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Australia's ISPs Speak Out Against Filtering

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the is-it-possible-to-import-an-isp dept.

Censorship 262

daria42 writes "The leaders of three of Australia's largest internet service providers — Telstra Media's Justin Milne, iiNet's Michael Malone and Internode's Simon Hackett — have, in video interviews with ZDNet.com.au over the past few months, detailed technical, legal and ethical reasons why ISP-level filtering won't work. Critics of the policy also say that users will have no way to know what's being filtered."

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262 comments

It will ruin the politians involved (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25592353)

I take comfort in the fact that once typical people are aware their internet is being filtered and monitored they will start blaming every internet slow down and disconnection on it.

Re:It will ruin the politians involved (1)

lysergic.acid (845423) | more than 5 years ago | (#25592739)

just like people blame their internet slow down and disconnections on ISPs overselling far beyond their hardware capacity and creating unnecessary network overhead through the use of traffic monitoring/filtering & packet shaping technology?

the general public will think what the media tells them to think. assuming that Australian society has developed a culture of complacency similar to that of the U.S., if the Australian media can spin this issue the same way the U.S. media was able to spin the war on Iraq, or simply keep the issue out of the mainstream media (TV & newspapers), then ordinary people will probably just go along with it quietly--especially if their society is accustomed to discounting social & political activists, as anyone who tries to speak out against this government censorship will just be dismissed off hand by the general public.

maybe i'm wrong, and Australians are more receptive to the voice of reason than Americans are. but then again, a rational society would not be facing this dilemma, since they wouldn't put anyone in power who'd even be considering this kind of nationwide internet censorship. i mean, the Chinese at least have an excuse since they don't really elect their government officials. but Australia?

i guess fascist policies are contagious: U.S.-->Britain-->Australia-->???

Re:It will ruin the politians involved (4, Interesting)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 5 years ago | (#25592815)

maybe i'm wrong, and Australians are more receptive to the voice of reason than Americans are. but then again, a rational society would not be facing this dilemma, since they wouldn't put anyone in power who'd even be considering this kind of nationwide internet censorship. i mean, the Chinese at least have an excuse since they don't really elect their government officials. but Australia?

Unfortunately, America doesn't have a total monopoly on stupidity. Australia didn't really have much choice at the last election. The incumbent Prime Minister was an outright fascist who was so in love with himself that he refused to accept the value of anyone else's point of view, and his replacement is an insufferable narrow-minded suburban prig with as much imagination as one might expect from the glorified parking attendant that he is.

Sure, the Prime Minister's office will no doubt spin this any way it likes, but when it comes down to it, the policy is still driven by the so-called "moral panic" imperative. We never voted for internet censorship (that idea wasn't mentioned in the run-up to the election) but that won't stop them trying to get it through.

The silver lining is that they have to sweet-talk a lot of MPs to get the policy through Parliament, so there's hope that they might still get the kick in the pants that they deserve.

Re:It will ruin the politians involved (2, Informative)

philspear (1142299) | more than 5 years ago | (#25592949)

just like people blame their internet slow down and disconnections on ISPs overselling far beyond their hardware capacity and creating unnecessary network overhead through the use of traffic monitoring/filtering & packet shaping technology?

Most people don't understand what that means. I've been lurking on YRO slashdot for a while and I'm not too clear on packet shaping (not asking, that's not my point). "Government is monitoring your internet and that's slowing it down" is a lot clearer.

Most important difference though: you can't vote against your ISP. You can switch, but they all kind of screw you over, right? At the very least, people generally seem to be concerned with price more than ethics of their ISP. You can, however, vote for the party that says "We're going to fix your internet and privacy rights at the same time!" And it won't cost you anything more than voting FOR internet censorship. ...at least, that's one theory on what might happen. I have no crystal ball. If it's not an issue with the average australian voter, then it's not going to be an issue.

Re:It will ruin the politians involved (1)

stavros-59 (1102263) | more than 5 years ago | (#25593103)

As an Australian that values civil rights, including privacy and freedom of speech, I hope that those of us that don't agree with this level of moral panic can make a difference to this proposal.

Our press is so well educated, technically competent that they could print this one. [news.com.au]

The poor woman has things flashing up all the time and can't leave the machine without supervision to check the stove. FFS.

Re:It will ruin the politians involved (1)

Lachlan Hunt (1021263) | more than 5 years ago | (#25593345)

maybe i'm wrong, and Australians are more receptive to the voice of reason than Americans are. but then again, a rational society would not be facing this dilemma, since they wouldn't put anyone in power who'd even be considering this kind of nationwide internet censorship. i mean, the Chinese at least have an excuse since they don't really elect their government officials. but Australia?

When it comes to elections, there are generally a lot more issues involved than just this one, which I personally knew nothing about until quite recently. In particular, we had to get rid of John Howard to abolosh his mistakes like "Work Choices" (the highly controversial workplace laws he forced on us), and the way he followed Bush to war, and countless other issues.

Yeah, it would nice to get a government that's completely perfect in every way, and wouldn't try to introduce such an appalling internet censorship system. But in reality, there are problems with all governments and in the grand scheme of things, this government is still better than what we had for more than a decade before.

Re:It will ruin the politians involved (1)

inflex (123318) | more than 5 years ago | (#25593385)

Further to the fact that Mr Howard was pretty much doing his best to turn AU into another US state, I think that they would have tried to bring in exactly the same policy for internet filtering anyhow (I do seem to recall hearing about it raising its head in parliment more than once before).

The Howard government needed to be turned over for more than one reason, even if Rudd only stays in for a single term the cooling effect against the profound arrogance that was taking hold in the Howard camp will be worth it. A lot changed in the world over the previous decade, it would seem that the Liberals weren't able to shift their policies quickly enough to suit. What's also interesting how ever is to see that the state/local governments have also started to swap around, so we're fortunately heading back to having a fairly good mix of parties through the political strata.

Re:It will ruin the politians involved (2, Informative)

rohan972 (880586) | more than 5 years ago | (#25593457)

Further to the fact that Mr Howard was pretty much doing his best to turn AU into another US state

No, a US states citizens would be protected by the bill of rights. Howard would have done anything to stop that, you don't think he was a 2nd amendment fan do you?

Re:It will ruin the politians involved (1)

Elindor (84810) | more than 5 years ago | (#25593473)

just like people blame their internet slow down and disconnections on ISPs overselling far beyond their hardware capacity and creating unnecessary network overhead through the use of traffic monitoring/filtering & packet shaping technology?

I'm fairly sure that's much less of a problem here in Australia than in America - off the top of my head, I can't think of any ISP in Australia offering plans without either
a) Shaping after a clearly defined quota
b) Excess Usage charges past a clearly defined quota

If there is, then I doubt it would last for long as everyone flocks to it.

maybe i'm wrong, and Australians are more receptive to the voice of reason than Americans are. but then again, a rational society would not be facing this dilemma, since they wouldn't put anyone in power who'd even be considering this kind of nationwide internet censorship.

It was more a choice of who did we want less - the ones who were bent of destroying the rights of workers, or the ones who were going to get rid of the legislation that was destroying those rights.

Hopefully, the senate will modify the law to be sane (that is, mandating that all ISPs have the ability to provide clean feeds service to those who want it, and let everyone else have their Internet as usual). Unfortunately, given the senate's track record since the changeover, I don't think it's likely without enormous public pressure.

Well, maybe we know... (4, Funny)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 5 years ago | (#25592367)

Zero comments. Maybe this post is being filtered in Australia.

Re:Well, maybe we know... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25592429)

That can't be true - I'm posting from Austr

Re:Well, maybe we know... (2, Funny)

master5o1 (1068594) | more than 5 years ago | (#25592611)

So posting from Australia is like saying candlejack. You either die or don't comple

Re:Well, maybe we know... (1)

Maguscrowley (1291130) | more than 5 years ago | (#25592727)

I'm going to need more rope ...

Re:Well, maybe we know... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25592617)

Don't tell me you said his name, you know Candleja-

Re:Well, maybe we know... (2, Funny)

jamesh (87723) | more than 5 years ago | (#25592437)

I don't think Slashdot will be filtered... according to the summary:

"The leaders of three of Australia's largest internet service providers -- Telstra Media's Justin Milne, iiNet's Michael Malone and Internode's Simon Hackett -- have, in video interviews with ZDNet.com.au over the past few months, detailed technical, legal and ethical reasons why excellent and much looked forward to ISP-level filtering will work exactly as designed. Critics of the policy have now come to their senses and have also put forward their full support."

So as you can see we have nothing to worry about.

This government is really naive (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25592383)

IaaA (I'm am an Australian)

If they think they can start censoring things they don't want us to read using child pornography as an excuse, they're really underestimating our intelligence. Everybody knows why KRudd wants this, he has some really unpopular solutions to problems nobody cares about (or those that don't even exist). Who knows what the great firewall of Australia would filter out?

Many technical users will bypass this in a matter of minutes. People should ask for a personal refunds from the morons who devised this scheme, taking back the tax money they wasted from their own pockets and giving it back to hardworking Australians.

Re:This government is really naive (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25592393)

You didn't say anything when they took your guns. You won't say anything when they take your voices, either.

Re:This government is really naive (1, Flamebait)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#25592467)

Mod parent up, not down. He's right. Our government doesn't fear us anymore. Which reminds me, the 5th of November also happens to be the day after the US presidential election. Remember, remember, the 5th of November.

Re:This government is really naive (1)

Jacques Chester (151652) | more than 5 years ago | (#25592511)

I take it from your connecting the Gunpowder Plot and the US election that you expect Obama to lose in Diebold-using states?

Re:This government is really naive (1)

lostmongoose (1094523) | more than 5 years ago | (#25592515)

You fail... Election Day is the 4th this year.

Re:This government is really naive (0, Redundant)

lostmongoose (1094523) | more than 5 years ago | (#25592523)

Self Fail. "day after" ..... ok. I suck. mod me down.

Re:This government is really naive (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#25592525)

Which reminds me, the 5th of November also happens to be the day after the US presidential election.

Learn to read.

Re:This government is really naive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25592707)

You fail, the 4th in the US is the 5th in Australia (we live in the future).

Re:This government is really naive (1)

darinfp (907671) | more than 5 years ago | (#25592865)

...and yet we still have no flying cars..

Re:This government is really naive (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25592917)

Why do so many American think that their government can be easily overthrown by a rabble with guns? If it all goes downhill, either the army will be on the people's side (meaning that it will be them providing the fire-power for any coup), it will be split (civilian militia would not likely do well against even half an army), or it will be on the government's side. I'm not sure how deluded you'd have to be to think that an a couple of boom-sticks could take on armoured helicopters, tanks, bombs (both nuclear and regular), planes, sophisticated tactics and organisation, armoured vehicles, high explosives, heavy machine guns and snipers, but I can assure you that for all the good any civilian owned arms would do, you may as well have rocks and knives. The fact that you believe you have any sort of military power is more dangerous than not being under any illusions of such - you think you have a bargaining chip that doesn't exist, so you'll more happily go along with something you disagree with, because you think the government fears you and won't abuse it's power. But if it makes you feel better, please continue clinging to your gun - I'm sure you can single-handedly destroy the army.

Re:This government is really naive (1)

Broken scope (973885) | more than 5 years ago | (#25592999)

Your under the illusion that someone believes they can single-handedly destroy the army.

Okay, there are a few who think like that, but they just provide a handy diversion.

Re:This government is really naive (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 5 years ago | (#25593027)

Why do so many American think that their government can be easily overthrown by a rabble with guns?

It's a penis thing... And they don't know history [earlyamerica.com] .

Re:This government is really naive (5, Insightful)

walshy007 (906710) | more than 5 years ago | (#25592987)

You didn't say anything when they took your guns.

some of us were too young to have any say in it at the time (1990) and while even more strict and limiting laws have been applied since then, the general public's view of firearms is only what they see in cop shows and action movies

It's those views that really harm shooting as a sport, and I know people who want all firearms in the country banned except for police.

Their view is nobody needs them, nobody needs to go rock climbing either, but should we ban it because some people like to be idiots and hurt themselves every few years? I have no qualms about requiring licenses for people who own firearms, hell even the whole requiring a safe over x kg or permanently bolted to a building foundation, but some of the limits are just too much.

as an example, I've always wanted a walther ppk, something just reeks of class about it, anyway I have no chance in hell of ever owning or using one in Australia, because it's 'too small'

granted, my other favourite firearm is justified in the limiting of civilians having access to, the aug steyr, it's a semi/fully automatic assault rifle, however being in the military solved that problem. I'll never own one, but using and practising with them all the time is nice.

Former prime minister John Howards irrational fear of firearms was clearly evident on one of the few times he went to speak to concerned firearm owners, he wore a bulletproof vest...

that pretty-much sums it up I guess. But the biggest problem is the general public's lack of knowledge of firearms, and lack of experience, that which people don't know they fear.

Re:This government is really naive (4, Informative)

doktorjayd (469473) | more than 5 years ago | (#25593229)

But the biggest problem is the general public's lack of knowledge of firearms, and lack of experience, that which people don't know they fear

... and if you dont do what i say i'll shoot you.

thats pretty much why the _vast_ majority of australians dont want guns in our society - there simply isnt a need, and the risk that a fuckwit with a short fuse and a .22 can kill with little more than pulling a trigger far outweighs the benefits of ' ohhh but i really want a gun'.

funnily, the more an individual wants guns the less stable they come across - furthering the argument against them having said weapon(s).

as for the 'sport' of it - i've always thought it a stretch at best to call it that - how much of a sweat do you work up pulling a trigger?

Re:This government is really naive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25593335)

the risk that a fuckwit with a short fuse and a .22 can kill with little more than pulling a trigger far outweighs the benefits of ' ohhh but i really want a gun'.

Even without the .22, said fuckwit still could kill with a little more than pulling a trigger—perhaps by stabbing with a kitchen knife, or setting a building on fire. Violent crime is about hearts and minds, not weapons. When a person decides to take a human life, you shouldn't be looking in his hand to see where the problem is. (Posting AC because I modded.)

Re:This government is really naive (3, Interesting)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 5 years ago | (#25593337)

funny it's anti gun types like you who go straight for the do as we say type policies. you are also always the ones claiming to speak for EVERYONE.

has the last 10 years of anti gun policy in this country lowered the murder rate? http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/buyback-has-no-effect-on-murder-rate/2006/10/23/1161455665717.html [smh.com.au] i think not

there is an old saying "an armed society is a polite society". perhaps this is why the streets are full of little thugs, because there is no danger of anyone fighting back and the cops are laughably under resourced. and no before you go off on some tangent about the wild west, it's not gun battles in the street that stop crimminals, the mere fact it MIGHT happen to be them that gets blown away that stops them.

Re:This government is really naive (2, Insightful)

doktorjayd (469473) | more than 5 years ago | (#25593201)

actually,

the _vast_ majority of us didnt want guns fucking over our stable society as they do in the USA.

alas, the proposed filtering scheme will not ( aside from slowdown of networks ) affect the _vast_ majority of people at all - and the ones that it seems to be intended to foil ( kiddie porn fiends, copyright fiends ) will very quickly and easily be able to work around the filters.

i've written to the relevant senator here [dbcde.gov.au] ( and of course got no reply ), trying to point things like ssh tunnels and proxy servers, but to no avail. ( not to mention https or any other transport layer security schemes )

it should also be noted that the project was started by the previous government, and looks more to be the relevant body (ACMA - australian communications and media authority ) following through on the original direction.

all up, it is pretty sinister as it really does imply someone will be watching over what you see, and i presume there will be a need to capture and analyse all request and response data in order to let someone consult a little red book of sanctioned content.

what is really obvious in all of it is that the people directing this really dont have much of a grasp on how the internet works.

in my comment to the minister, i even used a car analogy: to prevent the spread of unauthorised material, police will be required to stop and inspect every vehicle on every trip, and to keep a detailed inventory of everything on board.

Re:This government is really naive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25593375)

You're assuming that the kind of gun culture that exists in the US ever existed in Australia. It didn't.

You're also assuming that the big, bad evil government came and took all these guns away. They didn't.

Then there's that interesting naive attitude that private citizens owning guns matters at all to the government. It doesn't. What could a few (or even a million) armed citizens do if the government could simply blow them all up from a thousand miles away?

Re:This government is really naive (1)

spandex_panda (1168381) | more than 5 years ago | (#25592411)

i too am Australian, and I too think it will be easily circumvented. I also think this is really just a piece of policy to appease the christian 'family first' party, and if implemented is their first real big mistake!

Of course the web should be open free and unhindered, it should be equal and available. As soon as they start filtering out one thing, they can filter out more... stupid. If parents are concerned then they should install personal filtering software, keep the computer in a public part of the house or just let the kid learn on their own!

Re:This government is really naive (2, Interesting)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 5 years ago | (#25592789)

What is really odd about all this, is it was launched by what is now the opposition party, the Liberal party (think of a fairly even mix between the US libertarian party and the Democrats, Australia doesn't really have anything like the Republicans except for fringe political parties). So normally you would expect them to back away from this, one can alone think that the proprietary creators of the filtering have done a truly spectacular and likely very 'generous' snow job, just think millions of licences, annual update costs, filtering updates, and the inevitable targeted biases in accidental filtering.

There seems to be this growing paranoia amongst those that perceive themselves as the ruling class, that the internet is truly taking their power away and redistributing amongst the masses. The reality is the mots radical and destructive ideas tend to filter themselves out of the internet through lack of 'genuine' interests, sure a lot of people will review them for a bit of a chuckle but that is all they get out of it. Filtering is pointless at the general access level, keep it out in the open, where the problem can be readily identified and where laws are being broken, the perpetrators prosecuted. Burying underground solves no problem and can leave the general public a bit naive when it comes to some of the problems out there that they via their government need to deal with.

You don't block people from viewing hate messages on the internet, you simply prosecute those who are inciting the violence and so controlling the guilty and not the innocent.

Re:This government is really naive (1)

stavros-59 (1102263) | more than 5 years ago | (#25593137)

one can alone think that the proprietary creators of the filtering have done a truly spectacular and likely very 'generous' snow job, just think millions of licences, annual update costs, filtering updates, and the inevitable targeted biases in accidental filtering.

Sadly, I think the government is only operating on vendor information. The report on the efficacy of the filter was released in July 2008. It demonstrates clearly that you can good blocking and lose up to 86% of "speed" OR you can have completely ineffective blocking and maintain speeds close to current.

All the systems on offer had relatively high false positives. Two of the systems offered also have the capability to scan and filter email.

What a load of shit!!

Re:This government is really naive (2, Insightful)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 5 years ago | (#25592837)

"People should ask for a personal refunds from the morons who devised this scheme"

IaaA and yes this is a complete waste since there is already an ISP sponsered option for filters and everyone knows this mandatory crap will get nowhere. KRuddy is pandering to this guy [aph.gov.au] who (under certain circumstances) holds the balance of power in the senate, this dick sells his vote to whoever will "do something about the internet" - so KRuddy is doing "something" in order to gain Fielding's support to get certain more serious legislation passed through the senate. KRudy and Conroy are doing their best to weaken Fielding via "Conroy's" plan. The ISP's are already foaming at the mouth so I would say it seems to be working and come next election the senator may get booted out and the FF party may just find themselves in a political desert, it's just like the simarly rediculous "One Nation" party - it's highly likely many of their supporters are the same nuts under a different flag.

The mandatory thing will come to naught (as it has done every other time for the last 10-15yrs), the money is being wasted and will continue to be wasted by both major parties in an effort to appease and curry favour from a pro-censorship minority that, no matter how irksome, do have a right to be heard (now that's irony!).

It will start with Child Porn... (5, Informative)

Airw0lf (795770) | more than 5 years ago | (#25592401)

...next it will be used to silence political dissent, and then the content cartel will lobby to block everything from torrent trackers to sites that about console homebrew software.

Oh wait it's already happening - from TFA:

Conroy's mandatory Internet filtering proposal caused a stir last week when it was revealed a member of his department had tried to censor severely critical comments made on the Whirlpool broadband forum by an Internode network engineer regarding the merits of ISP level filtering.

And \.'ers want Gov' Regulation of the Net (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25592627)

And yet Slashdoters are screaming for government regulation of the Internet, via the Net Neutrality.
The problem with that is Net Neutrality is the spoonful of sugar to make the regulation go down.

Government regulation for net neutrality will allow government regulation of what you can do or watch/read/write.
It will allow regulation of political opinion, much like the Fairness Doctrine.

Censorship, and you're screaming for it.

Re:It will start with Child Porn... (5, Informative)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#25592651)

Actually, what they want to ban is this:

Publications that:
(a) describe, depict, express or otherwise deal
with matters of sex, drug misuse or addiction,
crime, cruelty, violence or revolting or
abhorrent phenomena in such a way that they
offend against the standards of morality,
decency and propriety generally accepted by
reasonable adults to the extent that they
should not be classified; or
(b) describe or depict in a way that is likely to
cause offence to a reasonable adult, a person
who is, or appears to be, a child under 18
(whether the person is engaged in sexual
activity or not); or
(c) promote, incite or instruct in matters of crime
or violence

The way that this is done with films, books, etc, is that everything must be reviewed before it can be made available to the public. Consider how fucked the internet would be if they applied that standard.

Re:It will start with Child Porn... (1)

Airw0lf (795770) | more than 5 years ago | (#25592803)

Actually, what they want to ban is this:

Publications that: (a) describe, depict, express or otherwise deal with matters of sex, drug misuse or addiction, crime, cruelty, violence or revolting or abhorrent phenomena in such a way that they offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that they should not be classified; or (b) describe or depict in a way that is likely to cause offence to a reasonable adult, a person who is, or appears to be, a child under 18 (whether the person is engaged in sexual activity or not); or (c) promote, incite or instruct in matters of crime or violence

The way that this is done with films, books, etc, is that everything must be reviewed before it can be made available to the public. Consider how fucked the internet would be if they applied that standard.

Sure, that's what the regulations are about. But it will be abused and misused, and that is already happening. From the TFA:

Conroy's mandatory Internet filtering proposal caused a stir last week when it was revealed a member of his department had tried to censor severely critical comments made on the Whirlpool broadband forum by an Internode network engineer regarding the merits of ISP level filtering.

Re:It will start with Child Porn... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25592967)

I'm no particular fan of this thing, but actually they didn't try to _censor_ it, using some sort of government apparatus. They wrote a letter -- just like anyone anywhere can. That's not sinister, just stupid.

Re:It will start with Child Porn... (3, Funny)

philspear (1142299) | more than 5 years ago | (#25592961)

The way that this is done with films, books, etc, is that everything must be reviewed before it can be made available to the public. Consider how fucked the internet would be if they applied that standard.

I'd be interested in getting a position with the australian government in monitoring the internet, specifically the porn portion. I have extensive experience.

Re:It will start with Child Porn... (1)

stavros-59 (1102263) | more than 5 years ago | (#25593153)

I'd be interested in getting a position with the australian government in monitoring the internet, specifically the porn portion. I have extensive experience.

PMSL. With those qualifications, you'd probably get the job.

The nutjobs that want this certainly don't have any qualifications at all.

Who watches the watchmen? (1)

Bairradino (1142321) | more than 5 years ago | (#25592435)

They'll probably just keep on trying to filter what they deem Popular at the time...pauses...Guess we're pretty much safe.

Wow.. (1)

Madsy (1049678) | more than 5 years ago | (#25592439)

And I thought our (norwegian) politicians were naive..
By the way, the seconds article (yes I RTFAed) mentioned that Australia doesn't have freedom of speech in the Constitution. Is that correct?

Re:Wow.. (5, Informative)

Jacques Chester (151652) | more than 5 years ago | (#25592479)

Australia's constitution does not have an explicit guarantee of free speech. However in a series of cases starting in the 80s the High Court have found an 'implied right' to free political speech.

The reasoning runs thus:
* All Australians are guaranteed a right to vote in elections.
* To vote in an election you need to be able to inform yourself.
* In able to inform yourself you need to be able to freely discuss political matters.
* Ergo, political speech is protected.

This means that the whole project may be unconstitutional as any filter must necessarily cause false positives for political matters. If not, nothing stops websites from adding a "we hate the censorship laws and the ALP" statement to the footer of every page to force the matter.

Re:Wow.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25593363)

Wow, I've never seen such correct insight into Australian Constitution Law. It's refreshing when someone actually knows about how something actually works and makes an intelligent comment, especially on Slashdot.

Will you have my babies? :P

Re:Wow.. (2, Informative)

markerr (1398205) | more than 5 years ago | (#25593379)

re: free speech. I sent a Notice to Conroy via mail the other day protesting his filter. In it, I mentioned: "Consequences of an internet filter go against Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as delivered by the United Nations, of which Australia is a member." I could be wrong, but I would have thought as an Australian I do have the right to free speech, as inherited through the United Nations. The UN of course didn't go us the Right, they merely acknowledged what we already (should have) had.

Re:Wow.. (1)

Merls the Sneaky (1031058) | more than 5 years ago | (#25592769)

Most Australians don't know what is in our constitution, it isn't taught in schools either. I would wager greater than ninety percent of Australians haven't even viewed our constitution, let alone read and understood its implications.

Re:Wow.. (1)

Sqityl (1101379) | more than 5 years ago | (#25593507)

That's because the Australian constitution is pretty terrible. It doesn't seem to have been proofread either. In one paragraph, it lists New Zealand as a state. See here [comlaw.gov.au] . On page 8.
The whole thing was just a compromise between the states, it wasn't drawn up with new ideas by idealistic revolutionaries.

Attention, Senator Conroy (4, Insightful)

Jacques Chester (151652) | more than 5 years ago | (#25592451)

You have managed to make Telstra into one of the good guys. This is an unnatural state of affairs. Reality will snap back to normal, and as the man defying it, you may be in for some serious harm.

Re:Attention, Senator Conroy (1)

NoobixCube (1133473) | more than 5 years ago | (#25592635)

This may well be the first time in Australian history when Telstra has sided with the rights of it's customers. If anything, their business interest lies in going along with the filtering so they can charge more to maintain it. Of course, in the event it becomes voluntary for ISPs, Telstra don't want to get the wrong end of the public shift to non-filtering ISPs.

NACK / Do or die (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25592453)

Interestingly none of my letters to Conroy or Rudd on this issue have even been acknowledged. It smells like Conroy is going for "do or die" on this one.

Everyone needs to get letters into Rudd on this one. He is a poll driven control freak. If he smells electoral damage (or better still carnage), Rudd will have no hesitation in rolling his communications minister on the issue.

Re:NACK / Do or die (1)

NoobixCube (1133473) | more than 5 years ago | (#25592653)

Some say a politician flip-flopping on issues because of public opinion is a bad thing, I say it's democracy at it's most efficient (barely working, and solely at the whim of elected officials who are interested in saving their own arses).

Technical arguments are counter-productive (5, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#25592455)

The purpose of this filtering is not to keep child porn away from pedophiles. It's not to keep hard-core porn away from people who wanna whack off. The purpose is to stop Mum and Dad and the kids from stumbling upon this stuff. Sure, if they can stop people who want this stuff from getting it, they'll do that too, but they're happy that they've put some effort into stopping it. Having Customs officers review the contents of video tapes does not stop people from getting this material through the mail, but it does stop some of this material from getting through the mail.. and the slowdown caused by Customs officers is considered acceptable.

Filtering websites with this material is easy. You just force the ISPs to blacklist certain addresses from their DNS, and hire some puritans to maintain the blacklist. No, it isn't perfect, but neither are Customs officers. And it won't even result in much of a slow down.

These technical arguments are being raised by people who are against filtering in principle. They are against censorship and, frankly, so am I! The technical arguments are being raised because these people don't want to enter into a censorship debate. Why? Because they perceive that this ship has already sailed. We've had censorship in Australia for decades, and arguing now that censorship is wrong and the government shouldn't be doing it, is considered by many to be futile.

I disagree. I believe we should be speaking out against censorship. I believe we should be ignoring censorship laws and fighting to have them overturned.

NC = censorship. End censorship now!

Re:Technical arguments are counter-productive (2, Interesting)

Jacques Chester (151652) | more than 5 years ago | (#25592505)

The technical arguments are not counter-productive. If filtering is technically unviable and the government tries to proceed anyway, then it exposes with great clarity that the motives are not about filtering per se.

Re:Technical arguments are counter-productive (2)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#25592513)

But it is viable. I just told you how to do it and anyone with a vague idea of how a DNS server works can see how trivial it is.

Screaming about how "impossible" it is just makes it a challenge.

Re:Technical arguments are counter-productive (1)

Jacques Chester (151652) | more than 5 years ago | (#25592539)

I don't believe that a DNS blacklist is the proposal. More a blacklist + on-the-fly content analysis. That's why the initial tests show massive slowdowns.

The slowdowns and false positives are the technical argument. I think it's still valid to raise for the reason I raised above.

Re:Technical arguments are counter-productive (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#25592563)

And distracting people from the real issue - censorship is wrong - is just going to encourage them to solve the technical issues. I'd rather have a broken solution that will get thrown out in the first few months of use than an efficient solution that will actually succeed. If you think censorship is wrong, shut the fuck up about how bad the implementation is. Jesus.

Re:Technical arguments are counter-productive (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 5 years ago | (#25593111)

If you think censorship is wrong, shut the fuck up...

:-) Sorry, just having a bit of fun.

Shut up and start talking [threestooges.net] .

Re:Technical arguments are counter-productive (1)

Psychotria (953670) | more than 5 years ago | (#25593121)

Hi Quantum, What makes you so sure that a bad solution will be "thrown out in the first few months of use"? The real issue is not that "censorship is wrong" (using your words). The real issue is that a serious attempt is being made to provide a "clean" internet feed--despite the overwhelming technical issues that implies. A blacklist is one thing (and, yes, trivial to implement). This isn't what the government is proposing though. They are proposing some kind of algorithm that will detect dodgy content on the fly. That means that every bit and byte and packet passing through Australin ISPs will get routed through the censoring algorithm. It has nothing to do with DNS.

Re:Technical arguments are counter-productive (1)

stavros-59 (1102263) | more than 5 years ago | (#25593199)

I don't believe that a DNS blacklist is the proposal. More a blacklist + on-the-fly content analysis. That's why the initial tests show massive slowdowns.

The report indicates that all proposals involve using DPI. So the intentions are much more sinister than the current newsgroup blacklist.

Said blacklist is not published and is exempt from Freedom of Information legislation.

Re:Technical arguments are counter-productive (1)

Zerth (26112) | more than 5 years ago | (#25592631)

DNS blacklists are pointless. I've already memorized the IP addresses of all my favorite sites after a DNS filter was implemented at work.

Re:Technical arguments are counter-productive (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#25592641)

And that, in no way, makes them pointless.

Re:Technical arguments are counter-productive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25593143)

A DNS blacklist is quite pointless. Just find another server that doesn't use the blacklist, or roll your own.

If anyone starts to block DNS queries based on deep packet inspection, just shove it into an encrypted tunnel.

Re:Technical arguments are counter-productive (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25593003)

http://www.opendns.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenDNS

Re:Technical arguments are counter-productive (1)

tftp (111690) | more than 5 years ago | (#25592519)

The purpose is to stop Mum and Dad and the kids from stumbling upon this stuff.

It's not easy, considering that "this stuff" is at arm's length. That's how people learned "the stuff" before Internet - and apparently it worked just fine.

Re:Technical arguments are counter-productive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25592561)

Actually, preliminary tests have shown either a massive slowdown (75%) for more accurate scans with less false positives, or a large number of false positives with much less slowdown (2%). This is the filtering type that Conroy wants to put into place.

Re:Technical arguments are counter-productive (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#25592569)

And what I'm saying is that it is trivial to do it well. I think the reason why it is so shit right now is that the only engineers they can find to do anything are mercenaries who don't care about the issue. Everyone who is any good at network engineering is against censorship.

Re:Technical arguments are counter-productive (2, Informative)

jaa101 (627731) | more than 5 years ago | (#25592903)

Precisely wrong. The purpose of this filtering _is_ to block kiddie-porn, XXX ... all `illegal to possess' content. We wouldn't care if there was an optional porn filter for the kids but what's come out recently is that there will also be a mandatory filter. Government studies agree that this filtering has false positives, false negatives and a performance impact. They think it's good enough but slashdot types can well imagine that it will be inadequate, ineffective, expensive and slow down and/or break the web for everyone in oz. Our ISPs are against it because they can well imagine how their customers, help desks and ultimately their bottom lines will suffer.

Re:Technical arguments are counter-productive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25592937)

The purpose is to stop Mum and Dad and the kids from stumbling upon this stuff.

If this were true it'd be opt-in only. As it is, it's opt-out and there are parts of it from which one can't opt out.

Anonymous due to mod points

Re:Technical arguments are counter-productive (1)

deniable (76198) | more than 5 years ago | (#25593043)

Actually, the purpose is to make Steve Fielding, the Family (Fascist) First senator, happy enough to vote for Labour's economic agenda. His constituents want to protect the children.

Re:Technical arguments are counter-productive (1)

baileydau (1037622) | more than 5 years ago | (#25593049)

Whilst I agree that the whole concept of the government secretly censoring what we access on line is abhorrent, the technical issues regarding performance and accuracy are also real issues to be considered.

Filtering websites with this material is easy. You just force the ISPs to blacklist certain addresses from their DNS, and hire some puritans to maintain the blacklist. No, it isn't perfect, but neither are Customs officers. And it won't even result in much of a slow down.

So to circumvent that system, you could just run your own DNS server.

Also, if the blocking were to be that coarse it would most certainly block many legitimate web sites, just because one section of them was considered undesirable. eg, if one of the 'puritans' took a dislike to a particular video on youtube, we'd loose the entire site. Some may say that's no great loss ...

Proxy versus proxy hunter arms race (4, Insightful)

mlts (1038732) | more than 5 years ago | (#25592495)

Just like DRM, all this filtering will do is cause trouble with the honest users.

The real criminals will just use a VPN, perhaps a VPN over port 80 so it can't be distinguished from SSL traffic without deep packet inspection.

Does the Aussie government want to try to play this arms race? There is little to be gained, assuming they want to remain an open society.

Re:Proxy versus proxy hunter arms race (3, Interesting)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 5 years ago | (#25592543)

That is exactly what I was thinking. This arms race can escalate pretty damned fast, and at little cost to the user's fighting the filtering. Every time the Australian government has to rebuild or reinforce their great firewall/filter it will cost them money.

Judging from what they decided to implement, it's painfully clear that they won't have the savvy to keep up with the arms race. In effect they have created a great money pit. Some wise Australians should watch to see where the contract money goes and how much is sunk into this steaming pit.

I'm sure some enterprising tech savvy Australian already has set up a tunnel to some other country and is slowly spidering the Internet to see what is being filtered. Hopefully this/these person(s) will find a lot of false positives with which to complain vociferously about the problem.

There are likely to be quite a few sites willing to host the comparison results from such activity including caches of pages that are filtered, which should in turn make many of them viewable again inside Australia's filter system. OOoooops, guess that might be illegal? hmmmmmm Wonder if anyone will do it?

Re:Proxy versus proxy hunter arms race (1)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 5 years ago | (#25592649)

Time to put up a few spycams in EVERY MP's bedroom and car plus spycams in the dingo house called parliment and to broadcast it 24x7 on the 'net.
After all if i have nothing to hide why worry is their argument, so apply it to them!
Once a few MPs are SPitzer'ed then the law will be gone.
Until then the law stays.
Which aussie wants to volunteer?

Re:Proxy versus proxy hunter arms race (1)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | more than 5 years ago | (#25593247)

Doesn't the ABC broadcast the proceedings of Parliament? They seemed to be doing that all the time when I lived there. (Usually when there was supposed to be something on that I actually wanted to watch.)

Wont last long (1)

speeDDemon (nw) (643987) | more than 5 years ago | (#25592589)

The funny thing is, it will only take one "story" on a "current affairs" program showing how hardcore porn and such is still easily accessible for the whole policy to come crashing down around the Rudd governments head.

Re:Wont last long (3, Informative)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#25592667)

Current affairs programs in Australia are a joke. Literally, respected journalists make jokes about them. No-one cares what the fucktards at Today Tonight have to say.

We have nothing to worry about then (1)

GFree678 (1363845) | more than 5 years ago | (#25592603)

If there are "detailed technical, legal and ethical reasons why ISP-level filtering won't work", well then it can't be implemented can it.

The Government can't force ISPs to do the impossible without taking control over the Australian Internet infrastructure itself.

Re:We have nothing to worry about then (1)

Chandon Seldon (43083) | more than 5 years ago | (#25592793)

If there are "detailed technical, legal and ethical reasons why ISP-level filtering won't work", well then it can't be implemented can it.

ISP-level filtering won't work. That in no way implies that the government can't mandate some sort of horrible kludge that breaks everything (without successfully filtering).

ISP's, how interesting (3, Interesting)

digitalchinky (650880) | more than 5 years ago | (#25592619)

Michael Malone personally banned me from iinet after I said I didn't want his spam sent to my iinet email address any longer. According to him I was the only one out of his entire customer base who complained about the advertising. He even drove up country to come visit me at my home because, in his words, I was 'causing them a lot of costly problems' (In the form of a simple 'opt-in' switch to continue receiving their corporate propaganda)

Meh, I call bullshit to this little pony show video anyway. The ISP's will cry a river saying it'll never work, the government will say 'ok, we'll pay for it then you frigging cry babies.'

The end result will be the federal government shoving in a few Sun boxes at public expense in various little choke points across the country, the ISP's keep their mouths shut about it all, and ASIO suddenly has a lot less need for their employees to be chained to federal crime authority as they run around swinging warrants and subpoenas - DSD will then recall all their worker drones from the ASIO basement, and life goes on. New overlord laws are set in motion never to be repealed, government gets to spy on its populous and live happily ever after.

I no longer live in Australia.

Re:ISP's, how interesting (2, Interesting)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#25592679)

All ISP traffic used to go through the University of Queensland's Prentice Hall. The ASIO office there was the biggest in the state. They're mandated to monitor all communications in and out of the country. Only naive people think they don't.

Hardball? (1)

maz2331 (1104901) | more than 5 years ago | (#25592687)

If they REALLY hate it that much, just turn off the routers until the .gov relents.

I mentioned this a few days ago. (5, Informative)

kaos07 (1113443) | more than 5 years ago | (#25592817)

http://yro.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1012207&cid=25565869 [slashdot.org]

"Regarding the Australian filter, it doesn't look like it's going to happen.

The Green party and the Liberal party are both going to block the legislation in the Upper House. Their numbers combined are enough to stop the bill from passing.

http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2008/10/30/1224956188036.html [theage.com.au]

The Greens don't get much of their other policies talked about very much, besides the environment, but they have the most pro-Slashdot internet platform out of any political party. By that I mean they support open standards, net-neutrality and internet freedom (no censorship). They also want the government to embrace open source and all government documents to saved in an open document standard."

Re:I mentioned this a few days ago. (1)

Xiroth (917768) | more than 5 years ago | (#25592887)

Yeah, it looks like the Greens are morphing into a genuine leftist party rather than the few-issue party they used to be. With any luck, they'll pick up more power in the Senate - and maybe even some House of Reps seats - before too long. While I personally wouldn't want them in power, having the option of a centre-left, centre, or centre-right party come election time would definitely be a good thing for political choice in this country.

Re:I mentioned this a few days ago. (1)

deniable (76198) | more than 5 years ago | (#25593067)

The Greens look to be turning into what the Democrats used to be before they imploded. They'll pick up steam until they get a leader who gets into bed with the government (Kernot/Evans) or start making deals (Lees) or starts looking like a nut-job (Stott-Despoja.)

Re:I mentioned this a few days ago. (1)

srjh (1316705) | more than 5 years ago | (#25593203)

We're getting a bit off-topic here, but the Greens have had a social conscience for quite some time. Part of the reason the Democrats imploded was because they tried to pass themselves off as a left-wing clone of the Greens instead of the watchdog party they were traditionally known as. Of course, after getting into bed with the government (as you say), their role as a watchdog wasn't taken too seriously to begin with.

Re:I mentioned this a few days ago. (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 5 years ago | (#25592943)

The Liberal Party wanted this previously and will unfortunately only vote against it if they want to create mischief. They have a deliberately misleading name - remember this is that party that the infamous racist Pauline Hanson was in - they are really the Australian decendants of the UK Tory party with a few unfortunate local twists. Also it can be argued that their current leader bought his way into a safe seat and his current position, that's the sort of people they are. As the last decade showed their only real goals are incumbancy and selling off government assets to the advantage of themselvews and their freinds (eg. the AWB selloff resulted in a lot of senior members of the former government owning a part of it which created major conflicts of interest when AWB then bribed Saddam). Most of them can not be relied upon to do anything in the best interest of the country or of their electorate.

Re:I mentioned this a few days ago. (1)

srjh (1316705) | more than 5 years ago | (#25593177)

There's a fairly good chance that this will be scrapped, but I wouldn't be too comfortable.

On whirlpool (www.whirlpool.net.au, a broadband discussion forum in Australia), people have been posting the canned responses they've been receiving from politicians after writing to them.

The Greens seem to have a lukewarm opposition to the plan (I received a letter from Bob Brown's office implying that they would go for it if a full opt-out was available... better than what they have now, but still an idiotic plan), and the Liberals are taking a "wait and see" approach, i.e. if it is technically possible, they'll go for it. Remember, it was the Liberals that tried to get filters in first, they just dropped the idea when they realised it wouldn't work. Although everyone in the industry, and I assume almost everyone here on slashdot, knows it will fail, if Labor can spin any of the trials as a victory, there's a remote chance it will stick if we don't make our opposition known.

It's a touchy issue for Labor, and I wouldn't be surprised if they're looking for an excuse to drop it. For those who aren't intimately aware of Australian politics, our current government is in a minority position in the Senate - to pass legislation, they need the support of the main opposition party (the Liberal/National coalition), or ALL of the minor party senators. This includes the Greens, but more importantly "Family First", a fundamentalist Christian party who have been the strongest advocates for a filter, and who want to use the filter to ban pornography outright. So to get legislation through the Senate, the government needs to bribe Family First, and they're doing that with this filter. If it doesn't look like Labor is trying to ban pornography, they'll be blocked in the Senate for the next three years.

Re:I mentioned this a few days ago. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25593189)

Once upon a time they were liberal, but not anymore. I used to think they were the conservative party, though it seems that Labor has equal claim to that label now.

Re:I mentioned this a few days ago. (1)

SQL Error (16383) | more than 5 years ago | (#25593223)

The Liberal Party wanted this previously and will unfortunately only vote against it if they want to create mischief.

The Liberals had already reached the conclusion that it was untenable and dropped it. It took a while, but they did come to their senses.

They have a deliberately misleading name

What, since 1944?

remember this is that party that the infamous racist Pauline Hanson was in

No, I don't remember that. Pauline Hanson was kicked out of the Liberal party before even standing for her first election as an MP.

None of which is in any way relevant, because this legislation is being introduced by Labor and has been very publically opposed by the Liberals. You can take your counterfactual grudges elsewhere.

Sol is OK (1)

barv (1382797) | more than 5 years ago | (#25592905)

Telstra's boss has the unenviable job of trying to pay dividends to all those shareholders that Howard foisted Australia's teleco onto. So although I think Telstra's prices are too high, I recognize that Sol provides technical ability with a quality product.

As Sol says, censorship is presently too hard. Also, my concern is it is dangerous to democracy. China probably manages it's censorship by blocking everything, then having about 10,000 Chinese censors reading & approving webpages, and if they pass a page as OK, then that URL/IP is unblocked. (well maybe that's a bit of hyperbole, but you get the idear.)

The problem is, sooner or later intelligent censorship software will reach the public domain (I assume NSA already has something that would do the job, like it had the RSA algorithm for a decade before it reached the public domain). If intelligent software were doing the censorship, then the censor could effortlessly block whatever thoughts they prescribed from network communications.

It's necessary to have this fight asap. If we lose now, we may well have lost the war.

Critics of the policy (2, Insightful)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 5 years ago | (#25592935)

"also say that users will have no way to know what's being filtered."

Well jeeze! Isn't that the intention? Why would the government want anybody "watching the watchman"? Supreme authority is the preferred idea here, no? "Turn off that camera!"

Non-story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25592989)

Look, I've said this last 20 times this came up on Slashdot: this is not an issue.

Sure, we need to raise awareness of how stupid the idea is, but it's not actually going to pass through parliament because the Australian Greens hold enough senate seats to block it, and are extremely critical of the bill (considering net neutrality is one of their main policies).

Stop hyping this up, Slashdot. We're not Britain.

Re:Non-story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25593225)

Until the govt actually come out and say they've not going to do it anymore, it's best to keep it in the spotlight as much as possible.

And in related news... (1)

therufus (677843) | more than 5 years ago | (#25593057)

...for the first time in history, Australian ISP and telecommunications company Telstra have done something right. After blindly ripping off consumers and having anti-competitive monopolistic policy, Telstra have done something completely uncharacteristic - they supported their customers.

Stay tuned for news at 11, where we report that hell has indeed frozen over.

Debate rages on in the Australian Broadband Com... (4, Informative)

WTW - WP (1320557) | more than 5 years ago | (#25593115)

The debate has been raging for over 7 months on the Australian Broadband Community web site www.whirlpool.net.au See: http://whirlpool.net.au/wiki/?tag=cleanfeed [whirlpool.net.au] Current debate: http://forums.whirlpool.net.au/forum-replies.cfm?t=1079347 [whirlpool.net.au] Many Australians have taken to using their graphic design skills to get their message out. See: Posters and Stickers here http://www.bbinternet.info/content/view/8/7/ [bbinternet.info] It has been the governments attempt to mussel the debate by industry leader, Mark Newton, that has really fired up the community. Cheers WTW

a shell script (1)

doktorjayd (469473) | more than 5 years ago | (#25593265)

#!/bin/bash

$> ssh -L80:www.kiddieporn.com:80 my.overseas.host.com &
$> cat "127.0.0.1 www.kiddieporn.com" >> /etc/hosts
$> firefox www.kiddieporn.com &

$> echo " what filter? "

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