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Censorship Australia Education Electronic Frontier Foundation Government

Australian Networks Block Community University Website 97

Posted by timothy
from the you-cannot-read-this-error-message dept.
Peter Eckersley writes "At the EFF we were recently contacted by the organisers of the Melbourne Free University (MFU), an Australian community education group, whose website had been unreachable from a number of Australian ISPs since the 4th of April. It turns out that the IP address of MFU's virtual host has been black-holed by several Australian networks; there is suggestive but not conclusive evidence that this is a result of some sort of government request or order. It is possible that MFU and 1200 other sites that use that IP address are the victims of a block that was put in place for some other reason. Further technical analysis and commentary is in our blog post."
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Australian Networks Block Community University Website

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  • by Bacon Bits (926911) on Thursday April 11, 2013 @03:09PM (#43426171)

    That's what I was thinking, too.

    1,200 websites on one IP address? Looking at the list, I see things that are obviously gambling websites. The IP is held by a US-based hosting company (DimeNOC). I understand that yes, this is suspicious, but with 1,199 other potential causes for black holing an IP address, I'm not convinced that MFU caused government to impost a black hole request on an arbitrary (and, if summary is to be believed, incomplete) set of ISPs.

  • Thank me (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 11, 2013 @03:33PM (#43426413)

    Hi. Stephen Conroy here. Labor party member. You morons need to know that when we, the government, block sites, its for your own good. Sure, we don't tell you about it, and we've probably blocked things like a dentists website, but really, what about the children?

  • by Zocalo (252965) on Thursday April 11, 2013 @03:35PM (#43426437) Homepage

    The IP is held by a US-based hosting company (DimeNOC).

    Well, there you go then; they didn't do their homework or were so desperate to save a buck or two they didn't care about their ISP's reputation. If you chose a cheap hosting deal on an ISP with a reputation for hosting spam, botnet controllers and other such sites while exercising an exceeding lax attitude to abuse reports, you can expect to have the odd issue like this. You get what you pay for applies to ISPs too - big surprise!

    FWIW, DimeNOC is null routed here too, has been for sometime, and is unlikely to be unblocked anytime soon. No conspiracy required; the only traffic we ever saw coming from their IP space was spam, malicious or both, so dropping it at the border was a no brainer.

  • Re:Seems legit (Score:4, Informative)

    by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Thursday April 11, 2013 @04:11PM (#43427041)

    Actually, it more-or-less does, at least in where Title 1 is concerned. The DMCA itsself is just the US's implementation of requirements agreed to internationally in a 1996 WIPO treaty, in which signatories agreed to pass laws criminalising circumvention of copyright protection technology. Similar laws exist in Europe (Via national implementations of the European Union Copyright Directive), Canada, Australia, and much of the rest of the world. WIPO is a big organisation.

    The notice-and-takedown provisions (Title 2) were not, AFAIK, required by any WIPO agreement and as such are not so universal outside of the US.

  • Re:Seems legit (Score:5, Informative)

    by GumphMaster (772693) on Thursday April 11, 2013 @05:22PM (#43427807)

    They are present in the US-Australia Free Trade Agreement, Article 17.11 [dfat.gov.au]. Curious how much of that document is about restrictions and not freedom.

  • by cas2000 (148703) on Thursday April 11, 2013 @06:09PM (#43428147)

    yes, there is. the ACMA maintains a (secret) black-list of domain names and IP addresses which contains "prohibited content" which is used in filtering software. Some ISPs voluntarily use that list to block access.

    The ACMA's secret blacklist has leaked on at least one occasion in the past.

    In Nov last year, the Australian Federal Police started sending mandatory block notices to ISPs.

    more info here:

    http://www.acma.gov.au/scripts/nc.dll?WEB/STANDARD/1001/pc=PC_90102 [acma.gov.au]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_censorship_in_Australia [wikipedia.org]

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