The battle is now on for the soul of the Australian internet. The outcome could have enormous repercussions for the future of the internet in the UK. Regular readers will be aware of the Australian Government’s plans to clamp down on the internet down under. These, the brainchild of Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, have …
This sort of material
... "is currently being filtered by a number of ISPs in countries such as the UK.
"This is not strictly true"
Well, not yet, anyway, but given the attitude of Mr Salter and friends...
Also Mr Salter says "No one is trying to stop consenting adults doing whatever they want in the bedroom" but this is BS because if they want to take photographs in their bedrooms, they might be committing a criminal offence!
There again, Mr Salter also believes that snuff movies actually exist, instead of being a well known urban myth...
...it's already gone
Unfortunately, labor won the last election by securing the votes of a lot of traditional conservatives through proposing such half-baked schemes as this. Maybe we wouldn't be subjected to this if they hadn't already promised to provide every school-aged child with a computer (but not the funding for installation, maintenance, rollover etc).
The simple solution is to not let children access the internet. I had no access to the internet as a child and (shock, horror) I can actually read and write!
In addition, broadband speed outside capital cities is woeful - the best I can get at home is 512/512 and I live less than 50km from the 3rd largest city in Oz - anything that further slows it down is not going to be good.
Tech solution to social problem
Everyone knows that censorship does--- work.
I fail to see what people are fearing, as they'll ----- pull this off.
Hmm, there's someone at the door...
'extreme porn' ?
Is that in the same context as 'extreme ironing' ? that would be quite entertaining to watch actually
ie doing it on a tightrope across a ravine, on the side of a mountain rockface, underwater with scuba gear, whilst skydiving, on the roof of a moving vehicle, in a cycling race, in a wind tunnel, whilst waterskiing, etc. etc.
Men without knowledge
This is just a case of politicians with limited technical knowledge being pressured by religious fundamentalists into spending huge amounts of tax payers money on dodgy technology, eagerly supported by vapourware salespeople.
It is bollocks.
As I posted on Slashdot a weel ago, knowing him, good luck shutiing up Mr Newton.
Clobbering him with a brick *might* do it!
In fact it would probably take a whole house.
The PR droid that tried would have got quite a few interesting Emails when her address was published on a forum recently I reckon!
govt gone wild
this wasnt even on the adgenda when the election rolled through, thats what really pisses me off about these kinds of grand schemes. They were too busy talking about deploying next gen 'fibre to your street' and 'wireless to your farm house' broadband as their IT portfolio trump card, thats what got a lot of techy people interested in what they had in mind, and this is exactly what would of put them off.
its like this filter crap is just to one up the last govt who introduced that rather average content control software to save the children as their call to action. while i only saw reports telling us how it wasnt all that great at least it was free and opt-in, all parents had to do is get up off their asses and install it.
as it stands im not even worried about being filtered, im worried about what they will log though, how they will use the logged data, and then the speed impact on our internet access. anything sensitive can be tunneled with SSL, and that includes what they want to block. similarly you could vpn out. if they realise this they will have to block crypto to make their scheme work, which will neatly isolate australia from the ecommerce world. and thats just how its going to be. you either have a filter thats bypassed by vpns, tor and crypted torrents or you have a walled garden with http access.
maybe they are taking their cues from the WA dept of eduation and training, who pump all their schools through a bank of proxies that only forward http and ftp data, allowing them to neatly block sites by dns records and ip addresses on a per request basis. if thats the case i look forward to third of line speed downloads during peak hours and weekly outages as the proxies fall over.
Bloody hell governments are stupid. Unfortunately most Ministers and upper level public servants rarely understand computer based technology - hence they make "all of govt" purchasee decisions despite the best efforts of technical staff.
Mostly we aussies are a bit lazy about protesting this kind of thing but it looks like this time we're getting of our bums to complain. There was a protest aust-wide of Saturday and people are now starting to write to MPs on both sides of the house. There is some info on the Linuxsa mail list that Mark Newton often posts to. http://www.netcraft.com.au/pipermail/linuxsa/
This we will defeat or work around it!
One issue not mentioned ...
... is what to call this thing. Most are using the uncreative "great firewall of australia", stolen directly from the great firewall of china. However, there are many more ideas out there which have a much more Australian ring to them such as "Great Sharknet of Australia" (Note: May catch the odd dolphin) or the "Rabbit Proof Firewall" (Note: Search for the movie "rabbit proof fence" if you don't understand).
New headline: Oz to follow the UK and...
... give away all personal responsibility to the state?
What ever happened to parental rsponsibility in supervising what your children look at on the net? Just because some parents can't be bothered, the rest of the Greater Antipodes has to put up with censorship worthy of China or Iran.
Mrs Magani once worked for a health authority who decided to filter all graphics attached to e-mails according to skin tones. Guess which baby health units could no longer look at patient records? What other unforseen events will this precipitate?
It'll all end in tears, I tell you.
I don't go looking for porn (I'm too bl**dy old to remember) or read Playboy (except for the articles, you understand) but figure any thinking person has the right to choose what they do or don't want to look at.
Black helicopters are coming, I tell you....
This is getting lots of attention
The best idea I've heard so far from the ISP lists is to just block the ALP's web site. Maybe even a few of the government web sites too. Let the government know that while they can make the rules of who to censor, they still need the guys with the keys to the routers to implement their evil plan.
If ISP level content filters were popular ...
ISP's would be selling that as a service.
(Paris Hilton picture missed out to avoid content filtering)
Opt-out = bad
Opt-in should always be the default for everything. As soon as you opt-out you're suddenly on a list; a list of perverts, a list of subversives and so on. I'm opting out of opting out.
First thing he did in office was scrap a massive rural broadband project that would have seen the area I live in free from the shackles of Telstra.
Second thing he did was delay the National Broadband Network, which was the excuse for scrapping the above.
Third thing is this harebraind filter scheme...
I'm expecting the forth thing to be ditch the NBN because speeds will suck anyway with the filtering.
And what pisses me off more is that neither he nor his staff are responding to emails about this issue. How hard is it to flick off a canned reply?
Australia is not very impressed
Australia has had a procession of luddites as Minister for All Things Digital for years and years. At least the last one wasn't dumb enough to try and pull this off. It appears that there is no MP or Senator with a significant grasp of technology to even understand the objections. First they think it will work. Second they seem to be bowing to pressure from very small but vocal pressure groups. The last government provided a net filter free to anyone that wanted it. Around 100,000 were downloaded. Apparently nobody wanted it, so they decide to do this instead.
The "blacklist" is secret. There is no public or Parliamentary scrutiny of the "blacklist". The "blacklist" is exempt from Freedom of Information.
The working group putting this together has no member of any civil liberties or consumer group on it. It's entirely composed of organisations that already agree, public servants and industry groups. The general public don't have a seat, but Microsoft and Google get one each WTF???
The wider implications of the government having sufficient resources to carry out wholesale censorship just like China, Iran and North Korea seem to have escaped their attention.
Why not filter?
To be honest, I think this is a great idea. I work in E-Safety and I know how difficult this is going to be, but with the help of government organisations such as CEOPs sites that deliver child pornography can be targeted more effectively.
What people need to appreciate here is that there is a minority of people who express an interest in the type of material being targeted for filtering. So why not filter it out. The more that the ISPs can do to restrict the delivery of child pornography and other illicit material the better.
*A title is required. No idea why, but here you go.
when will these arse-bandits ever learn?
The internet was designed to be resilient and route around problems. The people who know how the internet ticks are a lot more adaptable the IPv4 so they will pretty much find a way to subvert this kind of stuff.
It will be 'underground' for a few years before these kind of solutions to their nannying become mainstream, but it'll happen. Look at p2p for your example.
FFS, most people these days don't even know what a BBS is. If you want to stay under the radar, go lo-tech.
What is it with these people in government?
Why do they feel a need to meddle with, interfere and regulate our lives? I will decide what I wish to read. There seems to be some mad control freakery desire (especially in this country) in government circles to have a say in everything we do - they work for us and answer to us. Not the other way round - when will they ever learn? What makes them think they are the "moral guardians" to watch over us?
If I want my internet content filtering I will tell them but I would probably do a better job than them anyway.
I guess now the stereotypical Tor user will be tinfoil-hat-wearing, terrorist-attack-planning, CP-trading *AND* Australian.
To be serious, all this does is slow down the "bad" stuff to late 90s speeds (and gets a few more votes from the stupid). Still irritating though.
The best filtering solutions cost an awful lot of money and tend to be licensed on a per user basis. I don't believe that gov.au can develop a filtering solution that's a good as the best existing systems. So if they want this to work they will end up paying out an absolute fortune on licensing, not to mention the hardware that will need to be thrown at the problem. And if it's not going to affect performance it will need an awful lot of hardware. And then there's the administrative overhead. Anybody who has ever administered a filtering system will tell you that you spend a certain amount of time dealing with requests to allow access to sites that have been blocked. Somebody has to make the decision whether it's a valid site blocked by a false positive. And no I've never found a single filtering system that doesn't throw up the occasional false positive, spread that accross a whole country and that will be a lot of false positives to deal with on a daily basis.
And who's going to be paying for this? It's either going to be governement or the ISPs. If it's the government then the tax payer pays and surely those who don't touch the internet will object. If it's the ISPs then no doubt prices will go up.
This really does seem to be a government intent on becoming unpopular. The best bit is, however, that they have now reached a point where they are f**ked either way. If they go ahread with their plans then their popularity will take a dive. If they step back from the edge no doubt the popular media will portray them as a government who don't care about children.
BTW can they name a single major ISP in the UK that has implemented filtering across the board there isn't one. That's not spin. That's lying.
In the end though they'll probably go for a cheap solution that does little about anonymous proxies while at the same time throwing up loads of false positives. So it will have no effect on the dodgy types while the average home user who doesn't know about things like anonymous proxies will be plagued by false positives.
Senator Stephen Conroy -> Big Brother in OZ
I'm an Australian living in Tasmania & also a tech-head. This scenario scares the crap out of me. I want to believe in PM Rudd's Gov't but this is wrong. The last head of the ACCC was a half-wit when it came to tech-knowledge & when she was involved in a debate with Senator Smith she made that completely evident. Just the same her basic position wasn't about technology nor censorship of the public but censorship of Telstra, the incumbent monopoliser & the other telecommunications companies.
Senator Smith has single-handedly taken it upon himself to oversee what he believes to be his right as the technology hero. Technically he may understand what he's doing but politically he's destroying his own political future.
He also likes the monopoliser far too much. Living in Tasmania, the monopoliser has two fibre-optic cables passing under Bass Strait & is only using one of them. Telstra will not reduce their ADSL2+ prices & so no other ISP will provide ADSL2 because it is cheaper to send data to the USA than it is to pass data across Bass Strait. How is Senator Smith helping here when nothing has been done about it & the Internet here runs like a dog let alone the rest of Oz?
Another scenario in the Rudd arsenal to bring Oz into the 22nd Century was the goal of having a computer for every student over the age of 15. I think it should probably be 10 but that's better than Johnnie who didn't even consider it & thinks computers are "really fun, everybody loves computers". Senator Conroy, in his wisdom shows no interest in open-source computing which would reduce the costs of software by millions whether it be Mac or M$. The basic training of the young with any software is virtually not required. They work it out themselves & setting it up is a basic computer chore.
Whilst I am truly happy to see the back end of John K-K-K-Howard's mantle (he never represented myself) & have Kevin Rudd doing a brilliant job; he is an incredibly hard worker; on a technology front Senator Smith's Big Brother attitude is totally unwanted.
BTW I refer to Johnnie as K-K-K-Howard because of his n-n-n-need to suck-up to George Dubbya.
From what I gather, the internet in Australia is so awful that filtering it is something of a waste of time.
They must realise that all they'll achieve is cripple their tech sector? I mean, more than their total lack of network infrastructure has.
Though looking at it from that way, the UK government could save a lot of money by filtering our net accss to death. Then they wouldn't need any pesky fibre optics or anything.
I thought the Puritans headed for the US, but clearly a few did too sharp a turn at Ireland. You can only hope the Australians dig a huge technical hole for themselves; doing something that merely makes them unpopular won't deter nanny over here one jot. What really makes me shudder is when they bandy around "inappropriate" as if it was some cut and dried definition, rather than a catch all for "we don't like".
As ever, I really really despair of life when Wacky Jackie gets her joyless mitts on this.
to the Peoples Republic of Australia....
All this on the day they elect a new President of the World ^W USA
Perhaps somebody thinks it's a good day to bury bad news?
I just wonder if the governments of the world really want us all to be blind, deaf an dumb
are we easier to control this way?
Maybe the new sheriff will give em hell about it?
To quote Blazing Sadles
What do you mean he's a "Black Sheriff"
Well you know what I mean
Anon just in case!
Material "unsuitable for adults" ?!?
What kind of nonsense is that ? There is no such thing.
There is material that is unsavory, there is material that is downright disgusting, but there is no material that is "unsuitable".
Not for an adult with proper education and a critical mind anyway.
Now there is most definitely material that is "unsuitable" for certain governments, that is something that we can see every day. There is also material that is "unsuitable" for certain people with limited minds, but how those kind of people find themselves in positions of power in a functioning democracy is beyond me.
There is, however, no excuse for imposing content filtering on adults in what is supposed to be a democratic country, and Australia, although apparently a bit south of reason, is still a democracy and a free country.
Shame on the aussie government for once again putting a minority agenda item on top of the list of country-wide preoccupations.
Well its been nice communicating with you.
A bit slow on the up take on this story
But it still just seems to be another peg in the long run up, in which the internet will be pay-per-view subscription service where you will subscribe to certain websites for a monthly fee and any other website you will be charged extra for.
So you wont be exploring new sites, anyone who wants to voice anything can, but no one will know about it as no one is going to pay to read about it - so its basically the end of free speech and expression on the internet, and back to the large media companies & governments controlling what we see and hear. And all in the name of protecting the children and fighting terrorists etc etc.. just to get you on board with it.
*\. Time to get your coat, its £4.50 to view this message - so its back to local networks and fairs for you geeks. This be a site for rich people - away with your peasant'ness (ok I made that word up)
We know that Australia is a more than happy member of the "Coalition of the Willing", cosying up to USA and UK political interests.
Blanket censorship of the internet is a key goal of the folks in charge (the people behind the people in government). The internet is too powerful a tool to be left uncontrolled. Left unencumbered, who knows what we might do with it..... We might actually demand some honest politics, the dismissal of all investment bankers or even perhaps a revolution.
Can't have that!!! Not if you need to keep iron control over the poor taxpayers. How else will they get away with bombing countries, centralising monetary control and abolishing national borders?
They SAY it's "for the children", in the same way that the Nazis were only after the Jews, until they decided they wanted to kill pretty much anyone who didn't have blonde hair and blue eyes.
They bombard children with crap all day long everywhere else. There are pictures of practically naked people everywhere you look. In California, they've been giving kids in kindergarden "pledge cards" not to discriminate against the LGBT community (because of course, no-one ever discriminates against heterosexuals....)
Local authorities want to start teaching 5 year-olds about sex education and gay sex apparently. At the same time, governments want to PROTECT children?
This is the start of a very slippery slope.
Australia crowned again!
As an expat Australian I'm very proud that my country has regained its jesters hat for being the Global Village Idiot.
Just as the previous Liberal Government's legislation that criminalised the posting of 'X'-rated or 'unclassified' (illegal) content proved the censorship white elephant that it is, so too will the new Labour Government's content filtering system.
As Flocke Kroes pointed out above: if people actually cared that much about this issue, ISP's would be providing this as a paid-for service.
'Think of the children?' Yes, think of the children - let them grow up to be rational, responsible individuals who aren't dependant upon the State to tell them what's right and wrong.
Since when do they care about the children?
It's not about 'porn' at all. It's about control. Governments hate the idea that we can read whatever we like on the net, that we can find out about their lies and blunders. Porn and terrorism are just the current excuses - as soon as those wear out they will have others, just as they always do.
Oh, and @Haku - it's "standing up in a hammock".
@ Bastard Sheep
How about the "Great Internet Barrier Reef"?
"although to be honest, we need to understand better what the government is actually proposing."
Re: Why not filter?
@ paul clarke
But define child pornography;
Does that include photos of new born sent to Granny so that she can see the new arrival, does it include medical records or educational health sites or even photographs of 17 year olds that they have taken of themselves and sent to their own email addresses. It does for some filtering software, stupid polititions, religious freaks, lawyers and judges.
Few more things on the Australian Manifesto
1) A return to good old witch burning.
2) Set out an expedition to prove the world is flat.
3) Free mud so everyone can have affordable housing.
4) Transport all our criminals to the mysterious and recently colonised territory the UK.
5) All women to wear ankle length dresses even if it is 110 in the shade.
6) To make Robert Mugabe an Australian citizen
Re: Why not filter
"The more that the ISPs can do to restrict the delivery of child pornography and other illicit material the better."
And what stunted zealot gets to decide on the definition "other illicit material"?
Stay away from my internet Mr Paul Clarke, stay well away.
"I guess now the stereotypical Tor user will be tinfoil-hat-wearing, terrorist-attack-planning, CP-trading *AND* Australian."
That'd be a tin-foil hat with tin-foil corks then?
Mine's the Driza-Bone with a VPN in the pocket.
Like you didn't know they were morons
A nation that voted for Rudd deserves all it gets.
Mine's the one with the bodyline manual in the pocket.
You have gotta admit that the Internet is unusual. You don't get to write what you like in a newspaper, unless you own it. Or put stuff on TV even if you own the station. As for transmitting your own radio signal, the DTI will come round and steal your gear.
On the Internet you can run your own website and post messages on others. You can look at anything anyone puts online. This is mindbogglingly amazing!! In 1993 I could hardly get my boggling mind round this fact. When I did I knew it could never last.
However Internet freedom seems to not only have lasted but the freedom seems to be infecting other parts of life. The monitored and filtered media seem to be suffering under the competition from the Internet.
The Internet was the biggest mistake 'they' ever made. It should have been made expensive and kept slow. Now they will have to switch every router in the world to some sort of IP.V6 filtering and only packets carrying a governent licence key will be approved for transit.
Anyone caught sending a non-approved data packet will be tracked down and arrested for terror crimes.
I think the freedom will continue but it will be illegal because criminals, terrorists and drug deallers will be associated with having freedom.
The Jolly Roger is our new symbol of freedom.
"Is that in the same context as 'extreme ironing' ?"
When Channel 4 (I think) dramatised "the Buddha of suburbia" in the early '90s, they ran a warning before one episode that went:
"This program contains scenes of nude housework"
... lest the innocent be offended by what turned out to be one character with a raher lush rug doing her ironing in the buff. Odd, cos there was no warning about the substantial amount of shagging.
VPNs to overseas servers
Of course anyone moderately technical with naughty surfing habits will simply buy a VPN link into an ISP abroad, and go onto the net from that. (... as all the expats do to get the BBC iPlayer and so on...)
So it is pretty pointless....
A completely flawed approach.
Why make everyone suffer for the sake a few children? The way to deal with this is to create a list of certified websites, that have been vetted as being safe for children.
And then install a kiddies web browser that will only access certified sites. Then it's up the the adults to lock down the PC by creating a user account for their children to log in which doesn't give permissions to install their own software.
So it means teaching parents how to created restricted user accounts...and if they're really interested in protecting their kids then they should damn well learn how to do it.
Thus the approach is, leave the internet well alone, and limit the part of the web the kids can see. After all, it's only the kids that we need to protect, so why mess things up for everyone?
First, they filtered the child porn,
and I did not speak up, because that sort of thing is repulsive and should be removed;
Next, they filtered the terrorist-training material,
and I did not speak up, because the fewer terrorists in this world the better;
Next, they filtered the extreme porn,
and I did not speak up, because that is obviously too nasty to let through;
Then, they filtered the holocaust denial,
and I did not speak up, because such things are fuel for fascists;
Then, they filtered "incitement to violence",
and I did not speak up, because violence is bad and inciting it must also be bad;
Then, they filtered gay porn,
and I did not speak up, because that is not the sort of thing is I want my kids seeing;
Then, they filtered all porn,
and I did not speak up, because that would be like admitting I'm a pervert;
And then they filtered "political dissent",
now I tried to speak up, and found they had filtered me!
Fascists are everywhere!
<i>The wider implications of the government having sufficient resources to carry out wholesale censorship just like China, Iran and North Korea seem to have escaped their attention.</i>
No, those places are what got their appetite up for this technology.
Think about it: A permanently happy population so devoted to their great leaders that they will spontaneously assemble into pixels showing the great deeds of the brave leader. No bad news in the media, EVER. Parades every Sunday in the governments honour, Access to all the bum you could ever want. Organ donations too. If one needs to shoot some dissenters err.. terrorists there will be no bombed wedding parties, no media backlash or criticism, just great boob-toobe vids of the courageous security forces fighting valiantly for freedom and democracy!
Its every governments secret wet dream made reality.
Where is Marinus van der Lubbe when you need him most?
Bring Back FidoNet
A direct, dial-up end-to-end connection between you and your server, with the option to hop across to other 'networks' from there. The bulletin boards aren't centrally hosted, they're sitting in someone's basement with a load of 'phone lines.
Lets see you censor that you bastards.
Mine's the one with the Fido dog holding a floppy disk!
who needs freedom of opinion when corporations need to pay off all the debt they generated in trying to control you!
IWF: Not 'feasible' or desirable?
"However, the Internet Watch Foundation claims one reason that it is not interested in wholescale filtering is that this is just not technically feasible."
Hmmm. Colour me a cynic, but one could also suggest that one huge reason the IWF (and others of their ilk) might not be too keen to see this kind of filtering is that it might further reduce their remit: already we know from their own report, that a tiny percentage of child porn originates in the UK (and that was a year ago), presumably leaving them little to do but to monitor overseas sites. With this kind of sledgehammer approach to net filtering, if successful managing to block out a huge swathe of troublesome content, surely it would mean the IWF and organisations like them would have even less to do?
Think of the children
Oh for ---'s sake.
To protect children from alcohol, we keep them out of pubs, to protect them from matters carnal we ban them from sex shops, clubs, etc.
So, to protect them from the internet we simply ban them from the internet.
We don't shut the pubs, or the clubs, to protect the children (yet) so we shouldn't shut the internet.
Perhaps a child-friendly "lightnet" (as opposed to darknet) could be set up where only the cuddly and fluffy are allowed. Of course, in some countries I've no doubt that would include public beheadings and the like so, perhaps, we just ban children.
What to call this thing...
How about "The Great Barrier Reef"? Or, since it is supposed to be a prophylactic against all sorts of naughtiness, how about "The Great Barrier Sheath"?
And here is the provisional list of things it will block (based on a suggestion from the Philosophy Department at Wooloomaloo Uni).
1. Homosexual material.
2. Exposure of abuse of native peoples.
3. Homosexual material.
4. Teetotal advocation.
5. Homosexual material.
6. Intentionally left blank.
7. Homosexual material.
But seriously, it is down to parents to keep their children safe on the internet, just as it is down to them to enforce bedtimes. Just as we can buy or make baby gates to keep toddlers from falling down the stairs - we don't need government to follow us home after the birth and force them on us, or monitor us to make sure we keep them closed.
It's all right to filter out material if it's minority interest?
"What people need to appreciate here is that there is a minority of people who express an interest in the type of material being targeted for filtering. So why not filter it out?"
So, if someone thinks something shouldn't be shown on the internet, and it's a minority interest, then let's filter it out.
OK - suppose I'm working for the Australian government, and I really really dislike UK football. It's only a minority interest in Oz in any case, and it discourages people from playing good old Aussie Rules. And it encourages football hooliganism, which is violence. So, filter it out....
If they care about what the kids are watching, why don't they care about their president helping out to kill thousands in Iraq and Afghanistan, and showing that on the news?
Isn't that a bad example to our children?
This is all an excuse to "legally" spy on people. They were doing it secretly, now they want to do it legally.