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Australia's ISPs Speak Out Against Filtering 262

daria42 writes "The leaders of three of Australia's largest internet service providers — Telstra Media's Justin Milne, iiNet's Michael Malone and Internode's Simon Hackett — have, in video interviews with over the past few months, detailed technical, legal and ethical reasons why ISP-level filtering won't work. Critics of the policy also say that users will have no way to know what's being filtered."
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Australia's ISPs Speak Out Against Filtering

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 01, 2008 @12:26AM (#25592383)

    IaaA (I'm am an Australian)

    If they think they can start censoring things they don't want us to read using child pornography as an excuse, they're really underestimating our intelligence. Everybody knows why KRudd wants this, he has some really unpopular solutions to problems nobody cares about (or those that don't even exist). Who knows what the great firewall of Australia would filter out?

    Many technical users will bypass this in a matter of minutes. People should ask for a personal refunds from the morons who devised this scheme, taking back the tax money they wasted from their own pockets and giving it back to hardworking Australians.

  • by Airw0lf ( 795770 ) on Saturday November 01, 2008 @12:30AM (#25592401) it will be used to silence political dissent, and then the content cartel will lobby to block everything from torrent trackers to sites that about console homebrew software.

    Oh wait it's already happening - from TFA:

    Conroy's mandatory Internet filtering proposal caused a stir last week when it was revealed a member of his department had tried to censor severely critical comments made on the Whirlpool broadband forum by an Internode network engineer regarding the merits of ISP level filtering.

  • Re:Wow.. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Jacques Chester ( 151652 ) on Saturday November 01, 2008 @12:44AM (#25592479)

    Australia's constitution does not have an explicit guarantee of free speech. However in a series of cases starting in the 80s the High Court have found an 'implied right' to free political speech.

    The reasoning runs thus:
    * All Australians are guaranteed a right to vote in elections.
    * To vote in an election you need to be able to inform yourself.
    * In able to inform yourself you need to be able to freely discuss political matters.
    * Ergo, political speech is protected.

    This means that the whole project may be unconstitutional as any filter must necessarily cause false positives for political matters. If not, nothing stops websites from adding a "we hate the censorship laws and the ALP" statement to the footer of every page to force the matter.

  • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) * <> on Saturday November 01, 2008 @01:30AM (#25592651) Homepage Journal

    Actually, what they want to ban is this:

    Publications that:
    (a) describe, depict, express or otherwise deal
    with matters of sex, drug misuse or addiction,
    crime, cruelty, violence or revolting or
    abhorrent phenomena in such a way that they
    offend against the standards of morality,
    decency and propriety generally accepted by
    reasonable adults to the extent that they
    should not be classified; or
    (b) describe or depict in a way that is likely to
    cause offence to a reasonable adult, a person
    who is, or appears to be, a child under 18
    (whether the person is engaged in sexual
    activity or not); or
    (c) promote, incite or instruct in matters of crime
    or violence

    The way that this is done with films, books, etc, is that everything must be reviewed before it can be made available to the public. Consider how fucked the internet would be if they applied that standard.

  • Re:Wont last long (Score:4, Informative)

    by QuantumG ( 50515 ) * <> on Saturday November 01, 2008 @01:33AM (#25592667) Homepage Journal

    Current affairs programs in Australia are a joke. Literally, respected journalists make jokes about them. No-one cares what the fucktards at Today Tonight have to say.

  • by kaos07 ( 1113443 ) on Saturday November 01, 2008 @02:07AM (#25592817) []

    "Regarding the Australian filter, it doesn't look like it's going to happen.

    The Green party and the Liberal party are both going to block the legislation in the Upper House. Their numbers combined are enough to stop the bill from passing. []

    The Greens don't get much of their other policies talked about very much, besides the environment, but they have the most pro-Slashdot internet platform out of any political party. By that I mean they support open standards, net-neutrality and internet freedom (no censorship). They also want the government to embrace open source and all government documents to saved in an open document standard."

  • by jaa101 ( 627731 ) <> on Saturday November 01, 2008 @02:36AM (#25592903)
    Precisely wrong. The purpose of this filtering _is_ to block kiddie-porn, XXX ... all `illegal to possess' content. We wouldn't care if there was an optional porn filter for the kids but what's come out recently is that there will also be a mandatory filter. Government studies agree that this filtering has false positives, false negatives and a performance impact. They think it's good enough but slashdot types can well imagine that it will be inadequate, ineffective, expensive and slow down and/or break the web for everyone in oz. Our ISPs are against it because they can well imagine how their customers, help desks and ultimately their bottom lines will suffer.
  • by philspear ( 1142299 ) on Saturday November 01, 2008 @02:50AM (#25592949)

    just like people blame their internet slow down and disconnections on ISPs overselling far beyond their hardware capacity and creating unnecessary network overhead through the use of traffic monitoring/filtering & packet shaping technology?

    Most people don't understand what that means. I've been lurking on YRO slashdot for a while and I'm not too clear on packet shaping (not asking, that's not my point). "Government is monitoring your internet and that's slowing it down" is a lot clearer.

    Most important difference though: you can't vote against your ISP. You can switch, but they all kind of screw you over, right? At the very least, people generally seem to be concerned with price more than ethics of their ISP. You can, however, vote for the party that says "We're going to fix your internet and privacy rights at the same time!" And it won't cost you anything more than voting FOR internet censorship. least, that's one theory on what might happen. I have no crystal ball. If it's not an issue with the average australian voter, then it's not going to be an issue.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 01, 2008 @02:53AM (#25592967)
    I'm no particular fan of this thing, but actually they didn't try to _censor_ it, using some sort of government apparatus. They wrote a letter -- just like anyone anywhere can. That's not sinister, just stupid.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 01, 2008 @03:02AM (#25593003)

  • by WTW - WP ( 1320557 ) on Saturday November 01, 2008 @03:36AM (#25593115)
    The debate has been raging for over 7 months on the Australian Broadband Community web site See: [] Current debate: [] Many Australians have taken to using their graphic design skills to get their message out. See: Posters and Stickers here [] It has been the governments attempt to mussel the debate by industry leader, Mark Newton, that has really fired up the community. Cheers WTW
  • by doktorjayd ( 469473 ) on Saturday November 01, 2008 @04:08AM (#25593229) Homepage Journal

    But the biggest problem is the general public's lack of knowledge of firearms, and lack of experience, that which people don't know they fear

    ... and if you dont do what i say i'll shoot you.

    thats pretty much why the _vast_ majority of australians dont want guns in our society - there simply isnt a need, and the risk that a fuckwit with a short fuse and a .22 can kill with little more than pulling a trigger far outweighs the benefits of ' ohhh but i really want a gun'.

    funnily, the more an individual wants guns the less stable they come across - furthering the argument against them having said weapon(s).

    as for the 'sport' of it - i've always thought it a stretch at best to call it that - how much of a sweat do you work up pulling a trigger?

  • Re:Wow.. (Score:2, Informative)

    by markerr ( 1398205 ) on Saturday November 01, 2008 @05:02AM (#25593379)
    re: free speech. I sent a Notice to Conroy via mail the other day protesting his filter. In it, I mentioned: "Consequences of an internet filter go against Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as delivered by the United Nations, of which Australia is a member." I could be wrong, but I would have thought as an Australian I do have the right to free speech, as inherited through the United Nations. The UN of course didn't go us the Right, they merely acknowledged what we already (should have) had.
  • by rohan972 ( 880586 ) on Saturday November 01, 2008 @05:29AM (#25593457)

    Further to the fact that Mr Howard was pretty much doing his best to turn AU into another US state

    No, a US states citizens would be protected by the bill of rights. Howard would have done anything to stop that, you don't think he was a 2nd amendment fan do you?

  • by a.ameri ( 665846 ) on Saturday November 01, 2008 @10:15AM (#25594545)
    The only reason a government can get away with this is if we, the citizens, don't act, and let our liberties gradually slip away.

    If you are an Australian, please take action:

    1) Call Senator Conroy's office on 03 9650 1188. Do not be rude, do not swear, just in a very reasoned and rational voice, express your disapproval, and in a few short sentences, say why you disagree. It matters a lot.

    2) Write a letter to Senator Conroy, make sure it's between half a page to one page (no more than 400 words). Again, in a polite tone (that doesn't have to be formal, and doesn't have to have letterhead, etc., just your name and address) let him know why you disagree with him. His address is:
    Senator Stephen Conroy
    Level 4, 4 Treasury Place
    Melbourne Vic 3002

    3) Write a letter to your local MP. It doesn't matter what party he/she is from, Liberals will use your letter to back up their claims in Question Time, which gives publicity to the whole issue and will bring it to mainstream media's attention. Labor members will also express their criticism, privately, to him. This specially matters if your local MP is a Minister and serves in the Cabinet. To find out who your local MP is click here []

    4) Write a letter to Prime Minister Rudd. Let him know that when the Australian people voted him in office last year, they didn't know "Education Revolution" means censorship. Rudd's address is:
    PO Box 6022
    House of Representatives
    Parliament House
    Canberra ACT 2600

    5) Donate or become a member of Electronic Frontiers Australia [] . Right now the EFA is the sole organisation fighting this. They need all the help they can get.

    6) Write a letter to your ISP. It doesn't matter if it's the Evil Telstra; on this, we're all together. They are fighting the battle for us right now, but it would help them to know that what they are doing is a good business practice, that you expect them to fight this to the end.

    Don't just sit around and do nothing and then complain about how evil governments are. We, the citizens are the ones who allow governments to become evil, by our political apathy. Move! Take Action! Now!
  • by Dracophile ( 140936 ) on Saturday November 01, 2008 @06:52PM (#25598273)

    We never voted for internet censorship (that idea wasn't mentioned in the run-up to the election)

    That's not entirely true. The ALP had internet filtering on their platform before the election. It was going to be an opt-out thing back then, but you can't get away with saying you didn't know they had this in mind. It's why I put their candidate in 4th place on my ballot paper [], in spite of the then-leader of the Liberal Party and most of his cabinet being a bunch of irredeemable fucktards worthy of just about anything being done to remove them. Now if they'd just make it optional preferential voting [] like we have in NSW, I could cast a formal vote for a federal candidate that doesn't in any way assist either the ALP of the Libs.

"I think trash is the most important manifestation of culture we have in my lifetime." - Johnny Legend