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Australia Censorship

Australian Government Initiates Covert Internet Censorship 104

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the buy-gold-now dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Remember how the Australian Government tried to enact a big bad Internet filter on the population? Well, that effort failed, but now there's a new initiative in place. At least one government agency, the country's financial regulator, has quietly started issuing legal notices to ISPs requesting them to block certain types of websites deemed illegal. There's no oversight or appeals process, and already a false positive event has resulted in some 1,200 innocent websites being blocked from Australians viewing them. Sounds ideal, right?"
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Australian Government Initiates Covert Internet Censorship

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  • If we are not careful, this will come to america.
    • by lightknight (213164) on Wednesday May 15, 2013 @08:50AM (#43731161) Homepage

      'Tis quite alright. In the future, the public internet (what's left of it) will only run encrypted data-streams. That's ultimately where this is headed. And since encryption is easier to make than decryption....well, the censors will always be on the losing side. Eternally.

      The real fun part will be, of course, if / when humanity runs into other sentient lifeforms out in the universe. I'm sure that they will, of course, naturally have chosen similar schemes for controlling information within their own populations, as well as limiting reproductive choices, and implementing artificial castes. And that when they gaze upon what our great planet has invented, the very jewel of our solar system, the fruits of brightest minds and the labor bought off the backs of millions of straining peoples, they will acknowledge that we truly are just like them, and worthy to open trade negotiations / some sort of alliance. When our drones are flying over enemy territory, our borders, even our homeland itself, we are telling those with peering, but hidden eyes far up in the heavens exactly the kind of freedom America stands for. And they will know, like in all our broadcasts and films, that when they wish to pay homage to our wonderful civilization, exactly which building to visit and which leader they should strike up a conversation with.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by EmagGeek (574360)

        They will simply make it illegal to use "unapproved" encryption, where "approved" encryption is that for which you have provided the decryption keys to law enforcement.

      • Except ever encryptor needs a corresponding decryption, or it is simply a deleter.
        If you encrypt data, you need to give everyone you want access this decrypter. And this is not taking into account, simply censoring all encrypted data, which has already started.

        But even if they do not, they win in every case where it is not between two people who have access to unbreakable encryption techniques and exchanged encryption keys in the real world, AKA they win.

        • Perhaps I should have been clearer -> it's easier for two parties to whip up a means of encryption than it is for a third party to decrypt it.

          At the end of the day, brute-forcing one-time pads with predictive heuristics still requires some time; mutate the encryption fast enough, and by the time the message is decrypted, it's worthless.

          Now of course, you're going to point out, what about keyloggers, telepaths, aliens, double-agents, etc. Which mean nothing if two parties are actually honestly trying to k

        • Re:Here we go -- (Score:4, Informative)

          by Immerman (2627577) on Wednesday May 15, 2013 @02:02PM (#43734275)

          Not quite - for example virtually all secure internet communication is based on SSL or similar, which allows the secure creation of complementary encryption keys over an insecure data channel. That doesn't help if you can shut down the origin, but it neatly sidesteps any sort of "gatekeeper" censorship that doesn't, as you point out, simply block all encrypted traffic. Even such drastic lockdowns could conceivably be sidestepped by steganographically hiding encrypted data streams within innocuous ones. Obviously that's going to hurt your bandwidth, but we're talking about just making things possible.

      • by gruntspeak (1835180) on Wednesday May 15, 2013 @09:59AM (#43731799)

        we are telling those with peering, but hidden eyes far up in the heavens exactly the kind of freedom America stands for. And they will know, like in all our broadcasts and films

        I, for one, welcome the chance to sue our new overlords for illegally obtaining our broadcasts and films. Goddamn space pirates.

    • by smash (1351)
      You already have DMCA take-downs, and they spread to other countries.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        Copyright infringement is a threat to national security, so blindly infringing upon people's freedoms and censoring content at a random corporations request is perfectly justified.

    • I could be wrong, but I think it already has. I've tried accessing certain sites with a US proxy and they'll consistently time out. Switch off the proxy and they'll magically work.
  • Idiots... (Score:5, Informative)

    by dwarfsoft (461760) on Wednesday May 15, 2013 @08:43AM (#43731077) Homepage

    Interestingly I can still access the blocked site, so looks like they've undone that (I'm on Telstra at the moment... Don't ask). Also interesting is that they just dismantled the filtering scheme in the budget overnight, so with any luck it goes away altogether. The ACL are not particularly happy about it though (but who cares about them).

    As is linked in TFS, the filter list that some ISPs may have implemented is the Interpol one. Certainly not as broad-reaching as the original Conroy planned one.

    • As is linked in TFS, the filter list that some ISPs may have implemented is the Interpol one. Certainly not as broad-reaching as the original Conroy planned one.

      So it is a hit with a bat, not a stab with a knife? Like they say in AA, the best time to stop is before the first one.

    • by smash (1351)

      (I'm on Telstra at the moment... Don't ask)

      Nothing wrong with telstra's network, othert than cost.

      And service. But the network itself is fine :)

      • (I'm on Telstra at the moment... Don't ask)

        Nothing wrong with telstra's network, othert than cost.

        And service. But the network itself is fine :)

        And sometimes the network. But always the service. And the price, and of course the service.

        • by smash (1351)
          The network, compared to most of the other alternatives is a lot more available. And by that i mean both in terms of SLAs and actually having connectivity options in remote areas. :)
          • by dwarfsoft (461760)

            They were the only one who could get me onto ADSL2+, due to their want to RIM all newer developments. I'm glad to finally get the speeds I should have had years ago, but now I'm locked in for another 1.5 years. The price is not so good, though.

  • by roman_mir (125474) on Wednesday May 15, 2013 @08:46AM (#43731111) Homepage Journal

    Of-course Australian government will block your Internet access to materials it finds inappropriate, whatever that means, you have given your government enough power to do things like that. Gun control was implemented in the same way, taxing income on a graduated scale, telling people what they can and cannot do with their private property, same for people running businesses, all of this grows and emboldens the government and when governments grow and become emboldened people shrink and become scared little nothings.

    • by Sarius64 (880298)
      Sorry I'm out of mod points. How anyone cannot see this correlation is amazing to me. The Australian government is about to boot its people down more.
    • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Wednesday May 15, 2013 @09:44AM (#43731667)

      telling people what they can and cannot do with their private property, same for people running businesses,

      Yep. I mean, a thousand dead or so [yahoo.com] is a fair price to pay so that businesses can thrive. Not to mention that it's better being a dead factory worker than some scared little suburbanite living in the US with two cars and a 5 bedroom house.

      Totally. Especially if you're one of the rich business owners who can afford to not work in their own factory and hire a private army to guard your assets.

      For those who are sarcasm impaired - yes, that was sarcasm. I normally write people like roman off as just crazy, but they seem to be proliferating like cockroaches.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by roman_mir (125474)

        Confusing individual freedoms and criminal negligence on your part I can understand, but confusing Australia and Bangladesh is something new.

        • Criminal negligence is... wait for it... a concept that requires a government and regulation that is outside of contract law. Furthermore, ENFORCEMENT of criminal negligence requires an independent government, bureaucrats to track the paperwork, jack-booted thugs to apprehend suspects and judges unbeholden to the public to make decisions of law.

          Considering you cry about the abuses of government in the most unimportant, small-scale and even incorrect situations (and spare me the slippery slope argument - if

          • by Tokolosh (1256448)

            The missing ingredient is what Americans call "due process".

            A government that acts secretively, capriciously and arbitrarily, without oversight, will become tyrannical.

            • You might even argue that such a government is by definition tyrannical, since it generally will only work for the benefit of its friends, and exploit everyone else. However, there are differences between, for example, some people in the tax collecting agency specifically targeting organizations that use words associated with tax revolts, and the head of the government publicly praising the incarceration of opposition members or authorizing the use of troops to force the nationalization of businesses. While

  • Think of the geriatrics! What would the elderly ladies of your locality think of what you're browsing? Would it cause them a heart attack? We only want crochet patterns, recipes and pictures of cute puppies on our internet. Please delete anything controversial or too hard to understand! (This being not too far from what 100s of government agencies censoring the internet would end up with.)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Wait till we have the NBN firmly in place, filtering will never go away. They only put it on the back burner while they build the backbone for it.

    I am part of a community wireless network which covers a whole city, good thing there is no such government control over like this for its users. I would recommend everyone join or create one to promote free networking.

  • by johnjones (14274) on Wednesday May 15, 2013 @09:02AM (#43731295) Homepage Journal

    ok they are not even filtering they are producing a drop list

    clearly they do not understand how a IP network functions and are simply taking whatever huawei can fund...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_censorship_by_country

    surveillance via huawei marketing dollars... working well...
    (just ignore the fact huawei copy cisco kit and install backdoors and your fine...)

    have fun

    John

  • "Sir, they just don't want to have their internet filtered."
    "Do it anyway and don't tell them about it. They'll get used to it eventually."

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Pretty much precisely. They'll definitely get used to it, especially if it's done slowly enough.

      • by gnoshi (314933)

        Pretty much precisely. They'll definitely get used to it, especially if it's done slowly enough.

        Unfortunately, it does look that way, and it is a huge problem. Getting an politically apathetic population to get angry enough to protest about something like this is sadly very difficult.

  • "Legal" Notices (Score:4, Interesting)

    by skywire (469351) * on Wednesday May 15, 2013 @09:14AM (#43731387)

    A notice does not become "legal" simply because it was issued by a state agent.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      A notice does not become "legal" simply because it was issued by a state agent.

      No, it becomes legal when it makes legal claims. However, if they are false, it is unlawful. Lawful and legal are considered synonyms but they're not precisely the same thing. There's probably even fancier latin terms you could use in court.

  • by sirwired (27582) on Wednesday May 15, 2013 @09:23AM (#43731467)

    That "false positive" event was BS, and the EFF should know better. Slashdot covered the story here: http://yro.slashdot.org/story/13/04/11/1849207/australian-networks-block-community-university-website [slashdot.org]

    Basically, a community college cheaped-out on it's webhost, and it was sharing a single IP with 1,200 other sites. It is certainly not out of the realm of possibilities that one of those 1,200 was doing something naughty (malware, DDOS, spam, kiddie porn, who knows?), and CheapBastardWebhosting was apathetic when informed about it. Just like any harmful of blatantly illegal site, the next step is a block of the IP.

    The block was lifted after the outcry, but I suspect that was more because the block got the webhosts attention and they then properly booted the naughty customer.

    EFF, please don't Greenpeace or PETA yourselves with silly crap like this. (This wouldn't be the first time their press releases have stretched or misinterpreted facts more than a bit.)

    • by Nidi62 (1525137)

      That "false positive" event was BS, and the EFF should know better. Slashdot covered the story here: http://yro.slashdot.org/story/13/04/11/1849207/australian-networks-block-community-university-website [slashdot.org]

      Basically, a community college cheaped-out on it's webhost, and it was sharing a single IP with 1,200 other sites. It is certainly not out of the realm of possibilities that one of those 1,200 was doing something naughty (malware, DDOS, spam, kiddie porn, who knows?), and CheapBastardWebhosting was apathetic when informed about it. Just like any harmful of blatantly illegal site, the next step is a block of the IP.

      The block was lifted after the outcry, but I suspect that was more because the block got the webhosts attention and they then properly booted the naughty customer.

      EFF, please don't Greenpeace or PETA yourselves with silly crap like this. (This wouldn't be the first time their press releases have stretched or misinterpreted facts more than a bit.)

      So, are you arguing then that using "an IP address does not equal a person" is not a valid defense in MAFIAA lawsuits as well? People should just not "cheap out" and get a seperate internet account, and a separate IP address, for each user in the household, including a guest account? Or maybe a better argument would be that censoring based upon IP address is ineffective and wrong because of the fact that multiple websites can use the same IP address.

      • Huh? (Score:2, Troll)

        by sirwired (27582)

        I am arguing nothing of the sort. Instead, I'm arguing that if you want to have multiple users share the same IP address, you need to be prepared to find, and shut, individual users if informed of wrongdoing. If you ignore such requests, you shouldn't be surprised if you get spanked for it.

        • by Immerman (2627577)

          So when the Chinese government informs a US ISP of the fact that they're hosting a "bad" Free Tibet website, they should immediately shut down that site for the sake of all the other sites hosted at the same IP that the Chinese government could care less about?

          The world is a big place, allowing governments to shut down foreign websites they disagree with is a great way to get an internet populated by nothing but cute cat videos. For that matter there's probably a governement out there somewhere that conside

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      that's a false positive by unintentional association.

      you can't arrest everyone on the block if someone smokes weed on the balcony...

    • by JasterBobaMereel (1102861) on Wednesday May 15, 2013 @11:35AM (#43732805)

      The problem is that the solution to a website offering illegal material is not to shut down the website, prosecute the owners of the website but get the ISP to block it ...?

      If the material is illegal then prosecute them, if it is not then don't block it ....

      • by Chelloveck (14643)

        Prosecution takes time and is costly. Worse, you might lose the case. It's much easier to put a site on the double-secret block list and not have to fool around with all that pesky "due process" stuff.

        We only put bad guys on the block list. Therefore, if you're on the block list you must be a bad guy. Transparency and due process hurt the community by letting bad guys slip off the lists on technicalities.

    • by countach (534280)

      Err.. what are you waffling on about? If every web site had its own IP address, we'd run out of IP addresses by dinner time. There is nothing wrong with sharing IP addresses, and you shouldn't be penalised for doing so. In fact, its darnright community minded to not take one for yourself.

    • by gnoshi (314933)

      False positive or not, it does make apparent the issue that blocking is happening. That itself is something which warrants consideration, particularly about who makes the decisions, what the recourse is for those affected, how appeal and review are conducted, and how public accountability is handled.

      If the block list is secret, then it is difficult to know if political material, 'morally questionable' material, etc is being blocked. That should be a cause for concern.

      (By the way, I'm not anti-gun-control, a

    • by ras (84108)

      You sir, miss the point.

      The point wasn't that government has no business blocking that site, or that there wasn't a good reason to do so, or that the web site didn't deserve to be blocked.

      The point is that we are a democracy, so when our government censors something like this it must be done in a transparent and open way. What happened is that suddenly a IP address disappeared. When the ISP's were asked why it disappeared they said they were gagged. When the government departments were asked each only vo

  • It always starts with "think of the children". Sad to see Australia returning to its roots as a penal colony.

  • by fazey (2806709)
    Why is it that if a private organization does something they are held accountable. But if the feds, or local law enforcement do something illegal its completely okay because there is no one to blame. This is why they keep doing it... there needs to be some kind of repercussion. Put one of THEM in jail. Such one sided bullshit.

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