Archive for the ‘ Mandatory Internet Filter ’ Category

Is the Filter really gone??

The news has only just broke so not all the reports are in yet; but it would seem that the Australian Federal Government has officially decided to not submit the Mandatory Internet Filter in either the May or June sessions of Parliament, considering that the Government does not reconvene until the end of August, it is highly unlikely to be passed into law before the next election.

While this would be the latest election promise of the current government put on the back-burner, this is the first that a majority of netizens are not complaining about; aside from other members of the public who have slammed the government for dropping another election promise, completely unaware just how much damage this promise would have caused if it went ahead.

Despite reports yesterday, stating that the Filter was not being submitted to the Senate in the next two sittings, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has come out today, almost in response to the global sigh of relief, to state that the government had no intention of dropping the filter, and planned to still introduce it, though as of yet, there has been no actual timetable.

In a earlier post I commented that when the Filter was Green-lit, its supposed to have already been submitted to the Senate, been approved, and technically should be in operation as we speak. But as we can plainly see, the Government has even less faith in their filter than the rest of the Public does.

Rumours have been running rampant as to why this is the case, whether it is due to international pressure from internet content organizations ranging in size from Leo Laporte’s TWiT Network, to the massive corporations such as Microsoft and Google to drop the Filter; even the US State Department, through the US Ambassador to Australia stating that there are better methods of tracking illegal activities online.

Unfortunately there is very little information about why this has happened; except that it has, so while other people may be jubilant in the belief that the Filter is gone, this seems to be a lot akin to some speculation that I and other bloggers have had, that this might just be an election ploy, drop it now, before the election, be re-elected, and when everyone’s attention has been diverted something else, re-introduce it.

Actually, Conroy, they do…

A few weeks ago, during an interview, Stephen Conroy reaffirmed the Government’s stance to not disclose a list of websites that have been blacklisted; stating that “We don’t disclose when books, music or video games are banned, so why should we do the same with the internet,”

Unfortunately, Minister Conroy, that information is disclosed; when a game, book, movie or CD is banned, all the vendors are notified that they will not be able to sell these items to the public, they in turn tell the public that they cannot purchase these items. It is after all the reasoning behind the R18+ movement, because the community at large is aware that these games are being banned. Despite that once these items become banned, they are often highly sought after, and obtained from other countries, usually Indonesia or New Zealand with little or no legal recourse. Despite the legality of obtaining these banned, the method of notification and obtaining them still exists, and raises the lack of knowledge in the Communications Minister.

The main issue associated with not revealing the blacklist, or even just new additions to the blacklist, is the lack of information about what would happen once a website is on the blacklist. Considering that  a number of companies that exist almost exclusively online, the there is a chance that a harmless online distribution company may end up on the blacklist by way of accident or malicious activity; they  have no detailed legal forum to appeal the decision, or even legislation to inform them that they have even been put on the list.

Another issue that is highlighted by the reluctance to release the blacklist relates more to the effectiveness of the Filter, as opposed to the secrecy. The basic concept of this filter is to block ‘harmful’ content at the ISP level, meaning that you shouldn’t be able to access websites that are on the list. Ideally then, there shouldn’t be a problem with releasing a list of websites that you can’t access, right? Unless, of course the filter isn’t the perfect fix that the Government is promoting it as.

It might, however have something to do with, the Ministers announcement of 16 April, stating that it would not be an offense to bypass the Filter. Yes you read that right, the Mandatory Internet Filter, is mandatory, as long as you actually use it. Now I would have thought something called Mandatory would be, I don’t know, Mandatory, and it being an offense to try and bypass it. It it will be perfectly legal to bypass the filter, a feat that can be accomplished quite readily, by way of VPN or Proxy Servers, negating the actual effectiveness of the filter, to the point where it shouldn’t even be called the Mandatory Internet Filter, but the Optional Internet Filter.

A number of my fellow bloggers have begun to speculate that the Filter is becoming a political foil, something that will be dragged along until just before the next election, only to be dropped; I’m unfortunately a little more sceptical, the Government would not have used the Filter as an election promise in one election only to drop it in the next as an election ploy seems a little redundant in the world of politics

Don’t you even think about it

Following the tragic stabbing death of a child in Queensland a few weeks ago, Facebook memorial groups have sprung up by the dozens and unfortunately, not everyone feels the need to show their respect on them.

Individuals, hiding behind the anonymity of the Internet, to say comments they wouldn’t otherwise have the fortitude to do so in public, has been around since the privatization of the internet some 30 years ago, this form of keyboard courage is not new, and will continue to exist, because of the method in which the internet transmits its information. Facebook is not the first time that this kind of ‘cyber-bullying’ has existed, its just the first time that it has entered public domain. This time of cowardly act has existed almost as long as communication has existed on the internet, where individuals act cruelly online, and all smiles and happiness in person.

However, if it where up to Independent Senator Nick Xenophan, and yes the Rudd Government, the Australian Internet Experience would be monitored, by way on an Online Ombudsman, because ya know it sounded like a good idea when they thought of it.
The problem with such an exercise is one that has highlighted the failures of the Mandatory Internet Filter is its enforcement; considering the notion that the Internet is an international experience, no one Sovereign nation has the right to enforce laws on another Sovereign nation, meaning that while Australian activities will be monitored and enforced, International Activities wont be.

So if anyone was so desiring to say spam tribute pages on Facebook with derogatory comments, or in some cases, Porn, as seems to be the reason why this thing is coming into effect… because the Federal Government has the spare time to be checking their Facebook Status in between running the Country. They simply need to hope onto a Proxy Server, VPN, or well any of the methods in place to circumvent the Mandatory Internet Filter, and get away with their plans without recourse, because once again, THIS WILL NOT WORK.

The only people this will catch are those too ignorant at covering their tracks, which will be people who while doing nothing illegal, have the misfortune of having opinions, or school children who simply didn’t like whoever the person the tribute page is made about. Though it doesn’t help that in a recent report, Legal experts have actually come out to say that these Tribute Groups actually harm, not help criminal convictions.

And the next news person that says that hackers have attacked these Facebook Groups, please be aware that it is NOT considered hacking if the integrity of the site has not been comprised. The Correct Technical term for posting a large quantity of questionable/illegal photos is called Porn-Spamming, and the act of posting content that may be deemed offensive is called Wallspamming. However that doesn’t mean that its spam if its just people having opinions of their own, yes, its nice and all to have these tributes, but NO ONE IS PERFECT, there are people that will always find fault in people, and especially if they have issue with the popularity the individual had in death.

Guys, what the hell???

Last week, several websites relating to the Australian Government went offline following what the online presence known collectively as Anonymous fired the first salvos in an issue that should have been dropped over eight months ago. While Anonymous’ Directed Denial of Service (DDoS) of Government websites did raise the issue to public attention, they have also caught the ire of e-Liberty groups like the EFA, who condemn them of ‘not helping the issue’.

On that point my personal opinion conflicts itself; yes it was about time that the Mandatory Internet Filter was brought to public view, but I have my doubts as to ‘Operation Titstorm’ was the right way to do it.
While most advocates of a Free and uncensored Internet, the DocNetwork included, have highlighted the various intentions of the Government to strip the Internet bare of any content they deem inappropriate, however, continuing to allude to just what ‘inappropriate content’ means. This has long since gone from an attempt to protect children, as Federal Communications Minister Stephen Conroy himself has stated that this Filter “Will not stop child pornography or exploitation,”, however, this admission was made a good six months after the rest of the technological world told him so. The issue that now stands that if the Government is already aware that their Filter will not work, then why are they continuing with it.

Fetishism, Hardcore Intercourse, Inter-racial pornography, Terrorism, Euthanasia and end of life alternatives, Criminalist activity, Para-military Organisations, pro Anorexia and Bulimia sites, Homosexuality. All these items exist on the Blacklist leaked last year, a list that the Government stated, was ‘similar’ to the one used by the ACMA. The presence of Fetishism, Hardcore Pornography, Inter-racial Porn and Homosexual content, subjects, might I add, are currently LEGAL under the ACMA’s guidelines for content, shows a heightened sense that the Government is trying to push its own agenda.

For those of the female persuasion, especially those who ‘are not well endowed in the bust’, or those who experience ‘orgasmic discharge’ I have this lovely piece of insanity, courtesy not of Stephen Conroy or Michael Atkinson, but the Liberal Parties personal crack pot Barnaby Joyce has decreed that you are all criminals. Changes to the ACMA’s ratings standards, has decided that female ejaculation is abhorrent, and small breasted women help promote paedophilia. On behalf of gamers who have also been labelled as criminals by a political crackpot (Michael Atkinson) welcome to the group, though I would be weary as to where if you do post pictures of yourself, because you will get in trouble.

Unfortunately the Mandatory Internet Filter is still on the table, despite the fact that it has no support, with the exception of one small country town in north-west Queensland, who were the focus of a recent poll… of a thousand people, and found that 86% support the filter, as opposed to 98% of the rest of society who are against it. Now correct me if I’m wrong, but 1000 doesn’t seem to be an accurate number to gauge the intents and interests of 21 million, but then I’m not in politics, and the adage runs true, if you word your questions the right way, you can spin a poll to read just whatever the hell you want it to.
The Filter gets put to a senate vote in March, and while hopefully the Opposition is STILL Against the Filter, like number 3 ISP iiNet still is, this will hopefully be the last we hear about this thing. But once again this is politics, and anything can happen.

As for Anonymous, I have to say this, and unlike most content providers, I welcome response from Anonymous. What took you so long? We have been campaigning against this thing for over a year and a half, why now do you decide that this warrants your attention?

Australia, its now your turn

Last year, I brought you the New Zealand Blackout, in response to the S92a Internet Guilt upon Accusation fiasco, well Australia, its now your turn. The Electronic Frontiers Australia has endorsed a similar action for the week around and including Australia Day, a wide reaching Internet Blackout.

Starting the 25th and going until the 29th, Australian Tech users will be blacking their websites, as well as their display pictures, in protest to the Government’s insistence in presenting the Mandatory Internet Filter to the Senate, despite constant, and unanimous opposition to the Mandatory Internet Filter, in fact there are a number of individuals, groups, organizations and websites, that are already blacking their content in preparation to next weeks protest.

Like last time, support from outside Australia is requested, and greatly appreciated, as is the request to sign the EFA’s petition against the Internet Filter.

If this Filter is passed through the Senate, it will not protect Children as is its intention, as it does not stop the trafficking of Child Pornography, a fact admitted by, by Stephen Conroy, who insists that the filter would be used to protect children from content deemed inappropriate, however, the old argument still stands, the Government does not have a right to dictate what is inappropriate for a child to be exposed to, only to advise and educate, however if this filter is enacted, this ability would be taken from parents, an insistence that the Government knows best, and that Parents are incapable of raising their own children.

For more information on the Great Australian Blackout, go to internetblackout.com.au, to sign the Electronic Frontiers Australia petition go to Sign the petition here.

Once again I hope to thank all my regular readers for their support of this innovative

Government Spam

Don’t we all love a bit of Spam? How would you like that Spam to be from your Federally Elected Government? It would seem that the Australian Government, and in particular the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Electronic Economy have the free time to spam people with unwanted drivel.

I have been speaking to a number of regular readers of the blog, in particular Trapper, who was the first to let me know of this event, it took a week for the same email to reach the inbox of the DocNetwork, but it has not reached my personal inboxes just yet. From what I’ve been able to tell, this email is the same in all accounts, to all recipients, and that it is being sent out in sporadic intervals.

Below is the email that the DocNetwork received… you would think that they would check before hand.

 image

Now What I find Hilarious is the fact that this email has no Intended Recipient, which by law equates this to spam, who would have thought, that a Government Agency, let alone the one for the Broadband and the Electronic Economy, would stoop so low as to break the law?

The attached file was essentially an ‘open’ letter from my nemesis, and if anyone wishes to view said letter, let me know and I will email it to you.

However, this ‘letter’ was more ‘press release’ than ‘response’ to my criticisms. Now I have never openly emailed Stephen Conroy, I mean I’ve thought of it, but on the same hand, said email would equate to someone spitting on paper and mailing that.

The four page pdf file essentially shoots the internet filter to pieces, by highlighting lies and falsehoods, and by citing references from countries that optionally allow their citizens to filter their internet, (and that’s usually just child porn, not the thousands of items our favourite Nanny state wishes to block), and yet not mentioning anything from the two countries that actually do have Mandatory Filtering, being China and Iran.
Now citing facts from countries offering the same level of filtering, as opposed to those where only a minute portion of the population is filtered, would be a lot more credible, and to be honest, a lot more logical, unfortunately, those same countries are also receiving a lot of criticism from the global community in regards to restriction of information from the masses, and policing what the Government deems appropriate.. so the same comments made about this government.

In more pleasant news I recently received a message from the Member for Mitchell, in Northwest Sydney, Mister Alex Hawke MP.

AlexHawkeMP @docwinters I am against a mandatory filter of the nature proposed by the Government.

I love the internet, its a place where the masses the the people entrusted to look after them can communicate as equals, unfortunately, some politicians actively respond to their constituents, and even to small time Bloggers from Western Sydney, and others just email out 4 page press releases and hope that it all goes away.

The First Link is forged.

It would seem that while gamers this week were celebrating the news of the Discussion Paper for an R-18+ rating, we have been sucker-punched. On the same day that the Discussion Paper’s existence was made public knowledge on broadcast media, Federal Communications Minister and right royal pain in my backside, Stephen Conroy announced that the ill-fated and otherwise despised Mandatory Internet Filter will proceed, despite the fact that no word about it had existed for nearly 3 months.

Stephen Conroy hoped that the news of the filter would pass unnoticed, with those who would oppose it distracted by the previously mentioned news, unfortunately several blogs, including this one, picked up the story almost as soon as it broke; granted yes I had to hear it from four separate people before I took it seriously, but then, from the reactions a number of my colleagues made when I told them, I am not surprised. Following what could only be called uniform opposition to this, it was any wonder that anyone took news of its proposals green lighting, makes the Mandatory Internet Filter, easily the most despised and unpopular piece of legislation, to make a comparison, the Work Choices of the Labour Party, I had not expected to ever hear anything about this, that Conroy would do the smart move and sweep this under the rug and forget about it.

Then I remembered he was a politician and disregarded my previous statement.

If the Mandatory Internet Filter makes it through the Senate, and with some Political bargaining there is a frightening chance that it might; following the Green light by the Government on Wednesday, it would be fully operational by June 2010 with all ISP’s forced to comply by that point, however it would start cleaning the internet by February the same year.
While Conroy retracted comments made in previous announcements, that the Filter would ‘block content deemed inappropriate by the Government’ he maintained his stance that the Internet filter would not impede users, and that it was 100% accurate. No this does not seem to be the same responses by many of the nine ISP’s that participated in the trial, many of which stating that the trial in itself was designed to succeed.

At this point the Mandatory Internet Filter was tested under current industry standards, and was not extensive enough, in that it did not have enough participants to be an accurate measure of the Filters effectiveness, especially considering the Governments famed National Broadband Network, which supposedly plans to offer 100Mb speeds, a standard no where near what was tested.  Experts in the field, who from day one stated that the filter would not work at existing levels, and at the levels the NBN would provide, it would negate any benefits the new system would provide.

From the onset there were companies that stood against the Filter, in recent weeks, those Internet service providers, have come to disappoint those who where turning to them, with both Telstra and IInet coming out in support of the Filter, completely backtracking all their previous statements; while I have had no faith in Telstra for as long as I can remember, IINet’s back flip gave an air of ‘we’re being coerced or bullied into doing this,’ especially considering the icy relationship between IInet and Conroy.

Unfortunately aside from continuing in campaigns to address this issue, and contacting your local member, there is little more that can be done to stop this from being put before the Senate, except to hope and prey that the Senate rejects the proposal outright.
In the interim however, technocrats in Australia have turned to ‘censoring’ themselves on Social Networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, and all readers of the DocNetwork are encouraged to do likewise.

Take the below image and put it on top of avatars, display pictures and profile images like so, to raise awareness and hopefully gain opposition to the Mandatory Internet Filter

censored docwinterscensored

As always we will continue to monitor this, and bring you our dear readers, the news, no matter how bad it hurts