back to article Aussie net censorship turning Chinese

Recent DDoS chaos on the Australian internet may have been great fun for all involved – but behind the good-humoured anarchy lies a growing concern that the government really does have a dark and Big Brotherly vision for the future of politics in the country. As reported in The Register this week, groups exasperated by …

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Big Brother

To quote a great man

F*&k Conroy and the horse he rode in on.

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Anonymous Coward

Vote yes on prop 11 or you hate children

"prevent children being exposed to inappropriate material on the internet"

So a loaded question gave the wanted loaded answer. The mere fact that they had to load the question confirms that the unloaded question couldn't be asked.

Whenever you see games like this, it means he was afraid that asking the real question (whether smut as defined by the government should be filtered for everyone from the aussie internet by law), so instead he pretends that some how the filtering only affects children.

But his filter affects adults, and the definiton of smut is secret decisions made by censors. When we saw the list it was clear they had already, even at the trial stage, gone far beyond their remit.

It's a bad choice, the filter should only be available for parents to filter their childrens internet connection by their own choices. Not for papa Conroy to filter adult Aussies internet. A parent is the legal guardian of a child, but Conroy is not the legal guardian of Aussies, he is their servant, their employee.

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Anonymous Coward

To be fair...

...binary questions are common in politics, and have been since time began. The problem is the seeming inability of the public to spot such devices, and that there are often 1000 more choices outside those they're offered. It's a scam that's always worked - probably always will.

Do you support war - or do you support the enemy? Do you support limiting civil rights - or do you support paedophiles/terrorists/etc, etc? Do you support extra taxes, or cuts in public spending? Speak now or forever hold your peace. All insulting to the intelligence - but swallowed hook line and sinker by enough ignorant people to matter.

Some of the worst offenders these days are polling services like YouGov, OnePoll and a host of others, online and door-to-door - many of which I used to subscribe to, all of which I've now withdrawn from. Constant - and insultingly transparent - binary questions with usually no way of registering an opinion that in fact the choice is far wider. Nor even a single box available offering "I don't accept the validity of the question." Almost certainly because the clients, whether they be government or big business, require almost anything other than the truth.

It's all a crock - but only as long as people are daft enough to fall for it.

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Megaphone

Porny Activism

By an amazing coincidence, I had a dream last night about porny activism here in the UK, in relation to the extreme porn law.

In the dream, BDSM activists were planning on making extreme activism porn, inspired by the recent tiger porn case.

The idea was that by making extreme porn that was overtly, explicitly political or otherwise activistic, it wouldn't be "of such a nature that it must reasonably be assumed to have been produced solely or principally for the purpose of sexual arousal." It would, instead, be of such a nature that it must reasonably be assumed to have been produced principally for the purpose of political activism.

As a bonus, it would be extreme porn that could legally be possessed, exploiting the "loophole" in the current definition of "pornographic" given in subsection (3) of section 63 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008.

But the main point of it was to challenge ignorance and prejudice, raise awareness, and expose the extreme porn law as flawed, unreasonable, and ultimately unworkable.

What would the police, CPS and courts do in cases of possession of such material? Give the activists the publicity they seek? Or let people get away with possession of extreme porn in the guise of political material?

Political activism, in opposition to ignorance, prejudice and discrimination, through the medium of porn. What would the government make of that?

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Anonymous Coward

spooky coincidence

I had a dream that I was eating a giant marshmallow. When I woke I couldn't find the pillow.

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Silver badge

re. AC spooky coincidence

Be prepared for a spooky experience in about 12 hours time.

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Big Brother

Be careful what you dream aboout in the land of nod

Be careful what you dream about in the land of nod - if you live in the land of Oz! At this rate their government will want to scan your dreams to check for explicit content such as small breasts or cartoon characters. When the tech becomes available I'm sure they will!

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Dead Vulture

Get off your high horse

The article is just another example of El Reg taking an extreme free speech approach to the issue of the Australian censorship law. As long as Australians are free to read articles such as this criticizing the law, I don't see any threat to Australian democracy.

Look at the USA, with the 1st Amendment, yet there democracy is far sicker than Australia's.

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Big Brother

High horses

If you believe that the censorship scheme will stop with just kiddie p0rn and won't spread into political censorship, you're an idiot. Enjoy your sandboxed internet, it'll probably be perfect for you.

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Anonymous Coward

Abortion site

Keep in mind the aussie filtering list disclosed included sites related to abortion:

http://techwiredau.com/2009/01/interview-user-submits-abortion-site-as-web-filter-test/

So no, they aren't free to read disputed content and they aren't free to know what disputed content is being filtered by Conroy's boys. All very much in the Chinese model.

The abortion site filtered by the aussies was readable in Beijing BTW, as is elReg last time I checked.

I also don't accept that just because the USA is in bad shape excuses Conroys attacks on Aussie freedom.

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Dead Vulture

Good thing you bring that up

because El Reg is banned in Australia as of... now!

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Grenade

Our Mutual Citizen Kane

Political activism and organization has never been better in the US (much as your immune system would be having successfully fought off a yeast infection). Democracy as a whole is being damaged in the US, but the reason for that is much the same as it is in the UK and Australia, and all for the same reason... Rupert "I'm the dingo that ate your kids" Murdock.

Dumbed-down stories, biased editorial, and exaggerating/inventing conflict, and page 2 peodophilia diatribes next to barely legal and barely dressed page 3 girls do not for a health society/democracy make though they do make a health profit for News Corp.

And there [above] is the reason you should be worried by the Great Oz Barrier (GOB). Already the government is filtering based on commercial reasons (it really was rather petty to be blocking the website of a medical practice in Australia but meh...), so how much longer before Rupert can exchange a word/wad with a government official and have BBC news, the Onion, and even our beloved El Reg blocked at the GOB?

Judging by the standard or comedy in both countries I'd say British and American free-speech is doing just fine. However, does anyone know if Australia even has native grown comedy any more? (Note, performers and/or material that needed to first travel to the UK/US do not count).

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Open your eyes

Indeed, you don't see the threat. Pretty soon, you may not (be able to) see anything that can be regarded as a threat to whatever the Australian Inquisition deems appropriate.

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Stop

High Horse Coming Through.......

"As long as Australians are free to read articles such as this criticizing the law, I don't see any threat to Australian democracy."

As long as you are free to read newspaper reports about your kidnap and torture, I don't see any threat to your rights or freedoms when you are kidnapped and tortured. Reductio ad absurdum mission completed, I'll move on.

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Anonymous Coward

I don't see nuthin'

"As long as Australians are free to read articles such as this ..."

The idea is to act before, not after. After is harder.

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Thumb Down

Contagious

Australian politics has for decades followed the US with a 5-10-year lag.

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....extreme free speech...

WTF is "extreme free speech"? Free speech is when there are no constraints - when any constraints are introduced, then by definition, it is no longer free. Free speech is like virginity, you either have it or you don't.

"As long as Australians are free to read articles such as this criticizing the law, I don't see any threat to Australian democracy."

With a secret list, defined in secret and without any clear definition, there is nothing to prevent "The Register" being added to the list, along with any other websites that those in control decide might be subversive.

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FAIL

FAIL

How is this an extreme free speech approach? You quite obviously do not understand what Mr. Conroy is proposing with this filter. Sure, he's selling it to the non-tech savvy public as a "saving your kids from the evil in the world", but if that were true then it would be an opt-in agreement, not this draconian measure.

This is a major threat to Australian democracy, and if you don't agree with that then you trust politicians far too much!

FAIL ... because you are commenting without understanding the topic.

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Grenade

Yes

Australia should not seek to express what is best and brightest about the Enlightenment democratic ideal, but seek to be just a hair better than a gulag. Why work for excellence when you can be slightly more competent than George W Bush. By this logic, Australia's top athletes ought to wait and compete in the Special Olympics, since actually showing the will to go above and beyond to show world-class form is not worth it if you can just outrun the Downs kid.

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Unhappy

The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

But for how much longer will we be able to read articles like this one? With Luddite Conroy trying to force things through and micro-manager Rudd pulling the strings I don't see much hope for democracy in Oz, unless you're willing to toe the party line.

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Thumb Down

But America's democracy sickness has little to do with free speech.

There are many problems with American democracy, but little originate from "free speech".

One big problem with the United States is that the electoral districts are determined by politicians, rather than by independent commissions as in the UK, Australia and elsewhere. The Republicans and Democrats work together to gerrymander the seats so that most are safe for their respective parties, and very few are competitive indeed. This ensures that many representatives are representatives almost for life. They don't have to worry too much about the views of the constituents. (Mind you, they could have a primary challenge... but that's another story).

This related to the second big problem - corruption by lobbyists. All countries have this to some extent, but the United States has it bad. Reps don't have to listen to their constituents, but they like listening to lobbyists: they think the same way, they eat at the same expensive restaurants in Washington, they pay the election bills, and they might even get them a lucrative sinecure on some corporate management board upon retirement. It's no surprise that many pollies are at the corporate beck and call.

This problem is going to be made worse by a recent Supreme Court ruling, where 5 out of 9 ruled that the US 1st Amendment applied to electoral donations. But this isn't free speech - far from it. It's a perversion of free speech. The effect will probably be open slather buying and selling of politicians. I side with the other 4 Supremes, in case you can't guess. I seriously doubt that the original anti-Federalists (the group behind the Bill of Rights) would have thought the 1st amendment applied to companies. Once they grokked the implications, they would have been appalled.

Shorter me: free speech - by itself - does not cause or cure faulty democracies. You need other institutions as well.

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FAIL

Wow, what an incredibly ignorant comment.

So, being free to read criticism of the government is all that is required to qualify as free, is it? What about freedom to discuss topics the government has ALREADY SAID they wish to block? Subjects such as voluntary euthanasia or safer drug use? We in Australia have already taken many steps down the road to becoming a police state, and the filter proposal is another, fairly large, step in that direction. Do you really believe we'll remain free to read, or especially publish, criticism of the government for long if we continue down this path?

Incidentally, America may (and does) have many problems, but their First Amendment is a substantial bastion against many of the more totalitarian laws that have been proposed and in some cases enacted by their lawmakers. We have no such protection in Australia which is a major reason we need to subject proposals such as this to intense scrutiny and reject them if there is any doubt at all about their dangers.

"She'll be right" simply does not cut it any longer.

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Flame

Taking account of past behaviour is not paranoia.

Let me spell it out for you: this policy, once legislated for, will allow a select committee (chosen by the government) to arbitrarily decide you should not be exposed to scurrilous rumour-mongering or playmobil-pron by El Reg and add it to their secret blacklist. They will not need to give you a reason for this, nor will you be able to appeal their decision. You just get the 403 error or whatever.

It won't be secret long of course, and in the same TV show they filmed (hilariously) three schoolkids circumventing the filter in three different ways in under three seconds. But that would probably make you a criminal when all you wanted to do was read The Register.

Even if you completely trust your Governators.... Mistakes happen.

An amusing real example as shown in the filter trials was the website of a school tuckshop volunteer being blacklisted... why? She was a can"TEEN" lady! ROFLMAO!!!

And you wonder why we have so little trust in their ability to get it right....... If indeed it is even possible.

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FAIL

Wha?

So censoring the website of a competing party's website isnt a threat to democracy?

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Terminator

Macho Men

Not long before they start censuring "Mad Max" Gibson then?

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Anonymous Coward

don't

Don't feed the trolls.

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Thumb Up

@because El Reg is banned in Australia as of... now!

If the Reg is ever banned there they should change the slogan from 'Biting the hand that feeds IT' to 'Banned in Australia!' as this would of course raise the Reg's street cred somewhat! Being banned is uber cool!

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Help Aussies

Please all you democratic poms, with your Speakers Corner soap boxes PLEASE spread the word around as much as possible so that the Lord Protector Conroy gets as much press as possible exposing the stupidity of his "filter" in a democratic society.

Hopefully it will then become apparent to the mass of Australians too busy on redtube.com and betfair.com to notice that very soon their screen will be blank. (those two sites being RC and on the leaked Blacklist that Wikkileaks posted)

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Grenade

Help yourselves and help us all;

Lobby redtube and betfair and any other sites whose Aussie patrons will be affected by this to put Huge Notices on their login pages warning of this- it's too late once they can't see it any more!

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Unhappy

@ Help Aussies

No, say it isn't so. As a Kiwi, I could just about live with the Great Aussie Firewall as apparently only some (most?) of our ISPs were to be inadvertently exposed to it and I'd yet to venture too far down the paths that would bring me into sight of the said wall. But, mate, you interfere with my Betfair account at your own peril - and do not even think of slowing down my connection to their servers.

Actually, if true, I suspect there are more than a few Aussies who would have the same realisation - Betfair as an standard-bearer for freedom and liberty? I never would have believed it.

By the way, Betfair is licenced by the Tasmanian state government. So, is it just going to be blocked for the big island?

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Must be exposed

This hogwash must be exposed. The goverment has no business going through you mail or spying on your viewing habits. Trying to hide under the 'protect the children' banner is a disgrace.

The only reason they would push this through is if they have some sinister plot afoot. Most likely an oppressive religous agenda.

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Get a backbone

I hope the Aussies get a backbone pdq and show this asshat the door to the street, where he and his ilk belong - in the gutter where their minds already reside.

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Free Internet doesn't just mean free news

"As long as Australians are free to read articles such as this criticizing the law, I don't see any threat to Australian democracy." Fortunately there are many Australians that disagree with you on this Mr Conroy under a false name, don't presume to speak for others on this regard, certainly if you are happy to be censored I will be happy to come around and install family friendly filter on your PC, but why should I be censored to the level of a child without a choice.

Its not about not being able to read news, its about not being able to access adult suitable material such as, ooh, abortion information, euthenasia discussions, spraypainting movies etc. The porn is just a a bonus ;-)

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Tell me....

At what point do you consider it to be the right time to write articles like this?

When Australian people cant access them anymore?

Isn't it to late then?

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Headmaster

Raises hand

>Political activism, in opposition to ignorance, prejudice and discrimination, through the medium of porn.<

Well ok, I offer to spank a tied up David Cameron on Channel 4 and youtube. For freedom!

Random thought: I wonder if someone googled spank Cameron, this post would show up.

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no

the internet is a weird and wonderfull place and if you do google "spank Cameron" you find out just how so it is.

aprently somone named one of there songs "spank Cameron"

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Gold badge
WTF?

Also RC for children ?

Aren't all drugs illegal for children? (After all, this is to protect children!)

Anything showing or refurring to tabacco or alocohol, or any of the funny clips of people who have drunk too much should now all disappear from the internet.

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Silver badge

Reverse-end censorship

We need as many internet servers as possible refusing requests from Australian Government IP ranges. They want a half-functional internet, it is our duty to give it to them.

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Anonymous Coward

Dear Messrs Conroy/Brown/Obama...

It's been observed by more than one wise man that those who make peaceful protest impossible ensure that violent protest is inevitable. And that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.

At the rate most 'democratic' western govts are going, I'd predict that DDoS attacks may come to be the least of their domestic problems...

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Conroy

Completely Useless with No idea about Technology.

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Horse trading

As is usual in politics all over the globe, this issue is simply down to political horse trading between the politicians who need the god botherers' support in the senate. It's pretty sad, really.

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Thumb Up

Thank Goodness!

Thank goodness for the government's actions! No longer will I have to risk being disappointed with small breasted women in Australian pornography. Your tax dollars at work!

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Thumb Up

You owe me....

a new keyboard!

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Big Brother

Re: The Sex Party

I'm reminded of this:

http://www.thepaincomics.com/weekly050420a.htm

Also, @ Tali Walker: Sure, they'll be Entirely Free as long as they're still permitted to read about how Not Entirely Free they really are; yeah, that makes sense. Right.

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Alert

More Poll Details

For those of us that still retain the capacity to read and understand things longer than 140 characters.....

The complete results of the survey (10+questions) can be found here:

hungrybeast.abc.net.au/sites/default/files/documents/Internet Regulation Survey - Report_FINAL.pdf

Among the under-reported results are:

Q5: If a mandatory Internet Filter is established, are you in favour or not in favour of the community being advised which websites have been Refused Classification and the reason why they have been refused classification? - 91% in favour.

Q7:Some opponents of the Government’s mandatory Internet Filter are concerned that if it were put in place, future Governments could use Internet Filtering technology to restrict free speech or block other forms of website content they don’t approve of. Do you share this concern? - 70% shared this concern.

Q8: Are you or are you not in favour of the Government acting to help protect children from being exposed to inappropriate material via the Internet? - 94% in favour.

These questions were taken verbatim from the report.

Q8 (a no-brainer) shows the sentiment the Australian Government assumes will allow it to get away with this policy, but Q5 and Q7 show that amongst the general population there is dissent with the government on how to attain this goal. Australians are not yet quite as dense as stereotypes make us, nor as dense as the government might like us to be.

(FTW the blacklist will be secret and not justified publicly, and no additional scrutiny or limitations will be included to prevent "mission creep")

PS: While the selection quotas made some allowance for demographic spread, the methodology of a telephone poll would have excluded those who do not have a land telephone line (such as VoIP or mobile-only).

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Silver badge
Stop

Dear Senator

I don't believe in your sky-fairy, don't mess with my Internet rights.

OK?

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Anonymous Coward

never fear

Australia is simply a test bed by politicos to see how much they can censor without much problem, the answer is quite a lot.

Most people will support such things as you push it under the "protecting the children" "saving you from terrorism" "defeating foreign spies" (I've noticed a lot of anti-china rhetoric over the past few months, when the chips are down you need a new enemy right?) "protecting woman/animals."

I find it kind of interesting that children/woman/animals all need protecting, and just had a thought as to whether that says something about the protectors.

Anyway if you don't support such laws you are publically branded a paedophile, even by former mates who seem to have lost common sense. As such not many people would dare be vocal against such laws, you've gotta have balls of steel or nothing to lose.

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What article?

I should be allowed to tell you what I think, which is

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Big Brother

"Victorian Dept of Infrastructure"

In more ways than one.

Scary thing is that Australia's obsession with rules and spurious safety has long made the place a test bed for all kinds of crap that then go on to infect the mother country.

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Black Helicopters

@"Victorian Dept of Infrastructure"

Australia is the world's most over-governed nation (read "nanny state"). These pollies and public servants need something to do. It seems that a large part of the populace wants the Government to do everything for them. "My kids are bad because the schools didn't raise them properly". "There was no sign there so I jumped in the river and broke my neck. Why should I check the depth, the Government should have erected a sign!".

Now it's censoring the Interweb to save our children. This is crazy. So many ways around it, and who are going to be the fastest to find the loopholes? You guessed it; the children!

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