Net censorship roundup: Fielding and Xenophon want filters to include legal material

From today’s Sydney Morning Herald:

Net filters may block porn and gambling sites

Family First Senator Steve Fielding wants hardcore pornography and fetish material blocked under the Government’s plans to filter the internet, sparking renewed fears the censorship could be expanded well beyond “illegal material”.

The Opposition said it would most likely block any attempts to introduce the controversial mandatory ISP filtering policy, so the Government would need the support of Senator Fielding as well as the Greens and Senator Nick Xenophon to pass the legislation.

Nick Xenophon’s office has made this comment on the issue:

Nick is interested in many issues relating to the internet including broadband speeds, online gambling and children accessing restricted material. On the latter issue, Nick believes all reasonable measures should be taken to ensure children are not able to access unsuitable or restricted material. He is aware of the free speech implications raised by filtering but believes the protection is paramount.

We’re relying on the Greens to block this unworkable, dangerous censorship legislation. Drop a note to your Greens senators now to offer your support.

While you’re at it, it would be worth also contacting your Liberal senators to make sure they’re truly going ahead with blocking it, and your Labor representatives, to offer them a clue.

Fielding and Xenophon are a lost cause, it seems, but hey, if it makes you feel better, feel free to contact them, too. Especially if you’re in their electorates.

I’m trying to keep this internet censorship links roundup up to date; let me know if you have any links that should be added.


~~~

References and Further Reading on Australian Internet Censorship:

EFA clean-feed site

Hoyden About Town: The Great Firewall of Australia., 31 Dec 2007

Hoyden About Town: “Civil liberties advocates = paedophiles”: Internet culture wars from the ALP. 1 Jan 2008

Hoyden About Town: You – You – You – Non-cookie-cutter feminist, you! 3 Jan 2008

Hoyden About Town: Censoring the Internet: Conroy plays King Canute. 4 Jan 2008

[on a different issue, but some of the submissions provide relevant background]: APH Senate Inquiry into the provisions of the Communications Legislation Amendment (Content Services) Bill 2007.

Whirlpool forums: “ISP-level Filtering Discussion part 3“. (Part One, Part Two.) 24 Oct 2008-present.

EFA analysis of the proposal, 4 Mar 2008

Computerworld: “Great Wall of Australia: Content filtering fails parliament“. 15 May 2008

ACMA pilot test results: Closed Environment Testing of ISP-level Internet Content Filtering, June 2008

Minister’s Media Release, 28 July 2008

Hoyden About Town: No surprises: internet filtering test results show products block legitimate content. 31 July 2008

Hoyden About Town: “Mandatory Australian Internet Censorship: Conroy’s Bait and Switch“. 17 Oct 2008

Computerworld: No opt-out of filtered Internet. 13 Oct 2008

Ars Technica: ‘Net filters “required” for all Australians, no opt-out. 16 Oct 2008

Gizmodo: Australia To Build Great Firewall Down Under. 16 Oct 2008

Crikey: And the Wankley Award goes to … Conroy’s net filtering scheme. 17 Oct 2008

Tech Wired Australia: “Interview With Media Contact For Senator the Hon Stephen Conroy Regarding Australian Internet Filter“. 17 Oct 2008

Mark Newton: Letter to Minister Kate Ellis with detailed objections to the filtering proposals [PDF]. 20 Oct 2008

Somebody Think of the Children: “Interview: Internode’s Mark Newton talks filtering“. 20 Oct 2008

Tech Wired Australia: “Interview With Mark Newton of Internode Re: Australian Internet Filter“. 20 Oct 2008

Hoyden About Town: “Wild claims Hysteria Enthusiastic commentary on internet censorship: Ludlam in Senate Estimates”. 23 Oct 2008

Somebody Think of the Children: “Greens Senator quizzes Conroy on filtering“. 23 Oct 2008

The Inquisitr: “Australian censorship minister tries to censor critic: time to go Conroy“. 23 Oct 2008

New Matilda: “First They Came for the Perverts“. 23 Oct 2008

ABC News: “The high price of internet filtering“. 24 Oct 2008

The Age: “Filtering out the fury: how government tried to gag web censor critics“. 24 Oct 2008

Ponderance: “Stop Internet Censorship in Australia!“. 24 Oct 2008

Stilgherrian: “Completely inappropriate, Senator Conroy“. 24 Oct 2008

Crikey: “Cheap tricks not the right response on internet filtering“. 24 Oct 2008

Larvatus Prodeo: “Scrutiny in the Senate: water, markets and censorship“. 24 Oct 2008

Computerworld: “‘Appalled’ opposition hits back at Conroy’s Internet censorship“. 24 Oct 2008

Ars Technica: “Aussie govt: Don’t criticize our (terrible) ‘Net filters“. 24 Oct 2008

Defending Scoundrels (Dale Clapperton’s blog): “Can Labor implement ‘clean feed’ without legislation?“. 24 Oct 2008

Builder AU: “NSW to censor student laptops”. 24 Oct 2008

BBC: “Australia trials national net filters“. 25 Oct 2008

Defending Scoundrels (Dale Clapperton’s blog): “Conroy misleads the Senate on ‘illegal material’“. 26 Oct 2008

SMH: “Net filters may block porn and gambling sites“. 27 Oct 2008

Business Spectator: “Who censures the censor?“. 27 Oct 2008

CRN Australia: “SAGE-AU defends right to criticise content filtering“. 27 Oct 2008

ITWire: “Minister under fire: IT Professionals say net filtering won’t work“. 27 Oct 2008

Librarians Matter: “Internet censorship in Australia – letter from Mark Newton“. 27 Oct 2008

Network Performance Daily: “Interview with ‘Bullied’ Network Engineer on Australian Gov’t Net Filters“. 27 Oct 2008

Linuxworld Australia: “In Conroy’s muddy waters you’ll never know what’s being filtered“. 28 Oct 2008

Public Polity: ““Peds under the bed” attitude won’t help anyone“. 28 Oct 2008

Ars Technica: “Australia’s Internet filter: could legal content be banned, too?“. 28 Oct 2008

Hoyden About Town: “Australian Internet Censorship in the Media: EFA Chair on the Morning Show“. 29 Oct 2008

Computerworld: “Google, Yahoo and Microsoft align against state censorship“. 29 Oct 2008

News.com.au: “Australia’s compulsory internet filtering ‘costly, ineffective’“. 29 Oct 2008

Sunrise: “Soapbox: Is internet censorship ever ok?”[Video]. 29 Oct 2008.

Sunrise: “Senator Conroy responds to net filter fears“. 29 Oct 2008

Courier Mail: “Adult Australians don’t need a net nanny“. 30 Oct 2008

Courier Mail: “Net filter an assault on freedom that just won’t work“. 30 Oct 2008

The Age: “Internet screening move hits hurdle“. 30 Oct 2008

Australian IT: “Filter to cause World Wide Wait“. 30 Oct 2008

ABC: “The Media Report: The Great Firewall of Australia“. 30 Oct 2008

Australian Government Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy: “Internet Service Provider (ISP) Content Filtering ‘Live’ Pilot”: call for expressions of interest. 10 Nov 2008

The Age (Opinion): “Government uploads hypocrisy with internet censorship“. 10 Nov 2008

ABC News (Opinion): “Filter advocates need to check their facts“. 10 Nov 2008

ITWire Core Dump: “Internet filtering? Just say no“. 10 Nov 2008

The Age: “Opposition rises to internet filter“. 11 Nov 2008

Greens MPs (Scott Ludlam): “Mandatory Internet Censorship“. 11 Nov 2008

Hoyden About Town: “Internet censorship in Senate Question Time today“. 11 Nov 2008

SMH: “Net censorship plan backlash“. 11 Nov 2008

Greens Senator Scott Ludlam: “Too many unanswered questions on net censorship: Greens“. 11 Nov 2008

Ars Technica: “Australian ISPs pan government-mandated ‘Net filtering plan“. 11 Nov 2008

Slashdot: “Largest Aussie ISP Agrees To “Ridiculous” Net-Filter Trial“. 11 Nov 2008

ITWire: “Australian government calls for live Internet filter trial“. 12 Nov 2008

Courier Mail: “Internet filter to block 10,000-plus “unwanted” sites“. 13 Nov 2008

Courier Mail (opinion): “The internet filter we still have to have“. 13 Nov 2008

Computerworld: “Optus, iiNet put filters to the test: Telcos infiltrate to get the facts.“. 13 Nov 2008

Sunrise: “Internet filter splits opinion“. 13 Nov 2008

Iinet: “iiNet and Internet filtering“. November 2008

NineMSN: Video interview with Mark Newton on the Today Show: “Firewalls Under Fire”. 14 Nov 2008

Hoyden About Town: “Internet Censorship on MMM’s Spoonman Part One: with EFA’s Dale Clapperton” 14 Nov 2008

Hoyden About Town: “Internet Censorship on MMM’s Spoonman Part Two: with Iinet’s Steve Dalby“. 14 Nov 2008

Hoyden About Town: “Internet Censorship on MMM’s Spoonman Part Three: Matthew Black and Adam Darbyshire“. 14 Nov 2008

The Guardian (UK): “The big business of net censorship: Clamping down on free speech on the internet has been a lucrative enterprise for software manufacturers“. 17 Nov 2008

ZDNet Australia: “NSW calls Conroy on Euro filter fudge“. 21 Nov 2008

Somebody Think of the Children: “With a public intellectual like this, who needs barbarians?” 22 Nov 2008

Somebody Think of the Children: “7:30 Report tackles filtering again this week“. 23 Nov 2008 (includes video of the 7:30 report programme, which featured many of the key players – except Conroy, who declined!)

Broadbanned Revolution: “A reply from Clive Hamilton – public intellectual“. 23 Nov 2008

Liberal Party of Australia: “Labor’s arbitrary internet filter plan misguided and deeply unpopular“. 25 Nov 2008

Australian IT: “Greens won’t back federal plans for internet filters“. 25 Nov 2008

Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy: “ISP Filtering Live Pilot – Questions and answers“. 25 Nov 2008

Libertus.net: “Statistics Laundering: false and fantastic figures“. 25 Nov 2008

Computerworld: “Gen-Yers will use social networks to bypass Internet filter, critic says” 26 Nov 2008

GetUp Australia: “Save The Net” email petition, Fact Sheet, and blog: “Colin Jacobs: Filtering at Odds with Broadband Revolution.”.



Categories: law & order, Politics, technology

Tags: , , , , , , ,

40 replies

  1. To expand on what blocking “hardcore pornography and fetish material” might mean, check out the Commonwealth Guidelines for the Classification of Films and Computer Games:

    Fetishes such as body piercing, application of substances such as candle wax, ‘golden showers’, bondage, spanking or fisting are not permitted.

  2. The whirlpool thread has been a hotbed of discussion, featuring lots of Mark Newton.

  3. Thanks James, added.

  4. This being the second blog that I have read on this topic tonight, I was moved to act. I have written to both my local member and to Stephen Conroy and exercised my democratic right to express my dismay.

  5. The Senate Inquiry into the Communications Legislation Amendment (Content Services) Bill 2007, and submissions to it (including the efa.org.au), are pertinent and cover a lot of the issues. Presumably Labor Senators on that committee (who complained about inadequate consultation in their minority report) are aware of what was in the submissions and have come to grips with the basic problem.
    Oooh…. their problem now is not logic, it’s Fielding and Xenophon.
    Hmmmm. Perhaps kissing a*se should be considered pornographic and banned.

  6. So, theoretically, if this comes to pass, you couldn’t get information about how to find a clean and responsible tattoo and piercing parlour? How nuts is this?! Gah!

  7. Thanks for keeping us up to date on this one, Lauredhel. It’s such insanity.

  8. Whoa, they’re openly admitting now that they have an interest in censoring completely legal material created by consenting adults? I mean, I was always sure it was their intention, but I’m not sure whether it’s a good sign (because now the public might find out and get pissed) or a bad sign (because it means they feel comfortable enough to come out with it) that they’re actually saying this stuff out loud now. In any case, it’s scary.

  9. Fetishes such as body piercing, application of substances such as candle wax, ‘golden showers’, bondage, spanking or fisting are not permitted.
    Wow.
    There goes my ability (and that of all my co-workers) to make a perfectly legal living.
    hexys last blog post..Links: Clean Feed, NT intervention, abortion in Victoria

  10. So frustrating. I support the blocking of child pron, but from what I’ve read this filtering isn’t going to be effective against it anyway. *headdesk*

  11. Tim Dunlop wrote a piece at surfdom back in January where he noted that Conroy is labor’s “numbers man” in the senate so I think it is just possible that he is canvassing the mandatory black list just to keep Fielding sweet, with no intention of following through. On economics alone it would be disastrous – to slow connections at a time of economic downturn would enrage pretty powerful business lobbies I would have thought. No gov in its right (hive)mind would do that.

  12. The media, tech/blog and mainstream, are finally starting to notice this issue – I’ve added a few more links. I’ll keeping adding links as I find them.

  13. Stephen Conroy should be funding these.
    more animals
    Admin magic please? [done ~L]

  14. Somewhere else, someone asked about the Liberals and their history on internet censorship. I realised that some people might not be familiar with the Howard Government’s ill-fated attempt to censor the internet back in 1999. There were national rallies in protest. Read more at the EFA.

  15. I see Deborah Robinson has made been commenting at whirlpool

    Thanks Ken – most enlightening.
    Yes, the government is making it mandatory without the option of opting-out but for a very good reason – x rated porn is illegal in Australia! I completely forgot about this.
    So the way I see it is, for those opposed to ISP filtering to even stand a chance of stopping it, you’ve got to change the laws making x rated porn illegal in this country first. Anyone here prepared to take this on?
    It’s about time the law caught up with the Internet and yes, this is just the beginning but I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. You can’t break the law off line, neither should you be allowed to do so online.
    I’m going to take down all references to CP80 and ISP filtering from my website today. I don’t see any need to keep debating the issue with you when those who oppose the ISP filter can’t possibly win.
    I don’t need to defend ISP filtering – it’s just bringing the Internet in line with the laws of the land and unless you’re prepared to change the law, you can’t win this one fellas.
    So good luck with trying to stop ISP filtering of illegal content in this country – you’re going to need it.

  16. Beste, do you have a link? Thanks.
    Nevermind, I found it. Deborah Robinson’s quoted post is here on whirlpool, near the top of the page.

  17. X-rated pron is legal in Canberra, and I think in the NT unless the laws have changed recently. You aren’t supposed to take it across state lines, but I’m not sure that it is that actively policed in private homes. Bit like the internet really.

  18. Thanks for the round-up link.
    Deborah Robinson’s response has only made me more inclined to keep on this.

  19. New link: Sunrise: “Senator Conroy responds to net filter fears”. 29 Oct 2008
    Note the lie in question 3 (also noted in the comments there.) Conroy answers a different question, and pretends it’s the real answer. Newton has already thoroughly debunked this – these countries have optional filtering, not mandatory – but Conroy’s persisting with it nevertheless.

    3. Has the plan been achieved in any other liberal democracies?
    Countries such as the UK, Sweden, Norway and Canada (amongst others) have already implemented ISP level filtering of this sort of material.

    There are also a couple of misspellings, including the misspelling of a Senator’s name! Ace journalism, Sunrise.

  20. Latest: The Age: “Internet screening move hits hurdle”. 30 Oct 2008

    The Greens have added their voice to Coalition concerns about the plan, with the Greens’ communications spokesman calling the proposal “daft”.

    Anyone else think that perhaps Fielding and Xenophon have shot themselves in the feet here by playing their hands too early? (Mixed metaphors R us!)

    In response to arguments that the proposal would affect basic civil liberties and the principle that households should be able to be their own internet policeman, [Conroy] said: “We are not trying to build the Great Wall of China.
    “We are not trying to be Saudi Arabia, and to say that is to simply misrepresent the Government’s position.”

    Just keep dropping those keywords, Senator. They’re not doing your cause any favours.

  21. It’s not true to say X rated porn is illegal in Australia. As Rebekka has pointed out, it’s legal to produce it and sell it in the ACT.

  22. OK, this from the Age in 2004.
    “Under existing laws, it is illegal to sell non-violent erotic films in Victoria, but it is legal to buy and possess them.”

  23. New link: Australian IT: “Filter to cause World Wide Wait”. 30 Oct 2008

    Internet speeds could slow by 30 per cent under the Government’s proposed web filtering scheme, even though it will do little to block illegal content. […]
    Electronic Frontiers Australia board member Colin Jacobs warned the web filter could also unwittingly make the internet unsafe for financial transactions by breaking the secure encryption used by banks online.
    Five of the six web filters tested by the Australian Media and Communications Authority this year were able to filter websites using the secure protocol HTTPS, which would leave financial details exposed to the internet service provider in charge of operating the filter.
    “If they sit in the middle and get between your web browser and the bank’s server it really breaks open the security and leaves the details open to attack,” he said.

  24. New links: ABC: “The Media Report: The Great Firewall of Australia” 30 Oct 2008
    Audio interview with Senator Stephen Conroy, Mark Pesce (Honorary lecturer in Digital Cultures, University of Sydney), and Jane Roberts (President of Young Media Australia). Transcript is available.
    Conroy steadfastedly refuses, under repeated questioning, to answer even in general terms about which sorts of sites will be blocked under his plan. “That’s a debate that we will come to”, he says. Pesce talks about Gilmore’s Law, methods of circumventing filtering, and performance hits.

  25. New links:
    Defending Scoundrels (Dale Clapperton’s blog): “Can Labor implement ‘clean feed’ without legislation?”. 24 Oct 2008
    Defending Scoundrels (Dale Clapperton’s blog): “Conroy misleads the Senate on ‘illegal material’”. 26 Oct 2008

  26. Xenophon seems to have recanted –

    Thank you for your email to Nick Xenophon regarding internet clean feed. Nick shares your concerns that the technology being advocated by the government may not work. There is a real danger based on trials of the technology that have been undertaken that banned sites will get through the filter and sites that were not intended to be banned will be blocked. He will continue to investigate this matter and decide on what he believes is the appropriate course of action in due course.

    There’s a wiki gathering responses from all members of parliament. OCAU’s wiki also has an extensive roundup of media articles and links.

  27. New Link: Australian Government Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy: ”Internet Service Provider (ISP) Content Filtering ‘Live’ Pilot”: call for expressions of interest. 10 Nov 2008
    In the call:

    ISPs are invited to participate through two streams:
    1. Filtering the ACMA blacklist of prohibited URLs; or
    2. Filtering the ACMA blacklist, and also providing additional content filtering
    e.g. dynamic filtering of other unwanted internet content and non web based
    applications (such as peer-to-peer networks).

    It’s not completely clear to me whether customers will be asked whether they wish to opt in:

    Ideally, a participating ISP would provide a filtering solution to a sample of their
    customer base. Enex would then be provided with a sample filtered service and ideally a
    sample unfiltered service from the same participating ISP. If this is not feasible, a ‘before
    filtering’ and ‘after filtering’ approach may be used.
    While customers may volunteer for the Pilot, during their participation they would not be
    aware at any particular point in time of whether or not they are receiving a filtered
    service, depending on the kind of filtering solution being tested.

    The planned filtering trial is designed so as to coincide exactly with school and university holidays.

  28. The Age (Opinion): “Government uploads hypocrisy with internet censorship”. 10 Nov 2008
    ABC News (Opinion): “Filter advocates need to check their facts”. 10 Nov 2008
    ITWire Core Dump: “Internet filtering? Just say no”. 10 Nov 2008

  29. Greens MPs (Scott Ludlam): “Mandatory Internet Censorship”. 11 Nov 2008

  30. Ars Technica: “Australian ISPs pan government-mandated ‘Net filtering plan”. 11 Nov 2008

    During a Senate questioning session, Communications Minister Conroy avoided answering questions about the dual filtering system and comparisons to countries like China and Saudi Arabia. “We are aware of technical concerns with filtering technology, and that is why we are conducting a pilot, to put these claims to the test,” Conroy said, according to The Age. When pressed about how the government would define “unwanted content,” Conroy pulled a Sarah Palin and simply stated that he couldn’t answer those questions but that he would get back to the Senate with more info.

    Also: Slashdot: “Largest Aussie ISP Agrees To “Ridiculous” Net-Filter Trial”. 11 Nov 2008
    ITWire: “Australian government calls for live Internet filter trial”. 12 Nov 2008

  31. Courier Mail: “Internet filter to block 10,000-plus “unwanted” sites”. 13 Nov 2008
    Courier Mail (opinion): “The internet filter we still have to have”. 13 Nov 2008

    ”Yes, despite the online rage anyone could see, and the constant stream of angry phone calls, emails and letters to Senator Conroy’s office which you think he’d at least note, Conroy and his merry band of censorship bandits are skipping down their misguided path.
    Greens Senator Scott Ludlam, bless his voice in Parliament, questioned Conroy on claims that Sweden, the UK, Canada and New Zealand already had similar internet filters to the one proposed for Australia.
    The fact is these countries have no such thing. They have voluntary ISP filtering, an opt-out system that most people would support, not mandatory filtering like the Rudd Government is proposing.
    Conroy admitted as much, but only amongst a diatribe about why the Rudd Government thinks mandatory internet censorship is a top idea, part of a “$125.8 million cyber-safety plan” and something the Government is undertaking “in a considered and consultative way”.
    Can anyone remind me with whom he is consulting? Because boffins in the know are only criticising this plan and telling him to drop it. “

    Computerworld: “Optus, iiNet put filters to the test: Telcos infiltrate to get the facts.”. 13 Nov 2008
    Sunrise: “Internet filter splits opinion”. 13 Nov 2008

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