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Australia Ranked Fourth In Internet Freedom 221

Posted by timothy
from the have-you-seen-our-town's-giant-blindfold? dept.
mjwx writes "A report published by Freedom House has placed Australia in fourth in Internet Freedom, below Estonia, the United States and Germany. Freedom House highlights the lack of actual censorship in Australia pointing out that the highly unpopular proposed ISP level censorship has been shelved since the 2010 Australian election. The Freedom House report is available here."
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Australia Ranked Fourth In Internet Freedom

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  • Below Germany? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bbqsrc (1441981) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @11:07PM (#35903426) Homepage
    I'm pretty sure Germany has actively filtered their internet before, and possibly still continue to do it. As for America, hello ICE domain seizures? Wtf.
    • Re:Below Germany? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Kreigaffe (765218) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @11:14PM (#35903464)

      I'm pretty sure Germany filters out anything mentioning that party that was real big in Germany a few generations back..

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I hear it heils from another epoch.

        HAR HAR HAR see what I did thar?

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by rolfwind (528248)

        No.

        That's a pretty stupid statement. If you want to look to active denial of past activities, look to Japan.

        BTW, how's the native population doing in the States?

        • From my experience the Germans are largely not in denial at all, but are rather overly apologetic for and vehemently opposed to the 'nazi' idea. This serious opposition is probably why the OP might be talking about filtering 'nazi' web media. I don't know if it is true, but from my experience, denial wouldn't be the reasoning for it.

          • Of course Germany has to appear apologetic otherwise it would have consequences. When you enter the country however and stay a while you will find out it's only what they want people to believe.

        • Re:Below Germany? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Kreigaffe (765218) on Friday April 22, 2011 @12:11AM (#35903716)

          It wasn't a stupid statement, it was a poorly worded statement.

          Holocaust denial is illegal in Germany. So are swastikas, and pretty much anything related to the nazis outside of "bad things, very bad things, happened in the early half of the 20th century". I'm exaggerating but this is fucking slashdot and only a mindless pedant would misinterpret me as badly as you have.

          The fact is Germany *does* censor their internet, and the content they remove *is* related to that party that was pretty big a few generations back. In other words, what I said is accurate, just not very precise -- I didn't expect, but should have I suppose, that some asshole would come by and think I was making claims that are so obviously not fucking true that even an idiot would understand that that wasn't what I was saying. Censorship is not denialism, censorship is simply not allowing certain things to be said or seen; Germany engages in censorship, regardless of whether or not the things they censor are things that any decent person would think shouldn't be said or heard. That doesn't make it magically become not-censorship.

          • Eugenics, and a few of its kindred cousins, however are alive and well. Not necessarily in GMB, but 'the west' never fully divested itself of the ideas; even after the NAZIs gave us a front row seat in how badly these things can go.

            In Canada - I'm from - we have a leading political party that is as much at home with the eugenics ideals as the Tea Party is in the US. Most European nations have some political movement that is only a scratch or two away from this nonsense. They are singing to a choir, and

            • by NoMaster (142776)

              Eugenics, and a few of its kindred cousins, however are alive and well. Not necessarily in GMB, but 'the west' never fully divested itself of the ideas; even after the NAZIs gave us a front row seat in how badly these things can go.

              Interestingly, one only has to look at the origins of marriage counselling (e.g. Paul Popenoe, Robert Dickinson) and Planned Parenthood (Margaret Sanger, Abraham & Hannah Stone, etc) in the US to see the connection...

              • Annoying, really. Eugenics really had some potential for doing good - just a matter of convincing those with genetic diseases to not breed, and in a few generations they could be almost eliminated. But then the Nazis had to screw things up by taking the idea to extremes and mixing in a lot of unscientific rubbish about racial superiority, and they tarished the idea so much that it hasn't been taken seriously since.

                I've not heard of the Stones, but I gather Sanger was interested in contraception more as a t
                • by Sique (173459)

                  Most genetic diseases are recessive, so just advising people developing those diseases not to breed would not eliminate them at all - they still will be inherited, and only come to light when two people having the disease interbreed. To actually eliminate them you have to test all people for those diseases and then recommend to all the people carrying the right allele not to breed - but because everyone of us carries some defective alleles, no one would allowed to breed at all.

                  • That is what I meant, I just didn't make it clear.

                    You wouldn't have to test all people - just those who have a genetic relationship to someone who has previously developed the disease, as those will be the potential carriers of a defective allelle. It wouldn't be practical to do this for every single less-than-optimal allelle, but it could be used to eliminate from the population those which are potentially most serious. Huntington's comes to mind. Cystic fibrosis. Haemophilia. Conditions that can be fat
                • by kestasjk (933987) *

                  Annoying, really. Eugenics really had some potential for doing good - just a matter of convincing those with genetic diseases to not breed, and in a few generations they could be almost eliminated.

                  But how do you convince non Aryan people to refrain from breeding?


                  Seriously though I've spoken to someone, a regular user of another forum I frequent, who took the movie Idiocracy seriously, thought he was smart and understood evolution, that smart genes (i.e. his genes, hah) deserved to be artificially selected for and that road signs should be removed so there could be more "cleansing".

                  People are just too ignorant and selfish for eugenics to do good.

                  • by kestasjk (933987) *
                    (By the way I'm not saying nature is the best judge of "good" traits to be passed on, just that there's definitely no reason to think humans would be any better.)
            • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

              by Anonymous Coward

              "Eugenics, and a few of its kindred cousins, however are alive and well. Not necessarily in GMB, but 'the west' never fully divested itself of the ideas; even after the NAZIs gave us a front row seat in how badly these things can go."

              That is probably because Eugenics itself is solidly based in science. Eugenics is practiced indiscriminately and with great consistent and proven success across the board in animal breeding practices. This is most easily seen in dog breeds because canine genetics are among the

              • The Nazis screwed up their science. It was already rather limited at the time, with little understanding of genetics, but then they threw in a lot of politically motivated nonsense about how superior their master race was. Eugenics to them was largely just an excuse. They wern't doing it right.

                Race shouldn't really factor into it, except for a few genetic things like sickle-cell anemia that correlate strongly. Even then you can start ignoring race as soon as you have proper genetic tests available.
            • by rtb61 (674572)

              Nazi Germany is a lesson in how things go badly, not necessarily all those things being bad. Democracy was corrupted in Germany to become fascism and then Nazism and that does not make democracy bad. Eugenics http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugenics [wikipedia.org] certainly went bad when it shifted from promoting sound social reproductive principles to executions of politically undesirables.

              A licence to reproduce and be responsible for bringing up children in a world 6.91 billion, really honestly doesn't seem all that unr

            • by microbox (704317)

              Eugenics, and a few of its kindred cousins, however are alive and well.

              Yawn. The opposite ideology, the equally wrong "Social Constructionism" dominates. So... were are these eugenicis scuttling around then?

            • by microbox (704317)

              Eugenics, and a few of its kindred cousins, however are alive and well.

              This is almost certainly one of a long list of social constructionist canards. There are probably a few eugenicists around; however, modern genetic research focuses on the dialogue between genes and environment.

              The biological basis of behaviour is well established (See Turkheimer 2000 for a summary), and after 100 yrs of social science, there is no theory that predicts behaviour from social forces. (Things like attachment theory, and the media effects of violence/gender have no empirical backing -- see

            • In Canada - I'm from - we have a leading political party that is as much at home with the eugenics ideals as the Tea Party is in the US.

              The Tea Party isn't at home with eugenics ideals at all. Most Tea Partiers are pro-life. For a good example of this, see Sarah Palin, whose child has Down Syndrome, and, rather than aborting him, she had her child.

        • BTW, how's the native population doing in the States?

          They are still being kept in poverty by government dependency and the restrictions on any individual from owning land. That's what collectivism and lack of private property rights does to a people, unfortunately. The native population were pushed out of good land many generations ago, and putting them on "reservations" meant they were not allowed to participate in the prosperity that resulted from all that land being given to individuals to develop.

      • They don't have active filters. However a judge can order a server to be taken off the internet if the hosted contet violates certain laws. If the server is in another country they try to talk to that government with mixed success. Most nazi sites are hosted in the US for a reason. And those are accessible, so no filtering.
    • Of course they're going to make sure the US gets near the top.

      • And equally of course, Canada ceases to exist
        • by Carewolf (581105) on Friday April 22, 2011 @04:00AM (#35904480) Homepage

          I noticed that as well. Canada, the Netherlands and all Nordic countries are absent from the report. In their place a semi-nordic east-european country becomes the most free. I guess it would look too bad if there was 10 countries above the US, so they left out everybody above estonia.

          I would really have like to hear to position of France and Spain also though.

        • by boaworm (180781)

          Exactly, this report is stunningly useless. Most of Europe is missing, including all the freedom-loving nations of the north (Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and Iceland). How about Switzerland? Austria? France? (maybe not a good example :-), Spain? Holland? Belgium?, Luxemburg?.. comon... Europe is only represented by Germany, Italy (Berlusconi helooo) and the UK (and yes Georgia and Russia...)

          No let's see how the internet freedom state is in Venezuela. I'm sure the US can beat that!

          • Let's go further.

            This report is actively dangerous, in a sort of flamebait FUD way.

            Let's just do one example - how about Sweden, (former?) home of the Pirate Bay and the Party thereon, and key pawn in the coercion attempt against, wait for it, Australian Julian Assange from the UK led by the US?

            Oh wait!

            Those three countries get slots 2, 4, and 5 and Sweden is ... uh... censored?

      • Given that the US, in retaining control of ICANN, demolishing network neutrality, placing excessive restrictions on cryptography, pressuring organizations to drop any association whatsoever with wikileaks and encouraging Internet fraud through a lack of any kind of privacy legislation, has effectively crippled actual freedom without needing any censorship legislation per-se, it should be obvious that the US is only near the top for reasons that have nothing to do with freedom.

        • by dreampod (1093343)

          I was quite dissapointed by Canada's lack of inclusion. As a Canadian I would have found it particularly useful to provide a comparison against other countries. The US score seemed irrationally low which makes me think that Canada would be somewhere equivalent to Estonia, maybe with a small penalty for the challenges we are facing providing rural internet access.

          • by mcvos (645701)

            The list isn't intended to compare freedom between different western nations. Too few of those are included in the survey. All it does is point out that western nations are more free than non-western ones. Big surprise there, I'm sure.

            On any complete list, I doubt most of the top-4 of this list would even make the top-10.

        • Given that the US, in retaining control of ICANN,

          That, IMO as a non-american is a very good thing.

          The US have been going a bit overboard with copyright based domain seizures recently. However, the US is probably the country with the strongest free speech provisions in the entire world. So, they might not be perfect, but I cannot think of another country I would trust to do a better job. I certainly would not trust my own.

          So, let's compare it to another "free country". Let's say he was here (UK). The UK gove

          • Let's say he was here (UK)

            Er he was here, of course. It's just that he didn't leak tons of British intelligence.

          • by jpapon (1877296)

            Let's say he was here (UK). They could throw him in gaol and shutter the website for violating the official secrets act.

            Yes, but I think your faith in the US is unfounded. If Mr. Wikileaks ever set foot on U.S. soil he would be in for one helluva bad time.

            • Yes, but I think your faith in the US is unfounded.

              You are mistaken. I don't have faith in the US, rather I was pointing out the flaws in the GP who seems to have faith in everyone BUT the US. I'm merely pointing out that everyone else is pretty much at least as bad.

              There is no good, only bad and worse. Is the US the least bad of the bunch? I don't know, but I suspect that it may be.

          • by jd (1658)

            "Spycatcher" leaked far more of intelligence value to hostile nations than Wikileaks ever has. Don't recall any special renditioning going on there. Sure, the British Government took him to Australian court, but they were the ones who got their knuckles rapped for being economical with the truth. Much the same would have happened in a British court. In the US legal system, truthiness is the de-facto standard.

            Don't recall any of the SAS autobiographies, which leaked special ops and black ops secrets, leading

    • Re:Below Germany? (Score:5, Informative)

      by hweimer (709734) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @11:40PM (#35903606) Homepage

      As of now, there are two websites (Stormfront [wikipedia.org] and NSDAP/AO [wikipedia.org]) that are being filtered at several smaller ISPs in North Rhine-Westphalia. What you might heard of is that there is a controversial law that allows the German federal police to add alleged child pornography websites to a secret mandatory filtering list. However, this law has never been applied and will be repealed soon. In other news, most of Germany's states seem to push for web filtering of illegal gambling, but I doubt that this is going to happen in the end.

    • by milkmage (795746)

      oh c'mon dude.. ICE domain seizures are one thing..but nothing like the wholesale filtering in China or the Middle East.
      blocking specific domains is relatively tame..and in the case of ICE can be blamed on simply not understaing how the tubes are hooked up - it's like blocking a sewer main in the street because one toilet is fucked up.

    • Re:Below Germany? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by dreampod (1093343) on Friday April 22, 2011 @12:19AM (#35903736)

      While I agree with them that the US probably is fairly good in comparison to much of the world, the major flaw I see in the Freedomhouse report is that it seems to treat the spirit of the law as being more relevant than the actual application and only considers governmental action rather than corporate activities (enabled by a bought and paid for legislative branch) that reduce freedom. Beyond ICE domain seizures, we have rampant DMCA abuse, government subsidized regional monopolies creating poor service and removing competition, extensive (though largely concealed) monitoring, attempted violations of net neutrality, traffic 'shaping' that is not required for its stated purpose, extensive abuse of the legal system to suppress unpopular or offensive speech of individuals or small business' unable to afford the expense of defending themselves, aging internet infrastructure the monopolies are making minimal efforts to upgrade except in the most profitable areas, and undoubtably more that don't come immediately to mind.

      The US is taking baby steps towards a less free internet and by ranking them so highly without comment on the glaring problems in the system they are enabling it by creating a false impression that this is acceptable.

      Also I find the mention of the US tech innovation particularly funny given that those companies all insist that they are primarily based out of Dublin, Ireland which is why they don't have to pay their fair share of taxes.

      • They don't claim to be based in Ireland, they have a corporation in Ireland (with 2000 people). They funnel most of their European operations from that corporation into a separate one in Bermuda. They also send some money through the Netherlands and back into Bermuda. They don't claim to be 'primarily based' in any of those countries, nor do they hide that they do it as a tax trick.

        And really, as for 'fair share of taxes,' have you ever met anyone who tries to pay more in taxes than they are absolutely re
    • by mcvos (645701)

      The entire top 4 is weird. Australia is also well known for its censorship. The US certainly has some issues. These countries are at the top simply because the list only examined a handful of countries. Most of Europe has not been examined at all. Had it been, I'm sure Iceland and similar countries would have topped the list.

      All that this list is saying is that some random countries in Europe and North America are better than some random countries in Africa, Asia or South America. I'm sure nobody here is su

      • Australia is also well known for its censorship.

        ...by those who know nothing about Australia.

    • Hmmm, I think the filtering was limited to mostly child porn and other *really* illegal stuff. Haven't noticed anything else in the past ten years, and there wasn't ever anything in the news about this type of thing either.

      Do you have any info to back up that statement? Genuinely interested here...

  • Where's Japan? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by fullback (968784)

    It's not even on the list.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 21, 2011 @11:08PM (#35903434)

    Why not whoever is in 83rd place? It seems like "Estonia Ranked First In Internet Freedom" would be the real story.

    • by nzac (1822298)

      There is no 83rd country. The list is not even close to a worldwide rankings on internet freedom. There are only 2 from Europe and the reason Germany is not higher is due to Nazi (mainly I think Holocaust Denial ) censorship.

      South America also looks pretty free.

      • by mcvos (645701)

        South America also looks pretty free.

        Brazil. Venezuela not so much. But again, no surprises there.

    • I think it's because, with all the talk coming from Australia about censoring the internet, and all the actual banning of games they do, it's kind of surprising that Australia made it that high.
      • by sg_oneill (159032)

        The thing is though is that australia doesn't censor the internet, nor is it monitored (without a court warrant, something common to everywhere)

        The government proposed it, then dropped it when it realised it would be deeply unpopular.

        Australia *does* have censorship issues, but its about Games, not the internet. Just because its computers, don't mean its the same. (In fact what makes the games censorship ironic is the fact that with an uncensored internet we can download it from uncensored and unmon

      • by mjwx (966435)

        I think it's because, with all the talk coming from Australia about censoring the internet, and all the actual banning of games they do, it's kind of surprising that Australia made it that high.

        Yep, that's exactly why I submitted the article.

  • by rebelwarlock (1319465) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @11:28PM (#35903540)
    So only a handful of countries in the world have internet now? Or are we ignoring countries that "don't matter"? If you're going to pretend to do comprehensive reports, at least have a comprehensive list.
    • by GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) <almafuerte.gmail@com> on Thursday April 21, 2011 @11:42PM (#35903620)

      Absolutely.

      One of the very few things that make me proud about my country (Argentina) is our internet freedom. Our connections aren't great, but they ain't bad either, and they are cheap and just about everywhere (you can get unlimited, uncensored cablemodem 6mbps down, 1 mbps up for ~30 dollars a month, and unlimited, uncensored 3G 3mbps down, 512kbps up for ~25 dollars a month). Domains (*.ar) are absolutely FREE for life, and there's no limit on what you can register (I have domains that contain all 7 words, are anti-government, anti-religion, and anti-corporations, I've had them for years, and none of them has been taken away or filtered in any way). Our copyright laws are fairly sane (well, as insane as copyright itself is, they aren't as bad as the states), and we have no DMCA or any other similar shit). ISPs don't hand out information without a court order, and neither do host companies. Nobody has been sued for file-sharing, and no ISP is throttling or limiting p2p connections.

      But we aren't even on the list, go figure ...

    • by polle404 (727386)

      and no Denmark, with their mandatory CP-blocking list (that's privately run) and DNS-blocking of whatever the local version of *AA don't like.

  • Estonia != Elbonia.
  • You want to play adult rated video games on it.

    • Or in fact if you want to host a porn site. The restrictions are pretty serious. Better to look overseas.

  • From TFPDF linked in TFA on TFFH website:

    Freedom on the Net aims to measure each countryâ(TM)s level of internet and new media freedom. Each country receives a numerical score from 0 (the most free) to 100 (the least free), which serves as the basis for an internet freedom status designation of Free (0-30 points), Partly Free (31-60 points), or Not Free (61-100).

    Ratings are determined through an examination of three broad categories: obstacles to access, limits on content, and violation of user rights.

  • sure, the internet here is 'free'. Just don't try to bring any porn on physical media [abc.net.au] into the country..
    • by NoMaster (142776)

      Notice she was very careful not to say her DVDs were confiscated? Because they weren't; Customs "were only interested in illegal pornography".

      Just don't try to bring any porn on physical media into the country

      ... or else, you'll be allowed to keep it?

  • Of which only 8 have 'free' internet. There is a lot of European and other countries that may have a more free web. Thus the rankings are pretty worthless. My extrapolating the results it would be likely that across Europe would most likely be 10 above the rest of listed non -European countries.

    I would like to think New Zealand's web is more open than Australia's we do have a filter but it has not been forced on ISPs.

    • I would like to think New Zealand's web is more open than Australia's we do have a filter but it has not been forced on ISPs.

      How is that more open? Australia doesn't have a filter at all.

  • The ISP censorship has hardly been shelved, The only reason it hasn't come in is that we don't have a majority government at the moment, Labor party have stated they still want to censor the internet, they just can't currently get the numbers to do it, thankfully with their financial mismanagement, scandals and now child pornography we should be seeing the last of both state and federal labor at the next elections.
  • China (Score:5, Funny)

    by koxkoxkox (879667) on Friday April 22, 2011 @01:03AM (#35903890)

    What rank is China ? Is there anyone below ?

    I would love to RTFA, but I can't access the report myself. They must have some technical difficulties in Beijing these days, because freedomhouse.org seems to be unavailable.

  • Why did it choose to mention who is number Four, as opposed to, say, number 26 on the charts? Why not say "US leads in Internet Freedom"? Is there a private conversation here that /.'ers aren't seeing? Or do I need my morning coffee?

    "Yes. When you read the headline and it says, so and so is number four, it means, We attack at dawn. If it says, so and so leads in freedom, that's the signal to Abort the mission. If it mentions Estonia in the headline, that simply means His Highness prefers pepperoni, hold off

    • by mjwx (966435)

      Why did it choose to mention who is number Four, as opposed to, say, number 26 on the charts? Why not say "US leads in Internet Freedom"? Is there a private conversation here that /.'ers aren't seeing? Or do I need my morning coffee?

      Submitter here, The article I based the submission on, is an Australian site. I chose the headline to dispel largely held beliefs amongst non-Australian /.ers. It is sad, I agree but people need to understand that there is no government enforced ISP censorship in Australia. It was defeated in Parliament 2 years ago, but is mentioned on /. to this very day.

      It's the equivalent of me calling the US a rebellious British colony, which of course has been untrue for hundreds of years.

  • Hell yeah. Proud to be Estonian.

    Every once in a while discussion seems to pop up on the subject of freedom of expression on the Internet but so far, as for making decisions, common sense seems to have prevailed. I hope that it stays that way for a while more.

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