Creepy Crawley Conroy and his Internet Filter

I have been meaning to write this thread for a while, but with each day I prevaricate the more stories appear in the press about the federal governments Internet Filtering Trial.

Last week, we found out that if a website hyperlinks to a site that is on the blacklist the Australian Communications and Media Authority says it will fine you up to $11000 per day.

We also has the publication of the so-called blacklist of websites. Senator Conroy denied this was the same list that the filter was using. Colin Jacobs of the Electronic Frontiers Group said:

Many of the sites clearly contain only run-of-the-mill adult material, poker tips, or nothing controversial at all. Even if some of these sites may have been defaced at the time they were added to the list, how would the operators get their sites removed if the list is secret and no appeal is possible?

And yesterday we find that the ISP iiNet has decided to pull out of the trial. The chief executive Michael Malone said:

It became increasingly clear that the trial was not simply about restricting child pornography or other such illegal material, but a much wider range of issues including what the Government simply describes as ‘unwanted material’ without an explanation of what that includes.

This is a stupid initiative by the federal government, one that will not work and, IMHO, gives a big reason why we need a Bill of Rights in this country to protect our freedom of speech.

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26 Responses

  1. If the government promised this “measure” to get the likes of Senator Fielding on-side, it looks like it has failed.

  2. …and, IMHO, gives a big reason why we need a Bill of Rights in this country to protect our freedom of speech.

    Yes, now more than ever.
    Our fundamental rights are under attack. We need a BOR if each successive government is going to treat basic human rights as an option which can be abused and ignored according to their whim.

  3. I note Victoria’s Human Rights Charter is doing its job in protecting the most vulnerable members of society:

    /sarcasm

    Victoria Police command has accepted legal advice that it could be a breach of the state’s Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities to target people because they are a member of a group.

    Victoria, the only state to have a human rights charter, will not take part in the planned national phone-in campaign to encourage the public to provide information about bikie-related crime.

    The revelations come as Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, speaking from Washington, promised a “zero tolerance” approach to bikie gang violence and new cooperation between state and federal attorneys-general to tackle the problem.

    http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,25231885-661,00.html

  4. In a democracy Government black lists always start-out with noble intentions (like blocking child porn), but pretty-soon extend to other things, like leaked and potentially embarrassing or incriminating Government documents.

    The classic case in point was wilileaks, which apparently found itself briefly on the Government blacklist after it had published the Government’s list of banned sites.

    That ban has since been reversed, it seems, as I have been able to access wilkileaks on my ‘puter. They’re a good source of leaked material from around the world, being stuff Governments don’t what their people to see or know about (Like classified US military assessments of how their little war in Afghanistan is really travelling)

    As they say, the first rule of censorship is that you can’t talk about it.

    What shocks me is that a Labor Government would go along with this tripe.

  5. Evan, on March 24th, 2009 at 11:55 am Said:

    “In a democracy Government black lists always start-out with noble intentions (like blocking child porn), but pretty-soon extend to other things, like leaked and potentially embarrassing or incriminating Government documents.”

    Evan, we saw that borne out with the previous government’s cynical legislation to persecute whistleblowers like Allan Kessing, who should have got a medal not 9 months.

    It highlights the fact that for all the rhetoric they weren’t really interested in national security unless it involved dog whistling for votes.

    Like you I’m very disappointed that the current government seems to have a similar agenda regarding the internet. I may be wrong, and I hope I am, but as you rightly point out, the road to hell etc.

  6. The PR spin on this subject is incredibly interesting. The list, as leaked onto WikiLeaks, was a little old (from August last year) and had some legal, non-controversial sites listed as being banned on it.

    The government then tries to slap it down as “fake” by stating that the list they have doesn’t have so many sites on it to start with and definitely not those innocent sites the media keeps banging on about. Then they mumble quietly about how the list the government is talking about happens to be one cleaned up at the start of this month… but we don’t need to know that.

    It is obvious that the censorship list is going to get leaked at some point. After all, they want ALL ISP’s to implement it and I know two people personally that run a local ISP (one in his basement, a veritable geek-heaven I can tell you!). So anyone wanting to look at said sites will be able to do so… I can list a few proxies in the US for anyone here trying to do so.

    Then WikiLeaks is “shut down” supposedly from high load, but given the government explicitly stated they were going to see how they could “deal with them”, I put $20 down on the fact there is diplomatic pressure being applied at the moment.

  7. I still entertain the notion that this is all part of the plan to demonstrate how really, really hard the government tried to keep teh porn away from children but that noble goal is impossible. Or at least cannot be realised at this time Lol.

    So folks (even though we will keep trying and will never stop) the responsibility lies with the parents. So, so sorry about that.

    The political kudos comes with the ‘trying’ the ‘success’ or lack of same is incidental.

  8. Here is a blog, whose name is NOT SAFE FOR WORK, that specialises in the topic of this thread.

  9. Will this help? At: http://www.smh.com.au/national/sweeping-changes-to-foi-laws-20090324-980e.html

    The biggest changes to the FOI Act since it was passed in 1982 are designed to make it far easier for people to get hold of government information and to force government departments routinely to publish information now kept secret.

  10. What’s the bet this is one Bill the Liberals will let through the Senate. 1) As conservatives censorship suits their own political philosophy. 2) The bill reflects poorly on the government, and will do even moreso when becomes law.

  11. I reckon you’re right Caney. I’ll be amazed if they don’t back this for all of your stated reasons.

  12. I hope you’re both wrong, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

  13. Legion made a point on this the other day…

    Along the lines of “it doesn’t matter who is the government of the day, curtailing the unfettered freedom of information which the internet’s current form presents us with is an imperative of ruling classes/goverments the world over…it cannot/will not be allowed to continue…”.

    Or at least that’s what I took him to mean, it certainly paints a broader picture of what’s happening; one which makes sense to me. A little conspiratorial I guess but not without credence.

    For this reason, as well as the usual issues raised by censorship, I think that both sides of the Left/Right imaginary line would do well to dig their heels in against such assault on information.

    Anybody truly dismayed that Labor would do such a thing needs to remember that “Labor” are only one half of a fundamentally similar non-choice in a self-perpetuating two party preferred system.

    This whole proposal f@ckin’ sux.

  14. WikiLeaks sent a message to conroy (capital C ) that they will take him on as they have others and won’t hold back. You can trail it through here http://www.somebodythinkofthechildren.com/

  15. Thanx Lang.

  16. To save time, however visit the site I put up, their doing a good job:Wikileaks to Conroy: Go after our source and we will go after you
    From Wikileaks
    Jump to: navigation, search

    WIKILEAKS PRESS RELEASE (for immediate release)
    Thu Mar 19 23:07:20 EDT 2009

    “Wikileaks to Conroy: Go after our source and we will go after you.”

    The Stockholm based publisher of Wikileaks today issued a warning to the Australian Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Steven Conroy, who is responsible for Australian internet censorship.

    Senator Conroy issued an official media release yesterday in response to Wikileaks’ release of last year’s confidential Australian internet censorship blacklist. The Senator said that his department, “is investigating this matter and is considering a range of possible actions it may take including referral to the Australian Federal Police. Any Australian involved in making this content publicly available would be at serious risk of criminal prosecution.”

    The Senator is perhaps unware of the legal and diplomatic risks associated with the statement.

    Sunshine Press Legal Adviser Jay Lim stated:

    “Under the Swedish Constitution’s Press Freedom Act, the right of a confidential press source to anonymity is protected, and criminal penalties apply to anyone acting to breach that right.

    Wikileaks source documents are received in Sweden and published from Sweden so as to derive maximum benefit from this legal protection. Should the Senator or anyone else attempt to discover our source we will refer the matter to the Constitutional Police for prosecution, and, if necessary, ask that the Senator and anyone else involved be extradited to face justice for breaching fundamental rights.”

    Senator Conroy may wish to consider the position of the South African Competition Commission, which decided to cancel its own high profile leak investigation in January after being advised of the legal ramifications of interfering with Sunshine Press sources.

    See:

    * Australian government secret ACMA internet censorship blacklist, 6 Aug 2008
    * There is no bigger issue than net censorship
    * Bank Fees: Banking on silence

    * In depth background detail on Australia’s proposed internet censorship system
    * Sydney Morning Herald: Leaked Australian blacklist reveals banned sites
    * Sydney Morning Herald: Dentist’s website on leaked blacklist
    * 278+ other press references

    Contact: http://sunshinepress.org/wiki/Wikileaks:Contact

  17. I hope this filter still allows people to access my bear naked pictures

    Here’s me years ago posing au naturel after a swim & a naughty nibble:

    N’

  18. Great minds… My post today Clean Feed: trawling for critics covers similar ground. Let’s hope the message gets through. New Matilda is on the job too.

  19. Here’s me years ago posing au naturel after a swim & a naughty nibble:

    Like the coat, but, man that’s a big arse..

  20. “man that’s a big arse..”

    I blame it on the moose drool

    N’

  21. Isn’t it a slap in the face when after all the work we did to help remove the last lot, we now have this unelected swiller to be fighting against, still certainly proves the statement of ‘whingeing Pommie’, except that this one has the might of us (the Taxpayer) to fight his ideals,I ‘recon that the Rodent years has allowed a complete corruption of most areas of Government and law enforcement, the corruption being that of human rights, Rodent set a standard, and the spivs took note.

  22. “I ‘recon that the Rodent years has allowed a complete corruption of most areas of Government and law enforcement, the corruption being that of human rights, Rodent set a standard, and the spivs took note.”LM

    I’d love to blame it all on the Rodent but I think it’s more a case of “the last 50 years from all sides of government in many countries”.
    You’re right though, “we” the people are so fkn used to it we’ve almost become conditioned to expect it.

  23. Well Lang, they get into Government and naturally want to do Good Things.

    The probelm is that their idea of what is a Good Thing and mine are a bit different.

    Instead of working on ways to stifle the free transmission of information via the ‘net, I reckon the good Senator would be doing us all a favour by trying to protect and nurture such transmission, both here and overseas. After all, I reckon we have a right to know what the High and Mighty are doing to us and at the very least, a well-informed and knowledgeable populace beats an ignorant and frightened one in terms of sensible decision-making, every day of the week.

    Rather than doing so, of course, he’s decided to try and protect us all from ourselves.

    Unfortunately, that’s an idea that has never worked-out well in the past. Consider the triumph that was Prohibition. Or Menzies’ half-arsed attempt to outlaw the Communist Party. Classic failures, each.

    And I smell another classic failure in the wind in regards to ‘net censorship.

  24. Skepticlawyer:

    Quite apart from the egregiousness of this exercise in censorship, it is important to realise that Ruddy is trying to bypass parliament with this stuff, so that they don’t have to deal with that pesky Senate (Xenophon and the Greens as well as the Opposition in this case). Government by executive order, anyone?

    This is a far more serious derogation from the rule of law and Constitutional government than I’d realised; I’d just assumed that Labor’s inability to control the Senate would kill it. It now seems they’re aware of this (although it took a while) and are now looking for an executive workaround in dead earnest. Even if they don’t find a Constitutional dodge, it’s quite possible that any proposed legislation could be used as a double dissolution trigger. In those circumstances, one would have to hope that Labor has lost sufficient popularity (thanks to the bungled ETS and stimulus packages) since the election to ensure the senate stays sufficiently hostile.

  25. “Boss.” Not all on the Rodent but a mighty lot of it, and the adroit part of your writing is:”I’d love to blame it all on the Rodent but I think it’s more a case of the last 50 years from all sides of government in many countries”.
    “You’re right though, “we” the people are so fkn used to it we’ve almost become conditioned to expect it”

    And that has got to stop.

    Now combing through Blogs, as this will be, is open to enforcement, if the Government thinks it’s sedition or damaging to policy, or a threat to reelection.
    It’s also an easy way to censor opinion without fighting editors of broad sheets to the right of freedom of speech.
    Take a careful look at the ground rules the swiller has laid out, would that stand inspection from the more adventuress publishers?. Not likely, whereas this mob can immediately block at will when wanted(from their point of bigotry) a thought on this media.
    So is this what, we have freedom of speech , they troll and censor.
    They have freedom of speech (propaganda) that we pay for, we the sullen have our right to opinion that is emasculated at their whim.I have felt that this is a Christian special, check conroy (capitalC) out, appears our K07 is modish to the doctrine, the nostrum of power and belief has turned against the homeric before, that is what I feel they fear (of the power of the Internet) and the power of the happy clappers (the NSW Libs.).

  26. Further to above.

    The plot thickens, now crossing international borders…

    http://www.news.com.au/technology/story/0,28348,25240192-5014239,00.html

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