Saturday, October 25, 2008

Australian Internet censorship: government v. the people

A second swift post for today -- a kind of post script to my main post. Interested in Australian Internet censoring / filtering / blocking ...? Then, you must read this:

...Filtering out the fury: how government tried to gag web censor critics.

This appeared in the last 24 hours or so, and it's a beauty. If you don't have time for the whole thing (though it's highly recommended) I'll give you a couple of the high points here:

    The Federal Government is attempting to silence critics of its controversial plan to censor the internet, which experts say will break the internet while doing little to stop people from accessing illegal material such as child pornography.

    Internet providers and the government's own tests have found that presently available filters are not capable of adequately distinguishing between legal and illegal content and can degrade internet speeds by up to 86 per cent.

    Documents obtained by us show the office of the Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy, tried to bully ISP staff into suppressing their criticisms of the plan.

    Colin Jacobs, chair of the online users' lobby group Electronic Frontiers Australia said: "I'm not exaggerating when I say that this model involves more technical interference in the internet infrastructure than what is attempted in Iran, one of the most repressive and regressive censorship regimes in the world."

    Critics of the ISP-level filtering plan say software filters installed by the user on their PC, which are already provided by the government for free at, are more than adequate.

    ACMA released a report in July detailing the results of laboratory tests of six unnamed ISP-level filters.

    Only one of the filters tested resulted in an acceptable speed reduction of 2 per cent or less. The others caused drops in speed between 21 per cent and 86 per cent.
    The tests showed the more accurate the filtering, the bigger the impact on network performance.

    However, none of the filters were completely accurate. They allowed access to between 2 per cent and 13 per cent of material that should have been blocked, and wrongly blocked between 1.3 per cent and 7.8 per cent of websites that should have been allowed.

    "Why would you want to damage the performance and utility of the internet and not actually keep the bad stuff out anyway," said John Lindsay, carrier relations manager at Internode.
    In Senate Estimates, Senator Ludlam expressed concern that all sorts of politically-sensitive material could be added to the block list and otherwise legitimate sites - for example, YouTube - could be rendered inaccessible based on content published by users.

    "The black list ... can become very grey depending on how expansive the list becomes - euthanasia material, politically related material, material about anorexia. There is a lot of distasteful stuff on the internet," he said.

Naturally, the Australian government is going ahead regardless, even though it's been pointed out that the filtering won't stop P2P downloading, which apparently accounts for about 60% of download traffic ... and if the child pornography is getting in somehow, bet your pension, that's how it's happening.

Go figure. But think about this: every 1% of the Internet as it stands today is 60,000,000 pages. Sixty million pages. If Australia loses 7% of the Internet -- which was wrongly blocked in the first place, because these were legit pages! -- we'll lose 420,000,000 legitimate pages ... maybe pages talking about health issues or AIDS, or cancer in various body parts where the word "breast" or "testicle" or "penis" will get the page blocked.

Meanwhile, 13% of the material that should have been blocked got through. Now, the bold, unstoppable Keegan just hit Google for a web search on the simple keyword SEX. Ma Goog returned "about 730,000,000" results. If 13% of that lot get through, you have 94,900,000 potential porn pages available to sweet little Australian kiddies.

At the same time, the Internet just slowed down by over 80% of its speed, meaning dial-up users can't connect and sites like YouTube, CNN, even the notoriously slow Hotmail, will be useless to Australians.

Porn-wise, it'll be as if nothing was being done to protect the poor little children whose parents are so stupid, they can't get Net Nanny and install it...

Rural Australia wise: the dial-up accounts are worthless...

And almost HALF A BILLION legitimate pages have vanished utterly...

And, "Senator Ludlam expressed concern that all sorts of politically-sensitive material could be added to the block list..."

And Kevin Rudd's witless government, under his Christian guidance, is steaming ahead with a plan that'll put us further out there than Iran.

Ooooh, boy. Stop this planet, I want to get off.

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