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Australia Censorship Government The Internet

Australian Government Backdoor Internet Filter Shuts Down 1,000 Websites 90

An anonymous reader writes "The Australian government has secretly censored over 1,000 web sites through a hitherto-unused internet censorship law. In April the Melbourne Free University was blocked without any explanation. Section 313 of the Telecommunications Act allows the government to close web sites without warning to "uphold laws, protect public revenue and safeguard national security". This is open to abuse as Australians only have limited free speech rights which already make it difficult for the press to report corruption."
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Australian Government Backdoor Internet Filter Shuts Down 1,000 Websites

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  • by kawabago ( 551139 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @05:33PM (#43757745)
    They must be thoroughly corrupt.
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      "uphold laws, protect public revenue and safeguard national security" are vague enough that many things can be engulfed based on the government's point of view of any particular website on any particular day. I wish they put this much effort into "uphold laws, protect public revenue and safeguard national security" when it came to politicians telling the truth, consumer protection and shite advertising.

    • Given their origin I'm not surprised...

      Jokes aside, I would have expected news like this come from a country with a culture originating in China or the Mediterranean.

      Countries with borders facing the North Sea tend to have lower rates of corruption; with France as the pathetic exception.

  • by justthinkit ( 954982 ) <> on Friday May 17, 2013 @05:51PM (#43757901) Homepage Journal
    And the 1000 sites are? This came up a few days ago and I asked the same question. It would reveal more of the intent of the Australian dictatorship.
    • Also, these sites would serve as 1,000 canaries for any future attempts at suffocation. Could set up a script to check if they are up each day/hour.
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      ASIC requested all major ISP's block the IP of a server because one of the Domains hosted on it included a financial scam.

      I don't think is still on the same host because is only hosting

    • by Aeonym ( 1115135 )

      Most likely it was 1000 sites containing images of adult women with small breasts, which as all good citizens know is intolerable in a decent society.

    • by dbIII ( 701233 )
      Whatever can be said about the Australian government it appears that you don't know enough to comment on it one way or another. Dictatorship? WTF? It's a hung parliment in the balance FFS where a single person changing sides would bring it down. That's about as far from dictatorship as you can get in an elected system.
      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

        Added to this technically speaking, when it comes to free speech rights they are unlimited under the constitution, as there is no law limiting the extent of those rights as such any perceived infringement of those rights can be publicly challenged in the Australian High Court. The same goes for all other citizens rights.

        The only way to make it more democratic would be to increase the number of laws that require a public referendum prior to their being changed, as is required for any changes to the consti

  • Too bad (Score:1, Troll)

    by ickleberry ( 864871 )
    The locals are too busy sitting on the tailgate of their shiny pickup truck (bought on credit) drinking tins of Fosters and acting the macho man to do anything about it.

    Or else they are off chasing some blonde from Home & Away. Anyway censorship and freedom of speech are fairly low on the agenda
    • Re:Too bad (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 17, 2013 @06:05PM (#43758027)

      But don't forget the median household income is $43,960 and they have 5.6% unemployment. Free healthcare and education. So don't get too crazy about free speech and all. They can go at least another 20 years before they have sold the whole country to China.

      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        Free healthcare and education?

        That's a lie, that right there.
        • Healthcare is free if your taxable income is low enough (otherwise you pay the Medicare Levy each tax year unless you have bought Health Insurance).

          Education is free for everyone up until University (but you can choose to pay to send your kids to private school).

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          My daughter got to survive her very difficult birth thanks to free Australian medical care.

          Which would have bankrupted her mum and me had we stayed in the States to get married and settle, as we were penniless at the time, even assuming that we'd been able to get the care they needed in the US, without being able to prove we could pay for it first.

          Just thought you might like to know.

          • Mind if I ask when that was?

            Some things used to be free. Education for one. But somebody had to pull the ladder up after him...
            • Australian education is freeish up to and including High School. Uni you have to pay for, later, at a much reduced rate to US university education, and it should still be avoided by a lot of people; we don't need most of the arts graduates.

              Medical is freeish other the the medicare levy on those that can pay. It's still insurance, but at least 1.5% is better than the kind of cost US insurance is.

              As for the free speech, yeah, nothing on Crikey's list gives me great concern. There's no Deep Throat and Woodward

    • Re: Too bad (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 17, 2013 @06:20PM (#43758139)

      Whilst funny, Fosters is not popular in Australia and is rarely seen

    • The locals are too busy sitting on the tailgate of their ute (bought on credit) drinking cans of VB and acting bogan do anything about it.

      Or else they are off chasing some blonde from Home & Away. Anyway censorship and freedom of speech are unreported in the Fox-controlled media


    • by Jagungal ( 36053 )

      Nobody actually drinks fosters ... but the rest is kinda accurate.

      Most are worried about the recent budget and the up coming election in September to even notice this.

      At least we have a decent electoral system.

    • Re:Too bad (Score:4, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 17, 2013 @06:53PM (#43758361)

      just goes to show you know nothing but Aussies:
      - they don't drink fosters (that's for yank tourists)
      - they have 'utes' - not pickup trucks
      - they're macho because they don't assume that everything said to them is a veiled insult
      - and the women chase the men - usually with sticks and knives.

      But thanks for illustrating the difference between us and you ;)

    • by Dan541 ( 1032000 )

      Change "Pickup truck" to "Ute" and "tins of Fosters" to "tinnies of VB" and you're spot on.

    • It's not a pickup truck, it's a ute (abbreviation of "utility") and Fosters is the crap no one here will drink so they have to export the stuff.

      Anyway censorship and freedom of speech are fairly low on the agenda

      Say rather not on any agenda anywhere in the country and you're closer to the truth. The hon(!) R. Finkelstein, a respected Australian jurist, has this to say about freedom of speech

      "United States, free speech is given primacy among rights, and therefore the potential harm caused by restrictions on speech is thought to outweigh the potential harm caused by speech that is not restricted. In Australia free speech does not necessarily have the same primacy"

      more on the hon(!) R. Finkelsteins' views of free speech here []

  • but...but (Score:5, Funny)

    by WillgasM ( 1646719 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @05:55PM (#43757933) Homepage
    the Backdoor Internet is my favorite Internet.
  • Anonymous to shut down the government web sites.

    Hmmm, so obvious ....

  • by manu0601 ( 2221348 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @09:35PM (#43759429)
    As opposed to another country that has free speech, but citizen votes have no effect at all on most outcome.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      In other countries it is common to see tearful government officials handcuffed and walked in front of tv cameras. You never see that in Australia. The fed police are corrupt and anyone who reports corruption gets sacked. Look what they did to this reserve bank whistleblower right in front of RBA chief glen stevens:

      • In other countries it is common to see tearful government officials handcuffed and walked in front of tv cameras.

        Sure, US justice is truly independent from executive power, and generally speaking, US separation of powers is quite good. But it does not address the lack of democracy, and the fact that citizen votes will have zero effect on many policies (because of a bipartisan system where both parties agree on many things, and because of the power of lobbying).

        Perp walks gives you the illusion that the thing is under control, but the handcuffed government officials will be replaced by another one that will do exactly

  • The 1000+ websites mentioned in the post are (supposedly) part of a "cold-calling investment scam using the name ‘Global Capital Wealth’". The Australian Securities and Investment Commission, the federal corporate regulator, has ordered that their IP addresses be blocked, which also catches innocent websites co-hosted at those IP addresses.

    The Australian Federal Police also asks ISPs to block websites listed by Interpol as containing “'worst of the worst' child pornography", apparently

    • but only at DNS level and only in smaller numbers. Blocking extreme child porn sites via DNS would be next to useless, so I hope they also block at IP level.

      Of course. For the children, we must go to extra lengths!

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