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More about Australian Internet Censorship

As the Australian government wants to show how well they understand technology, they have started a blog about the “Digital Economy” [1]. So far they have hundreds of comments, most of which just tell them that their censorship ideas are wrong.

In what may be related news, Barack Obama has announced details of some of his plans [2]. He will spend money on improving net access (something that the Australian government could learn from) and on improving schools (which will probably be about as effective as putting lipstick on a pig). I really hope that we don’t have someone in his administration deciding that improving schools requires censoring the Internet for the entire population (people tend to turn their brains off when it’s time to think about the children). He is also allocating money to road building (a stupid idea when cars are becoming increasingly expensive and world fuel supplies are running out – he should be building train and tram lines). But his idea about improving the energy efficiency of federal buildings is a really good idea, that will lead the development of technology that everyone can use to increase efficiency. He also wants to “modernise” the health-care system by moving to electronic medical records – this seems unlikely but I guess that all spending on IT is somehow good for those of us who are involved in the computer industry. One of his advisors has realised that there are economic benefits to really fixing the health-care system, so there is some hope that it will get fixed [3].

The FLOSS Manuals project has released a document about circumventing censorship systems [4], I expect that many people will be using them before the government even gets their Chinese-style filter installed (if they ever do).

3 comments to More about Australian Internet Censorship

  • Mike of Melb

    It is easy to defeat the internet censorship initiative: Just get the Australian censorship laws changed, which apply to all media types. That now includes the Internet.
    .
    Otherwise you are all just wishfully whistling up the rear end of an elephant folks…
    .
    This government will apply the existing censorship laws to the Internet here, they have no choice and are currently legally bound to find a way for this to function. It is amazing that you guys just do not seem to be able to understand this.
    .
    This is not about Internet censorship, and save us the whinge about Chinese censorship. That is an outright insult to the Chinese who have lost life, liberty and human rights fighting their regime. Your blogs would not even exist under Chinese censorship, so give all a break and stick to some rality.
    .
    This is about whether a government has the mandate to apply censorship to any communications medium. And the answer is that they have done this for a century, and you guys are all just waking up now because our wonderful “wild wild west frontier” life on the ‘Net is about to be miniscully restricted.
    .
    8 billion webpages on the ‘Net, the gov wants to blacklist 10,000 of them, and you are up in arms and outraged? Get a life and find a real fight to fight. People are dying, starving, being tortured and raped and assaulted out there in the real worls. Kids are being abused and misused, wives are being beaten. And all you Keyboard Heros can vent your spleen on is a theoretical level of performance degradation to an Internet networks that is 500% more affected by Telstra’s strategies.
    .
    Give us a break, and do something of real vale.

  • etbe

    Mike: There is no censorship on letters, phone calls, or private conversations at this time. There has been monitoring of letters and phone calls during war-time and soldiers had their mail censored to preserve military secrets. But military security issues are entirely unrelated to the current issues.

    There are classification laws related to material for public broadcast. If someone was to have a big screen showing movies downloaded from the net and charge people admission then it would be right to apply those classification laws to that. But I am not aware of any case of someone doing that.

    The government are not legally bound to do anything other than obey the constitution.

    There is no mandate to enact filtering of common carriers. Telephone companies, the postal service, couriers, and others are regarded as common carriers, they are not expected to filter the content that they carry. Customs does inspect parcels at the border – but note that this is done by government employees and the government pays. Government employees also search baggage and may conduct personal searches of travelers who enter the country, again it’s done by government employees at government expense.

    The searches that are performed by customs agents are based on documented criteria. I know in advance which items can not be brought into Australia, but the plans for the Internet censorship are based around a secret list of banned sites. Also the list of items that may be seized by customs is defined by the Australian government in accordance with Australian law, but the plans for Internet censorship involve delegating the production of the black list to entities outside Australia and not under the control of the Australian government.

    Apart from the duration of WW1 and WW2 there has not been censorship in Australia. The only monitoring of personal communications has been specific phone taps based on a court order.

    The censorship plans do not have the potential to save a single child from abuse. But they will force the bad people to use VPNs – thus making things more difficult for law enforcement agents who want to arrest them.

    As for doing something of real value, if you had cared enough about this issue to do some background research you would have discovered that I have done a lot of work on Internet security. What have you done that is of real value?

  • [...] Telstra’s strategies. . Give us a break, and do something of real vale. Russell Coker responded here. Mike had, of course, already said everything that needed to be [...]