Why Are Australia's Would-Be 'Net Censors So Opposed To Transparency?

from the let's-try-the-best-of-disinfectants,-shall-we? dept

A lot of people have been submitting the news that Wikileaks has obtained and published the secret black-list of websites to be banned under Australia’s proposed Internet censoring exercise. The list of more than 2300 websites is about half child pornography and half “online poker sites, YouTube links, regular gay and straight porn sites, Wikipedia entries, euthanasia sites, websites of fringe religions such as satanic sites, fetish sites, Christian sites, the website of a tour operator and even a Queensland dentist.”

As Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, explains, by making these lists secret and threatening to fine disclosure of the list at $11,000 per day, the democracy of Australia is “invariably corrupted.” There is no due process to to add sites to the list, or to remove them, and as previous leaked lists show, even censorship systems set up to block legitimately illegal sites end up being abused. As web censorship scholar Derek Bambauer has written, an Internet censorship regime should be judged on openness, transparency, narrowness and accountability, but by keeping the list secret and threatening those who would allow democratic deliberation about its contents, Australia’s web censors undermine the political process of a democracy.

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Comments on “Why Are Australia's Would-Be 'Net Censors So Opposed To Transparency?”

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Ryan says:

Re: Re:

I’m not sure the point you are making…are you saying “ignorance is bliss” to the proletariat? Well, let them eat cake, I guess.

I know that child pornography is illegal in my jurisdiction and all pornography is blocked by the firewall at my job site. This does not make me upset in the least, as I understand the reasons for it. Why hide it? Censorship is not mutually exclusive with transparency.

Weird Harold (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I think the block list could also include things like sites about abortion or any other subject that the censors decide isn’t good for the people. The question is how long before they block opposition politicians (by accident of course) or stop political activism in the country? With a secret list, ANYTHING could be on there for any reason.

tim says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

the block list DOES include at least 1 anti abortion site, and thats why its so ridiculous. Its not an illegal site, or promoting anything illegal, its just the censors pushing their own views on the australian public by blacklisting things they dont like.

If they want to block sites (and they are pushing for mandatory filtering, which means everyone in the country using the internet would be forced to accept the filtering), then we should have every right to know what is on the list. If people cant get to the sites, surely there is no harm in knowing they exist.

shon walker says:

interview request

Good morning,

I’m Shon Walker from ABC Newsradio, the continuous, national news station. I’m the presenter between 1 and 4pm weekday afternoons.

I’m interested in the government’s internet blacklist… and would like to interview Julian Assange… or someone else from your organisation… to clarify what’s happening with the list.

If Julian can ring me as soon as possible, we could work out the potential for a story and interview…

I look forward to speaking with you,

Shon Walker
ABC NewsRadio
Ph: 02 8333.5094

MizuRyuu (profile) says:


“online poker sites, YouTube links, regular gay and straight porn sites, Wikipedia entries, euthanasia sites, websites of fringe religions such as satanic sites, fetish sites, Christian sites, the website of a tour operator and even a Queensland dentist.”

If this statement is true, then the person behind this secret blacklist obviously have an agenda they are pushing on the people. I find the fact that there is a fine for disclosing the list very disturbing… Not only is the public not allowed access to the list, anyone who leaks the list runs the risk of getting fined a not-insignificant amount of money… The whole purpose of the fine is obviously to hide the fact that the operator of the list has a bias….

How exactly would the fine work at $11,000 a day?? Once disclosed, the person who leaked the list can’t exactly take back the leak. Wouldn’t that mean the person will be charged a fine each day until bankruptcy?? I doubt this is true, but that is my interpretation based on the information above…

Tamara says:

Anonymous Coward #12. I’m assuming he’s posting from work, and therefore using Internet filtering software. All internet filtering software sold in Australia uses the ACMA blacklist. Wilkleaks was added to the Australia’s blacklist in the last couple of days so therefore will be blocked at his work place, so will be unable to contact him from his place of business.

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