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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 Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 11, 2013 @03:58PM (#43426013)

    A site is blocked by various ISPs. Nobody knows for sure why. Some would like to pose the situation as a government conspiracy, or at least an example of why new regulations requiring ISPs to block certain sites is bad.

    No one really knows what's going on, least of all the author. There's lots of hand waving and half hearted finger pointing.

    Rabble unite?

  • by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday April 11, 2013 @04:00PM (#43426047) Homepage

    Sadly, it doesn't even need to be maliciously abused ... just incompetently written and ineptly applied.

    Like all laws applying to technology, the people writing them are usually incapable of understanding all of the side effects. So they get passed, and applied as written, which has the unfortunate effect of breaking lots of legitimate things.

    If there's 1200 sites sharing that IP address, but they block all of them based on a single complaint, these fall into the category of collateral damage.

    Sadly, I'm betting someone made an effort to point this potential out to them and got ignored.

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

    by DeathToBill (601486) on Thursday April 11, 2013 @04:06PM (#43426127) Journal

    I love the assumption that the whole world has a DMCA just because you do...

  • Re:Seems legit (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 11, 2013 @04:15PM (#43426217)

    I love the assumption that the whole world has a DMCA just because you do...

    With the US exporting these laws and forcing trade partners to adopt them it's getting there.

    This was exported to Australia years ago. America has been doing this for some time, and with lots of other countries, essentially over-riding the citizens in favor of their interests.

    Do you even pay attention to the stories around here?

  • by kasperd (592156) on Thursday April 11, 2013 @04:21PM (#43426279) Homepage Journal

    If there's 1200 sites sharing that IP address, but they block all of them based on a single complaint, these fall into the category of collateral damage.

    I guess a major part of the problem might be, that there is no penalty for blocking too much. If there is a penalty for blocking too little but none for blocking too much, then there is little incentive to do accurate filtering. A discussion about whether blocking would have been appropriate in this case, had it been more accurately targeted, seems pointless, since we don't even know what content triggered the blocking. And that may actually be the largest problem with this sort of blocking.

    Some do see it as a benefit though. How often have some country blocked the worlds largest sites on the excuse that one page on each site is offending their religion. The more coarse grained your filtering is, the easier it is to conceal what you were really aiming to censor and the easier it is to find a plausible excuse for applying the filter in the first place. A civilized country shouldn't accept censorship, and especially not when it comes with such collateral damage. I don't believe there exist a problem in this world, for which censorship is the best solution.

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

    by SteveFoerster (136027) <steve@stevefoers ... com minus author> on Thursday April 11, 2013 @07:49PM (#43428465) Homepage

    With the US exporting these laws

    Well, something had to replace manufacturing!

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