Australia Back To Censoring The Internet… Again

from the haven't-we-gone-through-this-before? dept

Not again. It seems that every single year or so, politicians in Australia suddenly decide that it makes sense to filter the internet to block out “bad stuff.” And every time they do this, people point out how this is censorship, it doesn’t work, it harms legitimate uses, and it’s a waste of time and money… and eventually the whole thing dies down. But… it’s back again. Communications Minister Stephen Conroy is pushing a plan to filter out a list of “criminal” sites. Amazingly, Conroy is claiming that a recent trial showed that filtering technology was 100% effective. That seems unlikely. Every year that this comes up, there are widespread protests about the censorship, but once again, the politicians don’t seem to care. They just want headlines about how they helped “protect the children.”

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Comments on “Australia Back To Censoring The Internet… Again”

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24 Comments
Bradley Robb (profile) says:

Throw some math at 'em

I coined a theory based on the bit about 100% accuracy when I read that story this morning:

As a sample size grows, the probability of achieving 100% accuracy in anything falls towards zero.

That is to say, it’s highly improbable that Australia can achieve a filtered Internet at anywhere near 100% accuracy. However, I’m glad that they’re finally going ahead with this.

It is my hope that after a string of embarrassing false positives and open secrets for evading the AU filters, that Australia decides to officially remove their filters and that somehow, other nations learn from the mistakes of Oz.

painter says:

Re: Re: Good deal

Mr Church, some of us are large goannas, none of the top predators in australia are mammals of any kind and Placental Mammals ,which cost too much to run , sadly died out in Australia .

This filtering is one of those symbolic/moral panic thingos, When I was young it was reds under the beds now its child molesters under every bed.
This is the same gov that thinks doling out computers to kiddies is a better use of public money than employing more teachers to supervise the same kiddies.

ausdub (profile) says:

Re: Good deal

We are from being fragile, do not judge Aussies by the corrupt mindless Parliamentarians who consider us incapable of
choosing what we can see on the ‘net. This has little to do with child protection and all about autocratic control of the masses. That being said, we can take care of ourselves thank you very much. No help is needed from the self appointed world sheriff known as the USA.

Igor Zevaka (profile) says:

Just a few corrections

There was only one push to filter the internet and it started in 2007 as a Labour Party election promise. The online came in waves corresponding to major announcements of the scheme.

Unfortunately it hasn’t been completely abandoned as just yet and it looks like we are looking at live trials in the near future.

The latest wave of #nocleanfeed (#openinternet) outrage is due to farcical trial results (http://www.inquisitr.com/52298/australia-confirms-censorship-plans-tells-fibs-on-the-filtering-trial/).

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Just a few corrections

There was only one push to filter the internet and it started in 2007 as a Labour Party election promise.

What about 2004: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20040817/1028205_F.shtml

Or 2005: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20050210/2342242.shtml

Or 2006: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20060321/093249.shtml

Definitely was being pushed for well before 2007.

Anthony (profile) says:

Re: Just a few corrections

“There was only one push to filter the internet and it started in 2007 as a Labour Party election promise. The online came in waves corresponding to major announcements of the scheme.

Unfortunately it hasn’t been completely abandoned as just yet and it looks like we are looking at live trials in the near future.”

What about the Liberals/Nationals plan in 1999, 2001 and 2004? Each of those 3 times (just like this time by the ALP) is to try and appease the Christian nutcase in the senate to make deals to get other legislation passed.

And live trails have already been done and completed. They were optional for each ISP and customers for each ISP it was optional.

Anthony (profile) says:

It could be 100%

Since it was an extremely small sample size then it’s easy to get to 100%. Only 6 ISPs in Australia participated in the trial, and all 6 were extremely small and not part of the biggest 12. About 1 week before the trial started the most participants from any one ISP was 15. So if no other people signed up in the last week then at most there were 90 people taking part in the trial. Since it was optional I’m assuming that all 90 people would be people that would never visit anything even remotely close to being adult content.

diode (profile) says:

This is actually the same mandatory ISP filtering plan that has been hovering around like a bad smell for the last couple of years. The real news here is that it has now actually been given the go ahead (despite almost universal opposition), and implementation is due to commence March 2010.

As for the type of content that will be targeted, Senator Conroy’s “criminal sites” is a hugely misleading term which in actual fact refers to any content that is refused classification (RC) under Australia’s conservative censorship laws. To give you some idea of what these laws are like, there is no R18+ classification for computer games here. The maximum rating a game can receive is MA15, therefore anything that is deemed unsuitable for anyone over 15 years of age is RC (banned), and by Conroy’s definition falls into the category of “criminal content”. The introduction of the new filter will enable this law to be extended to online games (Second Life is a common example), and the sites that sell them.

The crowning turd on the whole debacle is due to the fact that it’s obviously completely unrealistic to expect the Australian Board of Classifications to review this quantity of content, the federal government will be relying on submissions from the public for blacklist entries.
It doesn’t take a genius to imagine the level of abuse that will arise from such a system.

The government also announced it will additionally be offering ISPs a “bonus financial incentive” (aka. bribe) to block other kinds of content, such as gambling sites.

Anthony (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“The real news here is that it has now actually been given the go ahead (despite almost universal opposition), and implementation is due to commence March 2010.”

It won’t happen. It needs to pass through the senate which won’t happen. It will be introduced into parliment early next year and will pass through the house of reps no problems. But the zenate will block it. The ALP and the 1 Family First(ie. Right-wing Chrisitan Fundamentalist nut jobs) member will pass it. But the Greens won’t pass it, nor will the Liberals/Nationals.

Anonymous Coward says:

for those that havn’t read the report its very light on details.

Yes 100% of website addresses added to the blacklist were blocked (after the initial stuffup where the blacklist didnt update properly-lol) as you’d expect.

But the interesting bit is with the heuristic scanning. It claims no decrease in speed with the lowest level (without mentioning how effective it was) and around 84% detection rate at the highest setting (without mentioning how slow that made things). There is also a small paragraph that mentions that it will only prevent “accidental” exposure as anyone who wants to get around it could via encrypted proxy. But the large part of it seems to be telling the GG & minister what they want to hear.

Again says:

Bread and Circuses

Her we go again, rather than solving real problems (which would require they do their job) Australian Pollys will:
1) Drag out the Flag debate (Union Jack, evil or not).
2) Drag out the republican debate (as long as the people dont directly elect the head of state) they may elect someone competant.
3) Or as here blame Movies, video games or the Internet for all the worlds woes.

Do any of you notice that no mater how often the politicions debate (drone on) about these so called issues they never actauly do it?

Aussie says:

...

“I’m for this, but only in Australia. Those Aussies are a tender and fragile bunch and they need to be sheltered from the evils of the Internet. They haven’t yet figured out how to take care of themselves.”

You smartass, Im sure i could take care of myself a lot better than you could, the internet is a needed resource for my business it brings in 45%+ of my revenue, oh and before you call us tender and fragile, why dont you come live here for a bit and see how you like 100F+ Heat? Hm. ass.

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