Is Germany Following Australia Down The Slippery Slope Of Internet Censorship?

from the hopefully-not dept

Via Slashdot we learn that Germany is the latest country to consider a censorship regime that would create a blacklist of sites that ISPs would be required to block. As with most such things, the official claim is that this would be to block out child porn. Of course, this is a head-in-the-sand approach to fighting child porn. It's about trying to pretend it's not there, rather than tracking down those actually responsible. Those who really want access will find it elsewhere through non-blocked sites or groups. Except now it will be more underground and harder to track. But, more importantly, in setting up any sort of secret censored list, you can pretty much guarantee that the list will be abused. A similar attempt in Australia, where again everyone was told it was about stopping child exploitation, was recently revealed to have a lot of other stuff on the list -- such that only 1/3 was actually about preventing child porn. The article linked above shows that Germans have teamed up to protest such a censorship regime -- and have done so in a very constructive manner -- suggesting much more reasonable alternatives. Now we just need to see if politicians recognize that there are better solutions before just jumping on the easy censorship "for the children" bandwagon.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Rob, Jun 17th, 2009 @ 5:42am

    Does anybody know what sort of transparency would be involved in this process, i.e., will the block list be secret as it was in Australia? My gut tells me that that will be the case, but I am not sure. Either way, this is a really stupid idea, and no good will come of it. A degree of transparency would make it slightly less odious (people being able to check up and make sure that political websites and the like are not being blocked), but I doubt that will be the case. This is really a bad day for freedom worldwide, as these ideas tend to spread like wildfire. The German government will release a baseless report saying how they cut down on child porn by over 107%, some idiot senator will get a hold of the erroneous report, make the claims even more exaggerated, nobody will think to fact check it, and before you know it there will be open Internet censorship in the U.S.

    I don't like it. Not one bit.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 17th, 2009 @ 5:45am

    The bandwagon you jump on last week and beat to death. Also, I see that you have even more ads on your site now. Is this still only a fraction of your revenue?

     

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  3.  
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    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), Jun 17th, 2009 @ 6:06am

    Re: AC still sees Ads

    You see ads? What a loser. As for the bandwagon comment...you obviously must of jumped on the bandwagon for censorship. Let us hear your arguments. The Australian black list is a near proven failure when only 33% of the sites blocked provide kiddie porn at some levels that may even be questionable. And guess what...I am sure the child porn lovers still were able to get what they wanted. These politicians can never provide statistics on that. So it is the perfect chance for them to waste your tax money and provide hardly any benefit without any accountability that it worked, all the while grandstanding for re-election.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Poster, Jun 17th, 2009 @ 6:07am

    I'm actually kinda sad this didn't happen during the Bush Administration, just because they could have easily made up a good, catchy name like "Axis of Evil" for the countries going through with these secret Internet blocklists.

     

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  5.  
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    btr1701 (profile), Jun 17th, 2009 @ 6:50am

    Re: Censorship

    > and before you know it there will be open
    > Internet censorship in the U.S.

    Our saving grace is that we have 200+ years of 1st Amendment jurisprudence and (a Supreme Court that's willing to use it) that would nullify any such attempt at wholesale censorship.

    The Court has never been sympathetic to "it's for the children" type arguments when it comes to prior restraint of speech.

     

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  6.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jun 17th, 2009 @ 6:54am

    Re:

    "I'm actually kinda sad this didn't happen during the Bush Administration, just because they could have easily made up a good, catchy name like "Axis of Evil" for the countries going through with these secret Internet blocklists."

    Are you crazy? Having that kind of censorship ability with such a strawman cause to hide behind would have been like Dick Cheney's wet dream. They just would have labeled the "offending" sites terrorists instead of perverts.

     

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  7.  
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    not_a_monkey, Jun 17th, 2009 @ 7:25am

    Re: transparency

    the first draft did set very low standards on transparency. The Bundeskriminalamt (BKA - sort of german FBI) would maintain that list, no-one would control them, and it was no way given to find out if your website's IP would be on that list or not. Also there was no way given how a censored IP would change its status to 'uncensored' once the illegal content would have been deleted.

    Those are the 'tiny details' which government's coalition parties will haggle about in process of making the law.

    Other details included a stop sig, which should automatically appear if you - more or less by accident - happen to visit such a site. And then your IP will be logged and saved, and you're flagged as 'interested in child pr0n' ... yeah, right.
    There's a youtube vid explaining it very nicely with lego, I think it's quite clear even if you don't understand the german speaker.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUT_o23zqdk

     

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  8.  
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    zellamayzao, Jun 17th, 2009 @ 8:14am

    Re: Re: transparency

    Now when it comes to the logging of IP addresses as a potential subject interested in child porn or whatever they may be watching them for I have concerns about that.

    I know here in America and more specifically Comcast customers our IP address are supposed to rotate every 2 weeks or something like that. That is what I was told when training for a position there, have since left. If America were to adopt something like that in the future, how would that ISP be able to kick someone off or report that IP to the authorities when it is supposed to change bi-weekly?


    Now for all you people out there using comcast internet. pull your IP and check it again in 2 weeks....or a month. It doesn't change though thats not how I was told it works.

    Anyway....I just dont agree with any of these policies about blocking certain websites because politicians dont like whats on the site. Granted Im no supported of child exploitation either, those bastards need to be found and dealt with accordingly, but dont just block their site that doesnt stop them

     

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  9.  
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    not_a_monkey, Jun 17th, 2009 @ 9:28am

    logging

    we have already a law so that telcos have to save IPs and locations ... for six months ... it is called 'Vorratsdatenspeicherung'

    This was established via the EU (it was initiated at the EU parliament by german government, but they now claim that they had to follow EU law ...)

     

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  10.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jun 17th, 2009 @ 9:32am

    Re: logging

    Why does everything sound more evil when spoken in German?

     

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  11.  
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    Jobu, Jun 17th, 2009 @ 3:26pm

    Heil Hitler

    The brown shirts will be coming next. Nazi's are alive and well in Germany.

     

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  12.  
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    Lucretious, Jun 17th, 2009 @ 5:04pm

    given the utterly ridiculous anti-defamation laws of both countries I can guarantee the JDL will be on their backs pushing for as much censorship as possible.

     

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  13.  
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    Blamer (profile), Jun 18th, 2009 @ 12:24am

    Paedophiles Vs 1984

    I'm Australian. This article doesn't match my understanding of the issue in Australia.

    1. We aren't being told that it's to address "child expliotation".

    2. Those other 2/3 on the blacklist reportedly contain other "abhorent illegal material". For example, the famed Queensland dentistry site was identified as being used as a backdoor by the Russian mafia.

    3. This is a trial only. There are significant technical difficulties including performance degradation. The trial involves only a few small ISPs who volenteered. Customers can opt-in to additional "adult filtering".

    4. The government haven't provided the details they ought to have.

    - The blacklist is being kept confidential since it is considered a shortcut for criminals.
    - Internet users can protect themselves and their family with "nanny" software.
    - Some ISP's offer "adult filtering" as a service.
    - Manditory blocking is already in place.

    This isn't common knowledge.

    People hear a soundbyte or read an evocative headline and react before doing their homework. There is little informed debate.

    This may go to a reformendum. I certainly hope the public are better informed if it does.

     

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  14.  
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    known coward, Jun 18th, 2009 @ 8:28am

    This is not ameriKa

    They can do what they want. It always amused me when americans think their laws can and should be enforceable everywhere in the universe. Not every country thinks free speech and democracy are good idea's, and they have a right to live their lives free from interference from us ugly americans.

     

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  15.  
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    skillsss, Nov 27th, 2009 @ 5:56pm

    I am more worried about U.S. ISPs who are supposed to set a good example.

    I am more worried about U.S. ISPs who are supposed to set a good example.

    Comcast Censoring Conservative Voices?

    The American Public and the FCC need to keep an eye on ISPs. Comcast has been censoring conservative message board posters in my opinion. Because dominant ISP Comcast is a gateway to the internet, they control many eyeballs. Comcast's systematic censoring of conservative opinions on their News & Current Events message boards needs to cease and desist. If Comcast gets tax breaks from local government, then they have a civic, ethical, moral and perhaps legal obligation to provide fair and balanced moderation of their message boards. This type of social engineering is an outrage. Please get involved. Silence is consent. Post a conservative response to a News or Current Events thread here and see for yourself.

    http://community.comcast.net/comcastportal/board?board.id=news

    This is America...Not CHINA nor Germany

     

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