Sunday, October 19, 2008

Internet content filtering: an impossible, useless waste of time and Australian taxpayer dollars!

Today I'm still on the subject of Internet censorship (content filtering, blocking, call it what you will) here in Australia, as proposed by Kevin Rudd's government ... but hopefully these will be the last words I say on the subject, so we can be off onto happier topics tomorrow!

For the moment, I just want to point out how impossible, and unnecessary the whole subject is, and it won't take long to get this point across.

The story so far:

Here is yesterday's post -- -- in which I set out the farcical situation. The government intends to virtually cripple the Internet in this country, to block "illegal" sites, by which they can only mean porn sites containing taboo material, plus terrorist sites, also with taboo contents.

It's a laudable enough idea in principal, but in practise ... the technology isn't ready, broadband will crash to the speed of dial-up, dial-up connections will die -- and since a lot of this country still relies on dial-up because we don't HAVE omnipresent broadband, significant numbers of Australians will be effectively locked out of the Internet.

Also, around 1% of kosher sites will be caught in the filters, like the nets that catch dolphins along with tuna. 1% might not sound like a lot, but since there are more than six BILLION webpages in the world now (not counting blogs), what you have here is 60,000,000 (sixty million!) real, genuine, kosher, proper webpages that were blocked by the Australian government ... and the Rudd regime considers this fully acceptable.

So that's the picture. Many Aussies can't get on the Internet at all, and those of us who can are unable to access at least sixty million proper sites. These are the rules for ALL Australians, no matter if we have children or not.

And, uh, so, how good is the system? Can you get around it?

By now, vast numbers of Internet users have researched VPN servers: "A virtual private network (VPN) is a computer network in which some of the links between nodes are carried by open connections or virtual circuits in some larger network (e.g., the Internet) instead of by physical wires. The link-layer protocols of the virtual network are said to be tunneled through the larger network when this is the case. One common application is secure communications through the public Internet, but a VPN need not have explicit security features, such as authentication or content encryption. VPNs, for example, can be used to separate the traffic of different user communities over an underlying network with strong security features."

In other words, people who want to see what the government says they can't will just set up a VPN on their own home computer, and Kevin Rudd can go and do the other thing.

And to save myself some typing, I'm going to paste over a comment from Computer World (which ran the story to which I linked yesterday):

    "This can be defeated using a VPN tunnel based in another country. VPN is secure, encrypted, and cannot be analysed, monitored, cracked, or sniffed.

    I own an Internet radio station in Australia, and I have my servers in the United States. So all I have to do is simply login to my server, using the VPN software built into Windows, and what I do online cannot be filtered, monitored, analysed, cracked, or sniffed, because it is heavily encrypted. If Rudd and his cronies tried to sniff my traffic, all they would get is a bunch of GARBAGE.

    Why you do think so many offices that allow remote access require VPN? It is a secure protocol that is impossible to crack.

    And there are plenty of subscription VPN services out there, though with the weakening Australian dollar, they would be much more expensive now, but worth the price. Right now, they would run about 30 Australian dollars a month, on average. I advocate people doing this, unless they are like me, and own servers outside Australia.";1399635276

So, if a terrorist organization (or a porn ring abusing minors) wants to beat the Internet filtering, it's dead easy. In effect, you have a plan not unlike the banning of firearms: if you confiscate guns, the only people who will have them will be criminals ... and the only people who get hurt are the innocent law-abiding citizens, many of whom won't be able to connect, because dial-ups will be useless when the blanket filtering starts.

Arguably, the whole point of Internet content filtering is to stop pornographic abuse of underage individuals. This should be the responsibility of PARENTS, EDUCATORS and PRIESTS, not the government. Those of us who don't have (and never will have) children, can certainly sympathise and give moral support, but opening the door to an Orwellian state where information is scanned, filtered, edited, blocked, before free, mature age, intelligent, decent people see it, is ... wrong.

As I pointed out in yesterday's post, the same system could be expanded to restrict freedom of speech for religious minorities, including the pagan community, the GLBTIQ community, political commentators ... and anyone -- including bona fide scholars -- who criticises government, the law, the system, the church.

And since it is the responsibility of parents, teachers and preachers to protect the children, in a house where children are shown by Centrelink (Social Security) records to live, it should be illegal to have computers that are not hooked up to at least one of these:

...there are HUNDREDS of these filters, from business models to church models.

You have "satisfied customers" giving testimonials like this:

    "Yes, both Firefox and Internet Explorer are filtered. Now we can feel safer knowing that we won't accidentally encounter pornography on the web. Thank you for your efforts in serving our Lord." - Robert Simpson (

There are Christian filters by the boat-load, offering this as their policy:

    Free Page Websites: Sites where home page space is offered for free. These sites historically have done nothing to prevent abuse of their services by users who post offensive content under multiple names, making them difficult to track. We will review individual pages on request, and unblock good sites as necessary. Many good sites are already unblocked.
    Drugs: Advocating or promoting recreational use of any controlled substance. (Also see Illegal)
    Alcohol: Advocating or promoting recreational use of alcohol. (See also "Adults Only.")
    Tobacco: Advocating or promoting recreational use of tobacco. (See also "Adults Only.")
    Gambling: Gambling services, or information relevant primarily to gambling.
    Illegal: Advocating, promoting, or giving advice on carrying out acts widely considered illegal. This includes lock-picking, bomb-making, fraud, breaching computer security ("hacking"), phone service theft ("phreaking"), pirated software archives, or evading law enforcement.
    Violence: Graphic images or written descriptions of wanton violence or grave injury (mutilation, maiming, dismemberment, etc.) Includes graphically violent games.
    Suicide / Murder: Information on committing murder or suicide.
    Tasteless/Gross: Bodily functions. Tasteless humor. Graphic medical photos. Some extreme forms of body modification (cutting, branding, piercing).
    Profanity: Crude, vulgar, or obscene language or gestures.
    Porn Site Material: Material intended to be sexually arousing or erotic. (See also Sex and Nudity)
    Adults Only : Material labeled by its author or publisher as being strictly for adults. (Examples: "Adults only", "You must be 18 to visit this site", "Registration is allowed only for people 18 or older", "You must be of legal drinking age to visit this site").
    Sex: Images or descriptions of sexual activity. Any sexual merchandise. Sexual fetishism. (See also Pornography and Nudity)
    Nudity : Nakedness. enough said. (See also Swimsuits, Lingerie, Sex, Pornography)
    Swimsuits: Models in swimwear, especially fashion swimwear photos.
    Lingerie: Models in lingerie (except those that qualify for Nudity).
    Chat: Chat sites, services that allow short messages to be sent to others immediately in real time. Downloadable chat software. (See also Moderated)
    Personals: Personal advertisements, including "mail-order brides." (See also "Adults Only.")

...and here we have the Australian government investing over $125 million in a program to cripple the Internet and lock out rural Australians (who can't get broadband), instead of simply prosecuting the parents, teachers and preachers who allow unprotected computers in their homes, schools and churches!

It can only be that Rudd's moronic government hired analysts to figure out what to do save the children from Internet porn ... and this is the best solution some lame brain in Canberra could come up with.

If the government is determined to spend money, how about have Canberra buy and give away the Net Nanny and the Christianity OnLine and what have you. Just in case the poor widdle dears (whose children are being exposed to the faint possibility of encountering images of God's Greatest Creation, Man, in the state he was created ... nekkid ... shock, horror ... because these Christian parents won't bloody supervise their offspring's Internet access time!) say they can't afford the content filtering software. Get this straight: they can afford the computer, but not the software. Yeah, right. Me? I'd search their wheelie bins for cigarette packets and empty beer bottles, and if I found either one, I'd throw the book at them.

It would be far cheaper to buy 4 MILLION site licenses for Net Nanny or similar, and give them away to every household with a child or children. You could probably get away with about a $40m investment, and save $85m.

And then you prosecute the hell out of preachers, teachers and parents if kids get hold of Internet porn ... because now we know exactly who's responsible for the crime of allowing access to it. Like having porno magazines in the house, hiding them under the sofa cushions and hoping for the best.

This way, the Internet can remain free and Australians in rural areas can still connect.

Where do you write protest letters along these lines? Here:

Senator the Hon Stephen Conroy
Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy

Ministerial office
Level 4, 4 Treasury Place
Melbourne Vic 3002

Tel: 03 9650 1188
Fax: 03 9650 3251;1399635276

And why in the world would all this be happening at this time in Australia? Why not five years ago, why not ten years from now?

In fact, why in the name of heaven should it be happening at all in a country that supposedly prides itself on its freedoms and civil liberties?!

Well, here we get to the bottom line. We're going through this because it turns out we have a Bible thumper for PM. Don't believe me? Go here:,21985,20872017-662,00.html

...and what kills me is, I voted for this guy. My kingdom for a time machine. I might as well have voted for Donald Duck.


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