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  • OT: The Australian Mandatory Internet Filter Folly

    Posted on January 10th, 2010 EEVblog 32 comments

    (Sorry for the off-topic rant, normally I wouldn’t post it here, but I know some of my regulars will be interested. This is an Australian specific social commentary, so those who are just after electronics, you won’t find any in this post, sorry)

    Dave cuts lose on the idiots behind Australia’s proposed Mandatory Internet Filter, and calls everyone to arms to stop this madness before it’s too late.

    For more information, see:
    http://www.nocleanfeed.com
    http://www.getup.org.au/campaign/SaveTheNet&id=892
    http://www.efa.org.au/category/censorship/mandatory-isp-filtering/
    (PDF Fact Sheet) https://www.getup.org.au/files/campaigns/conroys_greatfirewall_factsheet.pdf
    (PDF Fact Sheet) http://www.efa.org.au/mandatory-internet-filtering-fact-sheets/
    http://stephenconroy.com.au/
    And THIS video is hilarious!

    And a politician finally backs down!


    Thanks to Miwers for the image!

    Be Sociable, Share!
    • chris

      Hi dave,

      it’s nice to see that even tech people can take action for what happen to their country.

      I wasn’t aware of your story, but it’s not that far from what is happening in France right now.

      To supposedly protect “artists”, the government created a “high authority” who has the power to shut down our Internet connections, without any real proof of piracy. You are automatically guilty unless you can prove them wrong.

      The only way to stay in the good light is to install their own “software” (read spy-ware) who will prove that you act as a good citizen.

      It’s so wrong in many ways !!

      So, don’t worry Dave, Australia is not the only “fake democracy of the world” anymore.
      It makes me sick.

      Cheers

      • Stephan

        same here in germany … at least the politicians noticed that its very unpopular and try to stop it (they “simulate” that the act is unlawful and the president will not sign it, anyhow its against basic rights)

    • Laura

      Hi Dave.

      Actually, it’s been quite a topic all over Europe for some time. Filters are already implemented in Italy and some Scandinavian countries, for example. I think they’re about to be implemented in Spain because of file sharing. In Germany it was quite a fight about such a law before the last elections and got thousands of people to become active, join demonstrations or sign a petition against it. There’s even a group called “abuse victims against internet blockades” (mogis, in German). Around here, the Australian blacklist was even used as an example, to demonstrate that criminal content is usually not the only one being blocked.

      Best wishes

    • Daniel

      So what happens if you get banned from your own website for protesting?

      • http://www.eevblog.com EEVblog

        I’d love to see them try!
        Thankfully they can’t, our constitution has an implied “right to freedom of political communication” (but not many other freedoms!)
        That’s why they had to use existing domain name registry laws to take down stephenconroy.com.au, but then had to give it back to them when the owners found a way to meet the legal requirements.

    • Jan

      i can only advise everyone to read the technical part of “my life in child porn” on wikileaks. google it. It shows the absurdity to use this argument.
      fight for your rights. it can work. germany almost got it defended.

    • http://truthspew.wordpress.com Tony P

      Go Dave! Meanwhile here in the U.S. its the Net Neutrality battle.

      Here’s a story for you. Last regular job I had we ran SquidProxy with the standard black and white lists. But due to a lack of enforcement of policy, we had to do not just site filter but content filter so we installed DansGuardian.

      The staff was screeching. DansGuardian was overly aggressive. The upshot, all of IT and Administration was placed in a bypass list. Everyone else went through the filter.

    • XynxNet

      Exactly the same crap here in Germany.

      First they tried to pass the law on grounds of counterterrorism, when that went wrong, they switched their argumentation to anti-childporn.

    • robert

      That proves it again. Politicians are incompetent idiots or even worse: puppets on a string. No matter where you go. A former head of government in Germany confused the ‘data highway’ with our ‘autobahn’. So much for that.

      Child porn is illegal, no matter if it’s spread via old fashioned VHS tapes or over the internet. There are laws against it, which are sufficient! Instead of trying to block access to these sites via a very questionable method, they’d just teach the police to use the ‘whois’ command! Then find out which company hosts the site. Give them a call or let the district attorney sent them a fax and bingo, one site less.

      The problem is not shutting off these sites, unless you’re a mentally challenged politician, but finding them. I guess 99% of them aren’t publicly visible anyway.

    • Stefan

      I don’t know about Australia, but in Germany there is a official Internet site, where you can sign official “petitions”. Someone made a petition against the Internet filters. Now the petition itself can’t do much, but the topic gained a lot of mainstream media coverage due to the petition. We had an election recently and the pirate party gained 2%. Eventually the filter was not implemented.

      I hope there is a similar Tool in Australia, where you can raise public awareness. Also you can support your local pirate party.

      All Australians please keep up the fight against censorship by your government. Even if it seems hopeless sometimes, eventually your work pays off.

      • http://www.eevblog.com EEVblog

        There is an automated way to FAX Stephen Conroy here:
        http://www.getup.org.au/campaign/SaveTheNet&id=892

        Online petitions don’t work, the governments are legally allowed to ignore them, but they cannot ignore letters and faxes. So those who want to take action should send a letter or fax. And make sure to include your contact details (and don’t be abusive, unlike my advice in the video!).

      • adlerweb

        Ehhh stop – yeah, we could prevent the filters in germany for now, but the law behind this whole thing (“Zugangserschwerungsgesetz” -> “Access Impediment Act”) was not canceled, its just not active. We had the same thing with this “security scan” devices (“Nacktscanner” -> “naked scan”) – they planned it, the topic got to the media and was stopped a year ago. Now, after the detroid-fail, they plan to implement it again.

        What i want to say: The germans did and are doing a good job in demonstrating against such censorship or other privacy-related laws, but we could still not change the politicians creed about security and i cross my fingers for you australians to get a better result in this case.

    • Ray Jones

      So lets get it clear.

      The elected minority are the driving force behind this foolish sanitisation of the nasty evil world.

      No wonder I don’t go to church.

    • Brian Hoskins

      If we accept for the moment that the filter IS a good thing and it IS purely to protect children from harmful content on the internet, then I have the following questions:

      1. Why is the censor list secret? If the government really are doing this in the name of child protection, then they should have nothing to hide and would have no problem showing parents what is on the list? Surely?

      2. What if you don’t have Children? Then there’s no requirement for the protection is there? So why is it mandatory?

      My personal opinion is that at the very least, people have the right to know what websites are going on the restricted list. If this was purely in the name of protecting children, then the Government would have no problem with that. The fact that they’re making it secret is a clear indication that they’re not being completely truthful about the reasons behind the censorship. Who in their right minds would support such a policy based on that?

      Crazy. I hope they don’t try that over here in the UK!

      Brian

    • AskJacob

      I sent this message below:

      ——

      Please register my strong opposition to this scheme.

      I feel that while the public stated intent is honourable, I do not believe the proposed filtering can possibly deliver what is promised, no matter how state of the art or well implemented it is.

      I do not believe it is worth the cost of false positives, as well the material that can still slip through will make the system completely untrustworthy for it’s stated purpose.

      I firmly believe that a constant vigilance, leading to prosecution for offenders is vital, and a scheme like this will lead to erosion of this vigilance leading to complacency.

      I do not believe this scheme should be mandatory. If the sole purpose is for child protection, then it is not fair to internet users who have no children. If it is to block material that is Refused Classification, then that opens an interesting debate. If material has not been classified at all by the government – what then? Is it defaulted as Refused? I have not yet seen a clear answer to this question.

      How do I know what rules are used for classification in Australia anyway? The classification rules seem arbitrary and applied inconsistently, and most certainly are not public or published in any way.

      All this money, effort and time could be spent in a much more beneficial manner by helping parents be good parents – I believe it is their job to protect their children. Education and tools for the parents and their kids is the best way forward. I don’t expect the Australian government to jump out and pull a child off the street when a car comes along – why would I expect them to perform a similar act with the Internet? Laws are there to protect the kids on the street (for speeding, negligent driving), parents teach their kids how to cross the street, as well as hold their hands until they are old enough and competent enough to do it on their own. Surely we can approach the internet with the same intelligence.

      Laws are already in place for illegal activity and materials. Let’s use those against offenders. As for the rest of the internet, let’s leave it intact for mature, intelligent people to continue using it without intervention.

      Regards

    • robert

      This is starting to show similarities to the kind of government oppression that was so lovingly portrayed in the movie “V for Vendetta”.

      With that in mind, I hope none of us get unexpected visitors tonight.

    • fox

      hmm… im just wondering when the almighty government will shut down my favorite EEV Blog :)
      or even worse. hearing this government nonsense they may give you a electric chair :D

      now seriously, it just can’t pass. its just an absurd. to many people is against.

      no worry be happy :)
      they might shut your site.. tho..

    • Newton

      Dave,
      Congratulations on your post and your attitude change.
      We are all citizens from our own countries.
      As citizens, if we are not debating and expressing our ideas we are allowing other people to make the decisions for us. Therefore we have no right to complain later.
      Silence IS CONSENT.
      As citizens we have the duty to educate ourselves and be aware of our country

    • Sean

      Wish you all the best over there. Uggh!

      Having dealt with trying to stop spam coming into our company’s mail server, I can tell you the whole keyword thing is bollocks. It is easily circumvented by the people who want to send you garbage, the more inventive you get at regexing the stuff, the more creative they get, until you start punishing yourself by killing valid emails. Now you have to start quarantining it all so you can scan through and get the false positives sent to your employees. It just ramps exponentially.

      On the reverse side, I’ve had to deal with blocklists. The worst was SPEWS, thankfully taken down by everyone including normally law abiding people deciding to DDOS them until their system failed, at which point they added everyone on the planet to the blocklist causing anyone who used SPEWS for their spam control to lose all email. Why did normally law abiding people decide to take out SPEWS? Because like the proposed Aussie Great Furwall, there was absolutely no recourse if you got put on it. Which meant that you could no longer send email to anyone using the SPEWS spam blocklist on their mail server.

      In the interests of “Protecting the children” and “the war on terror”, I fear at a future date the suppression of things like electronics knowledge. After all “someone” might take basic electronics knowledge and put together an explosives initiator or in the case of Sparkfun buy one of their breakeout boards to use in a GPRS enabled card skimmer for ATMs. After all, the Nanny State knows best. And if anyone believes that, as New Yorkers would say, “Hey, I’ve got a bridge here to sell you, I have the title, and you could make millions off the traffic toll”…

    • http://www.andrewcraigmackenzie.com Macka

      @Newton: That’s a brilliant message, it will probably never be read. There is no way this is about kiddie porn, it is purely about power and control, if they were interested in kiddie porn they would better invest their money in police funding, etc.

      Stephen Conroy: “What’s a Google?”

      • Newton

        Thank you Macka,

        I know, he knows and everybody else knows is about delusions of power of one man (or 2).
        We have seen it before right ? Just name your favorite despot :-)
        Power corrupts, that

    • Michelle

      Hi,
      loved the video thank you for sharing:)
      I will just die if the government censors internet spanking porn!!!which they will if they go ahead with the internet filter.

      Michelle

    • PK

      Good onya Dave…
      Keep telling it as it is…
      So when are you going to start your political career; I’m sure that you will get a lot of support from like minded people.

      Cheers, PK.

    • dmm

      Good on you Dave.

      It’s just another example of the increasing fascism of Australian politics. Just look at the SA, NSW, and Qld governements attempts to control who can associate (and communicate) with who (namely bikies), a fundamental human and civil right.

    • AskJacob

      An update:

      Apparently Mr Conroy does not bother with his emails.

      I did not even get a cookie cutter “thanks for your input” reply. I was even patient and waited a week…

      Go democracy!

      Jacob

      • Nasma

        Send it in written form, for whatever reason they will pay more attention to it. Here’s hoping the opposition oppose this joke of a policy.

    • Do say the Government are bad

      Do say the Government are bad or you will get banned, blocked and given a good kicking.

      After all the Government never do wrong, or make mistakes, do they<<< sure right.

    • Laura

      This might interest you: Electronic Frontiers Australia has launched a petition against the Government

    • Son of Sydney

      My email
      Dear Senator Conroy

      I would like to express my dissatisfaction concerning your proposed Mandatory Internet Filter.

      What you propose is nothing short of the oppression and subjugation of the peoples right to free speech. I wonder how the proposed filter has come this far in a democratic nation such as Australia.

      Please stop ravaging the nations funds to sustain your governments thirst for control and power. The people have spoken in majority for their opposition to this filter, yet your government continues to have this filter force-feed to its people.

      It will a dawn of sad era in Australia if this Mandatory Internet Filter is implimented. Give the people the choice, it is not the place of the government to choose what its citizens can read, hear or see.

      Regards

      Sonny

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