Australia Won't Say What Websites They Ban

from the they're-bad-bad-websites,-now-stop-bothering-us dept

Well, it appears that the US is not alone its ability to do stupid things concerning the internet. The latest is a change in the Freedom of Information Act there mean that it will be impossible to get a list of "banned" websites that the country censors. It still seems ridiculous just to have banned sites anywhere, but then it makes matters worse by refusing to at least disclose what sites are being banned. There's some fear that instead of pornography being blocked, politicians will block out political dissent. What's scary is that politicians actually seem to believe this can prevent things from seeping through. What I want to know is why the list needs to be private too - and how it could possibly stay that way. They need to give it to filtering companies to add to their filters, so I'm sure someone can grab a copy and post it somewhere online (which, of course, will then be banned itself).


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  1.  
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    Wally Choo, Oct 1st, 2002 @ 7:48am

    Australia Won't Say What Websites They Ban

    I work for CYBERsitter and I personally receive and validate lists from the ABA almost daily. I won't make that list available, but I will say that I they have never referred anything to us that wasn't strictly adult oriented and would be considered illegal or at the very least, as *highly objectionable* content in most developed countries.

    I generally enjoy reading your articles, but I think this one may be targeted towards those readers who also put tin foil in their hats.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 1st, 2002 @ 9:25am

    Re: Australia Won't Say What Websites They Ban

    i put tin foil in my mouth and chew it, and will now try the tin foil under my hat. the internet is teaching me bad things. thank you internet.

     

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    Mike (profile), Oct 1st, 2002 @ 10:06am

    Re: Australia Won't Say What Websites They Ban

    I work for CYBERsitter and I personally receive and validate lists from the ABA almost daily. I won't make that list available, but I will say that I they have never referred anything to us that wasn't strictly adult oriented and would be considered illegal or at the very least, as *highly objectionable* content in most developed countries.

    That still doesn't answer my question as to why the list itself is banned.

    How could the list itself be objectionable? It's just a list of URLs. While what's at those sites themselves might be objectionable, banning the list itself doesn't let anyone confirm what you've said.

     

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    Wally Choo, Oct 1st, 2002 @ 10:44am

    Re: Australia Won't Say What Websites They Ban

    That still doesn't answer my question as to why the list itself is banned.

    I couldn't address this with authority, but because approx. 90% of the list contains child pornography URL's, it doesn't take a rocket scientist do figure out why is is not published.

    How could the list itself be objectionable? It's just a list of URLs. While what's at those sites themselves might be objectionable, banning the list itself doesn't let anyone confirm what you've said.

    As I indicated above, the list would be a virtual roadmap to child porn sites worldwide. In the US, having these images on your computer, even in your browsers cache for example, is a federal crime. Even if you just viewed the list and didn't actually visit any of the sites, you would probably be able to tell very little from the URL's. Child porn sites do not use domain names like www.childporn.com.

    As far as confirming what I have said, I am not offering proof, merely contributing what I know about the subject to the discussion. My point is that, in my opinion as an informed third party, there is no reason for concern, no men in black, and no hidden agenda. Personally, I don't care what sites are on the list, I just confirm them for our filters and I have never seen anything other than adult oriented sites, and they are pretty uh... 'extreme'.

     

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  5.  
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    argo, Oct 1st, 2002 @ 10:49am

    Re: Australia Won't Say What Websites They Ban

    The list is banned for publication by CyberSitter because it is a valuable trade secret. The list is banned for publication by the Aussie government because they want to limit access to the source that stipulates what their people probably don't know they can't access - you know, keep the herd in a state of ignorant bliss. BTW: the Aussia government nor CyberSitter desires that you are able to confirm that the content of those sites is objectionable. Unfortunately, governments and corporations do not live in an open source world.

     

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    Wally Choo, Oct 1st, 2002 @ 10:58am

    Re: Australia Won't Say What Websites They Ban

    That still doesn't answer my question as to why the list itself is banned.


    It also occurred to me that publishing a list of child porn URL's may be a criminal offense depending on the laws in the country where it is being published. It would certainly be irresponsible and not in the public interest.

     

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    Mike (profile), Oct 1st, 2002 @ 11:01am

    Re: Australia Won't Say What Websites They Ban

    I couldn't address this with authority, but because approx. 90% of the list contains child pornography URL's, it doesn't take a rocket scientist do figure out why is is not published.

    Ok. Maybe I'm missing something... but if the sites are banned and are blocked by filters, then... what's the big deal? No one will be able to visit them anyway.

    Why not make the list public so that at least people can see for sure that the bans are legit. I do believe that those coming up with the banned list have only the best of intentions. Honestly, I don't believe they're trying to stifle dissent and whatnot. However, it's still a judgment call, and people should have a right to complain if they feel certain sites are unfairly blocked. As it is, no one has any idea which sites are blocked (other than you - and while you seem like a nice enough guy, I don't know that I trust you to decide what's ok and not ok to look at).

     

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    Mike (profile), Oct 1st, 2002 @ 11:15am

    Re: Australia Won't Say What Websites They Ban

    It also occurred to me that publishing a list of child porn URL's may be a criminal offense depending on the laws in the country where it is being published. It would certainly be irresponsible and not in the public interest.

    And, yet, you see the list, right? How come you haven't become a depraved murdering psychopath? It seems the list, itself is pretty harmless.

     

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    Newob, Oct 1st, 2002 @ 11:37am

    Who decides what is objectionable?

    Although I would probably find many of the sites in question offensive, banning the content itself merely stifles debate. I have no problem with having child pornography illegal -- and snuff films and postcards with hanged black men should also be illegal. Yet there are sites with reproductions of postcards with hanged black men from the South during segregation, and these photographs are as instructive as they are reprehensible. The mere image of something offensive, or a graphic depiction of it by other means, does not imply a use for this image. Crime-scene photos and images of war can get Pulitzer prizes, and they are not less worthy of viewing for their depictions of human monstrosity. No one should be forced to see these things against their will, but no one should be ignorant of their existence either. Banning offensive material will not make the bahavior go away, anymore than viewing it will inspire rational people to indulge in the behavior. But how can we have an intelligent discussion about, say, Naziism, if a majority of extant examples of Naziism, or the horrors of the Holocaust, are censored? We do a disservice to anyone who has experienced these horrors, if we adopt a tool of their oppressors. Censorship for any reason only results in more ignorance.

     

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  10.  
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    Wally Choo, Oct 1st, 2002 @ 11:56am

    Re: Australia Won't Say What Websites They Ban

    Ok. Maybe I'm missing something... but if the sites are banned and are blocked by filters, then... what's the big deal? No one will be able to visit them anyway.

    Most people don't have filters installed though.

    Why not make the list public so that at least people can see for sure that the bans are legit. I do believe that those coming up with the banned list have only the best of intentions. Honestly, I don't believe they're trying to stifle dissent and whatnot. However, it's still a judgment call, and people should have a right to complain if they feel certain sites are unfairly blocked. As it is, no one has any idea which sites are blocked (other than you - and while you seem like a nice enough guy, I don't know that I trust you to decide what's ok and not ok to look at).

    Well, all I can say is that I have never seen any site they have ever submitted to us that could ever be considered, by any stretch of the imagination a 'judgement call'. Actually, I don't make any judgement as to whether or not to block them, I just see if our product misses any.

    I might add that none of the sites are your run-of-the-mill 'porn' sites. These are sites that deal with child pornography, beastiality, depictions of rape and other violent crimes, incest, body parts, etc.

    TechDirt is one of my favorite sites. But sometimes (not often) you make the wrong call. The folks at the ABA do a pretty good job and I think you are giving them a bad rap, and that's why I posted this today.

    To be honest, this is totally a non-issue. TechDirt does an excellent job of bringing some of the more obscure issues up for discussion and this is why I visit this site daily. Unfortunately, you are simply way off base here.

    I appreciate that there may be suspicions of nefarious intent whenever something is 'secret' but this topic is absolutely for the 'tin-foil in the hat' crowd and, in my opinion, not worthy of being discussed on this site. The issue does not exist.

     

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    Mike (profile), Oct 1st, 2002 @ 12:07pm

    Re: Australia Won't Say What Websites They Ban

    TechDirt is one of my favorite sites. But sometimes (not often) you make the wrong call. The folks at the ABA do a pretty good job and I think you are giving them a bad rap, and that's why I posted this today.

    Indeed. Sometimes, sooner or later, everyone is going to make a wrong call. Luckily, in this case, you're allowed (even encouraged) to tell me that I made the wrong call. I then try to understand why you think so... and if I've been convinced, admit that I was wrong and explain why I've changed my mind. The process is very useful.

    My complaint here is that the ABA doesen't even allow that because they won't even tell us what they're blocking! So, what if, like me, they occasionally do make the "wrong call". No one can be like you and tell them they've made a mistake which they can fix.

    To be honest, this is totally a non-issue. TechDirt does an excellent job of bringing some of the more obscure issues up for discussion and this is why I visit this site daily. Unfortunately, you are simply way off base here.

    Ok. I'm trying to establish how I'm off base.

    I appreciate that there may be suspicions of nefarious intent whenever something is 'secret' but this topic is absolutely for the 'tin-foil in the hat' crowd and, in my opinion, not worthy of being discussed on this site. The issue does not exist.

    I think you miss my point. My apologies if I wasn't clear. I don't think there's anything nefarious going on at all. But even with the best of intentions, not everyone is going to agree on these things. Publishing the list makes it open for discussion.

    I still see absolutely no reason for the list itself to be banned.

     

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  12.  
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    Wally Choo, Oct 1st, 2002 @ 1:55pm

    Re: Australia Won't Say What Websites They Ban

    I still see absolutely no reason for the list itself to be banned.

    I have no idea what they do with the list in Australia, but as I understand it, they make referrals to the major filtering companies either as a courtesy, or it may possibly be required.

    I sincerely doubt that you will see the list made available to the general public. Legalities aside, I would personally would have a serious problem with quoting even one of the URL's.

    I cannot see any reason why anyone (mentally healthy) would want to see this list and this is one of those situations where making it public would have no benefit to anyone except those wanting a list of these kinds of sites.

    You can take my word for it that the list is what I have represented it to be, or you can disbelieve my statements. Publishing it would have no useful purpose other than to provide proof that it is indeed a list of highly objectionable sites, and I fail to understand why proving the negative is ever necessary at all.

     

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    Burghy, Oct 1st, 2002 @ 2:21pm

    No Subject Given

    So, I don't see how this is different from China blocking access to sites because it would be harmful for their citizens. By not publishing a list of banned sites, they create the appearance (justified or not) of stifling free speech.

     

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    Mike (profile), Oct 1st, 2002 @ 3:11pm

    Re: Australia Won't Say What Websites They Ban

    I cannot see any reason why anyone (mentally healthy) would want to see this list and this is one of those situations where making it public would have no benefit to anyone except those wanting a list of these kinds of sites.

    I thought I was pretty clear in my last post explaining a perfectly good reason: to make sure that whoever puts together the list is doing it fairly.

    You pointed out that people make mistakes and it's the responsibility of others to point those mistakes out. In this case no one is even allowed to figure out what the mistakes are.

    You can take my word for it that the list is what I have represented it to be, or you can disbelieve my statements.

    So, once again, I ask why we should trust you? The point is I BELIEVE you that these are highly objectionable sites. However, that still doesn't convince me that the list should be banned. Letting people see the list guarantees an open discussion as to whether or not the sites on the list belong there.

    You also never made it clear why it's safe for you to see the list, but no one else to.

     

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    Wally Choo, Oct 1st, 2002 @ 3:23pm

    Re: No Subject Given

    So, I don't see how this is different from China blocking access to sites because it would be harmful for their citizens. By not publishing a list of banned sites, they create the appearance (justified or not) of stifling free speech.

    Appearance does not make it fact. I think that this issue is simply conjecture, and has no basis in fact at all.

    It's like saying, "Gee, I bet you must be blocking sites about American soccer teams because you don't like them, so show me your list of kiddie porn sites to prove you're not!"

    Baseless and factless, and again asking someone to prove a negative. Doesn't make any sense at all.

    But, I still like TechDirt! I just saw the post this morning and didn't want to see it propagate without some actual facts being interjected into the discussion.

    Keep up the good work!

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 1st, 2002 @ 3:58pm

    Re: No Subject Given

    Even if the list is blocked your "speech" will still be limited. What it comes down to is a group has to make a decision whther or not to block a site. There will always be someone who will disagree with a particular decision. Someone speech will always be silenced.

    If current technology existed 100 years ago, there would be nothing even remotely sexual allowed on the web. Forget nudity. You wouldn't be allowed to see a womans bare leg.

    If current technology existed 50 years ago, you'd see some some nudity. Nothing too graphic. Homosexuality would be banned. More than likely black porn would also be banned.

    The issue is that the social boundaries are always shifting. Back 100 years ago it would be a no-brainer that nudity was highly offensive. Back 50 years ago it would have been a no-brainer that homosexuality was offensive. Considering the low-regard for Afro-Americans they probably would have been banned because of their skin. I don't think a society that wouldn't share a drinking fountain would allow those same people to pose nude (unless it was to humiliate them). These attitudes were also no-brainers.

    Today child porn is a no-brainer. There are those who believe this is some right-wing Christian conspiracy to control the thoughts and beliefs of the populace. Have you ever heard the crap that comes out of NAMBLA (North American Man Boy Love Association)? They're the healthy and normal ones. We're the people with the problems.

    There comes a point in time when someone has to have the brass balls to stand up and say no. Austraila did this. I'm sure there's some legit sites that shouldn't be blocked. Those site will rise to the surface quickly. The government will get lots of complains that pictures of Michaelangelo's NUDE statues are blocked. Others will complain that a popup add took them to an underage porn site. Like anything related to computers. It takes time to iron out the bugs.

    What would you do with this list anyways. Will you visit every one of the thousands of sites to attempt to validate the age or the family relationships of those having sex. The list would be a perverted paradise for those with enough tech skills in AU as well as for those outside of AU. Leave the list blocked. Report problems as you find them.

     

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  17.  
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    Wally Choo, Oct 1st, 2002 @ 4:02pm

    Re: Australia Won't Say What Websites They Ban

    So, once again, I ask why we should trust you? The point is I BELIEVE you that these are highly objectionable sites. However, that still doesn't convince me that the list should be banned. Letting people see the list guarantees an open discussion as to whether or not the sites on the list belong there.

    I guess you have no reason to necessarily trust me, I just wanted to contribute what I know of the contents of the list. But doesn't it seem logical that if the sites are banned, then the list of the sites should banned as well?

    Many of the URL's are sexually explicit, many use known keywords in the URLs that indicate child porn content, most of the rest usually make no sense at all. Oddly enough, the majority of the sites are registered to US companies, but resolve to eastern European hosting companies.

    We check all these things, because if we find they resolve to US addresses, and the content is illegal, we report them to the appropriate agency.

    You also never made it clear why it's safe for you to see the list, but no one else to.

    Well, this is what we do here. We have over 2,000,000 customers who want this stuff blocked, and many of them in Australia. I am sure our legal department has some sort of NDA or other agreement on file somewhere. In fact I think we are actually obligated to research this list.

     

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    Mike (profile), Oct 1st, 2002 @ 5:10pm

    Re: Australia Won't Say What Websites They Ban

    I guess you have no reason to necessarily trust me, I just wanted to contribute what I know of the contents of the list. But doesn't it seem logical that if the sites are banned, then the list of the sites should banned as well?

    Trust me, I really appreciate you're posting here with your thoughts. However, I still think you're missing my point.

    The sites THEMSELVES may be offensive to you. The list by ITSELF is offensive to no one, and lets people make sure that no mistakes are made.

    Which part of that is confusing?

    You made the point about pointing out my mistakes. Why can't we point out the ABA's mistakes?

     

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    Wally Choo, Oct 1st, 2002 @ 5:27pm

    Re: Australia Won't Say What Websites They Ban

    You made the point about pointing out my mistakes. Why can't we point out the ABA's mistakes?

    In my experience, there have been no mistakes. That's my point. It couldn't be any more black and white. I mean, child porn is child porn. There is no gray area. I have seen none, zip, nada, not one single site that was not highly objectionable perverse adult oriented material.

     

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    Mike (profile), Oct 1st, 2002 @ 5:36pm

    Re: Australia Won't Say What Websites They Ban

    In my experience, there have been no mistakes. That's my point. It couldn't be any more black and white. I mean, child porn is child porn. There is no gray area. I have seen none, zip, nada, not one single site that was not highly objectionable perverse adult oriented material.

    And who elected you to judge that? I'm glad to hear that in your opinion they haven't made a mistake, but I don't know how you're any more qualified to make that determination than others.

     

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    Wally Choo, Oct 1st, 2002 @ 7:33pm

    Re: Australia Won't Say What Websites They Ban

    I'm glad to hear that in your opinion they haven't made a mistake, but I don't know how you're any more qualified to make that determination than others.

    Excuse me? Do you have some sort of personal agenda here?

    Let's see...
    I have written every version of CYBERsitter since 1995. We have well over 2m users. I have 3 PC Mag Editor's choice awards behind my desk for best Internet filter. I am personally responsible for the administration of the filters and technicians who maintian them. I make the final decisions at to what gets into (or out of) the filters and what categories to which they belong. I designed and wrote all the internal automation software we use to classify, flag, find, and verify sites reported to us and in our lists. I have provided advice and research papers regarding Internet pornography, violence, and other topics for US Senators, Congressmen, Governors, state legislators, special commissions, and on and on.

    So, what would you say? Do you think that maybe, just possibly, I might be just a little qualified to make the determination as to whether or not something is child pornography??

    Sorry, but I think I'll resist any temptation to post here in the future. Your personal agenda is bigger than your interest in facts. In fact it is a little scary.

     

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  22.  
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    Mike (profile), Oct 1st, 2002 @ 8:24pm

    Re: Australia Won't Say What Websites They Ban

    Excuse me? Do you have some sort of personal agenda here?

    Huh? At what point have I shown a "personal agenda"? I just keep asking questions which you haven't been answering.

    My "agenda" is simply to wonder why the list is banned, and you keep saying that we're all better off if it is, and we should trust you on that. I don't know you, and I didn't give you the right to determine what's right and wrong for me. I think I can determine that for myself.

    No offense is meant, and I actually do appreciate this back and forth. However, no matter how much experience you have building filtering software, I don't see why the list should be private, and that's all I've been asking. Your answer is "because those sites are "bad"".

    You seem to think you're qualified to determine what is bad for me. When did I give up my right to determine that for myself?

    Historically, companies such as yours have been shown to block sites that are only "questionably" offensive. But, there's no way for any of us to determine that for ourselves, because you won't tell us what you block.

    This is a serious topic, and I am actually very interested in your opinion on it. We seem to be talking at cross purposes - and perhaps this isn't the proper forum. Feel free to email me, and maybe we can have a more reasonable discussion privately.

     

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  23.  
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    Wally Choo, Oct 1st, 2002 @ 9:44pm

    Re: Australia Won't Say What Websites They Ban

    My "agenda" is simply to wonder why the list is banned, and you keep saying that we're all better off if it is, and we should trust you on that. I don't know you, and I didn't give you the right to determine what's right and wrong for me. I think I can determine that for myself.

    Exactly. I am not determining what it right and wrong fr you. No one is. Agreed?

    No offense is meant, and I actually do appreciate this back and forth. However, no matter how much experience you have building filtering software, I don't see why the list should be private, and that's all I've been asking. Your answer is "because those sites are "bad"".

    I have (own) a pack of cigarettes right here, I am not going to give you one because they are my cigarettes and I don't want to be responsible for any one eventually having problems with tobacco.

    The key word here is "own". They are our lists and we don't have to show them to you. Agreed?


    You seem to think you're qualified to determine what is bad for me. When did I give up my right to determine that for myself?


    I said and I believe proved that I am qualified to determine what child pornography is; not what is bad for you. As far as know, no one has asked you to give up any right have they?

    Historically, companies such as yours have been shown to block sites that are only "questionably" offensive. But, there's no way for any of us to determine that for ourselves, because you won't tell us what you block.

    Where did you hear this? Do you have some facts that back that up? Can you give me some specific examples?

    And who specifically are "any of us"? Are you speaking of your company, group of friends or the Internet community in general? Whoever any of you are, are probably not being filtered either.

    If this is the case, then why would you need to see the list? If it doesn't affect you then why would you care anyway.

    This is an old argument. It has come and gone many times. The outcome is always the same.

     

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    Mike (profile), Oct 1st, 2002 @ 11:42pm

    Re: Australia Won't Say What Websites They Ban

    Exactly. I am not determining what it right and wrong fr you. No one is. Agreed?

    Sorry. You implied that these sites were bad for me, and there was no reason I would want to see them. I think that says that you are deciding what's right for me and what isn't.

    The key word here is "own". They are our lists and we don't have to show them to you. Agreed?

    No. I don't agree. The lists in question are from the Australian government, which is elected by the public. I would think that public has a right to inspect the lists. So, you don't own them.

    I said and I believe proved that I am qualified to determine what child pornography is; not what is bad for you. As far as know, no one has asked you to give up any right have they?

    Not me, personally, but all Australian citizens apparently have been asked to give up their rights to know what sites they can't see. Why aren't they allowed to know what sites are being blocked? You seem to assume that naming the sites and seeing the sites are the same thing. They're not.

    Where did you hear this? Do you have some facts that back that up? Can you give me some specific examples?

    That was the whole point of the recent ruling saying that libraries couldn't be required to use filters - because those filters weren't very good, and often filtered things they shouldn't, and missed plenty of stuff that they said they would filter.

    You can read the ruling at: http://www.paed.uscourts.gov/us03011.shtml

    And who specifically are "any of us"? Are you speaking of your company, group of friends or the Internet community in general? Whoever any of you are, are probably not being filtered either. If this is the case, then why would you need to see the list? If it doesn't affect you then why would you care anyway.

    No, it doesn't effect me specfically, but does that mean I shouldn't care? I am concerned about the rights of others, and as someone with a forum in which I can express my opinions I choose to stand up for them.

    It does effect my right to use the internet in a library.

    It does effect my right to use the internet when I am in Australia.

    This is an old argument. It has come and gone many times. The outcome is always the same.

    Just because the argument is old, doesn't mean there's some weight to it. Just because the outcome is the same doesn't mean it's right.

    I think the simple point where we have some disconnect is that you seem to equate the URL of the site with the site itself. I don't. They are two distinct entities, and I don't see why the list can't be shared so that people can guarantee that you're doing a good job.

    If you are doing a good job, what do you have to hide?

     

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    Umm, Oct 2nd, 2002 @ 1:01am

    Re: Australia Won't Say What Websites They Ban

    We are listening to someone who works for CyberSitter? We are trying to have a sensible discussion with someone who works for CyberSitter?

    I have seen a copy a list of some of the sites that CyberSitter "filters". (And it was genuine) Page after page of sites with nothing remotely objecionale on them.

    Filtering is one of the stupidest ideas that has ever been invented - marketd by scaremongering tactics to ill-informed (but "concerned") parents. It wouldn't be so bad if it weren't clearly driven solely by profit motive. Well, actually it would be just as bad but you know what I mean.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2002 @ 4:29am

    Re: Australia Won't Say What Websites They Ban

    > We are listening to someone who works for CyberSitter?

    No. We're reading posts from someone who works for Cybersitter.

    > We are trying to have a sensible discussion with someone who works for CyberSitter?

    The person from CyberSitter offers a unique insite into this industry. This would make him more qualified to speak on these issues than most of us. He has an opinion as well as the industry angle. The rest of us have an opinion.

    > I have seen a copy a list of some of the sites that CyberSitter "filters". (And it was genuine) Page after page of sites with nothing remotely objecionale on them.

    Oh really. Where did you get the "genuine" list of CyberSitter's list? How long did it take you to go through the "pages and pages" of objectionable materials? How did you determine what was objectionable and what was not objectionable?

    > Filtering is one of the stupidest ideas that has ever been invented...

    Huh? I think you meant to say you are against censorship or against censorship or things that are of interest to you. Are you against the censorship of child porn? Is blocking access to these materials "one of the stupidest ideas that has ever been invented?"

    > ... marketd by scaremongering tactics to ill-informed (but "concerned") parents.

    I don't know how the software is marketed. I don't have kids and don't need the software. You apparently do have kids (or are a kid). Please elaborate on the scaremongering that is taking place. What exactly makes the parent ill-informed? Is the internet a lot more safe than advertised? Is porn really that rare on the web?

    > It wouldn't be so bad if it weren't clearly driven solely by profit motive. Well, actually it would be just as bad but you know what I mean.

    Is there a need to speak with inuendos? Tell us what you mean.

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    TheCaptain, Oct 2nd, 2002 @ 5:58am

    Re: Australia Won't Say What Websites They Ban

    Man, I appreciate a good debate here and this issue is certainly a good one to raise discussion, but reading all this Wally Choo guy's posts and answers to you I thinking that either you're being trolled in a major way or he's not very bright because your point is too obvious to be missed.

    I'll bite and feed the troll. If he's reading this let me try to spell it out in small words.

    By NOT making the list of banned sites available, the AUSTRALIAN GOV is NOT ACCOUNTABLE TO THE PEOPLE WHO ELECTED THEM BECAUSE THOSE PEOPLE CANNOT AUDIT THEIR WORK.

    No one wants to visit those sites...no one is saying anything nefarious is going on...but everyone DOES make mistakes (You've said it yourself)...and basically if no one ever SEES the list, no one can ever point out those mistakes. And I'm sorry M.Choo, I do NOT trust you to tell me they haven't made any mistakes. Period.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Wally Choo, Oct 2nd, 2002 @ 7:20am

    Re: Australia Won't Say What Websites They Ban

    By NOT making the list of banned sites available, the AUSTRALIAN GOV is NOT ACCOUNTABLE TO THE PEOPLE WHO ELECTED THEM BECAUSE THOSE PEOPLE CANNOT AUDIT THEIR WORK.

    I could care less. I don't live in Australia. I have never been to Australia, and don't intend to visit there. If I ever do, I will abide by their laws. Other than that, it's none of my business. They have a democracy there, let their citizens determine what they want.

    No one wants to visit those sites...no one is saying anything nefarious is going on...but everyone DOES make mistakes (You've said it yourself)...and basically if no one ever SEES the list, no one can ever point out those mistakes. And I'm sorry M.Choo, I do NOT trust you to tell me they haven't made any mistakes. Period.

    But you are wrong. People DO see the list. I have seen the list. I am qualified to make an informed evaluation of whether or not there are mistakes on the list, and I have not found any.

    I need to point out here that I didn't make my original post here to get into a debate. I am simply a regular TechDirt reader who happens to have some knowledge of this particular topic. Now I am "not trustworthy", "not too bright", and "unqualified". Gee, none of these glowing attributes were used to describe me yesterday morning before I posted a message here.

    You guys will never see the list. Period. That's the way it is. I don't really care what your "points" are. It is not up to me what goes on the list, and it is not up to me what the ABA does with it. But, I am probably the only contributor to the discussion who has any basis for expressing a factual opinion about the lists contents. That's what I attempted to do. I am sure that they make mistakes from time to time, but I have not seen any. Take it or leave it. I don't care.

     

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  29.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Oct 2nd, 2002 @ 9:22am

    Re: Australia Won't Say What Websites They Ban

    I think we're going round in circles here, but I'm going to keep trying.

    I could care less. I don't live in Australia. I have never been to Australia, and don't intend to visit there. If I ever do, I will abide by their laws. Other than that, it's none of my business. They have a democracy there, let their citizens determine what they want.

    You don't think it's worth being concerned about anyone other than yourself? I brought up the issue because it concerns a lot of people - many of whom read this site. If I only brought up issues that directly concerned me, this would be quite the boring site.

    It's an interesting contrast to have you say that you simply don't care what happens in Australia - and yet you are the final authority on whether or not the Australian government is properly blocking sites from their public. Doesn't seem like you would be that motivated to find mistakes, or to point them out to anyone. After all, you "could care less". You don't live there. Why is it your problem?

    It's your problem because YOU just told us that YOU are qualified to tell us if they're making a mistake. I'm sorry, but the person I want checking over that list had damn well better care.

    But you are wrong. People DO see the list. I have seen the list. I am qualified to make an informed evaluation of whether or not there are mistakes on the list, and I have not found any.

    But no one has any control over who you are. You weren't elected. Even if you are the world's greatest authority on what is acceptable to block and what is a mistake, what happens when you go away, and the next guy has a vendetta against someone or something? No one would ever know because we wouldn't even know what they were blocking.

    None of us are asking to see those sites. We just want to see the list of sites. Do you understand the distinction?

    I need to point out here that I didn't make my original post here to get into a debate. I am simply a regular TechDirt reader who happens to have some knowledge of this particular topic. Now I am "not trustworthy", "not too bright", and "unqualified". Gee, none of these glowing attributes were used to describe me yesterday morning before I posted a message here.

    I think you're taking this too personally. I certainly didn't mean to insult you personally (and I can't speak for the others). The issue isn't you specifically - but the fact that you are someone who we don't know, who's agenda we don't know, who's position was not elected, who we have no control over, and yet you claim that's okay, because you're a good person who knows what you're doing.

    And, we're just supposed to say "ok"?

    I assume you also prefer to live under a dictatorship?

    Look, I definitely appreciate you posting here, because I think it's a valuable perspective to have, and I'm trying to understand where you are coming from. I think it's interesting and it makes me think about my points. That's a good thing.

    You guys will never see the list. Period. That's the way it is. I don't really care what your "points" are. It is not up to me what goes on the list, and it is not up to me what the ABA does with it. But, I am probably the only contributor to the discussion who has any basis for expressing a factual opinion about the lists contents. That's what I attempted to do. I am sure that they make mistakes from time to time, but I have not seen any. Take it or leave it. I don't care.

    Right. We understand that you know about the list and that you have some expertise in this area.

    We have not seen the list so we can't claim the same expertise.

    That does NOT mean that we don't understand the issues, or the rights of folks in Australia which are being trampled.

    Even assuming that you are extremely qualified to judge these things, there are a number of other people who also feel that they are qualified to see that list, and they are wondering why they cannot. That's what we're asking. Why just you? Why not those other people?

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Wally Choo, Oct 2nd, 2002 @ 10:08am

    Re: Australia Won't Say What Websites They Ban

    Even assuming that you are extremely qualified to judge these things, there are a number of other people who also feel that they are qualified to see that list, and they are wondering why they cannot. That's what we're asking. Why just you? Why not those other people?

    Again, this is not up to me, and the politics of the issue are not my concern. I just do a job. And, it is not just me that sees the list, it appears from the mail distribution that every major filtering company receives a copy of the list. We all have different criteria and methods of validation so I suspect there would be feedback from different sources provided in the event there ever was a mistake.

    It would seem logical that the ABA would make the list available to parties with demonstrated expertise and a genuine, legitimate interest in the topic. These parties would, without doubt, be subject to agreement of some kind.

    In the US, when you apply for car insurance, the insurer can get a copy of your driving record because they have a genuine, legitimate interest in obtaining it. I cannot get your driving record and you cannot get mine (in most states). That's the way it should be. Governments have an obligation to make some information available only to parties that have demonstrated that they are responsible, duly licensed if necessary, and properly credentialed. It may be that if someone could demonstrate a genuine reason to the ABA why releasing a list of kiddie-porn sites to the public would be of benefit, maybe they would. Asking them to release it to prove that something is NOT on the list is philosophically illogical. Ask a lawyer sometime. Relying on an agrument based on 'proving a negative' would probably seldom if ever be used by experienced litigators.

    The people at the ABA are straight-up guys. If I ever do discover a mistake, I would definately let them know. I sincerely doubt however, that that will ever be necessary.

    As far as your assertion that you don't want to see the sites, only the list, sorry, but I see no legitimate distinction.

     

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  31.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Oct 2nd, 2002 @ 10:43am

    Re: Australia Won't Say What Websites They Ban

    Again, this is not up to me, and the politics of the issue are not my concern. I just do a job.

    For someone who wants us to rely on your professional opinion, you seem amazingly unconcerned about the rights of people involved. You even said you could "care less" about people in Australia who you are blocking.

    You still haven't explained why they shouldn't be allowed to see the list... other than because you say it's "bad".

    It may be that if someone could demonstrate a genuine reason to the ABA why releasing a list of kiddie-porn sites to the public would be of benefit, maybe they would. Asking them to release it to prove that something is NOT on the list is philosophically illogical. Ask a lawyer sometime. Relying on an agrument based on 'proving a negative' would probably seldom if ever be used by experienced litigators.

    See, you keep bringing up "kiddie porn" because that sets off an emotional response. We all agree that child porn is despicable. The issue is having some oversight over what gets blocked.

    This isn't an issue for lawyers. We're not in court. People just want to have some checks and balances on that list. You're saying that you are that check and balance. Others are saying that in a democratic and open society, society should have access to that list to determine that for themselves.

    It's a reasonable statement.

    Your comparison to driver's records is not relevant. Driver's records are private information pertaining to an individual. This is information that directly pertains to everyone in Australia, put together by a publicly elected government - and thus should be available for them to review to make sure its being done fairly.

    The people at the ABA are straight-up guys. If I ever do discover a mistake, I would definately let them know. I sincerely doubt however, that that will ever be necessary.

    I'm glad that they're "straight-up guys" but that doesn't matter. They could be certified saints, for all I care, and it doesn't change the issue. The issue is that this information should be public for the sake of checks and balances.

    As far as your assertion that you don't want to see the sites, only the list, sorry, but I see no legitimate distinction.

    This disturbs me. If you don't know the difference between a URL and a site itself, I again need to question your qualifications.

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    TheCaptain, Oct 3rd, 2002 @ 5:52am

    There's NO question...

    As far as your assertion that you don't want to see the sites, only the list, sorry, but I see no legitimate distinction.
    This disturbs me. If you don't know the difference between a URL and a site itself, I again need to question your qualifications.

    There's no question...if he can't tell the difference between auditting a list of URLs and actually viewing the site, then he certainly isn't qualified to tell ME what I can't or can't see

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    Alex, Jan 2nd, 2008 @ 7:43am

    I just love it when the government decides things for me. If I thought putting tin foil in my hat would preserve my rights to free information, regardless of the government's ruling on its content, you'd find my head well covered.

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    fat Tony, Jan 3rd, 2008 @ 1:59am

    Wonderful thread

    I heart this thread so much...
    The issue at hand is personal, political, and corporate responsibility. The general consensus is that left on their own people will generally do the right thing.

    When those people are elected there should be very similar expectations.
    The right thing does not make your actions above audit or inspection.
    In a company, your Quality Assurance organization is responsible for such audits. M. Choo is such a person in his company.
    We/They the people of Australia (or wherever an elected body enforces jurisdiction over freedom) are wholely responsible to mandate government activity be justified.
    They should definately be authorized access to veiw, but not neccesarily publish, any list of this magnitude of impact. (i.e. nationally banned books, sites, organisations)
    So long as no information pertaining to an individuals personal information is openned to theft then the data itself should not be withheld. One caveat to this policy would be if said list poses a direct threat to national security, which in the above cases is highly unlikey.

    Last thoughts: If they follow a specific policy of requesting said list through appropriate channels; then there should be nothing to inhibit auditing of your elected officials activities when said audit is in an effort to ensure implied freedoms aren't infringed.
    Some things are better left to corporate hands, but why not let a list defined as unsafe be made available for independent software developers (or individuals) to innovate/implement a filter of their own?

     

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  35.  
    identicon
    Justin, Jul 24th, 2008 @ 1:01pm

    Its illegal

    Sorry but i think what wally is getting at is the same principal that the cops don't publicly list all known crack houses in town. He is 100% right about someone weeing the list and guess what happens when the list goes public, someone will look at one of the sites and get caught. Then the defense will be that it was purely for research purposes of accuracy of the site. Too bad, you know its a ban list I don't get was so hard to understand. I came to this thread reading back articles on other threads that are more current. Put a list of child porn links on one of your posts then track the referrals you are in essence a party to a crime. you gave people the list just because you say these are all child porn sights you aren't home free. Kind of like piracy... YOU ARE MAKING AVAILABLE ILLEGAL CONTENT

     

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  36.  
    identicon
    Joe Bloggs, Oct 16th, 2008 @ 3:17am

    The government you have now isn't the government you will have later

    Even if the people doing the filtering right now have nothing but the best intent, one day someone who realises they have this nifty power to block whatever they want without anyone knowing will abuse it and nobody will know.

     

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  37.  
    identicon
    Pagans 2cents worth, Oct 26th, 2008 @ 10:06am

    So easy to bypass

    I am not worried at all as there are many many simple ways to bypass these filters, my browsing habits would be boring to anyone !!! but i have a firm belief that big business and governments have no right of control over the net , without banning a host of protocols that would make us look like global village idiots,it is easy to bypass... This isp censorship is nothing but political over reaction by the ill informed and a mis guided minority. Spend the money on road safety and save some kids lives!! it would certainly be a more logical move in my books !!!

     

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  38.  
    identicon
    Jackie, Dec 26th, 2008 @ 3:32pm

    I was a fence sitter regarding censorship, but I changed my mind after seeing this:

    http://encyclopediadramatica.com/Suicide

    Quite frankly I've never been as shocked at anything I've seen on the internet. No child (or adult) should be confronted with live footage of a young person blowing his brains out with a gun, or seeing a young person holding a razor to their wrist with the encouraging words..."just do it, loser".

    This should go on the list of banned sites without delay.

     

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  39.  
    identicon
    Robert, Dec 26th, 2008 @ 7:15pm

    Re: Re: Australia Won't Say What Websites They Ban

    and they are pretty uh... 'extreme'. So the government is going to blocking legitimate materials but because they are 'extreme' to the individuals that are looking over each site they are handed? Your morals lay quite different to mine I'm sure, what makes YOU a good judge for what I can see? I don't care for this "somebody!!! think of the children!!!" epidemic.. hell most people don't even know that they're losing their liberties because it isn't being much covered by TV media. Hell, you can't even block what I can and cannot see with your silly filters. A futile attempt, but you did manage to slow the internet down. Another problem is; let's say hypothetically you managed to stop all child porn 100% and didn't block anything else. Thank goodness the world is sa- wait what happens to the pedofelifags when they don't have pixels to look at? Do they stop being pedos? You're curing a symptom, but worsening the problem So congratulations, you've slowed the internet down at the cost of billions. In conclusion, I hate everyone

     

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  40.  
    identicon
    Robert, Dec 27th, 2008 @ 5:42am

    Re:

    Fuck you, if I want to watch it, I'll fucking watch it. What gives you the power over me or anyone else to see whatever they please?
    You don't want to watch it? Then don't fucking watch it. Simple.
    My life has run a long enough course so far to know that people like you are the people in history who diminish our freedom. Again you play the no child game, how about you go buy a personal filter or even be a REAL PARENT to your child, instead of asking KRudd to be your kids' surrogate father?

    Fuck you and your filter. Die

     

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  41.  
    identicon
    Mike D, Mar 18th, 2009 @ 10:55pm

    Re: Re: Australia Won't Say What Websites They Ban

    Wally Choo, you are the man in black. You are facilitating the repression of free speech in Australia and sooner or later you will be asked to put a political site on your list, such as the recent addition of an anti-abortion website. This preaches against the current Labor government's policy of murder of the unborn.

     

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  42.  
    identicon
    WebGuru, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 10:19am

    I've read all the posts and here's what I think. I DO support banning of websites that NEED to be banned. BUT, the government should disclose the list to the public. They must be transparent.

    This way, we can all sit down and debate like a democracy about which sites should NOT be on that list.

     

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  43.  
    identicon
    Paul, Apr 30th, 2009 @ 9:04am

    WIKILEAKS.ORG

    I live in Australia and Wikileaks.org has been banned...Now I'm all for stopping kiddy porn and any sites that host it..Why was Wikileaks.org banned and how far will this nonsense go?...The fact that they have done it on the sly and won't even publish a banned list is insane...I've already sent a hand written letter to Senator Conroy expressing my disapproval, I suggest other Australians do the same.

     

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  44.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 13th, 2009 @ 3:17am

    Re: Re: Australia Won't Say What Websites They Ban

    thats not the point, if they are blocking these sites anyway, whats the problem?

    Australia is no longer a free country, tell me i have foil in my hat and I can tell you that you need to read brave new world or 1984.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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