back to article Oz anti-censorship site is censored

The Australian company that runs the .com.au domain registry has been accused of abandoning its own procedures to censor a website satirising communications minister Stephen Conroy's ISP filtering regime. On Friday afternoon, Sapia Pty Ltd, the company behind stephenconroy.com.au, was told by auDA that they had three hours to …

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  1. Prag Fest
    Big Brother

    RIP Internet

    And so it begins...

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. cannon
    Megaphone

    Government controlled Net

    Expect to see this thing throughout the EU & USA very soon as the powers that be try to stop us seeing evidence of war crimes, torture, Israel harvesting organs from Palestinians, Obama vowing to keep Israel's nukes a secret, Bay of Pigs, Panoma war crimes, MP acting illegally, etc, the list of waiting to be censored content is extensive.

    The net was great while it was open, but this is far too risky for the powers that be. Go back to sleep world your government is in control.

    So long & thanks for all the fish!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Eligibility?

    Don't you get a bit of paper when you register a domain name? Surely _that_ is all the proof that is required as far as registration is concerned?

    As to the domain name itself being the name of a bloke being pilloried - well, surely taking the site down would require due legal process?

    At least, guys, we can't pin this one on NuLab. (yet?)

  4. Lord Lien
    Paris Hilton

    Making it worse....

    This website would have gone unnoticed by the majority of the world. By censoring/pulling it down, you have now draw it to peoples attention.

    Very funny joke btw :)

    Paris... tho I can't think of a witty reply for Stephen to censor yet, as I have not had my morning coffee & toast....

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The drug use one puzzles me

    I know they don't want it advocated, but detailed info on drug effects and safety is helpful, not harmful.

    I know, I know, it's terribly naive of me to think that facts should be of any value to these people, where the "message" is more important than the truth because "we, the people" are a bunch of brainless dolts that wouldn't be able to tie our own shoelaces without the likes of Conroy standing over us shouting instructions.

    Grrrrrr. I'd like to be treated as an independant adult, instead I'm assumed to be little more than a child.

    1. Meph
      Boffin

      The trouble with Tribbles..

      I'm not sure how it is for you lot, but for us southern colonials, we require some kind of reasoning to rent a domain.

      Relevant clause below snipped from: http://www.auda.org.au/policies/auda-2008-05/

      SCHEDULE C

      ELIGIBILITY AND ALLOCATION RULES FOR COM.AU

      The com.au 2LD is for commercial purposes.

      The following rules are to be read in conjunction with the Eligibility and Allocation Rules for All Open 2LDs, contained in Schedule A of this document.

      1. To be eligible for a domain name in the com.au 2LD, registrants must be:

      a) an Australian registered company; or

      b) trading under a registered business name in any Australian State or Territory; or

      c) an Australian partnership or sole trader; or

      d) a foreign company licensed to trade in Australia; or

      e) an owner of an Australian Registered Trade Mark; or

      f) an applicant for an Australian Registered Trade Mark; or

      g) an association incorporated in any Australian State or Territory; or

      h) an Australian commercial statutory body.

      2. Domain names in the com.au 2LD must be:

      a) an exact match, abbreviation or acronym of the registrant’s name or trademark; or

      b) otherwise closely and substantially connected to the registrant.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        FAIL

        .au domains are corrupt anyway - no news here

        The tradition of .au domain corruption is a long and colourful one.... Oh, I could tell you SO MANY STORIES, but I'm only going to tell you a couple here...

        Firstly, it's important to know how .au names are allocated.

        It's called, the Golden Rule. He who has the gold, makes the rules.

        Some examples:

        SO CALLED ILLEGALITY OF TRADING .AU NAMES UNTIL LAST YEAR

        Before June last year, Large Businesses could buy and sell domain names by engaging a Tier 1 legal firm to run the domain through a series of shell companies and transactions. This was illegal, but AuDA turned a blind eye (I witnessed this several times). As a small business, we couldn't afford to get brand name lawyers to realise our domains' value. Alas.

        Contravening policy: (see: http://www.auda.org.au/policies/auda-2002-27/ )

        SO CALLED BAN ON CYBERSQUATTING AND THE ALLEGED 'CLOSELY AND SUBSTANTIALLY' RULE'

        Take for example, AuDA's prohibition on domain squatting and how names "substantially related" to the business:

        EG: I had a small business client called "Boomerang Transport" who wanted www.boomerang.com.au (fair enough) in the early 2000s but MelbourneIT would not register it saying it was not 'substaintially related'. What about the alleged "first come first served" policy - goes out the window... Now, boomerang.com.au is owned by domain squatters - FAIL. (policy AUDA ignored: http://www.auda.org.au/policies/auda-2006-03/ )

        Domain names are so important to business, particularly small business, its crazy successive governments allow this corruption to continue.

        PS I post anonymously because I live in Australia...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Stop

        and you think that's why it a got a 3-hour take down notice?

        You must be pretty stupid if you think that it was taken down for the reasons you've listed when it's bloody obvious it was a political move.

    2. Alan Newbury
      FAIL

      Go to...

      stephenconroy.com.au may be down, but stepehconroy.com.is well active

    3. John Angelico
      Joke

      What?

      "Pan-oma war crimes" ??

      I wonder what hideous war crimes all those Dutch grandmothers could possibly have done?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      Aus Labor = UK New Labour

      The Australian Labor Party (sic) is a low rent clone of NuLab in Blighty. They even used all the same NuLab propaganda sound bites when they were elected: "we're going to hit the ground running, etc". They are destined therefore to make all the same mistakes.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Coat

      I stand corrected.

      Title says it all. So you need a reason for the allocation. I didn't know that. Perhaps the website ought to change to... .net? .org? .something-else...

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    UK next

    And one wonders why the odious 'digital Britain' act proposed by Lord 'two strikes already' Mandelson allows near arbitrary powers for the government to take over the UK domain name registry?

    This illustrates why any form of censorship or internet controls must be open and transparent, not the secret list approach loved by governments to hide their bias and/or incompetence. The whole think smacks of politics.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Very commendable

    on the part of auDA in taking down a disputed domain at such short notice on a Friday in case it remained in place to offend public taste or decency over the weekend. I hope they continue their sterling work by acting with equal efficacy in the face of all the other take down requests for other domains that will just happen to be arriving late on Friday...

    1. David Hicks

      The great things about DNS

      is that it's by consent of the people. We can always switch to something like OpenNIC.

  8. Ralphe Neill
    Alert

    Gotta stop them adults!

    "Grrrrrr. I'd like to be treated as an independant adult, instead I'm assumed to be little more than a child."

    You miss the point, AC. They ARE treating you as an independent adult. Remember that independent adults who might actually THINK are the last people they want to be allowed to access any information they consider undesirable!

    BTW, can we have an evil Conroy icon, please?

  9. JaitcH
    Alert

    The U.S. Constitution has a lot going for it

    The oft mumbled 'freedom of speech' is the one good thing about the U.S. as it allows almost anything to get on-line. That is why the Al Quiadas of the world get hosted there.

    Actions like the narrow minded Australian Registrar only drive people to migrate to the .com, etc. domains.

    I administer or am webmaster for many domains and I host all my chat-rooms and controversial web site pages in the U.S. where the Authoritarian Wankers can't get their hands on the servers.

  10. Gordon 10 Silver badge
    WTF?

    Smart@rses?

    Sounds to me as if the site owners are guilty of the above. Their defense should have been that they are a satirical site - end of story. AFAIK every attempt to take down a site created to satirise an issue has met with failure.

    1. Gweilo
      Boffin

      Aussie rules

      " Their defense should have been that they are a satirical site - end of story."

      From your spelling, I assume you're American. This does not hold in Australia. You actually are supposed to show that you have a commercial interest in a name to have a .com.au.

      If they'd had "stephenconroyisawanker.org.au" they would have had a case, I think.

  11. irish donkey
    Thumb Down

    Everybody here can say.........

    I was there at the beginning of the end.

    So how long is it going to be before our TV License is changed to be a Media license with a sizeable chunk going to Police the internet against terrorists and Pedo's and Anti-Government stories.

    I though we went to war to end the oppression of free speech. I will probably end up on a Government database for saying this but it seems a shame that some of the things 'our' lads are fighting to defend in IRAQ and Afghanistan and being undermined in their own country behind their backs. It makes the body bags coming home is even less palatable if that's possible.

  12. Andy 21
    Big Brother

    It's just the tip of the Iceburg...

    ...and here comes the Titanic (aka UK)

    May God save us all and all that use this open wonderful 'uncensored' resource as it will be soon locked down faster than a pair of Max Mosley's handcuffs.

  13. MinionZero
    Big Brother

    @Prag Fest

    That was exactly my first thought. "And so it begins"

    It shows the people with the power to censor the views of others, can't resist using that censorship power to silence people against them and their friends.

    Its sickening the way the world is sliding ever more into an Orwellian world. Its like the boiling frog principle. Carefully does it, just heat it slowly and then hopefully it won't notice, until its too late and so can't do anything in time to stop whats going to happen to it.

    The people with the power over others are abusing their power behind our backs out of all proportion. Keep feature creeping it all in, then hopefully enough people won't notice until its too late to stop it all, because by then, they will have so much power, that they will be able to act against any opponent in any number of ways to quietly punish them.

  14. Trollslayer Silver badge

    Hmm.... innocent if some minister thinks you are

    We now have situations where people are presumed guilty without redress.

    I guess it's time to tell the opposition what will get them votes from us.

  15. Scott 19

    The Noughties

    The decade that allowed Sheep free access to information. It was a good decade, free information for all, abit like the 70s and the free love. A golden by gone age where you had to be there.

    And yes UK.Gov in no way, shape or form will be out done by our cousins down under.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    How times change...

    ... as does technology.

    It does seem that long ago, that one of the main "selling points" of the inter-web thingy was that it *couldn't* be sensored.

    1. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge
      Happy

      confusion of terms

      I wonder if maybe you've made the classic mistake of thinking that because your PC has an "ethernet" device, that the web somehow lives in the twilight world of the ether. In fact, this is not the case. The Magnificent Mesh Mondial exists in this plane of existence, and can in fact be "sensored" using mundane this-worldly devices.

    2. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      I like traffic lights

      It can't be censored either. T'internet sees censorship as damage and routes around it.

      You can't stop the signal :)

    3. mmiied

      it is not

      you will note the site is back up with a diffrent address very easley findable within a few hours you can try to cencor the internet but very quickley it workes round it

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    How this works

    I would like everyone to remember how this all started: please think of the children. Around the world, Governments of every political shade know they have one thing in common - using the bogus 'safeguarding' of kids online as their modus operandi will guarantee them - unconditionally - the freedom to block the freedoms of their citizens/subjects online.

    Who can argue? Who will argue?

    Once that first step is taken, the potential is limitless. Police and 'useful idiots' in advocacy groups (easily bought off with annual grants from the public purse) will all do their part to maintain the momentum for 'online protection' and gradually the remit will widen - a sort of pernicious feature creep, if you will. Which, when you think about it, was always the real intention.

    Don't expect journalists to cry foul. If the paedohysteria has taught us one thing it is that by virtue of careful crafting of law and the threat of instant arrest it is now impossible for any independent journalist to properly investigate the increasingly surreal claims of the 'safeguarding' brigade.

    Governments everywhere are closing in on online freedom: they never did much like the internet and they will - without a doubt - seek to gain absolute control of it, whether via secretive government 'listening' organisations, or by deeply flawed legislation. It's all happening now and it will continue apace. Police and Government in your - and every - country have big plans.

    All in the name of the children, of course.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Pirate

      Stenography and Encryption of Signal

      It seems the NeXT wave of ALLCOMmunication will be inside Governmental Controlled Broadcasts; letting the buggers distribute our message for us.

      Access to content and context must be loosed from the Ties that Bind or else we be Bound by Ties.

  18. Neal 5

    It'll all end in tears

    Mark my words, what the point of letting the hoi polloi have free speech, or freedom of information, if they don't know how to use it properly. You should follow the guidelines laid down by your Government, before attempting to breathe/think/speak for yourself, or free advice is available from your political officer by calling in at your local police station or school, as to what todays current prohibitions are. Be warned they may vary from day to day, and what's right in one street may not be right in the next.

    For the poster who who said he went to war for the reasons that are being betrayed, remember this, "Careless talk costs lives"

    And not to forget the famous quote from Corporal Jones, "Don't give him your name Captain Mainwaring"

    1. Ian 31
      Stop

      @Neal 5

      Umm, that would be the famous quote where the U-Boat captain demands

      'Your name will also go on the list! What is it?'

      of the singer of

      'Whistle while you work, Hitler is a twerp, he's half-barmy, so's his army, whistle while you work!'

      and Mainwaring shouts 'Don't tell him Pike'

      yes?

      You can look it up on the internets you know.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Idiocracy

    Anyone else think that this is where it is all heading? ... pretty soon, there will be legislation against thinking... after all how can you control individuals who can think for themselves...

  20. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    In immitation of Heinrich Heine

    Dear sir,

    The censors ######### ## #### ##. ###### # #### #### ### ### ###

    ### #### ##### ###### #### ####. ###### #### #### #### #### ######

    ############### ##### ## ###### idiots #### ### #### ### ###### ##

    ## ###### ##### ### ###### ### ## ###### #### ####. ###### #### ##

    #### #### #### ###### ### ## ###### ### ## ###### ### ##.

    Yours sincerely

    Michael Wilkinson

  21. Kevin Reader
    Big Brother

    Oz is extra strict about domains anyway

    If I remember correctly - Isn't Oz very strict about domains anyway. Its closer to using a trade mark in other countries. You have to show dominion over the name, so there's little scope for speculative registrations, etc. That comes in handy when someone wants to block a domain like this for their political mates. It might have been funnier to register "hisname-is-a.tv" No disrespect to any TVs reading, but I doubt *he* would have found it amusing.

  22. LaeMi Qian Silver badge

    Time for a change

    to ad-hoc mesh networks via wi-fi and private cable runs between neighbours.

    The internet is dead (well in the process of being aggressively crippled anyway). Long live the intermesh.

    1. umacf24
      Unhappy

      Blimey

      Imagine a routing protocol to make THAT work.... or the name service, for that matter.

  23. JWS
    FAIL

    Prison?

    I see the Prison Warden has struck again!

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why don't people in Oz...

    go and tell Mr Conroy where to stick his Nazi plans to trample on free speech?

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Come on ..

    Surely this can have come as no surprise to anybody with half a brain.

    This is just the beginning, wait for this to spread to other political dissenters guilty of thought crime.

    1. Mr Ian
      Unhappy

      We already have

      He quite simply doesn't seem to care.

    2. Rattus Rattus
      Unhappy

      We have been telling him

      and telling him, and telling him. He sticks his fingers in his ears and goes "la-la-la-I-can't-hear-you." Much like many politicians I have no doubt you are all familiar with. Many of us have been getting the word out there to the public in the hopes they will also tell him, at the ballot box.

      Any Aussies living in Victoria who are reading this, please VOTE BELOW THE LINE for the Senate next election and put Conroy DEAD LAST and encourage anyone you can to do the same. Yes, put him even behind nutters like the Christian Democrats.

    3. Winkypop Silver badge
      Megaphone

      Oh we will sunshine

      We will !!!!! 11111!!!!

  26. Kevin (Just Kevin)
    Boffin

    The .com.au rules

    It is important to note that you can NOT get a .com.au domain name unless it's your company name, a product name, service name, trademark, etc. Or a reasonable abbreviation or shortened form.

    While auDA probably breached their procedures by only giving them 3 hours to respond, they did have a good point - which they made in their email - if you registered the domain and you clicked the buttons saying you were eligible, you must know why you believe you are eligible and if you have time to argue with auDA about the time allowed (there were several emails to and fro) then you've got time to respond with that reason. You must know it because you had to know it to register.

    With the possible exception of the time being shorter than it is supposed to be, auDA are right. Unless they sell a product called Stephen Conroy or provide a service in his name, they are not entitled to the domain. That's how .com.au works. And, I suspect, if they do provide a product or service called Stephen Conroy, there would be a serious question to answer concerning the Trade Practices Act and "misleading or deceptive conduct" or "passing off".

    .com.au is for COMpanies in AUstralia. If you want to parody somebody, it's the wrong domain to be registering in. Unless it's the name of your company. This story requires a little reality check.

    1. Steve Roper

      There's even more involved in .com.au

      You need to provide an ABN (if you're a business), an ACN (if you're a PLC) or an ARBN (if you're a bank or other financial institution) when you register the name.

      It's also not enough to click the checkbox indicating that the name you are registering has a substantial connection to your business, is an acronym of your business, or a product or service you're selling, you also have to provide a written statement describing the nature of your business' connection to the domain. I've had to redo a number of applications for our clients because a previous application was rejected for failing to fill out the forms properly.

      So it's quite likely that these guys, however much I support them and hate Conroy myself, must have falsified this information in some way, because unless they specifically mentioned satire (which the article makes no mention of), they can't have demonstrated the required substantial connection required to register the domain.

      In the end, I actually agree with how auDA runs this show. Where the dotcoms have all been snatched up by greedy cybersquatters who demand outrageous prices and terms for use of domains, registering a .com.au with a good name for our clients is far more achievable, because the current system is designed to exclude cybersquatters. If only ICANN and more countries also did more to eliminate these opportunistic bastards...

    2. Mark 65

      Good point or not

      Oz is a curious country ruled by people who can simultaneously possess and exhibit socialist (do/think as we say) tendencies as well as outright capitalist ones (think no crack down on any monopolies - the woolworths/coles axis of evil and the 4 pillars banking axis of banality).

      It is, without doubt, one f*cked up little economy that's for sure with too many levels of fat Goverment emptying the coffers. They even have to legislate that people turn up and vote as they have such little faith in the system to bother otherwise. There's also the right-on christian guiding hand thrown in for good measure.

      This behaviour and attitude just fits right in.

      Nice weather though.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Stop

      it's their motivation that is in question

      not the rules

  27. Mr Humphries
    Big Brother

    It immediately migrated

    For anyone unaware, it DID move straight to the .com domain:

    http://stephen-conroy.com

    Totalitarian scum like Krudd and Conroy are preventing me from being able to say "I'm free!"

  28. John Tserkezis

    Ahh, the Streisand Effect.

    Had they taken normal channels, who knows if a mere parody site would have bothered to survive?

    Now that they're selling t-shirts and mugs, there's no stopping it. :-)

  29. Adrian Esdaile
    Grenade

    Happy little citizen

    For those who don't know..

    Unusual and perverted people pervade teh Intarwebs.

    Children often gain access to these websites without their parents

    Knowledge.

    Current technology allows governments to

    Oversee the inernets, thus keeping us all safe.

    Nearly every proven case of peadophilia is a direct

    Result of contact in some way with the Internets.

    Only through government control can this be stopped.

    Your vote only counts if you're a part of the nut-job rightwingers who run this place.

  30. Goat Jam
    Grenade

    Bit the bullet

    I've been considering this for a while and now seems to be the time. I just bought a 12 month service at linode.com. Almost done setting up the vpn between servers now.

    Fuck you Conroy, and the horse you rode in on.

  31. candtalan

    Oz anti-censorship site is censored

    Oh dear, bad news

  32. Il Midga di Macaroni
    Grenade

    auDA procedures are the point at issue

    Kevin (Just Kevin) is correct. Much as I hate to say it, auDA were correct to take it down as it contravened the rules for a .com.au address. (Long live http://stephen-conroy.com/ !)

    The real question is whether the three hour deadline is standard procedure. If it isn't, then it was a politically-motivated move and someone should lose their job over it.

    Personally, I find it VERY difficult to believe that it would be standard procedure for a deadline as short as three hours would be given over an asynchronous form of communication such as email.

    1. Rattus Rattus

      It isn't standard procedure

      According to their own rules, the owner of the domain should have been given twenty days to respond, not three hours. If the decision in the end is to invalidate the domain, or to pass it to someone else they are supposed to wait ten days after notification of the decision in case the present owner wants to bring legal action.

      Three hours is definitely NOT standard procedure. More info here: http://www.stopinternetcensorship.org/57-auda-take-down-stephenconroy-com-au.html

      1. Kevin (Just Kevin)

        Three hours

        I suspect it's all going to come down to an argument on semantics. auDA suspended the domain on 3 hours' notice BUT they've given 20 days to resolve the issue before the domain is deleted. So they do have 20 days to object.

        I agree with the previous poster about the effort required to justify entitlement to .com.au addresses and I agree with the auDA statement that, as a result, assuming you're reading your email, 3 hours is more than enough to reiterate those facts (hey, 3 minutes would do it)

        That said, the whole 3 hours vs 20 days thing is a right royal mess.

  33. Falanx
    Grenade

    Remember, Remember...

    ...The 21st of December...

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    You should look into Chris Disspain's political & business affiliations

    There's gold in them thar hills.

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