband on entry or exit of the facility.

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