Mandatory ISP-level internet filtering policy disappears from Government agenda

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Offline mr anderson

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Net censorship move a smokescreen: expert

ASHER MOSES
December 16, 2009 - 1:51PM

Comments 75

http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/technology/technology-news/net-censorship-move-a-smokescreen-expert-20091216-kw7d.html




Communications Minister Stephen Conroy's censorship policy won him the Internet Villain of the Year trophy, awarded by the British internet industry.

One of Australia's top communications experts says the Government's internet censorship trials were designed to succeed from the outset, presented no new information and are now being used by the Government to further its political agenda.

His comments came after Communications Minister Stephen Conroy yesterday announced he would introduce legislation before next year's elections forcing ISPs to block a secret blacklist of "refused classification" (RC) websites for all Australian internet users - http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/internet-censorship-plan-gets-the-green-light-20091215-ktzc.html

Separately, a report into the scope of content that will be caught up in the net filters concluded that the Government's policy might lead to a wide range of innocuous material disappearing from Australians' computer screens - http://www.scribd.com/doc/24138351/Untangling-the-Net-The-Scope-of-Content-Caught-by-Mandatory-Internet-Filtering

Commentators in Australia and overseas have interpreted Senator Conroy's policy as pushing the country towards being like repressive regimes such as China and Iran.

University of Sydney associate professor Bjorn Landfeldt said the Government had still failed to address serious issues such as whether the internet filtering scheme would result in any meaningful reduction in harmful content and whether it was worth the effort, given the risk that the scope of blocked content could widen significantly.

"There's no clear definition of refused classification that can be debated in society ... [and] once you put a label such as refused classification in place, that doesn't mean that the meaning cannot be changed," he said in a phone interview.

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POLL: What do you think of the proposed filter?
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Landfeldt detailed these issues and many others in an official report presented to the Government in February last year, which concluded that schemes to block inappropriate content such as child pornography were fundamentally flawed - http://www.smh.com.au/news/technology/web/fatal-flaws-in-web-censorship-plan/2008/12/22/1229794328860.html

The report, which also questioned whether Australian children were in fact stumbling across child porn and other nasty content while browsing, was kept secret for many months and was only made public after its existence was detailed in media reports.

Filtering trials designed to succeed

Conroy justified his policy yesterday by presenting a pilot trial report, compiled by Enex Testlabs, which found that blocking a blacklist of sites can be done with 100 per cent accuracy and without slowing down the internet - http://www.dbcde.gov.au/online_safety_and_security/cybersafety_plan/internet_service_provider_isp_filtering/isp_filtering_live_pilot#report

"The Government would have known since long before our [2008] report was put out that doing blacklist-based filtering on a large scale is very doable - British Telecom has done it for many years and it is a very big organisation," Landfeldt said in a phone interview.

"But so far there's no evidence put forward that this will be effective in putting any serious dent in the availability of such content on the internet. It is clear that there are very strong political motives behind this."

Harmless content will be blocked

The Government has repeatedly pointed to child porn and sexual abuse material as examples of what will be targeted by the censors but, as the leaking of the communications regulator's blacklist in March revealed, the RC category includes scores of legal material - http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2009/03/19/1237054961100.html

This was reaffirmed today by a report compiled by the leading Australian media public policy academics, Professors Catherine Lumby, Lelia Green and John Hartley - http://www.scribd.com/doc/24138351/Untangling-the-Net-The-Scope-of-Content-Caught-by-Mandatory-Internet-Filtering

They found that, if the filtering plan went ahead, Australian adults would not be able to access material that is completely legal to view under Australian law.

"According to the most recent data only 32 per cent of the sites on the Australian Communication and Media Authority [ACMA] blacklist related to child pornography," the report found.

"The figures indicate 68 per cent of websites on the blacklist were blocked for reasons other than child pornography, including content that has been classified R18+, X18+, RC and unspecified."

The report gives several examples of legitimate content that could well be blocked from the Australian internet:

- A site debating the merits of euthanasia in which some participants exchanged information about actual euthanasia practices.

- A site set up by a community organisation to promote harm minimisation in recreational drug use.

- A site providing a safe space for young gay and lesbians to discuss their sexuality.

- A site that includes dialogue and excerpts from literary classics such as Nabokov's Lolita or sociological studies into sexual experiences, such as Dr Alfred Kinsey's famous Sexual Behaviour in the Human Male.

- A site devoted to discussing the geopolitical causes of terrorism that published material outlining the views of terrorist organisations as reference material.

The Australian Sex Party said today that blocking RC websites would cut off access to 95 per cent of the world's 4 million adult websites as many overseas porn sites have much broader parameters in their X-rating than the classification system in Australia.

"The biggest selling porn movie in the world, Pirates, has been given an RC rating in Australia because it featured an animated duelling scene with two skeletons," party convener Fiona Patten said.

Landfeldt said the RC rating could also encompass footage of war atrocities and other historical events, such as the Holocaust which might not be suitable for viewing by children but could be extremely relevant to adults.

"I have a filter at home for my oldest daughter - it's voluntary and it works really well," Landfeldt said.

The Howard government provided free software PC filters to all Australian families but this was axed by the Rudd Government in favour of its ISP-level filtering plan.

But the Government has acknowledged that even these ISP filters could easily be circumvented by motivated individuals. Furthermore, the filtering will initially apply only to web pages, and experts say online predators will just move to other mediums such as peer-to-peer file sharing programs and email.

Accountability measures questionable

Conroy yesterday released a discussion paper outlining possible measures to improve the accountability and transparency of processes that lead to sites being placed on the blacklist - http://www.dbcde.gov.au/online_safety_and_security/cybersafety_plan/refused_classification_content_list_review

But Landfeldt, who analysed the paper, said it appeared that the same government bureaucrats who put together ACMA's flawed blacklist would remain the arbitrators of what goes on the new blacklist - http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2009/03/19/1237054973414.html

"It encompasses people and organisations that are currently involved in classification with very vague notions of the general public being able to comment on or having any influence over how this is being carried out and handled," he said.

Landfeldt said one positive to come out of the Government's report was that the focus has been narrowed to mandating "refused classification" content filtering based on a blacklist. Earlier, Conroy had referred to blocking "unwanted" and "prohibited" content using a dynamic process that would analyse websites in real-time. Experts had warned this would significantly slow down the internet.

But Landfeldt said there had still been no consideration given to how internet usage would change when the Government rolled out its super-fast National Broadband Network (NBN).

"The NBN will enable Australia to move beyond the World Wide Web and into a situation where we have made real use of more sophisticated forms of media, much more streaming media, video, audio content," he said.

"Material may not be as static as it is now, which means that the blacklist will go out of date.

"If you want to mandate this filtering and see if it's applicable to the NBN, you need to conduct different experiments."

Conroy's spokesman, Tim Marshall, has failed to return calls for several days requesting comment.

Source: smh.com.au
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Offline mr anderson

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More censorship? PM Rudd ‘epic fail’ group goes offline

Yesterday, we told you about the South Australian government’s attempts at internet censorship.



Feb 3, 2010
by Nic Christensen

http://www.thepunch.com.au/articles/more-censorship-rudd-epic-fail-group-goes-offline/


Today, we can reveal that online political speech has been dealt another blow with Facebook, the popular social networking site, being accused of political censorship after it removed the group “KEVIN RUDD = EPIC FAIL”.

Before it was removed the Facebook group is understood to have had over 3000 members and focused on building a list what it described as Kevin Rudd’s broken promises.

Whether or not you agree with the argument of the group, surely in a democracy the creators have the right to express their views and people have a right to join and support that group.

The group is believed to have been banned because it criticised an individual, the Prime Minister.

However, based on Facebook’s terms of reference you would expect a group would only be banned if its views were overtly racist or defamatory. In the case of the Prime Minister you would have to say he has been accused of worse things than being an “epic failure”.

Facebook has previously removed or banned controversial groups which were viewed as containing racist or Anti-Semitic views.

It has also intervened at the request of law enforcement agencies such as when arson vigilante groups appeared in the wake of the 2009 Victorian Bushfires. Typically, a Facebook group will be banned following the logging of a complaint directly to Facebook.

The Prime Minister’s office has confirmed to The Punch that it did not lodge a complaint against the Facebook group.

The decision to ban the political group because they were critical of a politician represents a concerning development, online civil liberties group Electronic Frontiers Australia told The Punch. Electronic Frontiers Australia argue that such disputes over political Facebook groups show that there is a growing fight for political freedom in Australia.

EFA Spokesperson, Geordie Guy said the online environment is currently caught in a battle “between people [who are] online and people who would prefer those people didn’t give their opinions”.

The Facebook controversy comes only a day after the South Australian government backed down on controversial new laws requiring people to provide their name and postcode before posting comments online on news website such as AdelaideNow.

The South Australian laws came only months out from the South Australian State Election and critics argued that the measure would severely limit free speech.

Facebook’s policy on political group at remains unclear as the website has not taken action again other Australian political groups such as “Kevin Rudd is a Communist” and “Tony Abbott is a tosser”.

At the time of posting, Facebook has not responded to a request for comment.
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Offline mr anderson

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www.truthnews.com.au  - On 1st April 2010 a coalition of free speech activists took to the streets of Sydney's CBD to protest the impending "Mandatory" ISP Filter which has been likened to repressive censorship regimes in China, Iran and North Korea.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B95a8UHHugk

Truth News Radio Australia was there to track the progess and report on the gagged protesters as they wound their way through Sydney's busy streets during rush hour.

The protest was also reported by itnews.com.au.

Find out what you can do to help at:
http://openinternet.com.au
http://gagthefilter.com

Best regards,
Hereward Fenton
Editor, Truth News Radio Australia
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Offline RabidSheep

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Re: TNRA - Free speech activists hit the streets of Sydney's CBD
« Reply #3 on: April 02, 2010, 11:10:13 PM »
 ;D World wide!

I hope The Land Down Under wins this battle.

Offline mr anderson

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Conroy: Don’t believe the myths on the ISP filter


Senator Stephen Conroy

http://www.thepunch.com.au/articles/dont-believe-the-myths-on-the-isp-filter/

333 comments

There is a lot of misinformation circulating about the Government’s ISP-level filtering proposal and Eliza Cussen was right to warn people they shouldn’t believe everything they hear or read (Top Ten Internet Filter Lies, 25 March 2010).



Unfortunately her article repeated some of the misinformation and I’d like to outline the facts.

The Government has always maintained there is no silver bullet when it comes to cyber safety and we have never said ISP-level filtering alone would help fight child pornography or keep children safe online.

The Government’s $125.8 million Cyber Safety Policy includes a range of measures:

    * $49m for law enforcement by providing 91 additional AFP officers to the Child Protection Unit
    * A grants program to encourage ISPs to offer additional filtering services to households on an optional basis. This filtering could enable customers to block access to particular websites and chat     rooms, if the customer chooses to do so
    * Funding for a range of education programs for children, parents and teachers through the ACMA Outreach program
    * Funding for the cybersmart website and online counselling service
    * Establishing the Government’s 300 strong Youth Advisory Group and Consultative Working Group on cyber-safety
    * ISP Level filtering which would block RC material on URL based websites through a public complaints mechanism.

The Rudd Government does not support Refused Classification content being available on the internet. This content includes child sexual abuse imagery, bestiality, sexual violence, detailed instruction in crime, violence or drug use and/or material that advocates the doing of a terrorist act.

Under Australia’s existing classification regulations this material is not available in newsagencies, it is not on library shelves, you cannot watch it on a DVD or at the cinema and it is not shown on television. Refused Classification material is not available on Australian hosted websites.

The Government’s proposal will bring the treatment of overseas hosted content into line by requiring ISPs to block overseas content that has been identified as Refused Classification.

Ms Cussen is wrong to claim that filtering works by scrutinising personal communication such as family photos. Let’s be clear, the only content that will be examined with a view to blocking, is content which is referred by an individual complaint or by an international agency.  Specific web pages will only be blocked if they are deemed to contain content which is Refused Classification under the National Classification Scheme. Unless the URL’s requested are on the RC Content list, the web traffic will not pass through a ‘filter’.

The Refused Classification Content list cannot be made public because if it was, it would simply be a catalogue to direct people to specific URLs that are Refused Classification. Also, publishing links to child abuse content is a criminal offence.  The Government has held a public consultation on improved transparency measures to ensure the public have confidence in the list and the submissions will feed into the legislative framework.

Ms Cussen claims the Government’s policy won’t protect children from viewing harmful ‘stuff’ online. As I have said, the Government has never claimed filtering is a silver bullet solution.  It is just one part of our Cyber Safety policy which includes education and law enforcement.

In addition the Government is encouraging ISPs to offer wider levels of filtering on an optional basis. Parents will always have an important role to play in supervising their children online and that’s why the education programs also cater for them.

For Ms Cussen to compare Australia’s policy with countries like China and Iran is ludicrous.

The National Classification Scheme makes no reference to political or religious comment. Under our policy we will only block material that is Refused Classification.

Ms Cussen claims the policy will slow internet speeds. The Government’s independent pilot trial found that ISP-level filtering of a defined list of URLs can be done with 100% accuracy and negligible impact on internet speeds. Telstra’s own trial, separate to the Government, found the impact on performance was equivalent to one 70th of the blink of an eye.

High traffic sites like YouTube and Facebook are not included in the policy, however, it should be noted that these sites have their own policies which prohibit a wider range of content than Refused Classification, such as X18+ and R18+ content.  The Government is continuing to work with the operators of these sites.

In her article, Ms Cussen claims the independent trial did not prove the technology would be scalable to work on the National Broadband Network. Consultations with ISPs, and expert technical advice, confirms this claim is wrong. There are technologies that can filter a defined list of URLs, with negligible impact on network speeds, including on the National Broadband Network.

Ms Cussen’s claims that the policy will make the internet more expensive are also wrong. In Western democracies such as the UK and Sweden, filtering has been implemented with no cost to users.

The Government understands there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to cyber safety and that’s why we have a comprehensive policy covering education, law enforcement, research and technical-based solutions.

I welcome debate on our policy, but let’s make sure the facts are at the centre of the argument.
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Offline mr anderson

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Australian Govt 'committed to internet filter'

AAP  April 29, 2010
http://au.news.yahoo.com/a/-/latest/7128367/govt-committed-to-internet-filter/


The federal government has rejected claims it has abandoned plans to introduce mandatory internet filtering before the next election.

While legislation is yet to be introduced into parliament, a spokeswoman for Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said the government remained committed to the policy. Labor says the internet filter is needed to block access to material such as child pornography and other illegal content.

The spokeswoman said reports that a promise to introduce the filter before the next election had been shelved were incorrect.

"The government is committed to the cyber safety policy," she said on Thursday.

The department was working with other government agencies to consider submissions on its filter policy and examine whether the ideas could enhance accountability and transparency measures. But Australian Greens communications spokesman Scott Ludlam said a mandatory filter was unworkable, and called on the Rudd government to abandon the plan altogether.

"Opposition against the internet filter is widespread because it will do precisely nothing to curb the distribution of illegal material online, while establishing the architecture for greater government censorship in the future," Senator Ludlam said.

Some of the world's largest providers of internet services, including Google and Yahoo, have criticised the government's plans, describing the filtering policy as heavy-handed.

Google maintains that while protecting the free exchange of ideas and information could not be without some limits, people should retain the right to freedom of expression.

The US State Department and the US ambassador to Australia, Jeff Bleich, have also been critical.

"We have been able to accomplish the goals that Australia has described, which is to capture and prosecute child pornographers ... without having to use internet filters," Mr Bleich said earlier this month.
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Offline mr anderson

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Secret forum reveals Australian firewall backroom dealing
« Reply #6 on: May 10, 2010, 09:34:25 PM »
Secret forum reveals Australian firewall backroom dealing

Circumvention legal, but you can't tell anyone how

By Jane Fae Ozimek
Posted in Telecoms, 10th May 2010 08:58 GMT

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/05/10/australia_firewall_forum/


Australia’s plans for a firewall to protect its population from smut on the internet are rapidly evolving from farce to total chaos. Weekly revelations on bulletin boards suggest that Stephen Conroy, the man behind the big idea, does not know what forthcoming legislation on the topic will say, when it will be introduced or how the firewall will work in practice.

Meanwhile, it turns out that the Minister’s own Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE) has been hosting a secret forum for discussions with ISPs likely to be affected by proposals. Along the way it floated the idea of making it a crime to advise surfers on how to do things that are perfectly legal to do. Confused? You will be.

First up is the time scale for plans to introduce the new firewall. As already reported, the question of when legislation will be introduced has now been bouncing between the offices of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Communications Minister Stephen Conroy. Severe wriggling from Conroy’s office suggests that plans for an early introduction of legislation have been put on the back burner for now.

As if one embarrassment were not enough, at the end of April, Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) revealed that it had in its possession screenshots of a secret forum hosting discussions between the Department of Communications and various ISPs.

Despite assurances from Conroy in December 2009 that legislation would be before the Australian parliament by March of this year, one post on the forum from mid-April acknowledged that the Department had not yet assembled even draft legislation.

Meanwhile further digging inside this forum revealed that departmental officials appear to have been discussing the possibility of making it a criminal offence to advise individuals of means that would enable them to circumvent the filter – even where the means themselves were perfectly legal.

This last revelation proved too much for the Australian Pirate Party, which weighed into the debate shortly after, accusing the government of hosting plans that would be at home with oppressive regimes such as Iran or China.

A spokesman for the Pirate Party said: "What is concerning ... is that the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE)] have considered making the promotion of circumvention somehow illegal.

"If circumvention will not be illegal, then how can it be illegal to simply tell people how to circumvent the government-controlled infrastructure in order to secure access to information that the Australian Government may deem inappropriate."

Such an offence, according to the Pirate Party would mean "effectively silencing political debate" in Australia.

However, in an apparent attempt to stop the rot, the Department of Communications last Monday finally provided answers to a string of questions on the working of the firewall previously put to it by Green Senator, Scott Ludlam.

In yet another apparent volte-face, the department now claims that it would be perfectly legal for customers to adopt circumvention techniques. Its response further reveals that the Minister is well aware of the efficacy of such techniques, prompting speculation that he is actually far better informed than his public pronouncements suggest: that he knows the firewall will be of minimal effectiveness, and therefore his pursuit of this project is motivated more by populist politics than a desire to find a practical solution.

Most ominous of all for the theoretical firewall is a departmental admission that the government will put in hand a "technical review" if ever the filter hits the 10,000 URL mark and starts to creak under the strain.

As the EFA suggests, this answer raises more issues than it addresses, and relies on the degradation of the Australian network being gradual, rather than catastrophic. It does appear, however, that the government has no plans to deal with a possible overload of its firewall bringing the Australian internet to its knees – beyond setting up a review when such an event actually happens.

By then, of course, it could all be far too late. ®
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Offline mr anderson

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Censorship Czar (Senator Conroy) appointed to UN broadband taskforce
« Reply #7 on: May 11, 2010, 11:27:59 AM »
Conroy appointed to UN broadband taskforce

May 11, 2010
Mitchell Bingemann

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/australian-it/conroy-appointed-to-un-broadband-taskforce/story-e6frgakx-1225865047079


COMMUNICATIONS Minister Stephen Conroy has been appointed to a United Nations taskforce aimed at speeding the roll-out of high-speed broadband networks around the world.

The International Telecommunications Union’s Broadband Commission for Digital Development was launched this week – as foreshadowed by The Australian in February – with the aim of encouraging agencies and governments around the world to come up with new ways high-speed broadband networks can be used to improve social services.

The commission, which includes 30 companies and organisations, will be co-chaired by the world's richest man, Mexican telecom-magnate Carlos Slim Hélu, and Rwanda President Paul Kagame. It will report directly to the UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon at the UN MDG Summit in New York in September.

Under its terms of reference, the Commission will deliver its findings in two reports. The first report will be based directly on input from the Commissioners.

The second report will be an in-depth research paper that will examine the social and economic benefits of broadband rollout, evaluate different deployment and financing models, and look at the different technologies that can be employed to bring maximum speeds and network reach at affordable prices.

"I look forward to sharing Australia’s experiences in developing our national broadband network as well as contributing to the work of the Commission,” Senator Conroy said.

"The digital economy presents social and economic opportunities that have never before been possible and making the most of these opportunities will be crucial for nations around the world.

"The NBN will lift Australia to the top of world-rankings when it comes to broadband access and I’m pleased to see the ITU has recognised our important work."

The Commission includes members from around the world representing not just the technology sector, but also leaders from across a wide range of business and social sectors, including Ericsson chief executive Hans Erik Vestberg and the US Federal Communications Commission chairman Julius Genachowski.
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Offline mr anderson

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Senator Scott Ludlam's speech on Internet Filtering Legislation
« Reply #8 on: May 12, 2010, 09:45:05 AM »
Senator Scott Ludlam's speech on Internet Filtering Legislation


May 13, 2010
http://vimeo.com/11678632


Australian Greens Senator Scott Ludlam outlines the Greens position on the proposed mandatory internet filter for Australian Internet Service Providers.
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Rudd retreats on web filter legislation

Nicola Berkovic
April 29, 2010 12:00AM
84 comments

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/australian-it/rudd-retreats-on-passing-web-filter-legislation/story-e6frgakx-1225859630452


KEVIN Rudd has put another election promise on the backburner with his controversial internet filtering legislation set to be shelved until after the next election. A spokeswoman for Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said yesterday the legislation would not be introduced next month's or the June sittings of parliament.

With parliament not sitting again until the last week of August, the laws are unlikely to be passed before the election.

Labor promised before the last election it would force internet service providers to block access to illegal content such as child pornography and X-rated images. But the US government, Google and free speech advocates have said any efforts to censor the internet would slow download speeds, stop the free flow of information and be ineffective.

Senator Conroy's spokeswoman said the government was not deterred by this criticism.

The government was still consulting with internet service providers and considering public submissions; once that process was complete, it would introduce the legislation into parliament, the spokeswoman said. Australian Christian Lobby managing director Jim Wallace was disappointed.

"The minister has done an excellent job on this . . . and I would like to see it legislated because it was an election promise," he said.

Opposition communications spokesman Tony Smith said Senator Conroy should come clean on when he would release the legislation.
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Support fading for Government's internet filter

Lynne Warren, ABC 
May 13, 2010

http://au.news.yahoo.com/a/-/technology/7219082/support-fading-for-governments-internet-filter
/

Support for the Federal Government's proposed mandatory internet filtering program is waning, with a study revealing that fewer people back the move. Earlier this week Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said a re-elected Labor government would not expand the proposed internet censorship.

The filtering program aims to block all sites refused classification by the Classification Board, including those that display child sexual abuse, bestiality, sexual violence, offensive sexual fetishes or the promotion of crime or illegal drugs. But a study conducted by the social research firm GA Research shows public opinion is shifting.

"What we found overall was that the more information people got about the Government's proposal and the more they became aware of the different options ... the more they became opposed to it," chief executive Sue Vercoe said.

Ms Vercoe says the issue of control is a major concern.

"There was also an issue around secrecy and transparency - which sites on the list could be blocked," she said.

Ms Vercoe says when given a choice, people were more likely to opt for internet safety education and free, self-administered filtering.

The filter has also drawn criticism from the Opposition, the US government and internet service providers, who deem it heavy handed and lacking in transparency.

But Jim Wallace, the head of the Australian Christian Lobby, says anti-censorship movements are cloaking the truth with "alarmism".

"Those things which are refused classification are already refused in Australia," he said.

"Whether it's a book or a DVD or whatever it is, it is refused classification.

"They're not allowed to be sold or distributed in Australia. All we're doing here is applying exactly the same rule to the internet."
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Offline squarepusher

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What a lot of bullshit. Pacifying the public with 'Oh there are a lot of myths surrounding this' - 'Oh we are probably going to stop this if it doesn't work'.

Give me a freakin' break.
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Senate committee to call for public net filtering views

Lundy, Fletcher, Ludlam on senate filter panel that will also look at identity theft and privacy breaches

Darren Pauli (Computerworld)
14 May, 2010

http://www.computerworld.com.au/article/346593/senate_committee_call_public_net_filtering_views/


The public will have the opportunity to present their opinions on the Federal Government’s controversial Internet content filter to parliament. The Joint Select Committee on Cyber Safety will today issue a call for public submissions on topics subject to legislative review including Internet filtering, identity theft and privacy breaches.

The committee will request a parliamentary public review once submissions are reviewed.

Liberal MP and former Optus regulation chief, Paul Fletcher, said the committee will inform government on crucial issues about Internet filtering, and renewed Coalition calls for an independent audit into the proposal.

“I remained to be convinced that filtering is viable,” Fletcher said.

“There has been a lot of bold talk about how the plan will protect every child and parent.”

The 12-member committee is chaired by South Australian Labor Senator, Dana Wortley, and deputy chair is NSW Liberal Party MP, Alex Hawke. Labor senators Kate Lundy and Guy Barnett and NSW Independent Robert Oakeshott MP are also on the panel.

Western Australia Greens Senator, Scott Ludlam, an avid filter critic, secured a seat on the committee after previously losing a spot by two votes to Family First Senator Steve Feilding.

The committee will investigate:

   1. the online environment in which Australian children currently engage, including key physical points of access (schools, libraries, internet cafes, homes, mobiles) and stakeholders controlling or able to influence that engagement (governments, parents, teachers, traders, internet service providers, content service providers).

   2. abuse of children online;

   3. exposure to illegal and inappropriate content;

   4. inappropriate social and health behaviours in an online environment;

   5. identity theft, and

   6. breaches of privacy

Debate over the technical political and moral grounds of the filter plan have raged since the election of the Rudd Government in 2007.

The filter was proposed under the then Beazley-led Labor Party 12 months prior to its election, while then-Communications Minister Helen Coonan had criticised the plan and offered the now scrapped Net Alert home Internet content filter.

Fletcher was the telecommunications advisor and chief of staff to former communications minister, Richard Alston, in 1996 and worked at Optus from 2000 to 2008.
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Fight to filter out evil leaves bad guys to do their worst

RICK FENELEY
May 15, 2010

http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/fight-to-filter-out-evil-leaves-bad-guys-to-do-their-worst-20100514-v4cq.html


Buried in the budget papers - not this week's beige bundle but the Rudd government's first effort in 2008 - is an ugly set of numbers. Small numbers, but ugly. The Coalition had boosted funding to the Online Child Sexual Exploitation Team, a unit of the Australian Federal Police.

But now New Labor was quietly giving this team of paedophile hunters a $2.8 million haircut. Kevin Rudd and his Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy, apparently reckoned it would be better spent on an internet filter.

With $44 million, they would take on the world wide web and create a ''clean feed''. They would impose their filter on the net's greatest horrors: images of child abuse, rape, bestiality. They would block instruction manuals for terrorists and criminals. The RuddCon filter. The rabbit-proof, or gerbil-proof, firewall.

Experts knew they might as well take a tea-strainer to Warragamba Dam to filter Sydney's water, but Rudd and Conroy wouldn't listen.

Alastair MacGibbon is a former federal cop and founding director of the AFP's high tech crime centre. MacGibbon, also founder of the Internet Safety Institute, took to the stage this week as part of the IQ2

Australia debate on the proposition: ''Governments should not censor the internet.'' MacGibbon argued against this proposition. He reckons governments should have some role - he kept stressing some - in censoring the net. Conroy was invited to be on the same debating team but it was budget night, so he withdrew. Wise move.

MacGibbon wanted to get one thing straight about the government's proposed clean feed. ''I, for one, am not a supporter. It will not work.'' MacGibbon's teammates agreed. None had a kind word for the RuddCon compulsory filter on internet service providers.

So what would the filter protect us from? This is tricky because the government's blacklist is secret. We are not allowed to know what we will not be allowed to see. A publicised list would be an advertisement for clever-geek perverts, or curious kids.

We do know it will be no net nanny. It will not even attempt, for now, to block the streams of porn between consenting adults, with which many kids are familiar. For the past couple of months Conroy has been harping on about 355 child porn sites that would be blocked. That number is certainly obsolete. Child porn peddlers are shifty, usually communicating peer-to-peer, under the radar of any filter. They're also adept at moving pages around the web to avoid detection. (Think of the poor tuckshop consultant who discovered she was placed on the blacklist - without so much as a phone call - because a hacker created a child porn page on her website.)

Then there is the legal stuff that RuddCon would block. Anything refused classification (RC) goes on the blacklist. One example: a video game called Mark Ecko's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure, in which our heroes use spray cans to resist a tyrannical regime. With graffiti. It was rated MA15+ until the Queensland Local Government Association appealed to make it RC because it might incite an illegal act. Not insurrection, graffiti.

At this point, it's OK for our little darlings to commit carjackings, sell drugs and assassinate people on Grand Theft Auto but not to create virtual graffiti. Absurdly, Australia has no R18+ rating for computer games, so anything ruled unsuitable for children becomes RC - and would be blocked by the RuddCon filter.

What film, manual or political cause might creep on to the secret blacklist once this law is passed? Check out the website of Electronic Frontiers Australia, the relentless volunteers who have exposed the folly of the filter. It won't protect kids. It will not do parents' work for them. It is no clean feed. It's a dirty con.
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Mandatory ISP-level internet filtering policy mentions in the (Australian) Federal Budget:

http://www.dbcde.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/127842/2010-11_BCDE_PBS_Complete.pdf

Section 1: Agency overview and resources

1.1 STRATEGIC DIRECTION STATEMENT

The Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy aims to develop a vibrant, sustainable and internationally competitive broadband, broadcasting and communications sector, which promotes the digital economy for the benefit of all Australians.

The Department’s strategic functions and responsibilities include:

[............]

supporting and protecting the interests of consumers through funding of the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network, implementing measures to support the Government’s Cyber-safety Plan and measures relating to cybersecurity; and

[............]

In performing its functions, the Department aims to support and encourage the development of world class communications infrastructure over which consumers can access a diversity of services that are competitively priced, widely available, provided on fair and just terms and reliable and innovative.

Achievement of the Department’s outcome is supported through measures within the 2010-11 Budget, together with significant initiatives continuing from previous years.

The major initiatives include:

[.............]

The reallocation of $40.8m of existing Cyber-safety funding to enhance Cybersafety education, awareness and counselling programs and the Government will introduce legislative amendments to the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 to require all Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to filter overseas hosted Refused Classification (RC) material on a RC content list to be maintained by the ACMA.

[.............]

Program 1.2: Telecommunications, Online and Postal Services

Program objective:

To support all Australians to safely and securely realise the full potential of the digital economy. Ensure the availability and reliability to consumers and businesses of reasonably priced basic and essential communications services.

Linked to:

Elements of the following administered items in Program 1.2 are also delivered by other agencies:

• Cyber-safety is also delivered through the Australian Communications and Media Authority, the Australian Federal Police, the Attorney-General’s Department and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions;

• elements of the Government’s Cyber-Security National Agenda programs are also delivered through the Attorney-General’s Department, the Australian Communications and Media Authority, the Australian Federal Police, the Australian Government Information Management Office and the Defence Signals Directorate (Our NSA essentially);

[..........]

Consumers

• Timely and effective policy advice on implementation of policy on ISP filtering as part of the Government’s overall cyber-safety plan; and

• Procurement of filtering tool and advice to assist ISPs to implement mandatory filtering and delivery of a grants program on wider filtering services.
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Dateline interviews Julian Assange from Wikileaks
« Reply #15 on: May 16, 2010, 05:15:35 AM »
It'll air in roughly one hour over here in Australia on SBS's Dateline with George Negus.

Video now available! - http://www.sbs.com.au/dateline/story/watch/id/600572/n/The-Whistleblower

Transcript - http://www.sbs.com.au/dateline/story/transcript/id/600572/n/The-Whistleblower



http://www.sbs.com.au/dateline/story/about/id/600572/n/The-Whistleblower

The WikiLeaks website is fast gaining credibility as a whistleblowing site for political secrets, but one of the people behind it, Australian  Julian Assange, remains an international man of mystery.

His biggest coup so far has been obtaining classified video of Iraqi civilians and Reuters staff being gunned down by a US military helicopter, dubbed Collateral Murder, which has been watched over six million times.

The site also released what it claimed was the list of websites to be banned under the Australian Government’s proposed internet filter, before parts of WikiLeaks itself were blacklisted by the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

But Julian Assange does all this with no home or office, constantly travelling the world, so Mark Davis tracked him down to Norway, and followed him advising politicians in Iceland on turning the country into a safe haven for whistleblowers.

But what did he manage to find out about this shy former-computer-hacker-turned-investigative-journalist? Watch his profile of Julian Assange on Dateline this Sunday at 8.30pm on SBS ONE.

Live Online Chat:
http://www.sbs.com.au/dateline/story/about/id/600567/n/The-Whistleblower-Live-Online-Chat
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Re: Dateline interviews Julian Assange from Wikileaks tonight!
« Reply #16 on: May 16, 2010, 08:40:18 AM »
Some quotes from Julian Assange during Live Chat:

"Consequences from the Collateral Murder tape so far: concretely, compensation to the children, meetings between the Pentagon and Reuters. But the subtle effects must be many, since we know a lot of people are emotionally effected, but they are hard to measure."

"This is a value we are trying to make a new journalistic standard. "Scientific journalism" where all primary source materials are made available, so people can check the analysis is correct and cover other angles. Profit motives work aganist it, but if we can have the audience understand that most other forms of journalism are not credible, then it may be a forced move."

"I am optimistic that if people keep fighting the good fight we will not have a meaningful national censorship system. We can see that is at threshold and could go either way."

"We can't be partisans to nation states, so we don't. However, even so, we have never published anything that threatened, in a meaningful sense, a countries national security, because we have never received such material. "

"Yes, we have published US intelligence documents on our activities. You can see some of these on the front page, currently. "

"It is deeply concerning. And it isn't just us, other countries are using Australia as justification to introduce punitive measures. How can we say China is wrong to have a national censorship system, the "great firewall of china", for what they say is reasons of "national security" when we say having one for mere porn is justified."

"Australian democracy is sleeping with a loaded gun if it has a centralized, automated, mandatory national censorship system. All media is moving onto the internet and all communications between political parties and their supporters, between activist organizations and their supporters. We can not permit a government censor between every newspaper and its reader. "

"There are some, but none as dedicated. Cryptome.org is a bit idosyncratic bit often has good material."

"There are sometimes forced moved in times of real war, however, so far, we have only seen pretext for cover-ups. "

"We first leaked ACTA drawing attention to it. It is a powergrab out of Hollywood to promote the interests of the copyright industries. A big problem for generic medicines also."

"WikiLeaks is not run by the CIA."
   
"Firstly we're a successful operation. Secondly, we're always begging for money."

"The media deserve a lot of blame. Newspapers, magazines, TV and old-school journalists must be made to understand that as all their content goes online it wall fall under a national, centralized, secret, unaccountable, real-time censorship system. 

"No, but I did avoid returning to Australia for a number of months due to the AFP investigation initiated by [Senator] Conroy. I was "in exile" in Cambodia. That is what we have become. Secret blacklists forcing journalists who break them to go into self-imposed exile."

"For security reasons we only rarely reveal the details of monitoring attempts we have discovered. To reveal them all, would be counter productive, because it'd show which ones we had missed."

"I predict that, like the rest of the world, censorship will become more complex, with unclear barriers about what is censored and what is not. We can see this already with the censoring of internet searches as opposed to just the articles. "

"I had two colleagues assassinated in Kenya, last March. However in the West I do not believe it to be in anyone's career interest to attempt such a move."

"Centralized distribution by Apple of journalistic content, according to US laws and Apple's profits is obviously a journalistic own-goal. Journalists should stop slavishly promoting the iPad."

"Yes, we have published US intelligence documents on our activities. You can see some of these on the front page, currently."

"We can't be partisans to nation states, so we don't. However, even so, we have never published anything that threatened, in a meaningful sense, a countries national security, because we have never received such material. "

"No. I believe all political philosophies are currently bankrupt, because we don't know how human institutions work from the inside. "

"You may want to google for "wikileaks ecomics" or "the hidden curse of Thomas Paine" to understand more. "

"Iceland, and, possibly, the United States. It is not clear exactly what is happening with the US, but a shadow cold war with China seems to be fueling a point of differentiation if Hillary's internet freedoms speech was anything to go by."
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Re: Dateline interviews Julian Assange from Wikileaks tonight!
« Reply #17 on: May 16, 2010, 11:14:03 AM »
Internet 'leaker' fears for passport

TOM ARUP
May 17, 2010

http://www.theage.com.au/national/internet-leaker-fears-for-passport-20100516-v6dw.html


JULIAN Assange, the Australian founder of the whistleblower website Wikileaks, says he had his passport taken away from him at Melbourne Airport and was later told by customs officials that it was about to be cancelled. But The Age has been told that Mr Assange's passport is classified ''normal'' on the immigration database, meaning the Wikileaks director can travel freely on it.

Mr Assange told The Age yesterday that his passport was taken from him by customs officials at Melbourne Airport when he entered the country last week after he was told ''it was looking worn''.

When the passport was returned to him after about 15 minutes, he says he was told by authorities that it was going to be or was cancelled. Passports are routinely taken from travellers for short periods by immigration officials if they are damaged.

Wikileaks has risen to prominence for posting leaked footage of US forces laughing at the dead bodies of 12 people they had just killed in Iraq in 2007. Last year Wikileaks also published a confidential Australian blacklist of websites to be banned under the government's proposed internet filter.

The list as published by Wikileaks blocked links to YouTube clips, sites on euthanasia, fringe religions, and traditional pornography - as well as the websites of a tour operator and a dentist. The government says the intention is to block extreme sites depicting such things as child pornography, bestiality and rape.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority has also asked the Australian Federal Police to investigate the leaking and publishing of the Australian internet blacklist. But a spokeswoman for the AFP said yesterday the federal police had dropped the case earlier this year because it was ''not in our jurisdiction''.

Mr Assange said yesterday that half an hour after his passport was returned to him, he was approached by an Australian Federal Police officer who searched one of his bags and asked him about his criminal record relating to computer hacking offences in 1991.

Mr Assange's allegations about his passport were first made on SBS current affairs program Dateline, which aired a story on the Wikileaks founder last night.
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Re: Dateline interviews Julian Assange from Wikileaks tonight!
« Reply #18 on: May 18, 2010, 11:39:28 PM »
WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange On Apple’s Censorship Policies

By Nick Broughall on May 19, 2010
http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2010/05/wikileaks-founder-julian-assange-on-apples-censorship-policies/




Wikileaks founder Julian Assange had a Q&A session on SBS Dateline’s website the other day, and came out with some quotes particularly relevant to the Australian tech media.

The quote above was Julian responding to the question from Gizmodian Jonathan: “Apple are being heavily criticised for censoring it’s platforms – is it appropriate for private companies who control mainstream platforms to censor? How can we stop this?”

But he also had some sage like advice to the media’s seeming lethargy to criticising the government’s proposed filter. A viewer named Marty asked: “Do you think there are any ways we can make internet censorship a bigger issue, half the people don’t even know about it, and so is isn’t having the attention it deserves.” To which Julian responded:

    “The media deserve a lot of blame. Newspapers, magazines, TV and old-school journalists must be made to understand that as all their content goes online it wall fall under a national, centralized, secret, unaccountable, real-time censorship system.”

You can check out the entire Q&A session over on Dateline’s website.
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IQ2: Governments Should not Censor the Internet
« Reply #19 on: May 18, 2010, 11:57:35 PM »
IQ2: Governments Should not Censor the Internet  -, 14 May 2010 11:00

MP3 - http://mpegmedia.abc.net.au/tv/fora/iq2_internet_full.mp3
Video - http://mpegmedia.abc.net.au/tv/fora/iq2_internet_full.mp4

http://www.abc.net.au/tv/fora/stories/2010/05/14/2900037.htm


The world wide web has evolved into a sprawling, massive and untamed collection of billions of ideas, images, opinions and videos. Many people regard the fact it's largely anarchic and without state boundaries as one of the internet's great strengths. But many see this lack of regulation as a dangerous flaw, leaving our children exposed to pornography and our society to violence.

Debaters at IQ2 last week took the topic "Governments Should Not Censor the Internet". For the affirmative, Head of Public Policy for Google Asia, Ross La Jeunesse, and journalists David Marr and Antony Loewenstein. Arguing against the proposition were Beijing-based columnist Kaiser Kuo, Internet Safety Institute founder Alatair MacGibbon and media law professor Elizabeth Handsley.

Ross LaJeunesse, is Head of Public Policy and Government Affairs for Google Inc. in Asia. Prior to this, LaJeunesse served as Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Kaiser Kuo is a Beijing-based columnist, and commentator on technology and politics, as well as serving as consultant for international business, and media relations for Youku.com, China's leading Internet video site, He is a musician and was co-founder of China's most successful heavy metal band, Tang Dynasty.

David Marr is a journalist at the Sydney Morning Herald. He is the author of books including "The Henson Case" and "Dark Victory". He presented the ABC's Media Watch programme from 2002 - 2004.

Alastair MacGibbon, is the founder of the Internet Safety Institute and Managing Partner of internet consultancy the Surete Group. He was also a Federal Agent with the Australian Federal Police for fifteen years.

Antony Loewenstein is a Sydney-based independent freelance journalist, author and blogger. He is author of "The Blogging Revolution", and "My Israel Question".

Elizabeth Handsley is Professor of Law at Flinders University and Vice-President of the Australian Council on Children and the Media. She is a Co-Convenor of the Harvard-Australia Symposium on Media Use and Children's Well Being.

Dr Simon Longstaff has been Executive Director of St James Ethics Centre since shortly after it was founded. Longstaff spent five years studying and working as a member of Magdalene College, Cambridge. He was inaugural President of The Australian Association for Professional & Applied Ethics, is a Director of a number of companies, and a Fellow of the World Economic Forum and a member of the International Advisory Committee of the Foreign Policy Association.
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Re: IQ2: Governments Should not Censor the Internet
« Reply #20 on: May 20, 2010, 01:21:36 AM »
Extracts from the IQ Squared Debate:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8AVJ6S5JAgw
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WeAreChange Brisbane & Co gather petition signatures against the internet filter

WeAreChange Brisbane
May 23, 2010
Quote
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VAdvpXZU7U0

WeAreChange Brisbane in collaboration with Mel Short (Chief Petitioner), Gregor, Ben, Eris, Fritz & Warrick (Editor) acquired 461 signatures in 3 hours!

This petition is going to the Australian House of Representatives and anyone in the world can sign it!

The deadline is June 4th. Here is the petition - http://stopthefilter.org/petition.htm

Print, sign, gather signatures, mail to the address.

Join WeAreChange Brisbane today: http://www.meetup.com/WeAreChangeBrisbane

http://www.wearechangebrisbane.org
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Hi Matt,

I’m responding on behalf of the Senator as I help with correspondence on this issue.

Thanks for sending that through, great to hear the signatures are getting close to 10,000. As the Senator has made clear on her blog, she is trying to put forward amendments to the policy through the normal Labor internal process to fix some of the concerns many people hold.

If you haven’t already seen it, please see http://www.katelundy.com.au/2010/02/16/my-thoughts-on-the-safer-internet-group-statement/ for more details.

Hope that is useful to you.

Cheers,


Pia Waugh

ICT Policy Advisor
Office of Senator Kate Lundy
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wow what a read, thanks for the posts anderson.. this really makes my blood boil.
"fear is the virus they use to divide us "

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Re: Secret forum reveals Australian firewall backroom dealing
« Reply #24 on: May 25, 2010, 09:25:57 AM »
Secret forum reveals Australian firewall backroom dealing

Circumvention legal, but you can't tell anyone how

By Jane Fae Ozimek
Posted in Telecoms, 10th May 2010 08:58 GMT

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/05/10/australia_firewall_forum/


Australia’s plans for a firewall to protect its population from smut on the internet are rapidly evolving from farce to total chaos. Weekly revelations on bulletin boards suggest that Stephen Conroy, the man behind the big idea, does not know what forthcoming legislation on the topic will say, when it will be introduced or how the firewall will work in practice.

[....]

Conroy unlikely to reveal secret filter forum results

James Hutchinson (Computerworld)
24 May, 2010

http://www.computerworld.com.au/article/347631/conroy_unlikely_reveal_secret_filter_forum_results_/?fp=4&fpid=5


The Australian Government's filter forum has been closed, but the results from online consultation may never be made public

The Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy has announced the closure of an online forum used by the Australian Government and Internet service providers in discussing the implementation of the Government's proposed mandatory Internet filter.

Speaking at a Senate budget estimates hearing, the department deputy secretary, Abul Rizvi, said that the online forum had closed but "the consultation with ISPs on this is ongoing".

"We will be preparing a report out of that forum and that will be together with other advice to the minister regarding the implementation of ISP filtering," he said.

However, Senator Stephen Conroy, also present at the hearing, was unable to commit to the release of any such report to the public, instead putting the question "on notice" and effectively delaying an answer.

"There may be network issues which ISPs have individualised... that ISPs wouldn't want publicised," Conroy said. "If ISPs are happy for all of the information to be released; well they've released most of it themselves."

Rizvi said the ISP forum filter was disclosed in a press released announcing the Internet filter in December last year, when service providers were urged to register interest online with the Department in order to take part in discussions surrounding the filter. A total of 687 service providers were approached, the names of which the government obtained through the Australian Media and Communications Authority's (ACMA) carrier license register, the Internet Ombudsman service providers list, and via other means.

According to the department, the forum was designed as a means to discuss technical aspects of ISP-level filtering, development of grants for optional filtering, developing of filtering tools and the secure transmission of the Refused Classification blacklist to ISPs.

Under current guidelines, the blacklist would be transmitted to ISPs for implementation, rather than updated in real-time.

Among other things, Rizvi was unable to clarify whether service providers were forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement surrounding the contents of the forum.

After sitting on the other side of the hearings table earlier that day, the communications minister frustrated the Senate hearings committee by dodging questions surrounding the forum. However, the department did reveal that it was yet to determine any penalties to be placed on parties that possess and disseminate copies of the blacklist.

"There's an awful lot of really basic info going on notice tonight," Greens Senator, Scott Ludlam, said during the hearing. "I'm going to have to wait until after the election aren't I?"

Instead, Conroy launched tirades on search giant Google and social networking site Facebook over privacy issues raised with both corporations over the past week. The Senator called Google's collection of Wi-Fi data the "single greatest privacy breach in history", and attacked the social networking site over a failure to keep user's data private.

Ludlam subsequently changed his Facebook status to reflect Conroy's statements, saying "Conroy bagging out facebook. You read it here first."
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[Video] WeAreChange Brisbane: Anti-Internet Censorship Petition (Part II)
« Reply #25 on: June 08, 2010, 09:02:11 AM »
WeAreChange Brisbane

June 6, 2010


Quote
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LII92cHIPxc ||| HQ version: http://vimeo.com/12377610

http://www.youtube.com/user/WeAreChangeBrisbane

This is third week in a row getting signatures for the petition against the mandatory ISP-level internet filter here in Australia, Part II video-wise.

Once handed into the House of Representatives and the signatures collated and counter the relevant ministers, Senator Stephen Conroy being one of them, must respond within 90 days of notice.

We estimate around 8,500+ signatures have been gathered and certainly will send a message to Labor, Coalition, Greens, Family First and the Independents that we do not accept this mandatory ISP-level net filter.

Polls consistently show strong opposition to this proposed legislation. However like a true politician Prime Minister Rudd has deferred all unpopular policies until such time, we believe, that he wins re-(s)election and rams them through with a possible majority in the House of Reps and Senate.

Enjoy.

Credit goes to Warrick Fraser for editing this film :P

Here is Part I:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VAdvpXZU7U0
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Offline mr anderson

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Should Gillard replace Conroy with Lundy?

Written by Renai LeMay on Thursday, June 24, 2010

http://delimiter.com.au/2010/06/24/should-gillard-replace-conroy-with-lundy/


Several of Stephen Conroy’s harshest critics have backed the idea that Julia Gillard should hand his Communications portfolio to fellow Labor Senator Kate Lundy in the event Gillard took the Prime Ministership this morning and conducted a cabinet re-shuffle.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd tonight acknowledged on national television that Gillard had challenged him for the Labor crown, with a leadership spill to be held this morning at 9AM. Multiple reports — including Lundy herself, who will vote for Gillard — expect the deputy PM to win the vote.

It is not yet known which way Conroy will vote, although he is believed to be part of the ALP right faction which has been reported to have been instrumental in building support for Gillard within the party ranks.

Electronic Frontiers Australia chair Colin Jacobs — who has been engaged in a running battle with Conroy over the Government’s controversial internet filter — said there was “no question” that Lundy understood the technology industry better than Conroy and had great relationships in the sector.

“I personally would love to see a change in direction in the ministry, given what we have seen in the past few years,” Jacobs said, noting particularly industry disapproval of the filter policy. Lundy is currently pushing for modifications to be made to the policy that would allow Australians to either opt-in or opt-out of having their internet connections filtered at the ISP level.

“The filter has dominated and totally tarnished Conroy’s reputation when it comes to these issues,” said Jacobs. He noted also that Conroy’s personal demeanour – including his “tough parliamentary style” had not made him the most popular person.

Internode engineer Mark Newton — also a notable Conroy critic — said “without question”, Lundy had more respect in the technology sector. “Conroy is a laughing stock in the IT world,” he said.

“You could put a pot plant in the ministry and get a better response.”

In comparison, he said, Lundy had demonstrated a personal style that was “a lot more nuanced” and more consultative than Conroy. Newton noted that Lundy had spent a lot of time in parliament working within committee structures. “You can see that in the way she has approached the filter censorship issue,” he said.

Lundy has been vocal on the internet filter issue, but one question about the ACT senator would be how she would handle the National Broadband Network issue — one of the biggest tasks in the Communications Portfolio.

Jacobs noted that Conroy had achieved some breakthroughs in the NBN area recently — especially the $11 billion deal that brought Telstra into the NBN fold over the weekend. Conroy’s tough style might help in negotiating with powerful telcos like Telstra, he said — but ultimately the EFA chief said he would still back Lundy over Conroy in that area.

Newton said he believed the NBN was misplaced in the Communications portfolio in the first place.

“The Rudd front bench has an infrastructure minister, and yet the largest infrastructure project in Australia’s history is being looked after by a Communications Minister,” he said, noting it might be worth creating a separate minister just to look after the NBN.

“Give it to someone who can provide it with dedicated attention,” Newton said. “If you leave it to a Communications Minister, they’re going to be distracted with issues like internet censorship.”

Rudd and Conroy have appeared to have a strong working relationship over the past few years, with Rudd backing his Communications Minister on issues ranging from the NBN to the internet filter and even about Google’s inadvertent collection of payload data through Wi-Fi scanning by its Street View cars.

Less is known about Gillard’s relationship with either Rudd or Conroy, or even Gillard’s own attitude towards technology policy.

Jacobs noted that the ALP’s right faction had, however, been instrumental in putting Gillard forward to challenge Rudd yesterday. With Conroy being a member of the right faction, it would have to take some “pretty crazy” moves to see him losing his portfolio, the EFA chair noted.

Newton said it was a bit hard to say what Gillard’s views on key issues such as the NBN and the filter might be — because he believed Gillard would have been fairly restricted in what she could say, as she had been under Kevin Rudd’s shadow as his deputy for several years. However, he noted that Rudd had kept his ministers very strongly under control, and flagged the potential for Gillard to allow her cabinet more leniency.

Although Newton and Jacobs were interviewed separately, both ultimately expressed frustration about the choices that party leaders have made in the communications portfolio.

“I don’t think Australia has ever in its history had a successful communications minister,” said Newton. “As far back as I can remember, Australia has been poorly served by communications ministers,” agreed Jacobs.

Image credit: Adam Carr, Creative Commons
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Offline AnarchyOK

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this is good news
"fear is the virus they use to divide us "

Offline mr anderson

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Senator Conroy backs down on net filters (Internet censorship)
« Reply #28 on: July 09, 2010, 01:07:22 AM »
Conroy backs down on net filters

ASHER MOSES
July 9, 2010 - 1:46PM

http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/conroy-backs-down-on-net-filters-20100709-10381.html


Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has capitulated to widespread concerns over his internet censorship policy and delayed any mandatory filters until at least next year.

Academics, ISP experts, political opponents, the US government and a broad cross-section of community groups have long argued that the plan to block a secret blacklist of "refused classification" web pages for all Australians was fraught with issues, for example, that blocked RC content could include innocuous material.

Having consistently ignored these concerns, Senator Conroy today announced that implementation of his policy would be delayed until a review of RC classification guidelines could be conducted by state and territory censorship ministers.

This is not expected to begin until at least the middle of next year.

"Some sections of the community have expressed concern about whether the range of material included in the RC category ... correctly reflects current community standards," Senator Conroy said.

"As the government's mandatory ISP filtering policy is underpinned by the strength of our classification system, the legal obligation to commence mandatory ISP filtering will not be imposed until the review is completed."

In the meantime, major ISPs - including Optus, Telstra and iPrimus - have pledged to block child-abuse websites voluntarily. This narrower, voluntary approach has long been advocated by internet experts and brings Australia into line with other countries such as Britain.

"It will be just child porn, and that will be consistent with best practice in Scandinavia and Europe," Peter Coroneos, chief executive of the Internet Industry Association, said.

But the government does not seem to be backing out of the deeply unpopular mandatory filtering policy altogether, as it has today announced a suite of transparency and accountability measures to address concerns about the scheme.

These include:

    * an annual review of content on the blacklist by an "independent expert".
    * clear avenues of appeal for people whose sites are blocked.
    * content will be added to the blacklist by the Classification Board, instead of the Australian Communications and Media Authority.
    * affected parties will have the ability to have decisions reviewed by the Classification Review Board.
    * people will know when they surf to a blocked page as a notification will appear.

"The public needs to have confidence that the URLs on the list, and the process by which they get there, is independent, rigorous, free from interference or influence and enables content and site owners access to appropriate review mechanisms," Senator Conroy said.

One of Senator Conroy's strongest political critics, Greens communications spokesman Scott Ludlam, took the move by the government as a sign the critics were winning their battle to have the policy modified.

"A review of the RC is helping; that's a good idea. I think the fact that ISPs are putting their own initiatives forward voluntarily is also helpful," Senator Ludlam said.

"[But] if we're still pursuing mandatory ISP-level filtering then obviously we're not there yet. All we've got today is a useful acknowledgment of some of the flaws in the system and I'm hoping that they take this period to reflect on the overall objectives of the scheme."

He said even if the policy was narrowed to encompass just child-abuse material, major issues remained, such as that the filters are easy to bypass and will not block even a fraction of the nasty material available on the web. There was nothing stopping future governments from expanding the blacklist to cover other types of content.

"I don't interpret [the move] as killing it but I do interpret it as trying to neutralise the issue in the short term as far as the election is concerned," said Colin Jacobs, spokesman for the online users' lobby group Electronic Frontiers Australia.

"They're tinkering around the edges with the classification scheme without having a rethink around how you apply a system that was designed for books and movies to the internet."

The Safer Internet Group, which includes state schools, libraries, Google, iiNet, Inspire Foundation, Internet Industry Association, Yahoo and the System Administrators Guild of Australia today welcomed the new approach the government was taking on cyber safety.

Google, which has been at war with Senator Conroy over the policy, said it was "heartened" to see the government had taken into account "the genuine concerns expressed by many" on the RC category.

"While we're yet to see full details, a voluntary proposal by ISPs, limited to child abuse material, is consistent with the approach taken in many of Australia's peer countries worldwide," Google Australia managing director Karim Temsamani said.

"Our primary concern has always been that the scope of the proposed filter is far too broad. It goes way beyond child sexual abuse material and would block access to important online information for all Australians."

Simon Sheikh, chief executive of the online activist group GetUp!, said the delay on the mandatory filters was proof that the government had heard the voices of the hundreds of thousands of Australians prepared to vote on this issue.

Quote
Getup! is a fake grassroots lobbyist / activist group with indirect ties to George Soros:

Go to page 15 and see what associations the board of directors have
http://www.getup.org.au/files/media/getup_annualreport_0506.pdf

"But a delay is not enough - the Government needs to announce that they will either scrap, or change the policy to an opt-in model, so that Australians themselves can judge how best to protect their children online," he said.

"When it comes to protecting our children online we need investment in education, home-based filters and the federal police. These investments will better equip parents to protect their children at home, and better equip police to combat the issues at their source."
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Offline squarepusher

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This is bullshit.

They're not backing down on one goddamn thing.

Read my most recent posts.
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