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Censorship Australia Government It's funny.  Laugh. The Internet

Aussie Internet Censorship Minister Censors Self 158

An anonymous reader writes "Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, the minister attempting to ram the great firewall of Oz down everyone's throat, has been removing all traces of the unpopular legislation from his main website with a JavaScript filter. From the article: 'It was revealed today a script within the minister's homepage deliberately removes references to internet filtering from the list. In the function that creates the list, or "tag cloud," there is a condition that if the words "ISP filtering" appear they should be skipped and not displayed.' Bear in mind, this is the same minister that tried to get the ISP of tech forum Whirlpool to pull the site after users there posted a response email from the ACMA (Australian Communications and Media Authority)."
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Aussie Internet Censorship Minister Censors Self

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  • by deniable ( 76198 ) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @11:54PM (#31281310)
    Their media releases trip our spam filters. I can't remember the exact rules, but they were the dodgy mail server kind.
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by deniable ( 76198 )
      Cool, my first First Post. Now for something relevant, the JavaScript uses an static array of terms. They then skip the entry if it's the bad phrase, 'ISP Filtering.' Can anyone think of a better way?
  • by rjames13 ( 1178191 ) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @11:55PM (#31281322)
    We keep on asking for Conroy to shut up but this is not what we meant :(
  • by atomicstrawberry ( 955148 ) on Friday February 26, 2010 @12:11AM (#31281396)

    There's federal elections later this year so I imagine the government will be wanting to keep this particular piece of extremely unpopular legislation on the down-low for the rest of the year so that they can do what they did last time and trot it back out after the elections with the statement that they received a mandate from the people to implement it, despite it not actually being a major part of their platform.

    After all, no political party in a supposedly free country would want to start campaigning with something as undemocratic on their books as a secret censorship blacklist run by the government with no judicial oversight and no right of appeal which blocks 'undesireable' content as defined by the government's whim at that particular time of the day. Any competent opposition could make it into a very major issue.

    • I don't care if the government falls (this is more due to indifference on my part than any political alignment).

      Just Conroy.

    • by Architect_sasyr ( 938685 ) on Friday February 26, 2010 @12:22AM (#31281444)
      I'm trying to figure out why we don't see more of it on the standard bullshit news shows.

      And then I realised where all the funding and authorisation comes from. I just find it... disturbing... that we are all of a sudden getting massive spin coverage on the facebook trolls over death-pages. Again, until I realise that it's the perfect reason to "censor" the internet.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 26, 2010 @01:08AM (#31281664)

        all of a sudden getting massive spin coverage on the facebook trolls over death-pages.

        The massive spin coverage of Facebook trolls is in the MURDOCH press. Why? Because news corp owns MySpace, the competition. Call me cynical, but it's pretty bloody obvious.

      • And then I realised where all the funding and authorisation comes from. I just find it... disturbing... that we are all of a sudden getting massive spin coverage on the facebook trolls over death-pages. Again, until I realise that it's the perfect reason to "censor" the internet.

        Exactly. Problem-reaction-solution.

    • by some_guy_88 ( 1306769 ) on Friday February 26, 2010 @12:26AM (#31281456) Homepage

      Any competent opposition could make it into a very major issue.

      *sigh*..

      • by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Friday February 26, 2010 @12:37AM (#31281506) Homepage Journal

        Any competent opposition could make it into a very major issue.

        *sigh*..

        Unfortunately the opposition would like to see an even stronger filter.

        • by mjwx ( 966435 )

          Unfortunately the opposition would like to see an even stronger filter.

          Just not the one Labor is promoting, they want a completely similar filter created by a Liberal government.

          As the GP said, sigh.

        • Would they? I know the Liberal party right now is under leadership that is practically unelectable and has a backwards stance towards climate change, but I wasn't aware that they wanted a stronger filter. Can I get a citation?
          • Somebody who posted here a week ago the last time we had this article had asked this question of Abbott somewhere and got the answer that they favoured a stronger filtering scheme. I suppose I could dig it up but that was what I read anyway.

    • by Joakal ( 1317443 )

      They can't hide their positions on the Internet Filtering Scheme [shockseat.com]

      Some people are watching their promises.

      Whether people vote for or against parties on the issue is another thing. The site can't tell them who to vote for, but what the party position is, the informed voters still have to make up their mind. The Australian Labor Party did actually make the Internet Filtering Scheme an election promise that they have not yet carried out but are in the process.

    • by Sasayaki ( 1096761 ) on Friday February 26, 2010 @12:43AM (#31281546)

      Unfortunately, this won't happen. (Disclaimer: I have posted this before, but it's worth restating)

      Tony Abbot (The head of the Liberal party- that's the guys NOT in power, for you Americans) visited humble Darwin city recently and it was there that I personally got to ask him, in his public question and answer time, the following question (roughly remembered):

      "The Internet is an important part of the lives of many young Australians, as well as Australia as a whole in this modern age- what do you think of (the Prime Minister- Americans would say 'president') Kevin Rudd's plan to censor the Internet?"

      His answer began:

      "Well, I'm afraid I'm probably going to disappoint you..." and yes, unfortunately, he did.

      Paraphrased his answer was: "Stopping child pornography is extremely important to me and the Liberal party and therefore, if we can prove the censorship plan doesn't work, we will oppose it; but only it. We will continue to seek effective means to block 'filth' (his word) from entering our country any way we can. If the filter works, we will support it."

      Basically the message I got from his reply is that Tony Abbot believes that the filter will work "well enough" and is too much of a hot potato to oppose politically. The subtext I personally divined from his answer was a little more chilling; that the filter didn't go far *enough* for his tastes, and that he'd personally rather a complete whitelist than a blacklist. Therefore, speaking as a card-carrying Liberal... if you think that voting for the Liberal party in the next election will make the filter go away, you are sadly mistaken.

      On a side note, the fact that he himself is an extremely religious man probably doesn't help a great deal, since it seems that too many politicians tend to "trust God about these things" when it's abundantly clear that God knows sweet F-A about the Tubes and how they work.

      • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        You don't have to worry. Tony Abbott is just the liberal opposition mouthpiece until the labour party sends the country broke after the next election. After which the personable, intelligent and well spoken Joe Hockey will take over leadership and with his down-to-earth style and an armload of "labour can't manage money" will convince the beer drinking, bbq loving majority that he's the right man for the job.

        Then he'll make some nasty international agreements and raise the GST rate to pay off the 300 billio

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Hey, at least you got a good straight answer out of him. A politician that will answer a question, even at the expense of disappointing his audience, has my respect.

        Not my vote, of course, since he disappointed me too. Actually, you need to have some expectations to be disappointed, so I guess he didn't even do that.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by roman_mir ( 125474 )

        We will continue to seek effective means to block 'filth' (his word) from entering our country any way we can.

        = oh, he is about 240 years too late.

    • by ghostdoc ( 1235612 ) on Friday February 26, 2010 @01:20AM (#31281734)

      Actually, the polls that have been performed so far seem to indicate that the 'clean feed' idea behind the legislation goes over very well with the average Aussie voter, and they're not getting the 'geek rage' message that it won't work and will slow down the internet.

      There needs to be a whole load of education to the masses to get across the reality of what they're proposing, and how it can be used in future to censor anything the pollies don't want the public to know about, before there's any real chance of this not going through.

      And don't depend on Mr Abbott and friends to stop it. The Churches are all for it, in fact there's a strong indication that the Clean Feed is a deliberate play to the right-wing church lobby groups.

      Our only hope is the Greens (and the Sex party and Pirate party*) who are the only 'major' political party who have definitely come out against this.

      (* who should definitely join forces to form the Sexy Pirate party)

      • The Clean Feed isn't just a play to right-wing church groups, it was basically invented by these religious fundamentalists.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        (* who should definitely join forces to form the Sexy Pirate party)

        They would get totally p0wned by the Nude Ninja Party
    • by ultranova ( 717540 ) on Friday February 26, 2010 @06:57AM (#31283280)

      After all, no political party in a supposedly free country would want to start campaigning with something as undemocratic on their books as a secret censorship blacklist run by the government with no judicial oversight and no right of appeal which blocks 'undesireable' content as defined by the government's whim at that particular time of the day. Any competent opposition could make it into a very major issue.

      Quite a few of them have, actually, and managed to paint their opponents as supporters of child porn / terrorism / boogeyman of the day. And many people, even here on Slashdot, have cheered them on, happy to ensure their children won't be exposed to any material they disagree with.

      I figure we're in for a new dark age. With China rising on the outside and politicians, businessmen and hysterical parents on the inside, all those hard-won freedoms and human rights are going to erode away. It won't last forever, of course: given enough time, the pendulum will swing back and humanity will reclaim what it's losing now; but I doubt any of us will see it.

      • by tsm_sf ( 545316 ) on Friday February 26, 2010 @08:28AM (#31283668) Journal

        This just popped into my head reading this thread, but I'm wondering how much child porn goes on these days. I have to say, I've been around some fucking weird corners of the net, but the only time I hear about kiddie porn is when politicians talk about it. Paging Dr. Freud?

        Put another way, I'd love to hear someone ask these guys "can you prove that this is a social problem and not some weird fixation on your part?"

        There's just something inherently distasteful about a middle aged man, not involved with law enforcement, getting worked into a lather over naked children. It's creepy.

        • by Acer500 ( 846698 )

          There's just something inherently distasteful about a middle aged man, not involved with law enforcement, getting worked into a lather over naked children. It's creepy.

          You reminded me of this article: http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2009/07/05/the_nature_of_temptation/ [boston.com] which indeed validates your theory

          • by tsm_sf ( 545316 )
            People who inveigh against a vice in others are often themselves fixated on it, and more likely to succumb to its allure. And, the research suggests, virtuous deeds are often a form of penance for thoughts a person is ashamed of.

            Thanks, that was an interesting article.
    • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

      There is a new global political shift, as the left shifted to centre right, it left a major opening for the Green Party. There are not that many people who are interested in the far right and it's singular exposed focus on making the rich richer and the middle class into the working poor. This opportunity is allowing the Green Party to take up the centre left position, leaving the pseudo labour parties stuck sharing the right with the far right, where they will likely do a lot of damage to each, creating t

  • by acehole ( 174372 ) on Friday February 26, 2010 @12:15AM (#31281412) Homepage

    They can't be trusted to not use it for political ends. You wont ever hear the words "We've legislated against the filter being used to block political material."

    We're already got the ACL (Australian Christian Lobby) attempting to file its members into the classification board by applying for positions to put their own slant on approvals or most likely disapprovals.

    Every little interest group that wants the particular vice that they're against is already lining up to whisper in the Senator's ear. He's ethically corrupt and making dubious shady decisions. $250 Million for the free to air channels around Australia with no strings attached. I wonder why there is little to no coverage in the main stream press now days?

  • National Disgrace (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anakie ( 1754458 ) on Friday February 26, 2010 @12:17AM (#31281424)
    I am so embarrassed to be an Australian right now...
    • by chromas ( 1085949 ) on Friday February 26, 2010 @12:53AM (#31281606)
      Thanks for giving us Americans the day off.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by acehole ( 174372 )

        When you get a letter sent from Australia with writing covered by black marker, you'll know its the "No Problem" reply from us.

      • You know, it's a funny joke, but I do have to comment on this.

        Just recently I visited New Zealand as an American (first time overseas). I spent the whole trip couchsurfing and meeting locals and generally trying out bad ideas with good people. It was one of the best experiences of my life. However, throughout the exploits, I was constantly engaged in conversation with various Kiwis regarding everything from American politics to Grey's Anatomy and Baseball. No matter what the political topic that was bein
    • FWIW, I'm embarrassed to be a New Zealander right today... They passed [nzherald.co.nz] The Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill, so 3 strikes and we're out of pocket $15,000 and kicked offline.

  • Those corrupted by power never want to lose their power. If this means disregarding morals, ethics, and standards of any kinds, so be it. It is a plight of the human condition that we are so easily corrupted, and a shame that we haven't seemed to outgrow it, and frankly, I don't believe this race ever will.
  • If I understand TFA correctly, he's pulled references to internet filtering from his website. He's done it through a script, rather than by completely deleting the reference, which suggests to me this is meant to be a temporary change. Maybe the internet filtering pages need some work and he doesn't want to display them at the moment. But I can't see any way it's morally worse than, say, deleting the internet filtering link altogether. In fact, it doesn't seem to be evil at all. So what's the fuss?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      He's the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy hiding his unpopular policies in an election year. It's disgraceful.

    • In fact, it doesn't seem to be evil at all. So what's the fuss?

      I don't recall anybody calling it evil, where did you see that? I would say it could be called funny, ironic, or fitting.

      I'm also not seeing a "fuss," unless you call a slashdot article a fuss.

  • Public opinion (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Friday February 26, 2010 @12:48AM (#31281574) Homepage Journal

    Somebody rings you up or corners you in the street and asks you if you support internet filtering and you say yes so you don't look like a creep but when you get into the polling booth it might be an entirely different situation.

    • Somebody rings you up or corners you in the street and asks you if you support internet filtering and you say yes so you don't look like a creep but when you get into the polling booth it might be an entirely different situation.

      Might be.

      But probably won't be.

      This how the issues were framed by an ABC poll:

      The exact questions asked of the 1,000 people [in a telephone poll] were:

      Would you say you are in favour or not in favour of having a mandatory Government Internet filter that would automatically block al

  • Quite a change (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dorsai65 ( 804760 ) <dkmerriman AT gmail DOT com> on Friday February 26, 2010 @12:50AM (#31281584) Homepage Journal

    from when I was down there (USN) in 1976 -- folks were pretty much left to act like adults and be responsible for themselves. Now the whole country seems more farked up than the U.S., or even Britain!

    Maybe they should start referring to him as Kim Jong Conroy?

    So much for the concepts of "Freedom" and "Democracy" for Oz...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Australia's following the same general trend also exhibited in the US and UK, that of focusing legislative efforts on anything which has the perception of making the country safer. This process is exacerbated by media outlets, which run a steady stream of fear-laden non-news stories, reinforcing the demand for further legislative "solutions" to problems that don't exist. One part of this problem is that no-one in the media or in politics will actually point out that these laws are pointless, since there's
    • Re:Quite a change (Score:5, Informative)

      by Cimexus ( 1355033 ) on Friday February 26, 2010 @01:33AM (#31281786)

      Don't worry ... we are still like that. Don't confuse a few fringe Senators' ideas with the status quo. Slashdot really gives you a warped view on anything that involves privacy/censorship and countries outside the US. Remember, this 'great filter':

      - Is currently nothing more than a proposal. Not legislation, and not even an actual Bill that's been introduced formally into the House or Senate;
      - Is clearly being discussed and is a major topic in the news here. People are informed about it and forming their own opinions on it ... it's not subversively being shoved down anyone's throat, despite what one or two loony Senators would like;
      - Is being attempted to be introduced via the normal democratic process ... and failing pretty badly. The Liberal opposition and the Greens are almost certain to prevent it ever passing the Senate;
      - And finally, even if it gets implemented, it is nothing more than a simple HTTP URL blacklist. Circumvented in about 5 seconds and doesn't do jack to P2P/usenet/IRC/any other protocol.

      This is not to say that the filter is nothing to worry about and shouldn't be fought - it absolutely should be! But drawing comparisons to China or North Korea is a bit of a stretch.

      Australia is still an open and free country, and probably still the country out there that's most similar to the US, culturally and ideologically. Sure there are those that would wish to reduce those freedoms ... but those kind of people exist in the US as well. But both countries have strong, independent legal systems and proper democratic process by which to challenge such things.

      I'm a dual US/AU citizen and travel regularly between the two countries every year. I'm pretty familiar with the news and issues in both countries. Slashdot definitely puts a slant on most of these kind of stories, making things outside the US seem worse than they are. Same applies to their reporting on the UK and other European nations, to an extent.

      Some come down and visit again some time. We won't bite :P

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Cimexus ( 1355033 )

        Haha I got modded funny? What the ... :)

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by freespac3 ( 548049 )

        Don't worry ... we are still like that. Don't confuse a few fringe Senators' ideas with the status quo. Slashdot really gives you a warWe won't bite :P

        Our wildlife might though :P

      • by qc_dk ( 734452 )

        We won't bite :P

        But everything else down there will. And, poison you. Or, sting. I'm happy right here where the most dangerous animal is the "killer" slug, that in a fit of rage might go so far as to eat your lettuce.

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      Australia was under a heavy censorship blanket until the 1970's.
      It was slowly lifted until the early 1990's.
      Then it was locked down again via movie cuts and bans.
      Books on the Iraq war where also destroyed in suburbia.
      Now faith based groups have their people in or are very close to power on both sides of politics and can revert Australia back to the dark ages again.
  • LIES! (Score:3, Informative)

    by scdeimos ( 632778 ) on Friday February 26, 2010 @12:52AM (#31281598)

    Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, the minister attempting to ram the great firewall of Oz down everyone's throat has been removing all traces of the unpopular legislation from his main website with a javascript filter.

    The summary of this article is a ball-faced lie. The JavaScript in question removes the term "ISP filter" from the tag cloud on the home page of the site, nothing more.

    There are still plenty of pages on the site that mention "ISP Filtering" such as the following:

    Media Release - Measures to improve safety of the internet for families [dbcde.gov.au]

    Measures to improve safety of the internet for families [dbcde.gov.au]

    Media Release - Optus to participate in ISP filtering pilot [dbcde.gov.au]

    Media Release - Pilot to assess technical feasibility of ISP filtering [dbcde.gov.au]

    PS: I still think Conroy is an ass-hat. It's a very small minority of Australian citizens who want internet censorship - Kevin Rudd and his government need to remember that they were voted in by the majority. Say "NO" to Kevin in 11!

    • Re:LIES! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Friday February 26, 2010 @01:20AM (#31281732) Journal

      Here's what the tag cloud looks like with and without the censorship
      http://i46.tinypic.com/v79v7c.png [tinypic.com]

      When you click the link for "ISP Filtering" it takes you to a "power by google" search
      http://www.minister.dbcde.gov.au/search?q=ISP Filtering [dbcde.gov.au]

      The fact that a Senator is trying to hide his filtering advocacy from his constituents should tell you all you need to know about the proposal. Most Senators (at least in the USA) go out of their way to trumpet their initiatives and achievements.

      • Thanks TubeSteak, this is +5 informative. Of course this is a self preservation defense you are doing since your name will be on the blacklist, lol. But none the less puts things in the right perspective and illustrates what concerns are on people's minds. Even if only 10% of your constituents are passionate about something, a "good" or just politician (yea I know..) should tread lightly and try to do it right. Treading lightly is not the same in this case and trying to tip toe to not be seen.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Hungry Beast (http://hungrybeast.abc.net.au/) did a cross-sectional survey of Australians about the internet censorship. I don't remember the figures exactly, but it was something along the lines of -

      80% of people want at least some form of internet censorship.
      93% of people are worried that about the fact that the blacklist will be secret, and that the current or future government could abuse this.

      So your comment of "It's a very small minority of Australian citizens who want internet censorship" is misinfor

      • Re:LIES! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Cimexus ( 1355033 ) on Friday February 26, 2010 @01:51AM (#31281878)

        Indeed - but the surveyed people are naturally assuming that the filter would actually work. They are giving their opinions on a magical hypothetical filter that would block 100% of illegal content, block 0% of legitmate content, resulted in no slowdown of internet access speeds, and that could not be abused or misused by future governments.

        If such a filter existed, then hell, even ~I~ would tentatively support it. So when a non-technical person is simply asked "would you like illegal websites blocked", then no wonder 80% of people say yes. But in the ~real world~, that can't be done without other negative effects and potential risks.

  • When I read the headline, I thought the summary would be about how the internet censorship minister accidentally blocked himself from seeing things he wanted to see. Yes, that would be sweet justice and deserving of the "humor" tag. But, the article speaks of something far more nefarious. It should probably be tagged "scary", not "humor". Except that it's kinda funny in a we're fucked kind of way.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Cimexus ( 1355033 )

      Actually it could be a sign that perhaps the Department is preparing to quietly let this matter slip into the background ... i.e. give up on it. Rationally, this filter was never going to get off the ground. The Government's own report says it is a waste of money and won't work. It doesn't do anything other than block a handful of URLs, which is pretty pointless considering most of the traffic they are interested in stopping would be via P2P, usenet, IRC and other such channels, which are not filtered at al

    • by mjwx ( 966435 )

      When I read the headline, I thought the summary would be about how the internet censorship minister accidentally blocked himself from seeing things he wanted to see. Yes, that would be sweet justice and deserving of the "humor" tag. But, the article speaks of something far more nefarious. It should probably be tagged "scary", not "humor". Except that it's kinda funny in a we're fucked kind of way.

      At least it wasn't tagged humour, someone might have though it was a joke.

  • he has been marked...
  • The biggest problem I have with this whole debate is that, while there are plenty of people that are flat against the blacklist (for plenty of good reasons), nobody is offering any decent alternatives or trying to find a middle ground.

    From what I understand, the main role of this filter is help parents police their kid's activities on the internet, which in principle, I'm all for. There's the secondary goal of preventing kiddie porn and other unsavory content from appearing too, but blocking it won't make i

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Aldenissin ( 976329 )

      If you are a concerned parent, use private options. You can afford a several hundred dollar computer, and Internet every month, but not Net-Nanny? Please... Governments should not be censoring anything! (Why should the public pay for it as well, or waste dollars overseeing it?) If they feel they have to, then they are treating a symptom, not the disease! And in that case, probably just making things worse!

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Mjec ( 666932 )

      What you have described is the status quo. ISPs are required to offer a client-side filter at cost price.

      Under the old NetAlert system you could get a filter for free.

      Take-up rates were absurdly low when it was free and remain so today.

      I'll let you draw your own conclusions.

  • The biggest joke here that he's trying to censor himself using client-side scripts.

    But it does show how the "content-control" people think. They're the ones who try to block right-clicking and text selection. In their ideal world, the "content provider" controls the information right up to the moment it enters the "consumer's" eyeballs, and beyond. The digital age and lossless reproduction of information is their greatest nightmare.

    • "The Internet interprets censorship as damage
      and routes around it." -- John Gilmore

  • Once again we see child porn trotted out as a straw man in an argument which is really about getting the ability to arbitrarily censor any material which offends the moral majority or threatens the political power of those currently holding it. Child porn should be as familiar a straw man as terrorism, and it affects about as many people as terrorism.

    If 82% of all children are molested by friends and family then you can rule out the internet and all it's filth in at least 82% of all cases.

    "Oh won't somebody

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