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Censorship The Internet Your Rights Online

Clarifying the Next Step in Australia's Net-Censorship Scheme 193

teh moges writes "I recently received a response from the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, regarding issues I had with the ISP filtering proposed for Australia. My comment can be summed up by 'Any efficient filter won't be effective and any effective filter won't be efficient.' His response clarifies the issue of using the blacklist for censorship." Read on for the gist of Conroy's mistakes-were-made response, which seems to sidestep teh moges' critique, but offers Australian Internet users some idea of what they're in for.
From Conroy's email in response: "...concerns have been raised that filtering a blacklist beyond 10,000 URLs may raise network performance issues... The pilot will therefore seek to also test network performance against a test list of 10,000 URLs ... As this test is only being performed to test the impact on network performance against a list of this size, and actual customers are not involved,the make-up of the list is not an issue."

teh moges continues: "My initial query about the lack of effectiveness of the filter still stands, however it is important that the censorship issue is clarified. It seems, at least for now, that the trial that will begin on December 24th for the '10,000' list is for testing purposes, rather then using a list that will be used later. Still, no information on a guarantee of regulation is provided, so there is still a long way to go before this ISP filtering gains support, especially given Senator Stephen Conroy's lack of ability to answer questions in media conferences."
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Clarifying the Next Step in Australia's Net-Censorship Scheme

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  • Re:10,000 URLs? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lgw ( 121541 ) on Friday December 05, 2008 @03:52AM (#26000027) Journal

    This is pretty clear:

    1) Creat blacklist "just for kiddie porn"

    2) Deny citizens access to the contents of the blacklist "why do you want to know a list of kiddie por sites, you pervert?!?!"

    3) Add political opposition sites to the blacklist.

    4) ???

    5) Totalitarianism!

    Didn't Finland move from step 1 to step 3 in just a month?

  • by retech ( 1228598 ) on Friday December 05, 2008 @04:13AM (#26000111)
    I am completely tired of listening to people use the "for the safety of the children" argument for every damn thing. 20 years ago there were just as many pedophiles per ca pita as there were 100 years ago and will be 100 years from now. We just hear about them more now!

    News agencies are businesses. They are in no way shape or form an altruistic humanitarian agency that is set to expand our minds. They want to scare the piss out of you because, no different than the movies, TERROR SELLS. And terrifying people about innocent children sells more. If you make people afraid enough than they'll give up everything they have to feel safe again. They will not consider their actions. It's a cut and run response to a perceived danger. No different than being chased (literally) by a wolf. You run fast till the danger is gone and when you get the chance you think.

    In the latter part of the 20th century we willingly gave up (en masse) our desire to think. We let agency after agnency, group after group, make policy and laws to envelope us and make us appear protected. All the while those very structures were sucking the very marrow from our bones - making enormous profits off our fear.

    The net will effectively be the last stand of us as a species. Our very society will either evolve or fall into dystopia in the next 10 yrs over the issues surrounding the internet. From over priced billing to international spying, everything we do, every bit of culture we have, all of what it is to be us will pass through a point on line.

    And someone will want to control it and profit off of it.

    We either make a choice to say no and let it be completely free. Or we make a choice to let them control us. Issues like the Oz law will be seen by history as a major turning point. That is, of course, if that history remains intact.
  • by Megaport ( 42937 ) on Friday December 05, 2008 @04:15AM (#26000119)

    Just as the USA have lost their moral right to castigate countries who use torture as a tool of statecraft, so too has Australia now given up her right to criticise those authoritarian regimes who would limit the freedom of communication of their citizens.

    Given that all the experts (yes, ALL the experts) agree that it won't stop anyone who actually traffics in this despicable content from peddling their filth even for a moment, can anyone here tell me what else we're buying for the price of our moral high ground on this issue?

    China will be laughing their socks off at us next time we try to mention the censorship of news and internet in their country - no matter what language our leaders speak the message in.


  • Re:10,000 URLs? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by wharlie ( 972709 ) on Friday December 05, 2008 @04:29AM (#26000193)
    It works for China, why not Australia.
  • by unlametheweak ( 1102159 ) on Friday December 05, 2008 @04:33AM (#26000209)

    In the latter part of the 20th century we willingly gave up (en masse) our desire to think

    Speak for yourself. Censorship only helps fulfill the needs of those who already decide that they don't want to think. The rest of us will continue in silence. Thought is one thing that cannot (yet) be wholly censored, though people try their darnedest.

  • Re:I'm with iiNet. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by unlametheweak ( 1102159 ) on Friday December 05, 2008 @04:41AM (#26000249)

    iiNet, one of the ISPs who has agreed to test out the filter, but only to show how worthless it is.

    I've always found the reasoning bizarre. It's like saying I'll do murder and rape just to show how horrible it is.

  • by Phurge ( 1112105 ) on Friday December 05, 2008 @04:53AM (#26000299)
    "The state must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people. As long as the government is perceived as working for the benefit of the children, the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation" - quote from Mein Kampf.....
  • by IWannaBeAnAC ( 653701 ) on Friday December 05, 2008 @05:01AM (#26000383)

    Conroy is known as quite a back-room numbers man and power broker, but he isn't very well liked either. There are rumors that he's been set up to take the fall when the filtering scheme fails, along with the almost inevitable failure of the national broadband infrastructure tender process.

    Rudd's interest in this is that both the filtering and the national broadband scheme were election promises, and while I admire his integrity in trying to carry through with all of his election promises (unlike the previous mob, who turned election lying into a high art), I really wish he would dump the promises that were clearly stupid. (I see now he has dumped the dumb idea of forming a Department of Homeland Security. That was surely an ill-advised scheme to attract right-wingnuts to vote for the Labor party.)

    But the bottom line is that there is a real possibility that Rudd is complicit in setting Conroy up for the fall: he not only gets Conroy out of the front bench (and possibly out of parliament), but he also gets to dump the election promise of internet filtering with the excuse that it isn't his fault that Conroy botched it.

  • by retech ( 1228598 ) on Friday December 05, 2008 @05:07AM (#26000409)
    And that's the other half of this.

    At what point did we cease being responsible for our own actions?

    I applaud you doing the correct action with your children. Sadly our world is overrun by people who want "them" to responsible for their own mistakes as parents. (you can replace parent with any other noun/responsibility)
  • Re:10,000 URLs? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Xest ( 935314 ) on Friday December 05, 2008 @05:07AM (#26000413)

    Britain has been doing steps 1 and 2 for years via the IWF.

    Of course, we don't know if they've been doing 3 (realistically not, I'm sure parties would've complained if they had!) but we know Jacqui Smith is trying her damn hardest to take us to 5!

  • Re:10,000 URLs? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by daBass ( 56811 ) on Friday December 05, 2008 @05:25AM (#26000493)

    The dumb thing is, he does not even realize the size of the list does not matter. A lookup against a million URLs in hash table in memory is just as quick as going through a 10,000.

    The problem is that it means ALL request have to go through a proxy to be tested, whether they are on the blacklist or not.

    This response just proves he really does not have a clue about the technology...

  • Re:Not So Radical? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by miquels ( 37972 ) on Friday December 05, 2008 @05:37AM (#26000543) Homepage

    It's not going to happen. The police tried to run this scheme, and the ISPs almost fell for it. Then the minister of justice noticed what was going on, investigated it, and concluded that it was against the law (!).

    Bit of a shame though. The agreement between ISPs and the police was much better then any future law will be .. which unfortunately is still just as likely as anywhere else in the world.

    It had very good checks and balances built in. For example, the agreement was in the form of a contract, and it would become invalid the moment any non-child-porn site showed up on the list.

    Oh well. All in all I'm happy it didn't go through. But I'm wondering what they will come up with next.

  • by IWannaBeAnAC ( 653701 ) on Friday December 05, 2008 @05:52AM (#26000609)
    As soon as it became a tool for blocking illegal sites it was clear it would no longer be optional. If you are going to block illegal stuff, the it makes no sense to let people opt out of it.
  • by b4upoo ( 166390 ) on Friday December 05, 2008 @05:55AM (#26000639)

    It is a rotten shame that Australia now has to battle with censorship. Obviously America and Europe also have a running battle with those that would control what we see and read.
              Any man that would censor what I read is my mortal enemy. I hope others will not be willing to play nice with such ilk. Censorship is always evil.

  • Re:10,000 URLs? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by xSander ( 1227106 ) on Friday December 05, 2008 @06:12AM (#26000717)

    Didn't Finland move from step 1 to step 3 in just a month?

    The Netherlands has a blacklist as well, just as ineffective as the Finnish one. Just don't use your ISP's DNS. Governments should concentrate on taking down sites rather than act like the three wise monkeys.

  • by theaveng ( 1243528 ) on Friday December 05, 2008 @07:14AM (#26001065)

    I don't filter anything.

    If my children stumble across something, I encourage them to ask questions and I answer them as honestly as possible. After all, I'm preparing my children to be ADULTS which means they need to learn how to deal with the adult world. To shelter them from exposure to the real world means I'm not doing my job as a parent (turning children into adults).

  • by theaveng ( 1243528 ) on Friday December 05, 2008 @07:18AM (#26001077)

    I'm taking a course about World War 2. Should I yell out "Godwin - end of lecture!" every time my prof mentions Hitler or Nazis?

    No. That's just another form of censorship. History needs to be studied and understood, not hidden behind silence.

  • Thank you! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 05, 2008 @07:29AM (#26001151)
    Grandparent poster is an idiot who doesn't understand Godwin's Law. Of course you can mention and discuss Hitler or Nazis. We need to examine and learn from the worst historical period of the 20th Century.

    Comparing Bush to Hitler is stupid. Learning the lessons of appeasement is not.

    There is nothing stupider than someone who thinks "Godwin!" is a debate-ending comment. Dumb dumb dumb.
  • Re:10,000 URLs? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lgw ( 121541 ) on Friday December 05, 2008 @03:51PM (#26006445) Journal

    In America, a teenaged girl was arrested for posting kiddie porn for posting pictures taken of herself in a mirror, and then tried as an adult for the crime and convicted. Rationality does not prevail in a witch hunt!

    A great many "child modeling" sites were shut down and arrests made, and these sites don't even show nudity. IMO they were still effectively kiddie porn, but even so I'm still very concerned with the idea of arresting people for posting pictures of clothed children just because of a completely subjective evaluation that "it's porn", even when I agree with that evaluation. That's *exactly* what makes a which hunt, for as soon as the criteria for arrest becomes subjective, abuse for political gain follows immediately.

  • Re:10,000 URLs? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CaptainDefragged ( 939505 ) on Friday December 05, 2008 @06:10PM (#26008043)
    For God's sake. When are these do-gooders going wake up to themselves? Naked != Porn. There has to be more to it than that. Some kind of sexual context at least. It seems that the definition of "kiddie porn" has gone from depraved sexual acts against young children to holiday snaps of kids swimming in the lake naked. There is light years between those two contexts. And another thing - in the 15 years or more that I have been using computers, I have never come across any kiddie porn on the net. Never. Not Ever. It's not out there lurking on every wrong mouse click waiting to "damage" some innocent child. Talk about a fear campaign.
    I've seen police write comments here saying that they have the tools and laws they require now and are doing fine thank you very much.
    So Senator Conroy - fuck off. We'll manage the content that we want to stop our children from viewing. We don't need you to decide for us. K9 filters work just fine on the kids PCs along with a set of written rules of what they are allowed to do and what they are not allowed to do.
  • Re:10,000 URLs? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ihmhi ( 1206036 ) <> on Friday December 05, 2008 @06:35PM (#26008291)

    By the modern definition of kiddie porn, anyone who owns a copy of Nirvana's Nevermind album [] is a sex offender.

  • Re:10,000 URLs? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by wharlie ( 972709 ) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @06:19PM (#26015519)
    Unfortunately Australia's blacklist will not be published either and one of the concerns is it expanding from blocking child pornography to other categories. There have already been indications by right wing conservatives that they want to include things like gambling, and I'm sure ARIA (Australian RIAA) would like to block torrent sites. Of course it won't manage to block anything from anyone that wants to get around it, but it'll probably reduce Australia's internet to a crawl.

If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants. -- Isaac Newton