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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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  • 10,000 URLs? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ta bu shi da yu ( 687699 ) on Friday December 05, 2008 @03:48AM (#26000009) Homepage

    Things I'm not clear on:

    1. URLs or entire domains?
    2. Only 10,000? Do they feel that the Internet is really so small?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 05, 2008 @04:54AM (#26000307)

    You're assuming Rudd is being smart. I'm not so sure. They already had their compromise case - what they said before the election: there would be a filter, but there was an opt-out. This satisfied people.

    Then after the election Conroy turned around and said no opt-out. This is when people got angry.

    Why would the government inflame so many voters for no gain, political or otherwise? I'd say ideology. Rudd is a Bible Basher. He's got three years out to the election and he knows he can do whatever he wants.

  • Cooperation (Score:4, Interesting)

    by unlametheweak ( 1102159 ) on Friday December 05, 2008 @04:57AM (#26000339)

    These concerns will be carefully considered during a 'live' pilot of ISP filtering which will test a range of content filtering solutions in a real world environment, with the cooperation of ISPs (including mobile telephone operators) and their customers.

    - Ref, []

    What "customer" would willingly go to an illegal Web site in order to test a government filtering system. Unless the government is giving them a list of banned URLs and an amnesty from prosecution then this testing will largely be bogus. Though I don't know how they define "cooperation".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 05, 2008 @05:11AM (#26000433)

    Last night I signed up for a deal for an encrypted VPN outside of Oz.
    $10/month or $120/year buys me my freedom if the world goes belly up.
    I tried it for the first time last night. Random IP, switch on/off when you need it, slight increase in latency (450ms) - no probs when torrenting, I set up off-shore DNS servers too. Had to stuff around with router settings though.

    Now if you pay an average of $50/month for broadband and an extra $120/year guarantees you privacy and freedom, then that's the way to go.

  • by rastoboy29 ( 807168 ) on Friday December 05, 2008 @05:11AM (#26000441) Homepage
    It seems like lately the Aussies are mimicking the U.S., only more so, no matter how insane.  I hope for their sake that they stop soon.

    Unless, of course, the U.S. is headed into an era of reasonable behavior, in which case I defy them to do _that_ in spades.
  • by IWannaBeAnAC ( 653701 ) on Friday December 05, 2008 @07:06AM (#26001019)

    That is the whole point, the original election promise didn't make sense on lots of levels. But one level where it didn't make sense was to spend a lot of money to install filters for a set of known illegal URL's, and then let people opt-out of the filter. That would be like the police shutting down a brothel by posting a guard at the front door stopping people from entering, while putting up a sign to point out that people are still free to get in through the side entrance.

  • by earlymon ( 1116185 ) on Friday December 05, 2008 @07:23AM (#26001117) Homepage Journal

    Good for you - you're exercising your right of responsibility, just in another way. I salute you.

    I raised my kids with just one rule - Think With Your Brain. No matter what they did, if they could show that they were really thinking with their brains, and could handle my follow-on arguments, then they passed.

    Nowadays, I'm a grandparent (that's the kiddies in my house that I filter for), and I think with my brain - and I don't think I want to precipitate porn discussions with my grandkids. That's my kid's job.

    I've got the whole cartoon-time duty - and I must say, it doesn't suck.

  • Re:10,000 URLs? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by thegrassyknowl ( 762218 ) on Friday December 05, 2008 @08:20AM (#26001375)

    Actually, a lookup in a tree of 10,000 requires on average 13 lookups and a 1,000,000 entries requires an average of 20 lookups. That larger tree definitely requires more lookups.

    Multiply that amount of work by the number of requests per second (probably tens of millions) and they're talking a fuckload of computer power just to lookup against a small list. Throw dynamic filtering and SSL interception (yes, all but one of the products tested claimed to do MITM attacks on knowns SSL traffic) and you're talking an infeasible project.

    Anyway, the gumbiment doesn't know what they're talking about. They're trying to push something through to further their own agenda. Whether it will work or not is not up for debate. Whether it will buy them votes in the senate is.

  • Re:10,000 URLs? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) on Friday December 05, 2008 @08:44AM (#26001503) Journal
    The dumb thing is, he does not even realize the size of the list does not matter.

    He is a politician, he is well aware that the existance, content, and size, of the list are ALL that matters.

    From the day these stories started appearing I have claimed that the mandatory thing will go nowhere. This is not about technology it's about politics, in particular placating one senator Fielding from the "family first" party. Because of the senate's current make-up, under certain political stand-offs he gets to be "the decider", so in true "yes minister" fashion an "inquiry" must be held to drag it out as long as possible. Conroy is mute because he does not support it, he is demonstrating loyalty to the PM by taking the heat (he is also somewhat of a rival to the PM).

    IMHO the MAFIAA's attack on iiNet is far more orwellian than a reccuring political theater that both major parties play in order to keep the "think of the children" crowd chasing their own tail. - The theater is inefficient and wastefull - it's democratic what did you expect?

    I like my porn, to quote Larry Flint "I ain't guilt of nothing 'cept bad taste". However if the "other parties" mentioned in the report happen to bust a few rock-spiders while conducting their trial, I would consider that a bonus.
  • Re:10,000 URLs? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Xest ( 935314 ) on Friday December 05, 2008 @09:34AM (#26001881)

    I suppose it depends how you define voluntary.

    If opening up yourself to legal action when someone downloads illegal material by refusing to implement it is voluntary then that's a fair point but that's not really my definition of voluntary.

    The IWF was created in response to the police wanting to launch a case against ISPs for holding illegal material on newsgroups, if an ISP therefore refuses to implement it they will put themselves in the line of fire of this legal action that they have been safe from for almost a decade due to the police accepting the IWF as a suitable option for dealing with the issue.

    Seeing as ISPs wont even point out to the courts that the proof against file sharers isn't enough to demonstrate any specific individual comitted any offence and instead just roll over and let the music and games industry walk all over people's privacy in that regard then I have a lot less faith in them doing the right thing than you. Coupled with the phorm trials and interest by some ISPs as well as the disgustingly over the top, unfair bandwidth caps and entirely unethical "unlimited" broadband advertising I'd in fact say that whilst ISPs may grunt a little about such an event, they'd ultimately just say "take it up with the IWF or the government" and sit enjoying the fact they weren't having to use up bandwidth for the blocked sites whilst simultaneously maintaining subscriber levels as hardly anyone would give up the internet over it.

  • Re:10,000 URLs? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by stephanruby ( 542433 ) on Friday December 05, 2008 @10:28PM (#26010279)

    Very funny. O(1) doesn't mean penalty-free. O(1) only means the look-up time is constant (assuming the hash-table is large enough), so this hare-brained idea is definitely technically feasible (although, politically it's stupid, since it's an added inconvenience that's only going to affect the average non-pedophile users).

    An example of this scheme working "technically" is Peerguardian2, PeerGuardian [] prevents your computer from interacting/sharing files with Government ip addresses, anti-sharing ip addresses, spyware/malware/botnet ip addresses, and anyone else that may have pissed you off. The look-up time is fine, it's just the occasional updating and the rehashing that can take a few seconds to a half-minute depending on how fast your computer really is.

    That being said, even Peerguardian is not without its problems, sometimes it will block you from going to/sharing with a legitimate site/user just because their ISP allocates IP addresses dynamically. In my case, it even prevented me from checking my own email, because a block from my own ISP was blacklisted. But at least Peerguardian lets you easily override/change specific settings/protocols and it lets white list any ip address/block that accidentally gets misclassified, so it's not going to have the crippling effect on the average non-pedophile user that this Australian harebrained scheme is going to have.

  • Re:10,000 URLs? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by theaveng ( 1243528 ) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @10:51AM (#26012907)

    The 15-year-old Ohio girl was arrested, but found "not guilty" because transmission of nude photos is not illegal. It's protected by the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment.

    There was another case where a 16 and 17 year old were arrested, but their photos included sexual activity, which IS illegal in the U.S. and therefore they were found "guilty" and sent to jail. IMHO this was wrong-headed because the photos never left their privately-owned homes. You should be able to photograph yourself in the privacy of your own home, for God's sake.

"It takes all sorts of in & out-door schooling to get adapted to my kind of fooling" - R. Frost