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Australian Net Filter Gets One Step Closer

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the put-down-the-kangaroo-and-write-a-letter dept.

The Internet 129

Condobolin sends in an update to the Australian government's ongoing efforts to implement ISP-level filtering. One of the hurdles they had to overcome was to build a system that would allow them to filter content without impairing other internet usage. A trial of the system has just concluded, and the results are positive — at least, for the government. Quoting: "More than half of the Internet service providers (ISPs) taking part in the Federal Government's ISP filtering trial have reported minimal speed disruptions or technology problems. Of the nine participating ISPs, iPrimus, Netforce, Webshield, Nelson Bay Online and OMNIconnect told ARN they had seen no slowdowns in Internet speeds or problems with the filtering solutions in place. Of the remaining four ISPs, Tech2U and Highway1 were unable to respond by time of publication while Unwired and Optus refused to comment. ... 'From a technical perspective we're more than confident that if the government decided to roll out a mandatory Internet filter based on or around an Australian Communications and Media Authority blacklist or subset thereof, then it can be done without any impact whatsoever to the speed of the Internet,' [said Webshield managing director Anthony Pillion]."

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129 comments

I'm not filtered! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28816505)

Frist post, and poop!

Yeah, but... (1)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 4 years ago | (#28816509)

Yeah, but they have to actually implement it before they can find out whether it can withstand all the attacks that will be launched against it. That's where it's likely to really cost them. :)

Re:Yeah, but... (1)

kirbysuperstar (1198939) | more than 4 years ago | (#28816559)

And they'd have to actually trial it on an ISP that has more than twenty subscribers.

Re:Yeah, but... (1)

dov_0 (1438253) | more than 4 years ago | (#28817659)

And they'd have to actually trial it on an ISP that has more than twenty subscribers.

Actually some of those ISP's listed are huge. Optus and iPrimus would be amongst our largest ISP's over here. Do your research BEFORE you comment please.

Re:Yeah, but... (0, Troll)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 4 years ago | (#28817733)

Actually some of those ISP's listed are huge. Optus and iPrimus would be amongst our largest ISP's over here. Do your research BEFORE you comment please.

Or you could RTFA yourself: "Optus refused to comment".

Re:Yeah, but... (1)

dov_0 (1438253) | more than 4 years ago | (#28817763)

Read parent post which I most helpfully even quoted. It referred to the size of ISPs used for the trial, not whether they commented or not. I did RTFA, so I know the iPrimus, which has a huge market share, did comment. Please read comments before responding.

Re:Yeah, but... (1)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 4 years ago | (#28817847)

The statements were about the legitimacy of the results. Since Optus "refused to comment", saying they were "used for the trial" is true, but irrelevant to the issue. It's also misleading to cite the size of the ISPs without noting they only used a very small, self-selected group of "testers".

Surely you are a troll... (0, Flamebait)

dov_0 (1438253) | more than 4 years ago | (#28817883)

I don't really know why I'm bothering to respond to you, but please do read my comments before answering. I WAS REPLYING TO A COMMENT MADE BY KIRBYSTAR ABOUT THE SIZE OF THE ISPs. I RESPONDED TO HIM STATING THAT SOME OF THE ISPs THAT HE RECKONED WERE VERY SMALL WERE ACTUALLY QUITE BIG. Please read what I have just written. You seem to have difficulties with comprehension, so read it twice. Thankyou.

Re:Surely you are a troll... (1)

kirbysuperstar (1198939) | more than 4 years ago | (#28818047)

Uh, yeah, great. Two of them have more than a handful of users and only one of those gave some form of feedback. Yes, that sounds like a brilliant scientific sample. By the way, I live in Australia, so I know just how big each of these ISPs are. Also, caps lock, cruise control, etc.

Re:Yeah, but... (4, Informative)

PenguSven (988769) | more than 4 years ago | (#28816633)

The only ISP of any size who are saying it's all find and dandy is iPrimus. They had the filtering trial as an Opt In. There is of course also the fact that the company is run by fucking idiots. Before the trial started, when the public debate about the filter was first firing up, the CEO of Primus Australia tried to do a cosy deal with Stephen Conroy to allow Primus to make a profit from the whole thing.

Re:Yeah, but... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28816975)

It's the JEWS, stupid.

They have to censor the entire internet so that their 'cattle' (that's you and I) don't find about their endless crimes against the Palestinian, and against YOU, their 'hosts'.

And most of all, that you don't start asking awkward questions about the 'holocaust' - you know, the ONLY event in history which you can go to prison for questioning. I wonder why that is?

Oy vey!

Re:Yeah, but... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28817509)

iPrimus only joined the filter becuase that the time they joined their parent compnay was trading at 2 cent... they simply did it to get free hardware via the grant...

Re:Yeah, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28817549)

oh and lets not forget webshield, besides already using a filter BEFORE the trail, has a major conflict of interest with their MD been on the Cybersafe board as well as been the censorware marketing head....

Re:Yeah, but... (3, Insightful)

donaldm (919619) | more than 4 years ago | (#28817159)

Yeah, but they have to actually implement it before they can find out whether it can withstand all the attacks that will be launched against it. That's where it's likely to really cost them. :)

I think the main attack is going to be the voter especially if the opposition groups can get a good logical argument going and definitely not any disobedience which will play into these peoples hands. The problem you have here in Australia is many people vote for a party (Liberal or Labour) not the man and even if you have a minister cultivate a small moustache, wears knee high boots and walks in a funny way many will vote for him because he is a member of the party that that person votes for.

This is the sort of action that slowly erodes basic human freedoms by effectively having the Government gradually take over thinking for you and you really have to be stupid or just plain lazy not to see this. I have seen and heard arguments from various Government ministers on the so called internet monitoring and they initially sound rational with quotes like "Think of the children" and "We are against child porn" but behind the faÃade you really do have to worry.

A very good quote comes to mind here. "The price of liberty is eternal vigilance".

The internet? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28816519)

Who uses the internet anymore? It's just a place for trolling.

p.s. NIGGERS

-- Ethanol-fueled. Send the Christians to the ovens and re-open Abu Graib!

Yes, well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28816525)

I wrote to my local member questioning the whole approach to filtering, and he just fobbed it off to Conroy, who doesn't listen. So next election I'm not going to vote Labor. Simple.

Aus can sleep peacefully now... (2, Interesting)

heretic108 (454817) | more than 4 years ago | (#28816531)

Yeah right.

Results of filtering - bearing in mind that the incumbent Labor federal government is largely ruled by the Catholic-dominated right wing faction:

  • Child porn sites.... gone (except for tech-savvy paedophiles ie most paedophiles)
  • Gay advocacy sites... going
  • Abortion advice/counselling sites... going!
  • Teenage sexuality and health sites... going!
  • Anti-Catholic sites... endangered

This is a huge worry. The blacklist will not be subject to public oversight. As an Aussie expat, I'm glad to be residing across the ditch in New Zealand (where ISPs are allowed to opt out of the filtering).

Re:Aus can sleep peacefully now... (2, Informative)

Norsefire (1494323) | more than 4 years ago | (#28816639)

I'm glad to be residing across the ditch in New Zealand (where ISPs are allowed to opt out of the filtering).

Can but ain't. They're all queuing up to opt-in; we've got Telecom's CEO saying the Internet needed this years ago. It's the fallback for John "The Internet is the Wild West" Key's three-strikes-filesharing-bill, I'll bet money if they can't pass that they'll just use the filter to block the likes of the The Pirate Bay. Hopefully we IPREDator before we get the filters.

Re:Aus can sleep peacefully now... (3, Informative)

heretic108 (454817) | more than 4 years ago | (#28816695)

Can but ain't. They're all queuing up to opt-in;

Some ISPs, including one of the market leaders Orcon [orcon.net.nz], have clearly stated they will opt out and instead offer voluntary filtering software to their subscribers.

Hopefully we IPREDator before we get the filters

Sorry, but IPREDator in recent discussion [itnews.com.au], has been flagged as not quite the knight in shining armour. Best we fall back on the likes of Tor [eff.org] or I2P [i2p2.de].

Re:Aus can sleep peacefully now... (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#28817673)

That's how ALL government programs should be - voluntary.

- You want gov't healthcare? Sign-up at age 18 and pay taxes the rest of your life. Don't want government doctors? Then don't pay the tax.

- You want retirement benefits? Sign-up to pay SS taxes at age 18. If not, then don't pay the SS tax and create your own savings account for the age 70 and up years.

- You want internet filtering? Then sign-up for it. Don't make force everyone to adopt your medieval backwards puritan morality. I prefer my internet uncensored so obviously I would not sign. I'm an adult; I can handle it unfiltered.

Re:Aus can sleep peacefully now... (1)

AmberBlackCat (829689) | more than 4 years ago | (#28818279)

- You want gov't healthcare? Sign-up at age 18 and pay taxes the rest of your life. Don't want government doctors? Then don't pay the tax. - You want retirement benefits? Sign-up to pay SS taxes at age 18. If not, then don't pay the SS tax and create your own savings account for the age 70 and up years.

I'd prefer that over the system we have now, in which I have to pay taxes but have no health care, and have to pay for social security that will be gone by the time I qualify for it. For the internet filtering, in my short existence, I have never seen any filter that actually works. They're just adding a layer of inefficiency to the internet.

Re:Aus can sleep peacefully now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28816641)

1) The Catholic church is about big money and big power. They pioneered the dirty tricks that Scientology uses.

2) As an anti-religious American who lives in a Catholic stronghold (San Diego, CA), my advice to you is to schedule an interview with a major local news agency and tell them that Father O'Malley raped you in the ass when you were a 10 year old altar boy. The church'll buy you off for 5 million bucks. Use that seed money to tell the believers to trust that uncofortable feeling in the back of their heads that says that they won't actually go to hell just for being human.

3) Survive a few assassination attempts,
4)PROFIT!!!

Re:Aus can sleep peacefully now... (1)

smchris (464899) | more than 4 years ago | (#28817785)

Worked with an Aussie expat here in the states. Still happy to talk about the stiff upper provincial lip in how they made her wear panties in the school colors in primary school. Something psychosexual going on there.

An ISP named 'Webshield'... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28816567)

....sure, they'd be entirely neutral.

Filtered and Pure (2, Insightful)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | more than 4 years ago | (#28816573)

All right thinking Australian citizens cheered and congratulated their government for purifying and liberating the Internet from malicious foreign badware and badwords. The future is bright and pure for Australia's youth, who will be the first to experience the liberated internet. "Three cheers, nay, four cheers, for our wise and benevolent rulers!" said a man on the street of Canberra.

Isn't It AMAZING !!!! (5, Insightful)

Crypto Gnome (651401) | more than 4 years ago | (#28816577)

The Australian Government sponsored testing of an "internet filter' (ie censorship technology).

The participants were all
  • already in the business of selling internet filters ... or
  • tiny tiny ISPs ... or
  • respectably large ISPs who limited the "testing" to
    • a tiny fraction of their userbase
    • who were *willing to be filtered*

And an the obvious (some would say FOREGONE) conslusion was "it works just fine".

.... brought to you by the department of No!Really?

Seriously folks, aside from all the dodgy (ie totally unscientific and statistically irrelevant) testing, this "internet filtering" is bad because CENSORSHIP IS EVIL!

Always, in every case, by definition and in principle.

Censorship is NEVER, ever, in any sense of the phrase, a good thing.

Re:Isn't It AMAZING !!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28816713)

It's not censorship, when it is implemented you can choose to opt-out of it. The only reason people are complaining is because they don't want to be seen as perverts (and lets face it, if you choose to opt out you most likely do so to look at porn) if they do choose to tick the opt-out box, never mind the fact that the person who handles the form don't actually give a sh*t about you, and nor should you give a sh*t about what other people think.

Re:Isn't It AMAZING !!!! (4, Informative)

PenguSven (988769) | more than 4 years ago | (#28816779)

It's a two part filter. There vague descriptions split it into "illegal" (which we already know is not limited purely to illegal material) and "unwanted" (who knows what that could include. The "unwanted" part is Opt out, the "illegal" is mandatory, with no public oversight, and no standardised review process.

Re:Isn't It AMAZING !!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28817545)

Yep, it is all quite astounding. This will mean that Australians will have two internet filter profiles to choose from:

Standard/Default filter - (what you get unless you sign up to the governments opt-out list):
Any sites to be found hosting any non classifiable material (kiddie, animal, x-rated porn etc)
-Sites containing extremist material
-Sites containing material that the government deems inappropriate (stuff they don't like)
-Sites containing any details of the censorship list itself (this one is very, very bad)
-Sites containing illegal material (quite possibly all public torrent sites, piratebay, etc)
-Sites containing adult material (18+)

Opt-out filter - (you have to sign up and tell the government that you want to opt-out):
Is EXACTLY the same as the standard except for the last item - adult material (18+), so really there isn't a true opt-out but only a slightly milder version of the mandatory default.

This means that the government can sensor any site it deems inappropriate and you will never be the wiser. It'll be just like China and North Korea, oh sweet.

Re:Isn't It AMAZING !!!! (3, Insightful)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 4 years ago | (#28816973)

There is no "opt-out box" just a slow filter with an ever expanding list of sites based on the personal whim of a cubicle geek and their faith based government master.
The opt out will be the same list of min of ~10 000 sites minus 5 IPs/urls.
Just as slow, just as expensive, just as useless.
Also telling your ISP you opted out may be very unhealthy long term as that information would be shared with numerous state and federal agencies from day one or as mission creep.
Opt-out would light up your IP for a "random" net use log sample?
A few months later you become the 'example' of how a black list helps catch 'really really' bad people.

Re:Isn't It AMAZING !!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28817461)

A few months later you become the 'example' of how a black list helps catch 'really really' bad people.

And catching pedophiles is a bad thing because?

Re:Isn't It AMAZING !!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28817669)

Yeah like Chris Illingworth:
http://www.watoday.com.au/technology/technology-news/babyswinging-video-uploader-to-stand-trial-20090708-dcte.html

Re:Isn't It AMAZING !!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28817227)

Does it hurt being that much of a fucking moron?

Re:Isn't It AMAZING !!!! (1)

Crypto Gnome (651401) | more than 4 years ago | (#28817391)

"It's not censorship, when it is implemented you can choose to opt-out of it."

Sorry, that's not even an opinion, it's a out and out lie.

Conroy and friends have stated several times and loudly that this will be mandatory and that opt-out is not an option.

Let me repeat the facts of the situation for clarity.

Government legislated mandatory internet filtering from a *secret* list which will *never* be published for public review and/or comment..

Surely that spells censorship to even the most illiterate person on the planet.

Re:Isn't It AMAZING !!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28817591)

WRONG, WRONG, WRONG

You can only opt out of the material that is deemed to be classified as 18+ (basically mild porn). All the rest on the block list stays.

And you will never see the list, it too is censored.

Australia already has censorship! (2, Insightful)

the_raptor (652941) | more than 4 years ago | (#28816811)

Why aren't you protesting against existing censorship in Australia? Unlike America our ratings system is run by and enforced by the government. This is why our highest rating for video games is MA and we why we have no R rating ("because the nintendos is for kids right?").

Sad to say it but this internet filtering fits right in with general government and public belief that a minority should be able to control what material adults consume.

Fire up your proxies gentleman!

Re:Australia already has censorship! (1, Troll)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 4 years ago | (#28817013)

Like in the US, Australian protests are surrounded by clean faced people in strange clothing with cameras, walking up and down side streets, recording all licence plate numbers.
Strange people in sun glasses and suits on street corners, teams on roofs with quality cameras.
Australia has very few legal protections. If you write a book, your computer HDs can be mirrored and then smashed in front of you if a minister makes a call.
Once you start the 'protest' path in Australia, life changes.
You make new friends full of suggestions, when it comes to trial, they will be facing you :) Just like East Germany.

Re:Australia already has censorship! (2, Informative)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 4 years ago | (#28817751)

Like in the US, Australian protests are surrounded by clean faced people in strange clothing with cameras

I think you meant "clean shaven" and in any event you don't see much of that here in the U.S., not anymore. Generally the Feds don't give much of a damn about protests, because We the People no longer give a damn about protests. Besides, don't you know that it's terrorists that are the big threat here now, not protesters, and we're on the path towards a UK-style camera-State anyway. They'll have us all on camera, all the time, so no point in sending agents around to make home movies of us.

It was different back in the fifties during the Red Scare, when everyone was afraid that their neighbor was a Commie. Or should I say, was induced to believe that their neighbor could be a Commie ... the government did a pretty thorough job of creating an atmosphere of fear, just like they're doing now with terrorism, and for the same damn reason. Civil liberties are so gosh-darned inconvenient, after all. Hell, back in the old days the FBI and even local cops were infiltrating all kinds of (ahem) "subversive" groups, even though for the most part the people being investigated were just exercising their Constitutional right to be stupid and misguided. There really was a sort of governmental paranoia going on at the time: pretty bizarre by current standards ... I guess insanity changes over time. I can't say we're any better off today, really.

So far as Australia goes, though ... I'll take your word for it since I've never been there. Maybe you guys need to come up with some appropriate legal protections at some point.

Re:Australia already has censorship! (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 4 years ago | (#28817965)

Try reading the Missouri "MIAC report", Missouri Information Analysis Center, a "fusion center" for DHS and local agencies
They do seem to like 'presidential candidates Ron Paul, Chuck Baldwin, and Bob Barr" supporters :)
http://www.scribd.com/doc/13290698/The-Modern-Militia-MovementMissouri-MIAC-Strategic-Report-20Feb09- [scribd.com]

Re:Australia already has censorship! (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 4 years ago | (#28818003)

Try reading the Missouri "MIAC report", Missouri Information Analysis Center, a "fusion center" for DHS and local agencies They do seem to like 'presidential candidates Ron Paul, Chuck Baldwin, and Bob Barr" supporters :) http://www.scribd.com/doc/13290698/The-Modern-Militia-MovementMissouri-MIAC-Strategic-Report-20Feb09- [scribd.com]

Oh I agree that the people in power want to stay that way, and that ultimately the same mindset still exists to this very day. But there are at least some limits on what they can do to you with that information, sans actual criminal behavior on your part.

When you get right down to it, much of the Constitution was designed to keep government from criminalizing such things. If that document falls entirely into disfavor I don't think people realize how bad it could get in this country.

Re:Isn't It AMAZING !!!! (2, Informative)

srjh (1316705) | more than 4 years ago | (#28817015)

Just remember - this is the senator who said that the previous trials were a success as well.

Those previous trials showed an average 30% slowdown (87% for the most accurate filter), and still managed to block about 1% of the internet by mistake.

The current trials are a farce - everyone knew they would be rigged from the start (one ISP - iiNet asked if they could perform a comprehensive double-blind test and Labor told them to go jump in a lake). We have an extremely tiny proportion of the population testing the filters, on a purely opt-in basis (scalability and selection bias are obvious concerns here) - and they can't possibly test the potential for over-blocking (there are over 1 trillion urls on the internet, and there are only 15 users trialling the filter in some cases). They've also got nothing to do with what Conroy now claims the filter is going to block (halfway through the trial when the blacklist leaked he actually realised what was on it and promised the real blacklist would be different).

As for redtube being blocked by mistake - it's not a mistake. It was on the leaked blacklist from March and the user who submitted it has the official response from ACMA confirming it is prohibited in Australia. Virtually all pornography on the internet is technically prohibited here, even "simulated" sexual activity and "adult nudity" (check out ACMA's homepage linked to from TFA if anyone doesn't believe me).

Re:Isn't It AMAZING !!!! (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 4 years ago | (#28817193)

The Australian Government sponsored testing of an "internet filter' (ie censorship technology).

Thanks for clearing that up.

Censorship is NEVER, ever, in any sense of the phrase, a good thing.

As is blind faith in a single sentence principle (irony duly noted and accommodated for).

Re:Isn't It AMAZING !!!! (2, Funny)

Crypto Gnome (651401) | more than 4 years ago | (#28817429)

As is <censored> in a <censored> (<censored> duly <censored> and <censored>).

There, fixed that for you.

Re:Isn't It AMAZING !!!! (2, Interesting)

deniable (76198) | more than 4 years ago | (#28817863)

Funny thing is, we have a guy at work signed up for Conroy's media releases. Spam Assassin keeps blocking them and for rules that look odd from a government mail server. I'll have to scrounge one up and see what triggers it. Maybe the whole department are idiots.

CENSORSHIP IS EVIL (2, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 4 years ago | (#28818053)

But its for the children.

Seriously tho, i'm afraid LOTS of people out there believe that some censorship in exchange for their 'safety' is a good thing. Which is sad. Actually most of the world is ok with giving up rights ( that most never really had ... ) to their governments.

No slowdowns in Internet speeds? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28816583)

without any impact whatsoever to the speed of the Internet

Given that when accessing a censored site the speed is reduced to zero, I'd say that there *is* an impact to the speed of the Internet.

yeah but look at the isp's (2, Interesting)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#28816619)

the 3 biggest ISP's which account for about 90% of the traffic didn't participate and are opposed to it... so the test doesn't do anything to gauge the impact on speed if you tried ramping this up to cover the whole country.

then again, you can't expect to talk sense with the labor party....

Re:yeah but look at the isp's (5, Informative)

PenguSven (988769) | more than 4 years ago | (#28816645)

then again, you can't expect to talk sense with the labor party....

I hate this planned filter as much as the next guy, but don't think this is a labour-only special. The Coalition wanted to do the same thing during the late 90's.

Re:yeah but look at the isp's (3, Informative)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#28816725)

no, what they did was provide free filtering software to anyone that wanted it. a much better, cheaper solution for anyone concerned about billy seeing his first boobie.

Re:yeah but look at the isp's (1)

PenguSven (988769) | more than 4 years ago | (#28816769)

Read what i wrote. I said they TRIED to implement this. They realised it's not feasible and chose the software option instead. http://www.zdnet.com.au/news/communications/soa/Porn-wars-episode-II/0,130061791,120273369,00.htm [zdnet.com.au]

Re:yeah but look at the isp's (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#28816985)

read your own article, it's all about the australia institute trying to pressure the government of the time into implementing filtering, not any kind of grand plan to filter the internet on the governments part. they commissioned some research, found it didn't work, dropped the idea. perfectly reasonable.

yet labour is STILL wasting money on trials and is STILL pushing this after protests in the streets and the 3 main ISP's rejecting it.

Re:yeah but look at the isp's (1)

PenguSven (988769) | more than 4 years ago | (#28817059)

read the first paragraph.

Most of us remember that in 1999, to gain support from key senators for the sale of Telstra, the Government put together a lame duck Internet censorship regime that didn't work, much to the relief of ISPs and porn freaks nationwide.

They wanted to implement central filtering/censorship, just as Conroy does. Yes, they dropped it eventually. My point isn't that labor is oh so much better, it's that people are all too quick to forget the wrongs of the opposition when they have a problem with the party in government.

Re:yeah but look at the isp's (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 4 years ago | (#28818069)

But that really isn't what its all about, and the 'free filter' was just a way to get citizens used to the idea, and more accepting of content filtering under the guise of protecting their children.

What its really about is the long term control of information, and knowledge, the general public can access.

Re:yeah but look at the isp's (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28816871)

I'm posting anonymously, as I work for an Australian ISP (and no, not the one indicated by my IP address).

The previous government did have a filtering plan. Which it had been investigating for around five years. Every time they needed Senator Harridine's balance-of-power vote, they'd announce another inquiry into Internet censorship. And having got his vote they'd shelve the report. For all Senator Alston's lack of understanding of the Internet, he was superb at politics and he knew how to create the illusion of progress whilst making sure the rubber never actually hit the road. Which Alston was clever enough to know would lead to a showdown between the liberal (Costello) and conservative (Howard) elements in the party. A showdown which would damage the government, and thus to be avoided.

Then Labor arrives. And hey, how inefficient was the previous government, making no progress on this for the past five years, despite all of that work? So the new minister tells the department that he want results this time. Without quite understanding what he is asking for. Again there's a rabid conservative religious nutter holding the balance of power. But the new minister lacks the political skills of the old, and has set the snowball rolling...

Technically, the report is a farce. I don't care what a group of hick ISPs say about filtering not having an impact. They aren't the ones with multiple 10Gbps links to the USA, links so fast that any PC-based filtering just doesn't cut it. Those hick ISPs don't have customers that need a robust network, because people die when those customers websites go down. It's just the government fishing for the results it wants. If it actually cared, it would only ask the top five ISPs. And they've all said that filtering will hurt performance somewhat and hurt robustness a lot. And since CPUs aren't getting faster at anything like the rate at which links are getting faster, the performance hit increases over the years.

Re:yeah but look at the isp's (2, Informative)

mjwx (966435) | more than 4 years ago | (#28817247)

the 3 biggest ISP's which account for about 90%

Try the 5 biggest. Telstra, Optus, iinet, internode and one other I cant remember. IPrimus is the 6th largest ISP but the other 5 make up 80-90% of Australia's ISP market.

Re:yeah but look at the isp's (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28817891)

the 3 biggest ISP's which account for about 90% of the traffic didn't participate and are opposed to it... so the test doesn't do anything to gauge the impact on speed if you tried ramping this up to cover the whole country.

Now remind me, which place does Optus have in the ISP size ratings in Australia? You get 3 guesses: 2nd, 22nd, 222nd?

Performance was the barrier? (1)

carlzum (832868) | more than 4 years ago | (#28816649)

Australians must be relieved, the government's censorship software is working just fine. Personally, I wanted this experiment to be a complete failure. The fact that censoring the internet is technically feasible is hardly "good" news.

Re:Performance was the barrier? (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#28816753)

it is a total failure, iinet has already provided the communicatino minister with ample evidence of this, but he's commited to being a total idiot it seems.

Re:Performance was the barrier? (2, Insightful)

Dan541 (1032000) | more than 4 years ago | (#28816761)

it is a total failure, iinet has already provided the communicatino minister with ample evidence of this, but he's commited to being a total idiot it seems.

The whole point of censorship is to thwart opposing opinion, the ministers apparent asshattery should come as no surprise.

Re:Performance was the barrier? (2, Funny)

Norsefire (1494323) | more than 4 years ago | (#28816771)

minister ... commited to being a total idiot

Person in Government is a total idiot, more news at 11.

Re:Performance was the barrier? (2, Insightful)

Psychotria (953670) | more than 4 years ago | (#28817029)

it is a total failure, iinet has already provided the communicatino minister with ample evidence of this, but he's commited to being a total idiot it seems.

Yes. But you see what is happening don't you? He (Conroy or his department) is playing with dodgy statistics to put his argument/proposal in the best probable light. "More than half" of the ISPs he surveyed said the filtering was ok. What does that mean? Does that mean that more than half of the surveyed ISPs were little players without many customers? Does it mean that more than half of the surveyed ISPs are in the government's pockets? Does it mean that more than half of the surveyed ISPs are OWNED by the government? I don't know. But these are not reasons being put forward. They (the government) are playing the dodgy statistics game in the hope that the masses will fall for their flawed studies. The masses will fall for it, though. I won't and I will remain pissed off.

Re:Performance was the barrier? (2, Interesting)

davester666 (731373) | more than 4 years ago | (#28816799)

Yeah, all the citizens need to do is search the internet for the results of the trial, and they only get results indicating everything went great.

Re:Performance was the barrier? (1)

jez9999 (618189) | more than 4 years ago | (#28816901)

Australians must be relieved, the government's censorship software is working just fine. Personally, I wanted this experiment to be a complete failure. The fact that censoring the internet is technically feasible is hardly "good" news.

Good news everybody!

Re:Performance was the barrier? (1)

Crypto Gnome (651401) | more than 4 years ago | (#28817439)

Unfortunately the experiment was a complete success.

Unfortunately none of us realied that it was an experiment in shredding the last vestiges of our assumed "civil rights".

The right way to measure the filter (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#28816763)

Would be to pick a trial region and see if the filtering with a statistical drop in the associated crime.

Are there any markers for success?

Well, let's look at hate crime. Most ISP sites already have TOS barring what they consider "hateful" content, and so theoretically, by blocking NAZI sites, you should see or should have seen a decrease in the amount of hate crimes out there. If you blocked web sites that hated white people, or hated black people, would crimes against either be reduced? I think that we would find that for some social problems, censorship simply won't work and what is needed more of a positive message than a filtering of negative ones.

On the other hand, one might imagine where censorship could work, and that might be in the level of violence, and the level excess sexuality. I think most people would agree that the world would be better off if we did not have entertainment careening ever so Roman like violence. If you cut out the violence content, would violent crime drop? Similarly, if you got rid of a lot of the sexual messages, would divorce drop?

The point is that, the argument that people make against filtering, that, it can't work, or, it will make things too slow, are technocratic arguments and usually when you say something can't be done, someone else will say that they can do it. Saying filtering is foolish because it can't work perfectly is kinda silly because ultimately, nothing works perfectly, but many things work well enough and can be managed or continually improved. The real social debate is, whether or not the censorship itself has a measurable effect on the behavior you think the content causes, and that's a scientific debate, and then there is the social debate of how much social damage, knowing the scientific metrics, you are willing to tolerate to have universal free speech. If filtering violent content cut the number of murders in half, or cutting down the sex in the media reduced divorces by 1/2, then, those would certainly be numbers that you could not ignore.

I mean, if we have come to accept that even the atmosphere has limits to what we can dump into it, then, why would it not be so unreasonable to think that our culture has limits too? It's time to get some real numbers on censorship, and argue it on its merits, and not any heated and random dogma.

Re:The right way to measure the filter (1)

philljcool (1085873) | more than 4 years ago | (#28816823)

I agree with you that we need to measure the success of the filter in terms of some positive social benefit. I think there is an assumption that successfully blocking content has some inherent social benefit; I think this is debatable as it depends on one's beliefs. As an Australian who voted for the current government (after preferencing others - we use preferential voting here) I think Australia is divided in its attitudes towards censorship. Filtering should not be the outcome we measure; it should be some positive social gain eg a decrease in some crime.

The thing that riles me most (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28816793)

Are all my fellow countrymen who just don't care. Indeed, even my close family believe it to be a good idea, even after I've explained just why it isn't. They either think it'll stop them receiving spam, or think it'll stop some middle eastern type fellow from finding bomb plans on the internet and killing us (because we've had such a problem with that here).

I'm tired of explaining these things to people only to have them throw it back in my face and ignore everything I say. I've sort of gotten to the stage where I just think "Fuck em. Let them implement their filter and we'll see what happens." If it fails miserably, perhaps we can finally get some interest from the every day Australian.

Re:The thing that riles me most (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#28817001)

poeple on here don't really care because they know it'll be simple to defeat, and once joe six pack can't get his porn, it'll go away.

Re:The thing that riles me most (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28817081)

poeple on here don't really care because they know it'll be simple to defeat, and once joe six pack can't get his porn, it'll go away.

you sexist bastard you forgot Jill & Naomi they like there porn to. How about some equality here. :-)

Someday... (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 4 years ago | (#28816803)

...we'll evolve beyond governments.

Re:Someday... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28817383)

We need a bigger neocortex for that. The current limit for a community of "caring" individuals, that is, individuals who know each other at some meaningful level is about 100-200 people. A government is formed when a level of hierarchy is introduced in a community of over 200 where a set of "rulers" are ruling by using respective levels of intermediates (assuming division of power by expertise, for example).

Trent loves pigs, really (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28816969)

You let me violate you
You let me desecrate you
You let me penetrate you
You let me complicate you
(Help me...)
I broke apart my insides
(Help me...)
I've got no soul to tell
(Help me...)
The only thing that works for me
Help me get away from myself,

I wanna fuck you like an animal
I wanna feel you from the inside
I wanna fuck you like an animal
My whole existence is flawed
You get me closer to God

You can have my isolation
You can have the hate that it brings
You can have my absence of faith
You can have my everything

(Help me...)
You tear down my reason
(Help me...)
It's your sex I can smell
(Help me...)
You make me perfect
Help me become somebody else

I wanna fuck you like an animal
I wanna feel you from the inside
I wanna fuck you like an animal
My whole existence is flawed
You get me closer to God

Through every forest
Above the trees
Within my stomach
Scraped off my knees
I drink the honey, inside your hive...
You are the reason I stay alive...

More than half (3, Insightful)

Psychotria (953670) | more than 4 years ago | (#28817007)

More than half of the Internet service providers (ISPs) taking part in the Federal Government's ISP filtering trial have reported minimal speed disruptions or technology problems.

So, in other words, just less than half reported significant speed and technology problems. This entire situation pisses me off! I emailed the minister in charge of this and he didn't even have the decency to reply with a non-canned response. So, all the big ISPs are saying that this will result in big speed disruptions, but the other half (idiot home-run ISPs most likely) are saying it's fine. Gee, I wonder if it's because those ISPs have negligible traffic anyway!

Re:More than half (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28818235)

One of the ISPs involved (webshield) has from its inception offered only filtered internet access - their marketing pitch is that their net access is kid safe or w/e. The upshot being that their testimony is less that pointless - "Look, the government with way more cash than us can do the same thing we already do equally well or better in terms of performance" so fucking what?

Buffoonery (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28817017)

Nelson Bay Online.....that's hilarious. That would have to be one of the tiniest ISPs in the country.
So much for rigorous testing. Conroy really is a buffoon.

Re:Buffoonery (1)

Crypto Gnome (651401) | more than 4 years ago | (#28817471)

From the article

Managing director of Nelson Bay Online, Patrick Sayer, said only 1 per cent of his entire customer base decided to opt-into the system, resulting in just 15 users.

Fifteen Users! And that's enough to be worthy of being hailed as "a successful test"?

(sigh) At least they've not actually had the nerve to claim this test was scientifically rigorous or statistically significant in any way.

Who hatched this plan? (1)

Cinnaman (954100) | more than 4 years ago | (#28817041)

Just out of curiosity, has anyone got the idea of where Stephen Conroy got the idea from? I'm thinking in terms of the bigger worldwide picture of who benefits from a lack of free speech, assuming that we are a guinea pig for a controlled internet in a western country. I'm sure that Conroy didn't come up with the idea himself and has very large incentives to see this plan come to fruition. So think of who is pulling the strings of our politicians, are there any readers knowledgable to answer this as I'm afraid I can't already supply you the answer.

Re:Who hatched this plan? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28817179)

Could be these guys:

http://www.familyfirst.org.au/ [familyfirst.org.au]
http://www.acl.org.au/ [acl.org.au]

It could just be fundamentalist and totalitarian leanings of Conroy, or it could be orders coming from higher up. The fact that the policy statement was written 5 days before the election and quietly dumped on Labor's website smacks of a backroom deal.

Re:Who hatched this plan? (1)

Cinnaman (954100) | more than 4 years ago | (#28817373)

I wonder if it goes up to the level of plutocrats or oligarchs who already have English language mainstream media marching in lock-step, making online news sources (eg. Slashdot) a better source of information.
I know that Jay Rockefeller, from one of the American banking families whose immense wealth was created through such things as fractional reserve banking said that we might be better off without the internet (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8PCmLPPVnA) on grounds of security, so there are very powerful (i.e. monied) interests interested in locking down the internet through a smokescreen of legitimacy (protecting minors in our case).
I wonder if we're a testbed for seeing the level of acceptance, if it can go all the way to concrete reality and acceptance by the general public.

Re:Who hatched this plan? (1)

Crypto Gnome (651401) | more than 4 years ago | (#28817463)

Sad but true. A small crowd of religious fundamentalists pushing their narrow-minded views on society.

Might be "business as usual" in , say , Iran/Iraq, etc - but *such a shame* to see that being attempted in Australia.

Re:Who hatched this plan? (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 4 years ago | (#28817771)

Sad but true. A small crowd of religious fundamentalists pushing their narrow-minded views on society.

Narrow-minded view you mean. Fundamentalists aren't particularly flexible, and don't really have anything else to offer.

Re:Who hatched this plan? (1)

deniable (76198) | more than 4 years ago | (#28817915)

As already mentioned, it's to keep Family First Senator Steve Fielding voting with the government. Our best hope is that Steve keeps making George W. Bush look like Al Gore or refuses to stay bought and the whole stupid idea will go away.

Any iPrimus users out there? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28817131)

I guess the 15 users of Nelson Bay Online would be able to help, but iPrimus seems to be the only notable ISP taking part.

I'm interested in testing a few url combinations - so if you are using iPrimus, could you post the results for the following urls:

http://redtube.com/ [redtube.com]
http://www.redtube.com/ [redtube.com]
http://www.redtube.com/terms [redtube.com]
http://www.redtube.com/contact [redtube.com]
http://www.redtube.com/privacy [redtube.com]
http://www.redtube.com/dmca [redtube.com]
http://www.redtube.com/usc2257 [redtube.com]
http://www.redtube.com/?foo=bar [redtube.com]

http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=User:Cyde/Weird_pictures [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Cyde/Weird_pictures [wikipedia.org]

If you're reading slashdot, you should have figured out what I'm trying to test. The reason is that Conroy has claimed that only the exact url is supposed to be blocked, and if (for example) www.redtube.com is on the blacklist, no sub-pages should be blocked. How this is supposed to handle query strings (such as those used for slashdot threads) without overblocking or being trivial to defeat, I'm not sure.

Note that these sites contain adult content, but nothing that is illegal to view in Australia.

AC'ing because I don't want an $11,000 fine.

(Most sites taken from here [broowery.com])

So long (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28817135)

It has been a pleasure chatting with you Australia, but I guess it's good bye now. Sorry to see you leave, if you ever change your mind you're always welcome back to civilization.

Sincerely,
The rest of the world

Idiot proof (1)

Koh-min Atja (1605397) | more than 4 years ago | (#28817173)

Make something idiot proof and someone will build a better idiot. The problem with this filter is, those that want to get around it are probably not idiots.

Wonder what they have to hide (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28817327)

As seen in countless examples where government officials state they have "high morals" and subsequently are caught abusing little boys or girls - I wonder if these same government officials pushing to censor the internet are cut of the same cloth.

The voters are to blame (1)

MrSands (1605441) | more than 4 years ago | (#28817537)

I blame all those voters who voted for the people who wants to have this implemented. Now we have an economy who's budget is going into deficit after the previous government worked so hard to make it positive again, and now we also have censorship. I hope those people who voted for Krudd are the ones most affected by this. Personally I wont be, I only visit theage, slashdot and facebook so all good. This will never affect me. Also while they have this implemented I hope they can use it to catch all those pedophiles as well, may as well put it to good use if we have to have it.

Re:The voters are to blame (2, Informative)

deniable (76198) | more than 4 years ago | (#28817937)

Actually, all of those people are what? 4% of the Victorian voters. And what's really annoying, if we get a double-dissolution causing an early election, Steve Fielding only needs half that to stay in the Senate. Bugger.

The Great Firewall of Australia (3, Funny)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 4 years ago | (#28817951)

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has announced that the Australian government will build a new $43 billion national broadband network, connecting 90% of homes to 100-megabit fibre internet. "We believe that fast broadband is absolutely essential for our nation's future," he said.

"Telstra has raised issues with the amount of bandwidth usage this will produce, given we're still hooked to America by tin cans and string, but our Great Firewall of Australia [today.com] Internet filtering project should keep usage down to reasonable levels at near-dialup speeds. We promise you won't go over your download cap."

The Great Firewall will reliably block all illegal material, child pornography, terrorism and unAustralian thoughts.

"Not only are the contents of the list illegal," said Senator Stephen Conroy, "but revealing the list is also illegal, and so is linking to someone linking to someone claiming to reveal the list. So we're blocking Google Search. Having to use Anzwers should keep usage right down."

Calling it the "single largest infrastructure decision in Australia's history," Mr Rudd said the project would employ up to 37,000 people a year monitoring citizens' net access, reading their email and correcting spelling errors in their football forum posts.

A consultative process will determine the regulatory framework for the network. "We're considering getting Senator Fielding to do it personally," said Senator Conroy, "since he's the dickhead who demanded the censorship in return for his votes. Hopefully it'll melt his brain. Bloody balance of power. At least Xenophon's bloody sane."

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