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Australian Government Backing Down On Censorship

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the won't-work-won't-scale-but-besides-that dept.

Censorship 116

Combat Wombat sends the news that the government in Australia has begun waffling on whether country-wide Internet censorship will be mandatory. "The Rudd Government has indicated that it may back away from its mandatory Internet filtering plan. Communications Minister Stephen Conroy today told a Senate estimates committee that the filtering scheme could be implemented by a voluntary industry code. ... [The shadow communications minister] said he had never heard of a voluntary mandatory system. ... Senator Conroy's statement is a departure from the internet filtering policy Labor took into the October 2007 election to make it mandatory for ISPs to block offensive and illegal content." The censorship plan, which has been called "worse than Iran," was bypassed even before trials started. A minister's defection may have effectively blocked any chance of implementation.

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fp (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28106871)

fucking have it!

Take this Australia! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28106879)

Nigger raping a kyke baby to death and then eating its corpse.

First Australian-internet-filtered Post!

What? (0, Offtopic)

clint999 (1277046) | more than 5 years ago | (#28106889)

Am I the only one that is completely confused?

Re:What? (2, Informative)

teh moges (875080) | more than 5 years ago | (#28107467)

Its already been decided by most people I have talked to that Conroy is the worst communications minister we have seen (to be fair, its a small crowd). Further to that, many think that he is the worst minister with a big portfolio.

I think its only a matter of time before he is dumped from the role, as he would be a large liability for Rudd moving into the next election.

!victory (5, Insightful)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 5 years ago | (#28106891)

Keeping back dumb censorship plans, in otherwise democratic countries, is an eternal struggle.

Re:!victory (5, Insightful)

qpawn (1507885) | more than 5 years ago | (#28107021)

Agreed. There was no need for it in the first place. Sometimes politics is like when you dangle a person over a cliff, but then pull them back up and act like the hero.

Re:!victory (5, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#28108317)

Sometimes politics is like when you dangle a person over a cliff, but then pull them back up and act like the hero.

Reminds me of the old joke about "moderate" Democrats and Republicans:

A moderate is someone who throws you a ten foot rope when you are fifteen feet offshore and later tells all of his friends that he went more than halfway.

Re:!victory (4, Funny)

goose-incarnated (1145029) | more than 5 years ago | (#28109061)

Well, yeah ... if you can't be bothered to swim 5 feet to safety, why should you live?

:-)

Re:!victory (3, Insightful)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 5 years ago | (#28109295)

Good analogy...note that Obama considers himself a moderate - and his actions generally match. People are drowning 15ft. away on both sides of the sandbar he's on and he's not willing to use more than 10ft. of rope, even on those who voted for him.

Don't mod me Flamebait, I expected more of him too, But here we are and there's the ACTA agreement [wikipedia.org] - a textbook example of corruption ("Corporate Lobbying" as they call it nowadays) and policy laundering; Guantanamo acting as a handy distraction while other "secret" prisons [wikipedia.org] remain open, an Iraq deadline that he only used 10ft. of rope on, the list goes on...

Re:!victory (2, Interesting)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 5 years ago | (#28110561)

Guantanamo acting as a handy distraction while other "secret" prisons [wikipedia.org] remain open

I guess as long as we can get links like that, it's fair to say that freedom of speech is still alive.
Thanks for the info, it's infuriating, but I'd better be mad than be ignorant.

Re:!victory (2, Insightful)

Tokah (859694) | more than 5 years ago | (#28110659)

I was also sorely disappointed when the point of closing guantanomo became divorced from ending indefinite imprisonment. Obama's desire to finagle it in the US borders is no better than Bush's use of extra-US detention to avoid the legal requirements.

Re:!victory (3, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#28111951)

I was also sorely disappointed when the point of closing guantanomo became divorced from ending indefinite imprisonment.

To think that there would be anything but indefinite imprisonment was pretty naive. Prisoners of War don't have habeas corpus rights and it's generally accepted that they will remain prisoners for the duration of hostilities.

Re:!victory (4, Insightful)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 5 years ago | (#28118541)

Suspected terrorists are not prisoners of war. The "war on terror" is a fabrication which can be extended indefinitely as long as there is one nutjob on the planet who has the United States in their sights.

Re:!victory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28113705)

Today in China, it's more like this:

Passer-by pushes suicide man off bridge [bbc.co.uk]

Re:!victory (1)

Falconhell (1289630) | more than 5 years ago | (#28116517)

The main reson this whole ldea was pushed by the aus govt was to keep the religious right senator Fielding happy, he and several other independant senators hold the balance of power. This has not worked, he has blocked several items of govt legislation, so perhaps they dont care anymore.

Re:!victory (4, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#28107413)

Keeping our civil rights, in otherwise democratic countries, is an eternal struggle.

Fixed that for you. I don't think anyone can look at the "War on Drugs", gun control or just the expansion of Government in general and say that it's only free speech that we need to worry about.

Re:!victory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28110419)

Okay, I'll bite. Why do you think a non-expanding government is a fundamental human right? Remember, a dictatorship is one of the smallest governments imaginable.

Re:!victory (4, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#28110727)

Why do you think a non-expanding government is a fundamental human right?

Because an expanded government starts to stick it's nose into things that should be outside of it's mandate. A good example would be policies designed to protect us from ourselves. Seat belt laws, vice taxes on tobacco/booze, obesity taxes, laws that criminalize you if you put certain substances into your body, etc, etc, etc.

We are supposed to be citizens, not children that need to be fussed over to make sure we are taking good care of ourselves. As far as I'm concerned if my behaviors harm no one but myself they really aren't any business of the Government. And please don't give me some bullshit rationalization like "obesity drives up costs for everyone" -- that's only true when government forces "charity" down our throats and I personally want no part of "charity" that comes with strings attached.

Re:!victory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28112723)

And please don't give me some bullshit rationalization like "obesity drives up costs for everyone" -- that's only true when government forces "charity" down our throats and I personally want no part of "charity" that comes with strings attached.

I wasn't going to give you such a rationalization, but your preemptive rebuttal is mistaken. Don't forget simple supply and demand. If more people are obese then demand for medical attention will increase. This will drive up the cost for everyone.

But that's going a bit off-topic. The real point here is that you think the size of government is to be judged by the type of legislation it creates. That's a very unusual definition of size. I thought you meant size as in number of people. Perhaps we should all agree on better terminology, such as "moralizing government".

Re:!victory (1)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 5 years ago | (#28118581)

Okay, I'll bite. Why do you think a non-expanding government is a fundamental human right? Remember, a dictatorship is one of the smallest governments imaginable.

I'd wager that his definition of 'expanding government' has nothing to do with the number of public servants employed, and everything to do with what powers the government grants itself.

Who's in charge? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28112891)

Limiting government control, thus keeping our civil rights in otherwise democratic countries, is an eternal struggle.

Fixed that for you. While the government wants you to presume that they're in charge, let's not you nor I forget who's important here. To be pedantic: if the government's in charge, we struggle to keep our civil rights. If we're in charge, the government struggles to do, well, anything except what we tell it to.

Re:!victory (0, Offtopic)

zqtvlyj (1563585) | more than 5 years ago | (#28114647)

Without number limited, ãFree Live HQ streamã' ,100%free and no virus live stream online,Barcelona VS Manchester Unitedlive!!go go go!!!ole ole ole! http://www.nowgoal.com/17.shtml [nowgoal.com]

Already voluntary (1)

Dan541 (1032000) | more than 5 years ago | (#28116133)

Filtering is already voluntary.

Ask yourself this "Why not just drop the proposal?"
obviously something else is in the works.

Re:!victory (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28116169)

Shouldn't the title be "JEWS Backing Down On Censorship", since the Australian people obviously never asked for this, and the only people who benefit from censorship are the Jews who run our governments? (Albeit 'behind the curtain'...)

I laugh at politics (4, Interesting)

Sparx139 (1460489) | more than 5 years ago | (#28106925)

It's so funny to watch a government make a huge mistake, and then try to back down from the decision without saying "sorry guys, we screwed up"

Re:I laugh at politics (3, Interesting)

inject_hotmail.com (843637) | more than 5 years ago | (#28108073)

Make no mistake, this was all about lining the pockets of the companies that were involved, nothing else.

How could they not know this would fail? Fiasco was written all over it.

Canada had the gun registry that failed miserably [wikipedia.org] . It was supposed to cost about $120mil, but ended up costing the (now poor) tax payers $2 billion. Yep. 2. Billion.

My question is - who got paid...someone did...a lot. Every man, woman and child alive today would have to register two guns for this money to be recuperated.

The same can be found in any government large enough to force tax collection, but the obviousness of it really bothers me.

Re:I laugh at politics (3, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#28108301)

Canada had the gun registry that failed miserably [wikipedia.org]. It was supposed to cost about $120mil, but ended up costing the (now poor) tax payers $2 billion. Yep. 2. Billion.

Had as in past tense? I thought it was still around?

Can't say that I'm really surprised. New York State has CoBIS [state.ny.us] , a program to collect fired brass from all handguns to enter into a ballistic databank. This program has had numerous cost overruns and has solved zero crimes since introduction. So naturally our fearless leaders in Albany want to expand it to cover more types of firearms......

Re:I laugh at politics (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 5 years ago | (#28109323)

The only figure I've seen for the trials was $80K but that was $80K too much in my book since we already have a govt. sponsored filter that is used in public schools and govt deptartments.

"Yep. 2. Billion."

I'd be pissed about such obvious pork too, IIRC it cost Australia less than that to buy back (at a fair price) every semi-auto and pump action in the country and crush them.

Re:I laugh at politics (5, Interesting)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 5 years ago | (#28108097)

Not picking on you personally but the average slashdotter is pretty gullible when it comes to machiavellian politics. This was no mistake, politicians often adopt a cause in order to kill it. Conroy deliberately killed the trails and legislation by including Fielding's anti-abortion supporters on the blacklist. I and many other Aussies predicted this outcome [slashdot.org] , not because we are particularly astute, mearly because we saw the same thing happen with the last government.

Re:I laugh at politics (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28108639)

Not picking on you personally but the average slashdotter is pretty gullible when it comes to machiavellian politics.

Not picking on you, but were you including yourself in that statement? :)

This was no mistake, politicians often adopt a cause in order to kill it.

I disagree. Your statement implies that Conroy was on "our" side, when all evidence is to the contrary.

It wasn't adopted because they wanted to kill it. Conroy wanted to see how much political capital he'd have to spend in order to push this through for favours from the religious conservative.

Conroy deliberately killed the trails and legislation by including Fielding's anti-abortion supporters on the blacklist.

More likely he used that as a test to see if people would notice. Whether it worked or not didn't matter to him - he just wanted to see if he would be able to use it in the future (assuming the trial was deemed a "success".)

Re:I laugh at politics (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 5 years ago | (#28109043)

"Not picking on you, but were you including yourself in that statement?"

My 1970's self, of course. Now get of my lawn!

Re:I laugh at politics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28110171)

I disagree. Your statement implies that Conroy was on "our" side, when all evidence is to the contrary.

Completely contrary to your own statement, Conroy is not on either side, he is on his own side. All politicians are ultimately on their own side. In any case, only Conroy knows for sure what he was up to.

"Keep your friends close. Keep your enemies closer."

Re:I laugh at politics (1)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 5 years ago | (#28114119)

the average slashdotter is pretty gullible when it comes to machiavellian politics.

Here is some recommended reading [amazon.com] for Slashdotters who have not read The Prince [wikipedia.org] or any other works of Machiavelli.

YES (-1, Troll)

neblol (1539061) | more than 5 years ago | (#28106929)

FUCK YES

Could someone invite that guy over to Germany? (2, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#28106931)

So he could tell their government how good incompetently implemented filtering mechanisms worked for them? Maybe, just maybe, they could learn a thing or two.

Re:Could someone invite that guy over to Germany? (5, Funny)

Mountaineer1024 (1024367) | more than 5 years ago | (#28107257)

Tell you what, on behalf of a vast majority of Australians I invite you to keep him.

Re:Could someone invite that guy over to Germany? (2, Funny)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#28107571)

If we lock him up in Germany, I'm sure the average politician IQ in both countries would suddenly increase dramatically.

Say what you want, but he at least had the smarts to realize when he makes a huge blunder. The German government didn't achive that evolution step yet.

Re:Could someone invite that guy over to Germany? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28107929)

[quote]New Zealanders moving to Australia increase the IQ of both countries![/quote] - Robert Muldoon, former New Zealand Prime Minister.

Re:Could someone invite that guy over to Germany? (1)

Thinboy00 (1190815) | more than 5 years ago | (#28114365)

That's theoretically possible, assuming 100 = worldwide mean and the IQ of a country is its mean or median IQ, if NZmeanIQ > movingPeopleMeanIQ > AUmeanIQ. But he's a politician, so by Occam's razor, he's probably just dumb.

Re:Could someone invite that guy over to Germany? (1)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 5 years ago | (#28118593)

You killed the funny. :(

Who didn't see this coming? (4, Insightful)

rastilin (752802) | more than 5 years ago | (#28106965)

You knew it would happen.
I knew it would happen.
Things that live under rocks on the floor of the Pacific Ocean knew it would happen.


Something like this won't get off the ground as long as there are people willing to fight against it, and we've got no shortage of those around here.

Re:Who didn't see this coming? (2, Insightful)

SlashWombat (1227578) | more than 5 years ago | (#28106983)

I am somewhat amazed that these "politicians" have backed down ... I was getting ready to use a proxy in another country, just like those in China must be using!

Re:Who didn't see this coming? (1)

dov_0 (1438253) | more than 5 years ago | (#28106997)

Waffling? Isn't that what politicians do anyway?

Re:Who didn't see this coming? (1)

Starayo (989319) | more than 5 years ago | (#28107751)

I even had several installable packages for those not computer-savvy. They're sitting in a folder on my desktop labelled "LOL CENSORSHIP". :\

Re:Who didn't see this coming? (-1, Redundant)

laejoh (648921) | more than 5 years ago | (#28106993)

Ph'nglui Mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn!

Re:Who didn't see this coming? (1)

Hecatonchires (231908) | more than 5 years ago | (#28108843)

ia fhtagn! its a shame the final call to our dread lord would have been blocked by the filter. I wonder if Conroy has been sleeping well lately, or if he has been troubled by... dreams.

Re:Who didn't see this coming? (5, Insightful)

kestasjk (933987) | more than 5 years ago | (#28107223)

You knew it would happen.

I knew it would happen.

Things that live under rocks on the floor of the Pacific Ocean knew it would happen.


Something like this won't get off the ground as long as there are people willing to fight against it, and we've got no shortage of those around here.

Not really.. It has been very close to getting through, even recently there was a TV show about it and it gave a definite impression of an idea which is unpopular but will go through.

Remember it was (I think still is?) actually implemented on several small ISPs, and I won't be happy until I hear a definitive no; watered down filtering isn't a victory, an opt-out clause isn't a victory, and it could still well end up that way.

Also I don't know about "people willing to fight it" being the real reason. In the TV show debate about the internet filter (and in mainstream online news forums) the audience were largely in favor of censorship, but it was the glaring impracticality that swung it slightly in the opposition's favor.
Maybe the debate audience was a biased sample, but there really wasn't (and isn't) the fierce opposition to the filter that would make a senator do a U-turn.

Re:Who didn't see this coming? (1)

ebolaZaireRules (987875) | more than 5 years ago | (#28107295)

Yes, there _are_ filtering ISP's, a friend of mine runs one... if you don't want filtering, go elsewhere.

Brilliant idea for schools.

Re:Who didn't see this coming? (3, Insightful)

KingOfGod (884633) | more than 5 years ago | (#28107437)

The day public mass media reports anything even close to reality will be a cold one in hell.

Don't assume that a "TV show debate" represents anything even close to reality.

Re:Who didn't see this coming? (1)

coastwalker (307620) | more than 5 years ago | (#28110959)

And don't forget that only TV and down market newspapers ever "think of the children" in our world so bereft of scaremongering. Though I am surprised that disreputable semi underground political parties prefer the idea of murdering or mutilating people of different skin colour in preference to "thinking of the children". Maybe it just reflects the backward cultural leanings of their memberships that they haven't cottoned onto this hot topic and used this particular fear as a recruiting banner.

The whole thing is being looked at back to front in any case. In future governments will enforce arbitrary interpretations of the law based on what you look at on the internet. As various websites arouse displeasure in our political masters they can just get the police to look up anyone who ever looked at the site in the anti-terrorist database - and have the appropriate number of limbs surgically removed from the offenders so identified.

Lets hope Slashdot doesnt end up on the list for some time.

Re:Who didn't see this coming? (2, Informative)

Falconhell (1289630) | more than 5 years ago | (#28116647)

The particular debate refered to was the SBS show insight. This is of a much higher standard than the average TV debate show. It even had Network engineer Mark Newton, one of the leading opponents of the scheme there, and he managed to get this main points accross. Conroy did not look happy at having to respond to well informed crticism.

Re:Who didn't see this coming? (3, Funny)

AnalPerfume (1356177) | more than 5 years ago | (#28107439)

"Things that live under rocks on the floor of the Pacific Ocean knew it would happen"

Citation required. How many were polled, what was the species make up and how many were just sheltering from predators when the clipboard people came to call and were just answering the questions to avoid drawing the "outsider" tag and being forced outside?

Re:Who didn't see this coming? (2, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#28107623)

None of the things living under rocks on the floor of the Pacific Ocean that I asked said they didn't know about it 'til I told them.

This is a good example of how opt-in and opt-out are "technically the same"...

Re:Who didn't see this coming? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28107589)

I live in Space, you insensitive clod!

Re:Who didn't see this coming? (2, Insightful)

Lachlan Hunt (1021263) | more than 5 years ago | (#28108313)

Something like this won't get off the ground as long as there are people willing to fight against it, and we've got no shortage of those around here.

Just because there is a lot of vocal opposition to some proposal, doesn't mean it doesn't stand a chance of passing. There is a lot of unpopular legislation in many countries that get passed despite significant protests. For example, the DMCA in the USA, and the Australian free trade agreement that gave us DMCA-like crap of our own to live with.

Besides, the article doesn't say for sure whether the plan would be dropped. Conroy basically just said the legislation wouldn't be needed if the ISPs just agreed to do it voluntarily. But the reality Conroy is insane to think that the ISPs would even consider voluntary implementation given their opposition to the plan.

Bad summary: no minister's defection (4, Informative)

Rizzer (122184) | more than 5 years ago | (#28106991)

The summary says "A minister's defection may have effectively blocked any chance of implementation."

But that link refers to Senator Nick Xenophon. He is an independent senator, not a Minister in the government.

Re:Bad summary: no minister's defection (5, Informative)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#28107105)

Xenophon used to support the filter but he withdrew support some time ago.

Re:Bad summary: no minister's defection (1)

deniable (76198) | more than 5 years ago | (#28108045)

We got that, but he's not a Minister. It was probably the submitter confusing Member and Minister. People who confuse their Member and their Minister are in for some trouble.

Re:Bad summary: no minister's defection (1)

deniable (76198) | more than 5 years ago | (#28108197)

And I probably should have said Senator.

Re:Bad summary: no minister's defection (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28108219)

Xenophon isn't a Member, he's a Senator.

Re:Bad summary: no minister's defection (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 5 years ago | (#28108243)

"People who confuse their Member and their Minister are in for some trouble."

If it wasn't for the honesty of my member it would be difficult to distinguish between them.

Balance of Power (5, Interesting)

novakreo (598689) | more than 5 years ago | (#28107055)

This is why Westminster-style governments should never have a senate majority.

Re:Balance of Power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28107715)

Westminster? You mean Washminster [wikipedia.org] , surely?

Re:Balance of Power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28108095)

I get the joke but it's still mainly referred to as being based on the Westminster System. IAAL

Re:Balance of Power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28116497)

So it's a bunch of crusty old elitist snobs completely out of touch with reality who got their position by virtue of no recognisable talent or skill other than manipulation and backstabbing that are more interested in getting in a nice nap before tucking into the five course lunch than the pressing matters of the nation? Sounds about right.

Re:Balance of Power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28108251)

I'd keep the streamers and party hats packed away for a little longer.

The government is apparently fishing for a double-dissolution election, so senate majority is potentially just around the corner.

Re:Balance of Power (1)

Gandalf_Greyhame (44144) | more than 5 years ago | (#28108303)

no worries - bring it on. I am fairly confident that should they attempt the double-dissolution election at this point in time, especially considering the wonderful debt that they have just announced in the annual budget, that it would end up the exact same way as the last time. Namely, Labour out on their arse.

Re:Balance of Power (1)

Falconhell (1289630) | more than 5 years ago | (#28116703)

I say bring it on for the opposite reason. I am very happy with the actions of the govt, they have done a good job in protecting us from the more disasterous effects of the financial meltdown.

With a bit of luck a double dissolution would rid us of scum like fielding, who only got in on labour preferences.

I think it would be fielding out on his arse not the govt.

Yeah, great... try that in the UK (4, Insightful)

tygerstripes (832644) | more than 5 years ago | (#28107073)

I'm really pleased to read this story, but sadly I think the only reason this "backing down" has come about is because the politicians in question were so bare-faced and blunt with the proposals in the first place. I suspect that has a lot to do with the character and nature of Australians in general. I may get criticised for stereotyping, but most Australians of my acquaintance take pride in the blunt honesty prevalent in their culture, so I don't think I'm out of line.

Unfortunately this culture of an honest (if ineffective and ill-considered) approach to government implementation of web-filtering - and indeed of all privacy-crushing legislation - is rather rarer elsewhere. I'd love to see our ministers "back down" from the measures being artfully and insidiously emplaced under the auspices of all sorts of other harmless- or necessary-sounding legislation, but I just don't see it happening.

I'm not saying Australia is the land of enlightenment and open government or anything, but somehow the top-coat of bullshit and whitewash over there seems to be somewhat shallower on the whole.

Good on yer, Oz. Now please, expose some of the hypocrisy and skullduggery going on in the rest of the developed world for what it is - an ingrained attempt at tightening power and control over the voting public.

Re:Yeah, great... try that in the UK (2, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#28107167)

(I am an Australian).

As for your theory, well, I dunno really. Our low population density tends to give us a slightly different attitude to waste and security issues. It really is possible to walk away from your problems here. Its different from the UK where people are crammed in a lot more and have to live with their mistakes. Also we make our living from mining, basically. We dig stuff up and flog it to the Japanese and Chinese who sell it right back to us with a million percent markup. Eventually the stuff in the ground will dry up and we will have to find an honest way to make a living.

Re:Yeah, great... try that in the UK (4, Insightful)

ewe2 (47163) | more than 5 years ago | (#28107345)

I'm another Australian.

Unfortunately it's mere incompetence. They actually want to have all the fun "security" bells and whistles you have in the UK, they're just hopeless at getting it through without being noticed. Our politicians are no less sneaky and dishonest than anywhere else, but perhaps the apparatus to hide such intentions isn't as well developed here. We don't have that grand tradition of bill riders as in the US or the UK in our legislative conventions, so far.

The tradition we do have is assigning problematic (read: politically ambitious) ministers to a complicated technology-based portfolio where they can make fools of themselves while their rivals go on to bungling something else. The opposition did something good for a change and appointed the politically astute Nick Minchin as shadow minister and he's been ripping truck-sized holes in Senator Conroy's plans from day one.

The fatal mistake Conroy made was not to make sure this couldn't be done by bypassing legislation and farming it out to a statutory body beyond the reach of public opinion. And even that body is incompetent at censorship, so it's truly is a case of don't ascribe to malice what is adequately explained by idiocy.

What bothers me most is how difficult it was to get the story out in the media, its been relegated to tech pages and my efforts to raise the alarm among my non-techy friends met with disinterest. This isn't going to go away, they will try it again.

Re:Yeah, great... try that in the UK (4, Insightful)

adamkennedy (121032) | more than 5 years ago | (#28107535)

> I suspect that has a lot to do with the character and nature of Australians in general.
> I may get criticised for stereotyping, but most Australians of my acquaintance take
> pride in the blunt honesty prevalent in their culture, so I don't think I'm out of line.

Speaking as an Australian, I'd say that it's not because the honourable minister is blunt and straight forward, it's just that he's a bloody idiot.

Re:Yeah, great... try that in the UK (1)

grcumb (781340) | more than 5 years ago | (#28107855)

Speaking as an Australian, I'd say that it's not because the honourable minister is blunt and straight forward, it's just that he's a bloody idiot.

How true. If being blunt and straightforward disqualified Australians from anything, none of them would have any work.

Oh, and you're all bloody idiots, too, so I'm not sure what my point is, exactly.

Signed,

The blunt, straightforward Canadian idiot in the glass house across the water. 8^)

Re:Yeah, great... try that in the UK (1)

deniable (76198) | more than 5 years ago | (#28108069)

It's more likely because Steve Fielding stopped doing what he was told and they dropped their side of the deal on censorship. The whole thing was done to have Family First back their other programs in the Senate. Look at the AlcoPop debacle and you'll get an idea.

Re:Yeah, great... try that in the UK (1)

Aceticon (140883) | more than 5 years ago | (#28108837)

My personal experience in living in a culture where people are blunt and open is that it makes it easier to hide the deceitful and machiavellic under a "loud" apparently blunt and open exterior.

Some of the most devious people I know are also the most loud and insistent in their affirmations of friendship towards others.

Not dead yet! (5, Informative)

stavros-59 (1102263) | more than 5 years ago | (#28107149)

This idiotic plan is not killed and dead. The Labor government in general, and Senator Stephen Conroy in particular, have been taken aback by the strength of the opposition. The article noted in the summary only covers some of the incompetent answers given to hard questioning by the main Opposition party and one of the minority parties.

Trials are still being underway involving 4 tiny ISPs, one medium ISP, one Christadelphian ISP and one large ISP majority owned by Singtel [zdnet.com.au] .

There is no engineering, vendor neutral specification giving trial design criteria or testing methodology as the basis for the trials. There is no requirement for the ISPs to disclose which method of censorship they selected. The ISPs have been supported to the tune of $AU300,000 but there is still a $AU887,000 consultancy contract for the testing and reporting of on a system to block up to 10,000 URLs. The IWF annual report lists between 1100-1300 sites blocked by their system. Rumour has it that much of the testing in the small ISPs is using equipment from the same censorware vendor [watchdog.net.nz] but this is not confirmed as several censorware vendors have been lobbying for the windfalls. Watchdog, using the NetClean [netclean.com] system was involved in some separate testing undertaken by another ISP, Exetel [computerworld.com.au] . The Exetel trial received a great deal of criticism in the Australian internet community [whirlpool.net.au] and Exetel customers [exetel.com.au] . The trial has not been cancelled and neither has the testing consultancy.

Any assumption that the scheme will disappear is premature.

A list of 1000s of banned films and publications is still in existence. [somebodyth...ildren.com] The censorship regime has become more and more repressive over the last 10 years. Realistically the entire basis of censorship needs serious review. It is managed by more than one government authority under several different pieces of legislation. The proposed censorship of the internet is under the control of the telecommunications authority which is yet another government authority.

You would have to try very hard to find a more incompetent approach to anything to do with IT, networking or civil liberties all in the same package.

Re:Not dead yet! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28107429)

... majority owned by Singtel

So how is life at Telstra these days?

Re:Not dead yet! (1)

stavros-59 (1102263) | more than 5 years ago | (#28107733)

So how is life at Telstra these days?

Nice try, mate.

My comment about Optus/Singtel related entirely to the fact that Singtel is the Singapore government owned telco and Singapore certainly has no scruples about censorship which means that Optus participation may have a different corporate goal.

To be fair, Telstra, Internode and iiNet [zdnet.com.au] are on record as objecting to this proposal and all have refused to be sucked into this debacle and are not participating. Telstra's public comments have been generally to the effect that trying to censor the internet would be like "boiling the ocean" [arnnet.com.au]

Re:Not dead yet! (1)

dakameleon (1126377) | more than 5 years ago | (#28108321)

My comment about Optus/Singtel related entirely to the fact that Singtel is the Singapore government owned telco and Singapore certainly has no scruples about censorship which means that Optus participation may have a different corporate goal.

I'm not in the telecoms industry, but let's just take a look at the relationship between Optus and the Singapore government, based on public information - Optus is a wholly owned subsidiary of Singtel; Singtel is to Singapore what Telstra is to Australia; the majority shareholder in Singtel is Temasek Holdings, the Singapore Government's domestic investment arm/sovereign wealth fund.

Are you seriously contending that the Singapore government would reach through these many layers and order Optus' executives to censor the web for Australians? Methinks the xenophobia is strong with this one.

Far more likely is that Optus cuts a deal with Conroy to give the trial an air of legitimacy in exchange for concessions elsewhere, particularly against Telstra (c.f. recent competition rulings making further competition concessions).

Re:Not dead yet! (1)

stavros-59 (1102263) | more than 5 years ago | (#28108845)

Methinks the xenophobia is strong with this one.

Far more likely is that Optus cuts a deal with Conroy to give the trial an air of legitimacy in exchange for concessions elsewhere, particularly against Telstra (c.f. recent competition rulings making further competition concessions).

I've no doubt that Optus would find any inroads into Telstra's death grip on it's networks valuable. So would all the other ISPs in Australia. Any advances to competition in the Telcos could only make the industry better.

Far from being xenophobic, a realistic assessment would be that the upper levels of management in Optus and Singtel could have a culture that is significantly different in relation to civil liberties in general, not necessarily limited to the proposed censorship. Optus management have never commented about the censorship scheme when most of the large ISPs did. They were late in their participation in the testing. Optus are not particularly open about their internal corporate arrangements. Most of the public statements have related to competition matters and most were justified. Not a word from them on censorship using DPI having disadvantages for their customers in a democracy. They have taken a neutral position, where most other ISPs have been more active on this issue. Websheild is a special case: they are a non profit organisation, they sell a censored ISP service, are agents for censorware systems, part of the trials and have a seat on the hand picked Cyber Safety Working Group [dbcde.gov.au] that is contributing to the development of the policy.

YAY (3, Insightful)

Choozy (1260872) | more than 5 years ago | (#28107161)

In Australia, we have a small enough population (and mandatory voting) that its not a wise option to piss off too many people while you are in power. Especially if you want to get back in. The ministers' defection was caused due to backlash in his region. It is my guess that the labor government will try and sweep whats left of the issue under the rug and we won't hear about it again (or at least until some other polly thinks it may be a good idea and may get some conservative votes and we will have to go through this again).

Rarrrr! (2, Informative)

Cally (10873) | more than 5 years ago | (#28107227)

OpenAustralia.org [openaustralia.org] is your friend.

Re:Rarrrr! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28114115)

I put on my cloak and wizzards hat...

They are not backing down... (1)

siyavash (677724) | more than 5 years ago | (#28107491)

They are not backing down...as the summary sais "...it MAY...". Big difference between "It has" and "It may".

dropping unpopular policies b4 early election (1)

kc2001 (95225) | more than 5 years ago | (#28107619)

given that the govt may be looking at an early election over alcohol taxation, im not surprised that they may be looking at shelving this unpopular policy and then probably bringing it back again if they are re-elected.

We still have to fight this, but (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 5 years ago | (#28107637)

Thanks to all the people around the world who exposed the Australian Taliban who wanted to take us back to the digital dark ages.
Their evil backroom deals with the left and the right of Australian.
I still want to know if you get a pop up saying your IP has been passed onto a state or federal task force on the first attempt?
Start shredding cd's, dvds like an East German spy with a pile of files in the late 1980's or a US embassy worker in Iran ;) Wait for the party van?
Or a "not found" and your IP is logged at the isp. When your user name reaches x attempts, will it be passed onto a state or federal task force?
Your web use is then logged, phone tapped and background looked into?
Time for a sneak and peek court order to see if you have kids at risk?

Be interesting if a telco worker could ever 'guess' the users under investigation :((
$X not to tell your neighbours :(
$Y if you want an unfiltered pipe ;)

Bad shadow minister? (1)

IBBoard (1128019) | more than 5 years ago | (#28108025)

Is it just me or is the shadow minister lacking some knowledge of common government policy.

[The shadow communications minister] said he had never heard of a voluntary mandatory system.

Surely that'd be the kind of thing we get in the UK, and I'm sure other nations do, where the government goes "There is a problem and we think the industry should volunteer to solve it. If it doesn't then we'll mandate a fix." It's entirely voluntary to create the solution, but not volunteering leaves you with the option of being mandated to do something.

On the plus side, at least the Aussies have stopped the filtering (potentially). Here in the UK we still have that non-Governmental organisation monitoring our websites and arbitrarily blocking what they want - the Internet Watch Foundation - and I'm sure the Government has other things they can do in the name of stopping Terrorism/Child Porn/Guns/Drugs/Global Warming/Pension Scandals/Stuff.

A better government solution (3, Insightful)

CustomDesigned (250089) | more than 5 years ago | (#28108379)

would be a positive filter. Instead of trying to filter the entire internet for everyone, create a Government Certified Safe Internet that lists web sites deemed "appropriate for children" by a new bureaucracy, and make it available to anyone's private filter on a voluntary basis. Require all government internet terminals available to children (e.g. libraries) to subscribe to the filter. Yes, there are already private companies that offer this service, but the constituents driving this evidently trust a giant government bureaucracy more than they trust a somewhat smaller corporate bureaucracy.

There will still be a market for private filter companies because they can offer different censoring standards to parents. It could actually be a good thing to have a voluntary censoring standard backed by general consensus. Private filters could start with the government database as a baseline, then add sites that "really should have been approved" or subtract sites that "my kid(s) can't handle". (For instance, my daughter had nightmares about "ducks biting her" after an incident involving a goose. She was not allowed to view "Jurassic Park" until she was much older, even though it was appropriate for the other kids.)

Re:A better government solution (1)

Hecatonchires (231908) | more than 5 years ago | (#28108949)

Australia tried that. We gave out free copies of pc filtering software. The takeup was so low that gov decided in their wisdom we were crying out for a filter on the pipe into the country.

Re:A better government solution (1)

CustomDesigned (250089) | more than 5 years ago | (#28113115)

"PC filtering software" is not very flexible at all. It ties you to a monopoly OS, and doesn't support filtering gateways (HTTP proxies). Ideally, users should be able to customized the approved list by adding/deleting entries. I would suggest publishing the approved list via secure DNS.

Never officially announced policy (2, Insightful)

dakameleon (1126377) | more than 5 years ago | (#28108403)

Hang on a sec!

Senator Conroy's statement is a departure from the internet filtering policy Labor took into the October 2007 election to make it mandatory for ISPs to block offensive and illegal content

Labour never announced this policy beforehand, or at least not in the form it came up as. The core announcement they made was that they would abolish the former conservative government's near-useless web filter software scheme and "investigate options" for parents to choose blocking at an ISP level. (Which several ISPs already provided as a viable commercial service for those who wanted it.) It was only afterwards, when a significant majority was won in the lower house and a sway-able majority in the Senate that they pushed a policy of compulsory industry-wide filtering.

Re:Never officially announced policy (1)

Swampash (1131503) | more than 5 years ago | (#28115667)

No, Beazley announced a Labor policy of mandatory ISP-level filtering in March 2006. I remember writing to the party and saying "kiss goodbye to my vote forever".

http://www.efa.org.au/censorship/mandatory-isp-blocking/ [efa.org.au]

Re:Never officially announced policy (1)

zuperduperman (1206922) | more than 5 years ago | (#28117361)

Thanks ... I'm so sick of hearing the misconception that mandatory filtering was a labour "promise" at the election. Quite the opposite. They "promised" any filtering scheme would be optional at the individual subscriber level (opt-out, but optional none-the-less) and it was only 6 months after being elected that they suddenly came up with mandatory. (And coincidentally, Senator Nutjob Fielding passed a raft of legislation the next week, inexplicably reversing his position on several issues).

Thus mandatory filtering is a broken promise, not a promise kept.

voluntary mandatory system (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 5 years ago | (#28108413)

he had never heard of a voluntary mandatory system...

That's because he's Australian. Here in the US, filing you tax forms is "Voluntary, but not optional". I swear I wish I were making this up...

The check for the "real reason" ... (1)

Aceticon (140883) | more than 5 years ago | (#28108691)

... to see if an information controlling measure is intended to empower citizens or to manipulate the choices of citizens by controlling what they can know is as follows:
a) Is it a mechanism where people are allowed to opt-in (for example, forcing ISPs to make available to their clients page blocking software which they can install on their home computers) or is it a default mechanism or worse, one from which the users cannot opt-out
b) How is the list of blocked sites supervised? Is it open for all to check or at least supervised by a non-governmental independent entity (members are not selected by the government, the funding is not controlled by the government and they have no economical or political reasons to bow to the will of the government)?

Applying this test shows that what the Australian government now proposes is still a measure to "manipulate the choices of citizens by controlling what they can know":
1) Citizens will get their information censored by default if it's so "chosen" by entities which are sensitive to political pressure (ISPs will do it if only to have a chance to win government contracts and to "avoid trouble" getting licenses for things like accessing/building infrastructure)
2) The list is still secret and it's contents controlled by a non-independent entity.

All you have to do is look at the UK - "voluntary" ("but we will make it mandatory by law if you don't implement it") filtering by the ISPs using a list made up by an organization which is 100% controlled by the government (both in terms of appointing the management and providing funds) although disguised as "non-governmental organization". The leaks that have popped-out show arbitrary censorship, including of sites that criticize that system.

It's just a waste of money... (1)

Kindaian (577374) | more than 5 years ago | (#28109195)

When money is short in far more important areas... like food and education!

I often wonder why we should worry about some kids looking at smut on the net, when everyday they see war and death and violence (and bloody victims) all over in the news AT PRIME TIME!!!

It just makes my mind boggle...

I do think that like terrorism, the "protect the kids" is being used just as an excuse for harder and more restrictive laws all over the world.

O.o

Fuck Australia (0, Flamebait)

mgabrys_sf (951552) | more than 5 years ago | (#28114241)

I've read so many stories about that nation trying to seal itself off culturally on every media front that I can't bring myself to give a shit about that backwater hick country that has committed itself to cultural jihads. Yes, this measure went down - but don't think they won't try again, and again, and again. I'll be keeping my money in the northern hemisphere for countries that allow me to think.

But don't fret - have another beer and fuck another shrimp on a goddamn barby in the meantime - don't worry your pretty little empty head about anything. It makes such a lovely rattle.

Re:Fuck You (1)

Falconhell (1289630) | more than 5 years ago | (#28116767)

Thanks, we in OZ have enough self righteous arseholes already, please please stay right where you are.

Somebody think of the parents (1)

Augury (112816) | more than 5 years ago | (#28118715)

As an Australian citizen and having listened to Conroy speak in a number of public forums, my concerns over his filtering scheme have shifted dramatically.

Originally I was concerned that the proposal was what most people still seem to think it is: mandatory filtering at ISP level of a government-defined blacklist.

Conroy has made it clear a number of times that what he is trying to implement is quite different.

There is, and has been for 8 years, an existing process whereby Australians can request classification of a site by the classification board. If the board refuses classification (and there is some debate around the definition of RC, but that's another matter), then the board can issue a take-down notice and the site is added to a black list which is currently distributed to software filter vendors and ISPs to facilitate voluntary filtering.

Conroy is simply proposing that this filtering be made mandatory.

The reason this changes the focus of my concern is that during discussions in public forums, I heard comments from average, non-tech-literate citizens and families, who are supportive of Conroy's proposal because they are concerned about exposure of their children to unwanted material and believe that his proposal will help prevent this.

If we really want to encourage a groundswell of outrage against the proposal, we should focus on just how little content will actually ever be filtered by it. We should highlight how very marginally more 'safe' these families will be from unwanted material.

Some stark statistics might do it: There are x billion pages of content on the internet. Australians each day view x million pages (x% of the total). So far x pages have been submitted for review to the classification board (0.0000x% of those viewed). So far x pages (x% of those submitted) have been banned.

Your child is being protected from 0.00000000000000000000x% of internet content by Conroy's plan, at a cost of $x million, or $x,000 per page. 99.999999999999% of content will remain unfiltered for your children. Sound like a good investment?

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