Posts Tagged ‘ Stephen Conroy ’

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.

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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.

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

Oh you are kidding me!

Just when I thought that the Government had pulled its head in and abandoned the costly blunder that is the Mandatory Internet Filter, they pull a little gem out of their collective posteriors that gets me riled up something chronic.
While Stephen Conroy seems to intent on destroying the internet for Australian’s, I had thought that as long as I had access to video games, I would be fine.

Well it would seem that now these fools are going to set their sights on Gamers, to block websites hosting and selling games not suitable for 15 year olds. On top of this, they have also hinted that games such as World of Warcraft, Second Life, and Lord of the Rings: Battles; games played almost exclusively online, and such not rated because of their online nature, may also be blocked.

Considering for some entirely moronic reason, Australia is the only developed nation to not have an R18+ rating, thanks in part to yet another politician, the South Australian Attorney General Atkinson, who believes that gamers are only children, despite the fact that according to a recent survey conducted by the Interactive Entertainment Association of Australia, a survey I participated in, discovered that the majority of Australian Gamers are aged between 21-35, with the average age of gamers being 30.
Because of this discrepancy, any game deemed to violent, horrifying, or sexual, is simply refused sale here, alternatively Game developers who make games such as Resident Evil, Grand Theft Auto 4 and Fallout 3, have to tailor versions of their games, exclusively for the Australian market, toning down on the gore and generally removing the fun from the game.

While this may currently only apply to games bought domestically in stores, selling physical, disc versions of games; a spokesperson for Senator Conroy confirmed that under the flawed and delusional Filter, that Downloadable games, Flash Games, and Websites that sell games not available for sale in Australia will be affected.

What will this mean for Gamers? It means that websites like Newgrounds, that specialise in hilarious flash based fun, but also has a few games of the risqué natures, will soon become unavailable in Australia, it will also mean that adult Gamers, who may want to buy adult games, such as Japanese Dating Sims (I just went to Supanova and they sell them there, that’s why I brought it up), they will no longer be able to do so. Sure, this will piss of Aussie gamers, but Australian Gamers have been repetitively been on the receiving end of the Governments Baby boomer inconsistencies to the point where its almost expected of them.

This revelation brings new light on the speculation raised by both myself and Big T, that this would only be the beginning, that the Federal Government would use these new, still largely unknown powers, to enforce their collective Online will onto the masses, considering it was initially proposed as way to protect children from the dangers of the internet, instead of you know, the parents actually doing it, this has greatly overstepped its mandate, by extending their hand into a domain that they understand even less than the internet.

This mess brings even larger calls for Australia to have an R18+ rating system, at least to  allow parents the ability to know if the game that their child wants is appropriate for them, though I have a feeling that if parents actually looked at the game that they were buying for their kid, and didn’t buy the MA-15+ game for their 12 year old, we would not have been in this mess to begin with. Education, not for children and gamers, but for the rest of society of what you shouldn’t let your child play/watch, would be a far greater use of this money, instead of wasting everyone’s time by restricting what I, as a 23 year old with no children can do with my own disposable income and time.

While every bad story has to have a silver lining, and this one is that the British ISP industry has nominated our own little cyber-Nazi, Stephen Conroy, for their annual “Internet Villain” award, for continuing to promote network-level blocking despite significant national and international opposition". However when asked if he would attend and receive his award, his office declined to comment in classic Conroy Fashion.

We at the DocNetwork offices wish him all the best, and hope he wins, it would be far less than what we would nominate him for, coincidently, we can’t print what we would.