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Sloppy filter

I haven’t blogged on the proposed webnanny/internet filter/Great Firewall of Australia plans down here for a while because things have gone a bit quiet. There have been enough colours nailed to masts, reputations staked and interests vested that I’m not all that hopeful that sense has been seen, particularly when it needs to be seen by a Communications Minister whose paternalist streak might be coming from both religious beliefs and leftie-ness, but it may be that it’s been realised that a filter that promised much and failed to deliver would be worse than none at all. And I’m quite confident it would fail. Much of the illegal stuff is being shared by P2P anyway, and the filters proponents were forced to admit almost from the start that it couldn’t do a thing about that. And then there’s TORs and VPNs – basically it’ll affect people who don’t google for a way around the filter before the thing goes up, which is more or less everybody that doesn’t need a filter because they won’t be searching the web for baboon porn or whatever in the first place.

More interesting if you’re a baboon, I imagine

But it’s not just that because ISP level filters will be under attack from the other side too, as TalkTalk in the UK and some of its customers have found out.

Britain’s third-largest broadband provider has been promoting its new “HomeSafe” security product to its 4.1 million subscribers as a way of blocking pornography, viruses and other potentially harmful content.
Unlike the child safety products offered by other providers, it operates at the network level so parents do not need to install or maintain any software. The approach has attracted praise from MPs and campaigners seeking to restrict the availability of pornography on the web.
But for more than a week the system has failed to restrict access to Pornhub, which offers thousands of free explicit videos and is ranked as the third largest pornography provider on the web.
The failure was discovered by Cherith Hately, an IT expert and mother of three teenagers in south London, who tested the service last week. She found that on the Pornhub website the HomeSafe blocking page had been relegated to a small box normally reserved for advertising, leaving its adult content fully accessible.
“The ‘you have been blocked’ page has been diverted to an advertising slot within the Pornhub homepage thus opening access to it,” she said.
“The HomeSafe barrier has been knocked down, technically and literally. TalkTalk should inform all their HomeSafe customers that their children are still able to see pornography so that parents can supervise more.”

Far be it from me to tell me how to bring up your children, Cherith, and I’m sure you’ve already had the awkward conversation with your teens about which one had visited that site, but I’d say that parents should take this as an indication that the best filter system is the parents themselves.

A spokesman for TalkTalk acknowledged the failure and said technicians were working on a fix. He was unable to say whether the HomeSafe system had been deliberately circumvented by pornographers.

Perhaps not, but it occurs to me that if it had been to circumvent another filter that worked the same way it could affect TalkTalk too. In the Aussie context since what the nannies want is effectively ISP level filtering under government supervision all ISPs would have the same filter, and when a website manages something similar to what Pornhub’s done to TalkTalk’s HomeSafe this single point of failure would mean it won’t affect just Telstra or iiNet or Optus customers – it’ll be everyone. Hardly the end of the world because we’ll be about where we are right now, but it does make the whole exercise seem a bit pointless.

“As the only network-level filter, TalkTalk’s HomeSafe is the most effective way of protecting children from content parents consider harmful,” the spokesman said.

No, I repeat: parents are the most effective way of protecting children from harmful content. The filter can’t unplug the computer, withhold their pocket money or threaten to stop paying the broadband bill so there’s no service whatsoever. But it can create a false sense of security.

“While no technical solution alone is able to solve the issue of child internet safety or be a substitute for parental supervision, we firmly believe that HomeSafe is a step in the right direction.”

Providing that false sense of security doesn’t take over leading parents to assume that the filter is doing its job and little or no supervision is necessary, because when you concede that there’s no substitute for parental supervision that would be a step in the wrong direction. Not that Britain’s nannies are any more clued up about that than Australia’s.

Under government pressure the rest of the big four internet providers – BT, Virgin Media and Sky – recently agreed to offer all new customers software to restrict which websites children are able to access, but stopped short of implementing network-level filters.
TalkTalk’s approach is meanwhile supported by the campaigners, and MPs including Claire Perry, a Conservative backbencher who is leading a parliamentary inquiry into online child protection. As well as network-level filters she wants broadband providers to switch them on by default.
“When I started campaigning to make access to internet pornography an ‘opt-in’, many industry experts said it was technologically impossible to provide a network-level filter,” Mrs Perry said.

You idiot. Of course it’s impossible, we’ve just bloody seen that. This looks like it was circumvented at the other end without any effort on the part of the person sitting at home, and it’s not like the person sitting at home doesn’t have ways and means anyway. Look, I can’t put it any better than an Australian blogger, Stilgherrian, put it nearly four years ago (my bold):

Real-world experience in everything from spam filters to the record industry’s futile attempts to stop copyright violations always shows that filters only block casual users. Professionals, the desperate or the persistent will always get through.

However if a politician demands a filter, pretty soon a shiny-suited salesman will appear, ready to sell him a box with “filter” written on the front. It’ll work — well enough for the demo, anyway.

“Look, Minister! Nice Minister. Watch the screen. See? Filter off, bad website is visible. Filter on, bad website gone. Filter off. Child in danger. Filter on. Child happy and safe. Filter off. Voter afraid and angry. Filter on. Voter relaxed and comfortable. Cheque now please.”

When elected nannies like Stephen Conroy here and Claire Perry in the UK wrap their heads around this and stop spunking taxpayers’ money at things which at best will work until someone defeats them and at worst will never work at all they might start giving out useful advice. Advice along the lines of: the government can’t stop your kids from seeing tits and arses and rooting baboons online…

… but if you get off your arse and look at what they’re doing you can.

Furball warming.

Thanks to Dirt Hour we have idiocy such as this.

VICTORIA — B.C. Environment Minister Barry Penner was hoping to spark a little romance with his wife over a candlelit dinner Saturday during Earth Hour.

Instead, he accidentally set his cat on fire.

He fucking what?

You know, I sit here now with a (not at all) miraculously un-scorched cat gazing at me from her perch on a shelf, and I marvel at how I can turn day into night without all the danger of flames. Even last Saturday evening Dirt Hour passed by without so much as a single incident of feline or canine immolation in the Exile household. And how can this be when someone as wise as an Environment Minister might still inadvertently barbecue Kitty?

Oh yes, it’s because we use ELECTRIC FUCKING LIGHT BULBS.

“We actually enjoyed a very romantic candlelit dinner that was only interrupted when our cat set himself on fire by brushing up against the flame, which caused some excitement,” Penner deadpanned to reporters Monday.

I can’t think of anything more romantic than sitting with some fair trade Pinot and talking about Gaia across an eco-candle* while watching pets leaving smoke trails around the room.

“But we quickly got our cat, whose name is Ranger, under control. His hair is a little bit singed and his pride is somewhat affected. It will be a night that we’ll remember for a long time.”

And by that do I take it to mean that you have, as other politicians might say, learned a valuable lesson from this and elected to use electricity to light your home in future? At least while doing so would be safer for your pet cat?

Well, no, and I didn’t fucking expect so to be quite honest, but this really is pushing the recycled paper envelope of eco-wibblery.

The environment minister held firm to the no-electricity rule by refusing to power-up an electric fan to clear the room of the smell of singed cat hair. Instead, he opened the window.

Tell me, you fucktroon, if you’d set your house alight would you have insisted the fire department use non-carbon emitting pumps to supply the water to put it out? I hope this was less about you greener-than-thou fucking grandstanding and more because the smell of burnt cat fur wasn’t actually that strong.

Anyway, I’m going to let you into a little secret – if you set up enough fans just past a windfarm you’ll get more green electricity out of it.** So they’re a Good Thing.

The cat wasn’t hurt.

As a lifetime cat lover may I just say that I’m very glad about that, that I’d have been happier still if the article had lead with that, and that Ranger’s lack of injury should not put him off taking a huge dump in one the Minster’s shoes and being sick in the other one. For Christ’s sake, cats are at worst mentally ill and at best only moderately bright representatives of the animal kingdom. In other words they’re thick as mince and don’t understand things like how fire spreads. Yes, I’m sure a cat would run like buggery from a roaring inferno because big flames and heat and noise would be properly frightening for any animal. He probably wouldn’t get too close to an open fire either, because the point at which the cat’s decided he’s warm enough would be far enough away not to set him alight. But a candle?

“I thought he’d have a natural aversion to flame, but apparently that’s not the case,” said Penner.

From Ranger’s perspective the candle flame was a shinylightthing that the bigfoodgiftbringermonkeys were sitting around and was therefore harmless. Part of being a responsible pet owner is not putting your pets into harm’s way and doing the thinking for them that they’re unable to do for themselves. This means not letting your pet rat nibble electric cables, not throwing your dog’s favourite fetch toy across the freeway and not, as you’ve no doubt gathered, letting the cat wander around by naked flames. Not too hard if bigfoodgiftbringermonkey gives it a couple of minute’s rational thought, is it?

And was it worth it? All this cat burning and Gaia saving? Well, not in California according to WUWT, where it’s claimed that it was ‘just as ineffective as last year’. In British Columbia?

The near-loss of Penner’s beloved cat marked an otherwise uneventful Earth Hour for British Columbia.

The province’s electricity load dropped only 1.04 per cent, the smallest decrease in the three years since B.C. has participated in the global event.

Aside from how unimpressive that sounds at face value I can’t help but wonder if it’s even more unimpressive. 1.04% lower than what? The hour before? Same time the day before? Previous Saturday night? What? Without that knowledge the number is meaningless. Worse, by the greenies’ own standards what should be measured is not electricity load but carbon emmissions, and for that there’s no figure at all.

On the other hand this religious ritual has wormed itself so deeply and firmly into the brains of some people that at least one seems happy to have taken part despite setting fire to his cat, and will presumably do so again next year. Hopefully there’ll be no repeat of setting fire to Ranger, but then the priests of Gaia aren’t actually demanding burnt offerings yet.

H/T to Mr Eugenides.

* Which emits plenty of CO2 for the amount of heat and light it gives off, but which seems not to count since you don’t have to plug the fucking thing in.
** Yes, I know. But when this sort of thing is being considered, even installed, the idea of an electric fan powered wind farm would probably be taken seriously too. In fact, fuck it, let’s all draw up some proposals and see if the government will fund it.

Net nannying and censorship – the same fucking thing actually.

As I mentioned yesterday Senator Conroy appeared on The 7pm Project this evening to justify the Great Firewall of Australia, his pet ISP level internet filtering project. Now obviously in the short term this is only going to affect people living in Australia, and if you reading this from somewhere else and are confidant that your politicians respect liberty on or offline then you can skip the rest of this – it doesn’t apply to you, you lucky soul. If you’re not so sure about the liberty thing – and if you’re in Britain then news like this and this suggests that you bloody well shouldn’t be – then bear in mind that you may be next, and watch out for a politician giving an interview not unlike this.

So how did Conroy do? How did The 7pm Project do? Did they give Conroy an easy time of it? And most importantly of all am I sold on the filter? Not bloody likely. Please bear with me while I fisk this fuckwit, which unfortunately won’t be brief since the very first question Conroy was asked – the very first – he ducked.

Charlie Pickering: ‘Now, first thing’s first, will this filter stop Aussie kids from accessing X-rated adult material, which is probably what most parents are worried about, on the internet?’

Conroy, being a politician, promptly answered a different question that had not actually been asked.

Senator Conroy: ‘This filter is only designed to block web pages which are defined under the classification processes as Refused Classification. That’s child pornography, pro-bestiality sites, pro-rape websites and material like that.’

Nicely ducked. The answer he was actually looking for would be something along the lines of ‘No, Charlie, it can’t stop kids accessing adult material. That is the responsibility of parents’. Conroy then went on to clarify that the filter would block only RC material, that is material which is already banned in Australia and can’t be seen at the movies, on DVD, in books, or hosted on Australian websites. Are you sure about that, Stephen? Because one of the concerns I had when I first blogged about this more than a year ago was that the phrase “illegal and inappropriate content” being used here and there – one of your own press releases for example – and I wanted to know if that meant that legal content that was deemed inappropriate would be blocked as well as illegal content, and also who the fuck decides what’s inappropriate anyway. Since that in that PR you say (my emphasis):

‘Filtering specifically against a black-list of illegal content as well as the ability to filter additional material will be one part of the upcoming pilot trial.’

I think it’s fair to ask if you will also filter legal content that you don’t like. But okay, let’s assume for now that your government really will just stick to RC stuff. That leads to the next question about what effect the filter would actually have on restricting the availability of child porn on the web in Australia. Again, the answer to that was for a totally different and unasked question:

‘Well, there are a number of complete misrepresentations in that opening package.’

Er, Stephen? He didn’t fucking ask you how accurate the intro film was. He asked what effect the filter would have on the availability of child porn. Stay awake. And ‘package’? Oh, never mind. Call it a package if you want to.

‘The first was that it’s not generally on the internet. That’s not true.’

It’s not strictly what was said either. The point being made was that the majority of muck the nonces are distributing among themselves is done via P2P networking, and that this will bypass the filter anyway. I presume you were conceding this very point in March last year when you admitted that this won’t stop child porn.

Sorry for interrupting, Steve, do go on.

Sen. Conroy: ‘There are currently today 355 websites that are banned because they are websites on the public internet that show child pornography.’

Charlie Pickering: ‘But there are millions and millions of sites on the internet, Senator Conroy, that’s not a huge number.’

Took the words right out of my mouth, except that I’d have said billions. In fact even if that linked article is out by a factor of ten then the odds of randomly stumbling across one of those 355 sites are more than 283 million to one, hugely more remote than, say for example, getting struck by lightning and probably much more remote than being hit by lighting while holding a winning lottery ticket. For it to happen once would be massively, massively unfortunate, and almost everyone would simply navigate away or call the cops or both. For it to happen more than once, or for someone to stick around once they’d got to one of these 355 sites? Almost certainly they’d have to be looking for it, and if they’re doing that in the presence of a filter then they’ll almost certainly be taking steps to bypass the damn thing anyway.

The questions then swung around to the fact, which Conroy didn’t dispute, that the filter doesn’t affect peer-to-peer and that this is the preferred means for nonces to swap their porn. Credit to Conroy here, he did actually answer the question put to him by saying that they’d never claimed the filter would stop P2P but there are other means of monitoring that. For a moment at this point I thought that Charlie Pickering was going to ask why, if the desire is to stop child porn (among other things), most of which is spread by P2P and according to Conroy is being tackled by other means, why have the bloody filter at all. Perhaps he was but he allowed Conroy to get a verbal wedge in and begin to repeat his first answer. The guest panellist (or whatever), whose name I’ve forgotten, did get that question out… sort of.

‘If it’s banned already what’s the point of the filter.’

This let Conroy off the hook somewhat since he was able to say quite truthfully that the problem was websites outside of Australia’s territory. Well, duh, Steve. Obviously you don’t control websites in the rest of the world, and I bet you were relieved that you were able to say so rather than be hit with more questions about the amount of web hosted material you’re going to stop with the filter versus the amount spread via P2P which the filter won’t touch, and what each is costing us in actual dollars. And potential liberty.

It fell to Dave Hughes, a stand up comedian for Christ’s sake, to bring up the point about the government’s secretive attitude towards what gets blocked.

Dave Hughes: ‘So you’re gonna ban websites and, and…’

Senator Conroy: ‘Individual pages within websites that contain this…’

Dave Hughes: ‘Alright. But you won’t tell us which ones you’re banning so I mean … how can we trust you as a government that you’re not influencing it for your own good?’

Thank fuck for that. I was beginning to think this wouldn’t get raised at all. But even though Dave Hughes brought it up he didn’t ask the second part: even if this government can be trusted what is guaranteeing that no future government can abuse it? Because as far as I can tell it’s fuck all. Conroy’s response was, not surprisingly, a mix of evasion and emotion with a dash of logic and illogic in equal measure.

‘This is probably the most complex of the issues that we face.’

That’s one way of looking at it, Stephen. The other is that it’s very simple: how can we trust not just your government but all future governments? Because once the ability is there a future government could add websites of opposition parties or supporters to the blacklist. To put it another way, I’ve called you some unpleasant names on this blog, Senator Conroy, but if I’m still blogging in twenty years and being similarly rude about the Communications Minister of 2030 how do I know that this blog will still be accessible inside Australia? On that basis should I call him/her a cunt now while I still can? I realise the Communications Minister of 2030 might still be at school and calling them a cunt on my blog is a little unfair whatever they’re doing, but at the moment I don’t know if I’ll be able do so at a more reasonable time. See the problem?

Anyway, go on, Steve.

‘The difference between putting up a list of titles of movies that are Refused Classification is you don’t provide access to them.’

Yes, understood, but how hard is it to burn a copy of Wombat Felching in the Outback and print a Sound of Music label on the disc and box cover before mailing it off to some fellow sick marsupial fetishist? How would you know if it happens? Don’t think that just because it’s not being shown at the fucking Crown means you’ve prevented all access because you haven’t. You’ve just made it more difficult.

Sorry, you were saying?

‘If I list the 355 child pornography websites, that’s an address of where to go and see them.’

Now this is a good point and admittedly it will prevent what we might call the perv-curious from shuffling along for a quick look. The thing is that this doesn’t seem likely to be a large number. The sick bastards who already know they like that shit will, as has already pointed out, be operating in such a way that the filter won’t affect them. So these 355 sites will already be known to the perverts who use them and vice versa. Ah, you’ll say, but the page won’t be accessible from Australia once the filter is up. Bullshit, I say. Proxies and TORS, I say. Determined nonces will find ways and, as I’ve already said, even if it does work – which it won’t – then you will have succeeded only in blocking a small proportion of filth accessed by a small proportion of perverts.

And at what cost – not just monetary – will you have achieved ‘all’ this? This sledgehammer you’ve created to miss a nut will have swallowed a fortune and as far as I can see will allow any future government who feels so inclined to quietly block anything on the web that they dislike or find threatening. Even without that every web user in Australia is going to find their ISP is passing the filter costs on to them and that in return they’re not just being treated as a potential perv-curious but will have slower internet connection to boot (and Australia doesn’t have a great rep for internet speeds as it is due to the crappy connections in many rural areas unless you’re willing to pay through the nose for satellite broadband).

Let’s come back to that since Conroy was in mid flow there.

‘And so what we’ve proposed as part of this… we’ve invited public submissions and those – we’ve just published them all yesterday. The public submissions are to say, “Look, help us devise a new transparency mechanism’. We don’t want it to be the government that is making these decisions. What we, what we want is a new mechanism with an industry body perhaps, er, a retired judge, anyone of those sorts of mechanisms that people might suggest, that they will vet the list, say, every six months to make sure the government hasn’t slipped something on that shouldn’t be there.’

Or alternatively you could just not fucking do it. Look, you’re just moving the problem out of your office and down the fucking hall. If it’s down to whatever body or retired judge or other ‘mechanism’ (not sure judges are robots by the way) you have, then it simply becomes a question of whether their personal views coincide with the government that’s blocking content that it really shouldn’t, and if not then their susceptibility to being leant on. In short, it’s no fucking guarantee at all and is hardly better than if the decision remained in your fucking office. On the other hand if the list is public then millions of people can see whether or not you’ve slipped something on that shouldn’t be there. Yes, they’ll also be able to see these 355 sites, or rather the URLs – and the fact that you think this is still a problem is a bit of a giveaway that you know access will still be possible via proxies etc. – but if you feel that defeats the object doesn’t it make more sense to drop the whole silly idea completely?

Now, on to another bit of question ducking where Conroy again answers a question that this time Carrie Bickmore didn’t ask.

Carrie Bickmore: ‘Senator Conroy, I want to ask as a mum: I just wonder whether … using this filter is actually, I guess, almost misleading ’cause it lulls parents into this false sense of thinking, ‘Oh, okay, you’re gonna filter everything. I don’t want my child to see, you know, naughty stuff [“Naughty stuff”? Boggle – Angry Exile] on the internet.’ In fact it’s not going to do that so will it lead to families being, I guess, lax and not watching their kids online?’

Senator Conroy: ‘The focus of the government’s cyber safety policy has been on this one item. Our cyber safety policy actually has more money for more police, more money for court action, more money…’

Charlie Pickering: ‘But a disproportionate amount of money is on the filter. Most of what you’re spending is on this filter, which is, er, if it’s going to have 100% it’s gonna slow down the internet.’

Oh, Charlie. It’s a good point but so was Carrie’s and now Conroy’s never going to have to answer her. Granted, he probably wouldn’t have anyway, but still I’d have liked to have seen him pressured on that because it was probably the most blatant bit of alternative question answering he resorted to. Will it lead to misplaced confidence and parents dropping their guard? Well, we’re giving more money to police and courts. Right. Thanks for that, Steve, it’s just fucking crystal now.

Oh well, since we’ve moved on to costs let’s here Conroy out on that.

‘No, look, that was, that was something that Mark Newton – appeared in your package at the beginning – knows is untrue. let me be very clear about this. All of the tests, all of the trials, and these have been done independently by Telstra who did their own, separate from the government. There is zero impact, zero impact in accuracy. It is 100% accurate.’

Really? So when you said in 2008 (well, that PR again):

‘Successful blocking (the proportion of illegal and inappropriate content that should have been blocked that was successfully blocked) was between 88% and 97% with most achieving over 92%. Overblocking (the proportion of content that was blocked that should not have been blocked) was between 1% and 6%, with most falling under 3%.’

you were talking about some other tests? Tests that for some reason don’t count anymore and shouldn’t be considered. And actually tests that actually were slightly worse than in your PR if these are the same results, which is a fair assumption given it’s the same date.

  • One filter caused a 22% drop in speed even when it was not performing filtering;
  • Only one of the six filters had an acceptable level of performance (a drop of 2% in a laboratory trial), the others causing drops in speed of between 21% and 86%;
  • The most accurate filters were often the slowest;
  • All filters tested had problems with under-blocking, allowing access to between 2% and 13% of material that they should have blocked; and
  • All filters tested had serious problems with over-blocking, wrongly blocking access to between 1.3% and 7.8% of the websites tested.
  • The trial tested speed on a simple ‘black listed or not’ basis for all simulated clients on all systems, yet the report outlines the ability of the filters to provide customised filtering to each client (as would be required by the two levels of filtering which ACMA is proposing) which would significantly impact test results.

Perhaps a special kind of mathematics applies in Canberra that allows 87% to be the same as 100%. Now, on to the issue of speed.

Charlie Pickering (interrupting): ‘But (unclear) a YouTube page said that you are gonna slow down the internet.’

Senator Conroy (slowly and deliberately): ‘This is not true.’

Ahem, according to you (PR again) in 2008 it fucking well is true.

The performance or ‘network degradation’ for one of the tested products was less than 2%, whilst three products were less than 30% and two products were in excess of 75%.

And 22% degradation on one just from fucking being switched on? Would you like me to tell you where you can shove that? Look, if the possible filters have improved since then and what was the case in 2008 isn’t any more, fine. One lost only 2% so that’s not implausible – just say so clearly and unequivocally and we’ll all let it drop.

Stephen, why aren’t you saying so clearly and unequivocally? Could it be that the speed issue is still there?

Senator Conroy (continuing reply to Charlie Pickering):  ‘We’re not including high traffic sites.’

Oh for fuck’s sake, you soppy cunt, you can make nothing into anything or the other way round depending on what you decide to count or ignore. You might just as well measure road traffic only outside metropolitan areas and declare that Australia virtually never has a traffic jam. I cannot believe you said that and it’s a shame that time was clearly running very short at that point because they began to wrap the interview up. None of them were able to take you on about your continued appeal to the authority of Telstra, a telecoms company that last year had every reason to curry favour with your department so as not to be broken up – they didn’t get their way so there might well be nothing in that and they really did get incredible – literally incredible – results of 100% accuracy with no speed loss, disproving the 2008 tests. Or maybe the tests were just a bit shit.

Enex TestLab did not test ISP-level filtering products on internet connection speeds greater than 8 Mbps, raising questions of possible degradation at ADSL2+ and fibre speeds.

Further, none of the nine ISPs who piloted filtering technologies could provide an environment to test Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6), an addressing scheme the internet industry expects will be necessary in the coming years as IPv4 addresses run out.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy yesterday revealed the long-awaited Enex report on the Government’s controversial trials of ISP-level filtering technologies [which] concluded the filtering technologies did not degrade internet performance – except when filtering content above and beyond the ACMA blacklist, in which Enex found the filters were hampered by over-blocking.

But the report also shows that only internet speeds of up to 8 Mbps were subjected to the tests.

Internode network engineer Mark Newton – a fervent opponent of the filter proposal – said it was “extraordinary” that the Federal Government had not tested the impact of content filtering on higher speed connections.

“If the Minister thinks this report puts the speed question to bed, he’s sorely mistaken,” Newton said.

“[He] has to accept that this report leaves open questions about whether or not his censorship policy is compatible with his 100 Mbps national broadband network.”

Indeed. Why the fuck spend millions of dollars of our money on the national high speed broadband network if you don’t know if it’s going to be fucked up by this ridiculous and flawed net nanny on which you’ve spent millions of dollars of our money. But beyond the money and beyond the protestations of unrealistic perfection (only with certain allowances made) and a perfect test record (not counting the tests that weren’t perfect and not testing for all real life conditions) we’ve still got the massive issue of being forced to trust not only this government not to abuse it, but also the next government, and the next, and the next, and the next and so on. One day one of them will be handed a print out from some annoying bastard with a website and a big gob and, instead of just wishing that the annoying noise would go away, give instructions to have it blacklisted. That, Senator Conroy, is why you got awarded Internet Villain of the Year and why we’re now being compared with countries like Iran and North Korea. It’s not you – though your personal track record doesn’t fill me with confidence – it’s the unknown politicians who are still to come. If there’s no filter it can’t be abused. If it exists it’s just a matter of time before it is.

And the Grand Prix grid girls’ new uniforms look shit too.

Censor news, and for a change it’s good.

Despite my occasional pessimism that everyone in Australia is going to be treated as a retard incapable of having any contact with a computer or the internet without government nannying things are looking up. First, good news for Australian gamers – Michael Atkinson, the principle barrier to getting an R18+ classification for games, has resigned. I’ve blogged before on Australia’s nannyish attitude to computer games and how even games aimed at adults have had to be altered to suit the squeamish attitudes of the Puritan fuckwits here (see here and here). Finally those gamers who are perhaps more than 20 years older than the current maximum age classification have a realistic chance of being able to buy an unedited, not specially ruined for Australia, copy of Demon Zombie Smash Hack Blam 3 or whatever.

R18+ video games are a step closer to being allowed in Australia following the resignation of South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson.

Mr Atkinson’s decision to leave the front bench means he will no longer be in a position to vote on changes to the country’s classification system, including the introduction of an R18+ rating for games.

As a quick refresher to save anyone picking through my other posts on this, the relevance of one resignation at the state level is that to create a new R18+ classification for games all states must agree, and this decision is up to the Attorneys-General. Fuck knows why but the practical upshot was that Michael Atkinson was opposed to it and that meant that in theory everyone in the whole country could have personally written to Kevin Rudd demanding it and he’d have been able to do precisely fuck all, his hands being legally tied by one politician in a state government. Now in some ways this need for unanimity is not a bad thing – if used to prevent loss of liberty I’d be heaving a sigh of relief. In this instance it’s been the other way around. of course, South Australia may replace Atkinson with someone else who feels the same way but hopefully they’ve sussed the mood. Part of it is that the Australian Labor Party (please donate any spare lower case ‘u’s here) got a bit of a shoeing in the state elections in South Australia and Tasmania.

The decision came after voters gave the Rann Government a kicking in last weekend’s state election. Mr Atkinson won his seat of Croydon comfortably but still suffered a 14.3 per cent swing against him, according to ABC reports.

Heh. It’s a safe seat, won by Atkinson in 2006 with a 6.8 swing in his favour. To lose all that and then more than the same again has to be significant. Not that a politician would ever admit that.

Mr Atkinson said he was stepping down so there could be “renewal” in the Government’s leadership and so he could spend more time with his family, including his son Johnno.

“He was supposed to play his first (soccer) game last night at 7pm and like so many times in my time in Parliament I wasn’t there,” Mr Atkinson said yesterday.

“I am pretty disappointed about that.

“So I resolved that every time Johnno walks on the pitch this year his dad is going to be there even if it embarrasses the hell out of him.”

Depends on whether the other kids start chasing you around the pitch with Nintendos and pointing behind you and yelling “AAAAAARGH SPACE INVADERS”.

That’s not all. With Atkinson gone hopefully we won’t have to hear any more of this sort of thing.
http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9/22881388001?isVid=1&publisherID=22717159001
Dick Puddlecote will be a happy bunny, because the other way of looking at that is that fags are less harmful than videogames. Jesus Christ, what cock socket was behind this? Oh, sorry Michael, was that you too?

A GROUP that says video games and violence are like smoking and lung cancer has received tens of thousands of dollars in funding from politician and outspoken R18+ game critic Michael Atkinson.

An expert from the Australian Council on Children and the Media this week told a TV news program the link between violent games and youth violence was stronger than tobacco and cancer.

Fuck, so that’s this year’s footy and Rugby League seasons called off, is it? Or is it okay because it’s real people?

Twats.

“It’s much greater than the effect of smoking on lung cancer,” psychologist Dr Wayne Warburton said.

It’s the strongest claim yet in the war of words over video game ratings which has heated up after a call for public input on the issue that drew 55,000 submissions.

A spokesman for Mr Atkinson told news.com.au his department provided an annual grant to the council under its trading name Young Media Australia.

The grant is to support a project called “Know Before You Go” that offers parents information about which films are suitable for children.

Mr Atkinson’s spokesman could not say how much the grant was for and declined to provide an estimate, however fellow Labor MP Gay Thompson previously put the figure at up to $33,000.

“The South Australian Attorney-General recently provided $33,000 for the project ‘Know Before You Go’,” she told parliament in 2006.

I’m almost certain that it would be more accurate to say that this group has received funds from South Australian taxpayers courtesy of Michael Atkinson, though if it turns out he gave them $33 grand of his own cash I’ll happily correct this. In the meantime this should delight Dick Puddlecote, Leg-iron and other smoky people. Great news guys, smoking is less harmful than playing videogames.

The final icing on this cake, and probably the most important of all*, is that apparently Michael Atkinson also had a hand in this frankly rather scary law.

SOUTH Australian laws censoring anonymous political comment on the internet have sparked national and international outrage, with readers comparing the “draconian laws” to those in Nazi Germany and China.

Well over 1000 people had posted comments on the AdelaideNow website up to midnight last night – most vehemently against the Rann Government’s legislation which will force internet bloggers and anyone publishing a comment on next month’s state election to supply their real name and postcode.

A poll reveals more than 90 percent of readers are against the laws, which carry a maximum fine of $5,000 for media organisations who do not hand over such information to the Electoral Commissioner.

In an extraordinary response to the story, readers have compared the law to those used in Nazi Germany, China, George Orwell’s 1984 and North Korea, including Mark Burns Springer from the United States.

What the cunting fuck were they thinking over there? They sure as fuck can’t blame it on smoking weed because I imagine the Puritan State will be the last one in Australia to accept legalising a bit of puff. Atkinson, to my not especially great surprise, was all for it.

Attorney-General Michael Atkinson said the law would not impinge on free speech and claimed that he expected The Advertiser and AdelaideNow to “publish false stories about me, invent things about me to punish me”.

Mr Atkinson described AdelaideNow as “not just a sewer of criminal defamation” but also “a sewer of identity theft and fraud”.

In a press conference today, Mr Atkinson said the law was “all about honesty”.

The state Liberal Party – which supported the law – also drew fire from readers.

Maybe I’m wrong about the puff. Anyway, it didn’t last long.

ATTORNEY-GENERAL Michael Atkinson will move immediately to repeal controversial laws which sparked an outcry over censorship of the internet.

After backing down late last night to say the laws would not be put into effect, Mr Atkinson told reporters he would follow the advice of Opposition legal affairs spokeswoman Vickie Chapman and use a section of the Electoral Act to immediately repeal the section.

Earlier, Mr Atkinson said it would be repealed but could not do it until after the election and had promised that no action would be taken against internet users during the election campaign.

Not completely mad after all then. And in fairness I have to give him credit for this (my emphasis):

“I will immediately after the election move to repeal the law retrospectively.”

Mr Atkinson said the law would not be enforced for comments posted on AdelaideNow during the upcoming election campaign, even though it was technically applicable.

“It may be humiliating for me, but that’s politics in a democracy and I’ll take my lumps,” he continued in the statement.

“This way, no one need fear now that they are being censored on the net or in blogs, whether they blog under their own name or anonymously. The law will be repealed retrospectively.

I think he’s a paternalist and patronising tool, but he’s got more guts than some (probably most in Westminster).

Of course none of this changes Australia’s other big censorship project, the Great Firewall of Australia. This proposed ISP level, government controlled filter is Senator Stephen Conroy’s pet project (blogged at length more than once – see this tag), and in turn is one of the main reasons why I believe Senators (or ‘Senatopeers’ as I called them since I was talking about the UK), who should be part of the brake on the power of the government, should not be allowed to serve in the government unless they want to give up their seat and contest one in the Lower House. Conroy is determined that he knows what’s best for everyone in Australia and is appearing on The 7pm Project tomorrow night tonight to try to sell it to us all. It’s not mentioned on their site but I caught a trailer and it looks like I wasn’t the only one. Conroy is as determined as Atkinson was over the R18+ certificate, and being a Senator he’s not easy to get rid of. I’m hoping to be home in time to watch and I do hope The 7pm Project hosts grill the bastard properly. The fact that Google has both given up co-operating with Chinese censorship and, with Yahoo!, attacked the Australian filter plans should give them some decent ammo.

Both Google and Yahoo say the government’s plans to introduce a mandatory internet filter threaten to restrict legitimate access to information.

“Our primary concern is that the scope of content to be filtered is too wide,” Google said.

Google said that while protecting the free exchange of ideas and information could not be without some limits, people should retain the right to freedom of expression.

This is something else I’m planning a post on but I can do a quick summary for Google right here and now. Whenever anyone says they’re all for free speech and then adds the words ‘but’, ‘however’ or ‘as long as’ at the end what they’re actually saying is that they support free speech as long as it’s speech they find agreeable. Freedom of speech is an absolute, a black and white issue in an all too often grey world. If you have no restrictions on speech then it’s free, simple as. If there are restrictions then by definition it is not free. You might say it’s mostly free, and that’s true in a literal sense, but it’s just as true to use a term like ‘only moderately restricted’. This is ‘slightly pregnant’ stuff, fellas. ‘Free exchange of ideas and information’ can, and should, and fucking well must be without limits, because otherwise it’s not actually free, d’you see? Like being able to buy land and do what you like with it I regard this as a litmus test of my libertarianism – if I can stand to see something I loathe and vehemently disagree with in print, on TV or on the web, even though I might wish it hadn’t been said and that the speaker contracts some virulent genital pox, then I guess I’m still supporting free speech. The day I think ‘they shouldn’t be allowed to say that’ I’ll be too ashamed to call myself libertarian.

Google, stop knocking cocks with the politicians and tell ’em the facts. You’re supposed to be the ‘do no evil’ people, remember? Fucking live up to it.

“Some limits, like child pornography, are obvious. No Australian wants that to be available – and we agree.”

Want? It’s not a matter of what we want – it’s there. We don’t want car crashes either but the solution isn’t to dig up the roads or put a speed bump every 50m on the freeway. Child porn is revolting and evil and, sadly, a fact of life. By all means go after the sick bastards who produce it by raping kids, and if – if – they violently resist arrest (oh please) then I wouldn’t shed a tear if the result was a couple of well aimed 9mm rounds in the cunt’s chest. But it’s almost certain, as Conroy himself has admitted, that the filter will not achieve this. Oh sure, it might catch some less net savvy perverts but they’d be what you might call low hanging fruit and most or all will have been caught by now. As I wrote just over a year ago,

…the technically savvy can and will find ways to defeat the filtering, and that there are some very tech savvy nonces out there in cyberspace. In fact I’d go further and suggest that the majority of web using pervs and other genuine internet menaces have had to get reasonably savvy. There will have been a kind of Darwinian selection going on among them in that those who have failed to get savvy and learn to cover their tracks have got arrested, jailed and locked in solitary to prevent the rest of the prison kicking the shit out of them too much. Those that are left, I think it’s safe to assume, are those who’ve learned how not to get caught.

Yep, the ones to worry about are the ones using proxies, TORs and other means to avoid the firewall, which will be giving them the added bonus of lulling a lot of people into a false sense of security. Hey, we’ve got the firewall now so let little Johnny chat away on IM to this other (4)9 year old that he met online. Well done everybody, fucking well done.

Unfortunately Google apparently didn’t mention any of these points and just said they were already taking steps and that it’d bugger things up for the millions of innocent net users.

The company said it already had a global, all-product ban against child sexual abuse material which it filtered out from search results and removed from its products.

“But moving to a mandatory ISP level filtering regime with a scope that goes well beyond such material is heavy-handed and can raise genuine questions about restrictions on access to information.”

The company also said the introduction of a mandatory filtering regime could negatively impact on user access speeds.

Joined in quick order by Yahoo!

“We are concerned that the scope of content to be filtered is too wide,” the company’s submission said.

Senator Conroy has said the filtering plan was about blocking access to material on the Refused Classification or banned content list, such as child sexual abuse imagery, sexual violence and detailed instruction in crime.

Yahoo said it was entirely supportive of any efforts to make the internet a safer place for children.

But the company said mandatory filtering of all banned material could block content with a strong social, political and/or educational value.

It could block access to safe injecting and other harm minimisation websites, euthanasia discussion forums, anti-abortion websites, as well as legitimate discussions of the geo-political causes of terrorism.

“Clearly some of this content is controversial and, depending on one’s political beliefs, rather offensive. However, we maintain that there is enormous value in this content being available to encourage debate and inform opinion,” the company said.

Good, though I still think someone from Google or Yahoo! could have pointed out that even if this government doesn’t abuse the power – and I’m not holding my breath – with these mechanisms in place there’s nothing to stop a future government from doing so. The question to Kevin Rudd (because I don’t see much value in dealing with Conroy) should be: would you trust the Liberals and Nationals with this? Would you trust a far right party? If the answer is anything other than an enthusiastic yes then it should be obvious that the fucking thing needs to go, as does the swivel eyed window licker who wants to inflict it on us all.

* And yes, I was busy when the news came out and forgot to blog about it. Bad Exile. Bad.

Let’s hear it for Google.

Google does plenty that’s attracted criticism and to be honest some of it is probably merited. However on this they deserve a standing ovation.

Google says it will not “voluntarily” comply with the [Australian] government’s request that it censor YouTube videos in accordance with broad “refused classification” (RC) content rules.

Go Google! You tell ’em… but by the way, who was asking you to, as if I couldn’t guess?

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy…

Oh, surprise surfuckingprise. Senator Stephen bloody Conroy again. Regular readers (if I have any) may recognise this as a name that crops up in my rantings on a semi regular basis. I’d link to a few of them but it’s got to the point now where I think the bastard deserves his own tag – Censortor Conroy (believe me, I was sorely tempted to use ‘Senator Cuntboy’). Anyway, I digress.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy referred to Google’s censorship on behalf of the Chinese and Thai governments in making his case for the company to impose censorship locally.

Can you believe this fuckwit? Look you vile, authoritarian, smear of excrement, do you really want to use China as Australia’s role model? It’s a country where non-violent crimes such as tax evasion or official fraud can get you executed* and, if such stories are to be believed, having shot you in the head for whatever it was you may have done the state sends your family an invoice for the bullet. It’s a country where you, Stephen, would find life difficult – as a practicing Catholic you would be unable to occupy your current job since they’d expect you to be an atheist, and helping to slot your mates into nice jobs might be on the list of things that would get you slotted as well. It’s a country where the idea of being able to criticise the government freely and without fear of retribution is a distant fantasy. Of course, for all I know that last one might sort of appeal to you. On top of everything else the argument that Google did it for China is weakened by Google’s recent threat to clear off and leave China to it, even if censorship isn’t the exact reason behind it.

Google warns this would lead to the removal of many politically controversial, but harmless, YouTube clips.

University of Sydney associate professor Bjorn Landfeldt, one of Australia’s top communications experts, said that to comply with Conroy’s request Google “would have to install a filter along the lines of what they actually have in China”.

Which is pretty much what Conroy has been planning to inflict on Australian ISPs for a while now.

In an interview with the ABC’s Hungry Beast, which aired last night, Conroy said applying ISP filters to high-traffic sites such as YouTube would slow down the internet, “so we’re currently in discussions with Google about … how we can work this through”.

You can’t and you know it. You can only make the internet slower and more expensive for everyone in Australia.

“What we’re saying is, well in Australia, these are our laws and we’d like you to apply our laws,” Conroy said.

You high and mighty prick. They’re not an Australian company and the content which you claim breaks our laws – and incidentally you’ve got a cheek saying that without having even tried to prosecute anyone for it – might not have broken any local laws where it was loaded. Why the fuck should they be interested in our laws? Try to understand how the internet works, will you. You cannot control it any more than you can control the thoughts of the billions of individuals around the world with internet access – for all practical purposes the two are the same thing. What good are our laws, though the reality is they are more your laws imposed on the rest of us, if they’re fucking unenforceable? You might as well pass a law banning the emailing of dirty jokes not just in Australia but anywhere.

Fortunately Google aren’t playing ball.

“YouTube has clear policies about what content is not allowed, for example hate speech and pornography, and we enforce these, but we can’t give any assurances that we would voluntarily remove all Refused Classification content from YouTube,” [Google Australia’s head of policy, Iarla Flynn] said.

“The scope of RC is simply too broad and can raise genuine questions about restrictions on access to information. RC includes the grey realms of material instructing in any crime from [painting] graffiti to politically controversial crimes such as euthanasia, and exposing these topics to public debate is vital for democracy.”

Slightly disappointing that Flynn didn’t simply ask why enforcing this particular area of the law was the duty of a private company rather than the various services and agencies for which the Aussie taxpayers have already paid. Again it suggests the law is unenforceable and prompts the question of what the fuck was the point in us all being forced to fucking pay for it.

Asked for further comment, a Google Australia spokeswoman said that, while the company “won’t comply voluntarily with the broad scope of all RC content”, it would comply with the relevant laws in countries it operates in.

However, if Conroy includes new YouTube regulations in his internet filtering legislation, it is not clear if these would apply to Google since YouTube is hosted overseas.

“They [Google] don’t control the access in Australia – all their equipment that would do this is hosted overseas … and I would find it very hard to believe that the Australian government can in any way force an American company to follow Australian law in America,” Landfeldt said.

“Quite frankly it would really not be workable … every country in the world would come to Google and say this is what you need to do for our country. You would not be able to run the kind of services that Google provides if that would be the case.”

Frankly you could have stopped with the point that Australia can’t enforce its laws outside its borders.

This week the Computer Research and Education Association (CORE) put out a statement on behalf of all Australasian computer science lecturers and professors opposing the government’s internet filtering policy.

They said the filters would only block a fraction of the unwanted material available on the internet, be inapplicable to many of the current methods of online content distribution and create a false sense of security for parents.

CORE said the blacklist could be used by current and future governments to restrict freedom of speech, while those determined to get around the filters and access nasty content could do so with ease.

In fairness to Senator Conrod (lots of noise and energy spent going up and down and round and round) I believe he honestly thinks this idea of his is in everyone’s best interests and does not intend that it should be used to restrict freedom of speech. He’s a fully paid up member of the god squad and I’m sure it’s just morally iffy stuff he has a problem with. But I in turn have a problem with that since I’m strongly opposed to government at any level acting as any kind of moral authority. If you want morality lessons don’t go to the fucking government, go to church (synagogue, temple, mosque, whatever). Or better yet, sit down and nut it out for yourselves instead of being someone else’s brain slave. As night follows day when governments begin imposing the morality of government ministers on their citizens freedoms are lost and liberty suffers, which is why it’s one of the vast and increasing number of things that they absolutely must not be allowed to do.

The best thing the government could do for Australia

Conroy might not want to restrict my freedom of speech as such, but if I want to make a YouTube video on topics like abortion or euthanasia and assisted suicide then he might do it anyway. Worse, far worse, once the legal framework is in place his successors will have the legal ability and the fucking precedent to really fuck us up.

It’s got to stop.

* Not being Chinese must be a huge relief to certain British MPs and Lords.

The blackout is over…

… at least for now. However, the threat of internet censorship in Australia is still alive and well. Some will use TORs and proxies to get around it but I can’t see any way around the fact that the combination of the federal government’s patronising opinion of our intelligence and it’s desire to nanny us all as if the most fragile person in the country typified us all will almost certainly make the internet slower and more expensive. As I said at the beginning of the week, if you’re outside Australia don’t think for a minute that this doesn’t apply to you too. It just doesn’t apply yet. It’s already gone too far here, don’t let it happen where you are.

UPDATE: At Leg-iron’s I see the UK have got their own version of Conroy web control freakery in the form of the Mandelsnake.

The Count of Mandelsonia has a spiffing wheeze that will help him shut down those naughty people who call him names and point out the idiocy in his government’s systems. It’s all based on the filesharing nonsense that they’ve been harping on about for ages. I couldn’t see why the Count would care but it’s perfectly clear now that the pieces are all in place.

It’s simple. If you are accused of filesharing, your internet connection is shut off. Not filesharing and want it back? Well, nothing to hide, nothing to fear, right? Just go to that Ofcom place and tell them you aren’t filesharing and there’s been a mistake. A quick look at your internet records will clear you. No problem.

Well, there is a problem. You now have to pay for asking for your connection back, whether the accusation is true or not. How much? That’s not specified yet. Will you get the money back if you’re innocent? No.

Why don’t we all just move to China? At least the food’s good.

Anyone who opposes censorship must love kiddie porn.

As a follow up to this the SMH blogger aturner has posted an update to his piece about Senator Stephen Conroy proposing speed humps be installed across Australia’s freeways and highways. Like the first one it’s so good that it’s just not worth chopping bits out, so I make no apology for quoting en bloc again (my emphasis in the last couple of paragraphs).

Conroy abandons speed hump plans for Australia’s freeways.

aturner | December 21, 2009

In the face of a significant public backlash, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has backed down on plans to install speed humps on every Australian freeway.

Last week Senator Conroy said he was confident that placing speed humps every 100 metres on all Australian freeways would protect children – reducing accidents by 100 percent with a “negligible” impact on traffic congestion and travel times. The plan was supported by traffic management trials which had only been conducted in suburban back streets.

The plan to throttle Australia’s road transport system was slammed by critics as flawed, unworkable, easily bypassed, politically motivated and open to abuse, as reported in the media on Friday.

After listening to public concern over the mandatory speed hump plan, Senator Conroy today abandoned the concept in favour of public education campaigns and better policing.

“Over the weekend I’ve realised that I don’t actually know that much about traffic management and it might be best to listen to the experts,” Senator Conroy said.

“I realise that certain segments of the community were keen on the idea of mandatory speed humps, using them as a tool to control everywhere Australians go and everything they see. Such a plan is not acceptable in a democratic country and would make Australia an international laughing stock.”

Rather than waste the time and money already invested in the mandatory speed hump plan, Senator Conroy has decided to apply the exact same concept to Australia’s internet access – introducing mandatory ISP-level internet content filtering for all Australians. He has ignored criticisms from networking experts and consumer advocacy groups that the mandatory internet filtering plan is just as unworkable as speed humps on the freeways.

“There are a lot of analogies between Australia’s road system and its broadband internet network,” Senator Conroy said. “Both are critical infrastructure, vital to the nation’s economy. Both require significant investment and long-term planning, driven by experts in the field. Neither should be manipulated for short-term political gain at the expense of the nation’s future.

The difference is that your average man on the street can understand how foolish the speed hump idea is, but if we apply the same concept to Australia’s internet access most people will blindly accept it because they don’t understand how ill-conceived and unworkable the idea is.

“People might have thought we were joking about speed humps on the freeway, but I can assure you the plan to do the same to the internet is completely real. It’s been all over the news. That’s fine, because anyone who opposes mandatory internet filtering obviously loves kiddie porn.

We know the filtering plan will work, because a website opposing mandatory filtering was taken offline in record time last week. Australia’s domain authority body pulled the plug on stephenconroy.com.au in three hours, even though the process generally takes days. That clearly proves that we can eliminate unsavoury websites, although once the web filtering is in place you won’t even know that we’ve done it.”

More details of Senator Conroy’s mandatory ISP-level internet filtering can be found at nocleanfeed.com.

Gold. Just gold.

Conroy plans speed humps for Australia’s freeways.

From a Sydney Morning Herald blog.

In an ambitious plan to protect Australia’s children, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has announced plans to install speed humps every 100 metres on all Australian freeways.

After a 12 month trial of speed humps in several suburban back streets, Senator Conroy says he is confident that placing speed humps on every Australian freeway will reduce accidents by 100 percent with a “negligible” impact on traffic congestion and travel times.

“Australia’s roads are a dangerous place for children, so the Rudd government is doing everything it can to protect people,” says Senator Conroy. “A vocal minority of drivers may object to the plan, but the moral majority can see that it’s the right thing to do. Anyone who objects to the mandatory speed hump plan obviously hates children”.

Senator Conroy also released a traffic management report which appears to support his claims of reducing accidents by 100 percent with a “negligible” impact on traffic congestion. Unfortunately the report was only conducted in suburban back streets. The report concedes that once mandatory speed humps are applied to 100 kph freeways, one in five accidents will still occur. The report also concedes that dangerous drivers who are most likely to speed will easily find ways around the speed humps.

The wording of the mandatory speed hump plan leaves scope for it to be expanded beyond the freeways, although there are few details available. Senator Conroy claims the plan will only be applied to areas which have been “refused classification”. Supporters of the speed hump plan have already called for it to be expanded to include roads outside casinos, gay bars, adult book stores and some medical clinics.

Traffic management specialists, transport groups, car manufacturers, road builders and motoring associations have all condemned the mandatory speed hump plan as flawed, unworkable, easily bypassed, politically motivated and open to abuse.

Senator Conroy’s heart may be in the right place, but he clearly has “no understanding of how roads work,” says Australian Motoring Association spokeswoman Shirley Knott.

“The mandatory speed hump plan will strangle the road network for the entire country, while doing little to stop people who are doing the wrong thing. Rather than waste millions of dollars on a project that will cripple our transport system while not actually achieving its goals, we recommend the government listen to the traffic management specialists and invest the money in education campaigns and better policing,” says Ms Knott.

“Of more concern than traffic jams is that the mandatory speed hump plan is veiled in secrecy and open to abuse. Who is to say how future governments may manipulate traffic management to block off streets that it doesn’t want the public to see? An open and transparent road system is a cornerstone of democracy, and we don’t want to see Australia sliding down the slippery slope towards a police state where the government controls everywhere we go and everything we see.”

For more details of opposition to the mandatory speed hump plan, visit nocleanfeed.com.

Nice analogy only slightly spoiled by one commenter apparently thinking it was meant literally. Still, one face/palm moment doesn’t make the guy so childish and in need of looking after to require the whole fucking web to be censored for him, and in fairness Conroy seems so keen on this ludicrous attempt to control the net that putting speed humps on the fucking freeway is arguably only just outside the realms of possibility.

www.stephen-conroy.com

Senator Stephen Conroy, the fucknuts Minister for Restriction of Communications and Internet Censorship, is so on the ball when it comes to the interwebs that he never secured the URL for his own name.

He wants to censor the internet but what will Communications Minister Stephen Conroy do about a spoof website that uses his own name to protest against the Government’s internet filtering policy?

A net prankster has taken advantage of Conroy’s failure to reserve his own domain name by registering stephenconroy.com.au and turning it into an anti-censorship protest site (link now goes nowhere, see below – AE).

Under the banner “Stephen Conroy: Minister for Fascism”, the site includes a disparaging cartoon strip, a nasty online poll, links to news stories regarding Conroy’s internet filtering plan and links to web pages where people can complain about the policy.

Conroy’s spokesman has not responded to questions asking about possible measures to seize control of the stephenconroy.com.au domain name.

Well, it looks like something is going on because http://www.stephenconroy.com.au now goes nowhere. But Conroy’s lack of internet savvy extends to search engines too, so it didn’t take me very long to find www.stephen-conroy.com, the new home for the arguably offensive – if you’re Stephen Conroy – content formerly at the .com.au location. At the very top of the page they have this to say (my emphasis):

auDA, the .au Domain Administrator is trying to take us offline. Earlier today they issued a notice giving us 3 hours to provide evidence of our eligibility to hold the ‘stephenconroy.com.au’ and related domain names. Normally registrants are provided with approximately one week to provide this information on request. We asked for reasonable time to prepare and submit representations on our eligibility but auDA refused to grant this. Accordingly we’ve moved the site to ‘stephen-conroy.com’ – please update your bookmarks. Conroy’s office must have been busy this afternoon!

The page on auDA linked to has the email exchange, and an interesting read it is too. Worth quoting en bloc:

As per the note on our front page auDA, the .au Domain Administrator suspended registration of our ‘stephenconroy.com.au’ and related domain names. At the time of writing they have failed to provide us with a detailed explanation as to why and have refused to provide us with adequate time to reply to their allegation.

Following receipt of this notice we called auDA today to get an explanation and were asked to state our position in writing and so we did. See the email chain below.

It is out (sic) opinion that as we are providing content which is of direct relevance to the ‘stephenconroy.com.au’ domain name we are eligible to hold it. It is not auDA’s place to form an opinion regarding how agreeable the content is, but in this instance to judge it’s relevance to the domain name.

We feel that auDA has acted POLITICALLY to CENSOR our website and to intentionally limit our ability to distribute dissenting information about the Australian Government. We intend to fight this fight to the end and do everything in our power to get our domains back. We are currently in the process of obtaining legal advice, but at present consider our case to be strong and intend to update this page with further information as it becomes available…



Hi Jo,


Further to our telephone conversation:


I have been informed that Sapia has been issued with a notice requesting that we furnish further details of our eligibility to hold the ‘stephenconroy.com.au’ domain name. We understand that the deadline set for reply to this notice is 1700AEDT Today.


We feel that we are able to successfully prove compliance with the criteria, however, feel that the deadline in which we have been requested to do so is manifestly inadequate. In order to give us time to adequately prepare a brief of supporting information and to obtain appropriate legal advice we request this deadline be extended to COB Wednesday 23 December.


We understand the requirement for enforcing this criteria and endeavor to do everything possible to make this process as fluid as possible. We look forward to your reply, and should you have any further questions or comments please feel free to contact me on any of the below numbers.

Their reply:

We have considered the response below which does not provide us with any explanation as to eligibility for the names. On that basis it is our current position that the registration of stephenconroy.com.au, stephen-conroy,com.au, senatorconroy.com.au, stephenconroy.net.au, stephen-conroy.net.au, senatorconroy.net.au breach the Domain Name Eligibility and Allocation Policy Rules for Open 2LDs (2008-05) at http://www.auda.org.au/policies/auda-2008-05/.


We note that you have requested an extension of time to provide an explanation. We would have expected that an explanation could be provided immediately given that on registration of the names you warranted that you were eligible. On that basis we are not prepared to grant an extension of time past 5 pm today.


Accordingly, unless a satisfactory explanation is provided prior to 5pm today, the domain names will be placed into policy delete.


However, it is important to note that the domain names will remain registered to Sapia for the 14 day pending delete period and that we will review our decision if you provide us with information to demonstrate your compliance with the policy rules. Obviously you will need to provide this before the end of the pending delete period.




Regards,
Chris XXXXXXXX
CEO – auDA
au Domain Administration Ltd
ceo@auda.org.au
http://www.auda.org.au

We then sent the following reply and await auDA’s response:

We feel strongly that auDA has acted in a particularly heavy-handed manner which is inconsistent with other arbitration instances we’ve become aware of. We feel that we requested fair and reasonable time to make representations regarding our eligibility and that you have policy-deleted the domains without fair right of reply.


We can not locate anything in the document you’ve referenced indicating that our registration was in any way invalid. Can you please point us to the exact section you feel we have breached. Also please provide us with detailed information regarding what you feel we need to provide to remediate the issues.


It is our opinion that were the domain in question something like ‘johnsmith.com.au’ auDA’s response would have been in no way as severe. We feel that auDA has acted politically due to the nature of our site.


We look forwards to your written reply.

Make of that what you will, but personally I find it potentially worrying. It’s not unusual for the great and the good to have sense of humour failures. Nor is it unheard of for them to try and stifle opposition or criticism. But the fact is that this guy and his boss want to bring in legislation to give them much broad censorship powers while promising that legitimate dissent and criticism of the government will not be affected, and before the filter laws are even in place this happens. If that indicates the thinking and attitude of those behind the big push for censorship I’m not exactly optimistic.

Meanwhile the so called Clean Feed is coming under fire from a former High Court Judge who notes that this may be the thin end of a nasty wedge.

Former High Court judge Michael Kirby has criticised the Federal Government’s internet censorship agenda, saying it could stop the “Berlin Walls of the future” from being knocked down.

In an interview with Fairfax Radio this morning, Kirby said some circles feared the controversial policy would be “the thin end of the wedge of the Government moving in to regulating the actual internet itself”.

“Once you start doing that you get into the situation of Burma and Iran where the Government is taking control of what people hear and what information they get,” he said, adding that Australia’s approach hadn’t been attempted anywhere else in the world.

Google has also entered the debate, saying yesterday the scope of the content to be filtered went too far beyond child pornography and that the “heavy handed” approach would restrict freedom of expression.

“Refused Classification (or RC) is a broad category of content that includes not just child sexual abuse material but also socially and politically controversial material – for example, educational content on safer drug use – as well as the grey realms of material instructing in any crime, including politically controversial crimes such as euthanasia,” Google Australia’s head of policy, Iarla Flynn, said.

“This type of content may be unpleasant and unpalatable but we believe that government should not have the right to block information which can inform debate of controversial issues.”

“It was through ‘public complaints mechanisms’ like the one Conroy is proposing, that classic literature such as The Catcher in the Rye, Ulysses and The Story of the Kelly Gang were once banned in Australia,” GetUp said.

Conversely, the Australian Christian Lobby has said it wants the filters broadened to cover all X- and R-rated content on the internet, with people having to opt-in to receive this material.

At this special time of year it seems only appropriate to say ‘fucking god botherers’.

>And the award goes to…

>Couldn’t have been won by a more deserving guy, the Internet Villain of the Year is Australia’s and Victoria’s own Senator Stephen Conroy.

The 11th annual Internet Industry Awards ceremony, held in London this week and hosted by the Internet Service Providers’ Association, named Senator Conroy Internet Villain of the Year over the federal government’s unpopular plans for an internet filter.

Take a bow, you naive, nannying, authoritarian fuckwit. I hope you’re fucking proud of making the place look backward and reactionary. But wait, let’s hear the “acceptance speech”.

The aim of the filter is to block material that is already illegal, Senator Conroy told reporters in Sydney yesterday.

“Unfortunately most people have been misled as to what the government is actually doing,” he said.

“We have identified that this is sites like pro-rape sites, bestiality sites, and child pornography promotion sites.

“We’ve said it is confined to that.

“If people have a problem with blocking that material, well, I’m going to disagree with them.”

Look, you fucking tool, you yourself have fucking admitted it won’t fucking do that at all. So I think we must ask you, Senator Conroy, beyond pandering to Australia’s various Helen Lovejoys and every feckless mouthbreathing parent who can’t be arsed to keep an eye on what their kids get up to online and who’d rather you fucking did it for them, what the cunting fuck is the Clean Feed good for? Or did you just fall for the sales patter?

Whatever, it’s clear that Steve Conroy doesn’t see why it’s both bad and stupid. I listed my concerns here in typically angry fashion, but I’m cheered to see the media making similar points. This nails some of the issues for me:

GOVERNMENTS detest and fear what they can’t control. As such, the internet is cause for increasing regulatory angst across the globe, not the least in Australia.

So, memo to Communications Minister Stephen Conroy: Here is why your bloody-minded push for compulsory web-filtering in Australia won’t work.

… what if the Great Firewall of Canberra was already in place? Would this column be able to publish information on how to get around it?

And, if we did, would The Courier-Mail website be blocked by the filter?

If I promised to email every individual reader who contacted me with new methods to thwart online censorship, would my mail traffic be monitored, taken down in evidence and used against me?

Would the countless thousands of computer geek forums and message boards devoted to arcane techno-babble matters also risk being blocked if such seditious discussion was hosted?

Answer me that, Senator. Or is this plan so half-cocked and politically motivated in terms of pandering to the Christian lobby that we’re making it up as we go along?

For a start, Senator, there is a wealth of what is known as circumvention technologies available on the web.

Let’s begin with a Google search.

Try keying in “bypass internet censorship filters”, or perhaps try searching for what is known as “circumvention technology”.

Surely your filter would never block Google searches? Would it?

Or, perhaps, for the slightly more tech-savvy, try looking for “open proxies”.

These are tools, according to one very useful site, that will enable you to access “any resource that is accessible from the server it runs on”.

Another useful resource for those of us wishing to duck below or fight the Orwellian radar is the Open Net Initiative, an academic site devoted to investigating, exposing and analysing internet filtering and surveillance practices in a credible, non-partisan fashion. Their words, not mine, and their resource can be found at opennet.net

Another thing, Senator Conroy, you do realise, don’t you, that the internet is the most rapidly evolving thing on the planet?

For every page you block, another two will spring up in its place. The material you want to block right now is like weeds in the back lawn – short of concreting over the entire back yard, they’ll keep sprouting.

The compulsory internet filter is not about protecting our children from accessing unsavoury websites.

Any responsible parent, public library or school that wishes to do that can easily download (free) “net-nanny” software to block such material. Or, in terms of parenting, perhaps adopt the novel approach of monitoring what your kids do online rather than bequeathing responsibility to some third party.[Or, as I suggested, simply pull the plug or ethernet cable out of the fucking wall – Angry Exile]

Nor is the filter about attacking child pornography.[Well, yeah, because the deranged cunt’s already conceded it won’t do that anyway – Angry Exile]

That sort of vile material is not hosted on easily accessible web pages but, rather, swapped among shadowy user-groups of like-minded perverts, and massive police resources are already devoted to monitoring and catching the grubs who traffic in it.

No, the filter is about control. It is about control of what we watch, what we read and what we discuss.

It risks capturing everything from literature to film to games and ideological debate on issues such as euthanasia and abortion.

Euthanasia is illegal in Australia, therefore should we ban sites advocating its adoption? Bret Easton Ellis’s controversial but confrontingly brilliant novel American Psycho (yes, I have read it, twice) is banned in Queensland. Should we stop northern users accessing the text online?

How far does the filter go in terms of blocking material of an “illegal” nature? Forget pornography, violent video games or banned arthouse material for a minute.

Just imagine if the internet had existed in the days of Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen and how filtering might have been applied to sites advocating action on such issues as apartheid, street marching laws or police corruption.

Governments change. And they tend to adapt and amend existing laws to suit their own purposes.

Resist this madness at all costs. And spread the word.

Worth reading the whole thing. And remember that the argument that Senator Conroy and the other censor fans and bansturbation bunnies make is essentially this:

I’d settle for the stupid bastards just thinking.

>Good news for Senator Conroy.

>China hasn’t given up on internet censorship after all. It’s just on the back burner for a bit. But don’t get too excited Steve. Being no worse for censorship than China is nothing to be proud of.

>Won’t somebody think of the chiiiiildren?

>
Revised Coat of Arms from siteblocker.org – go have a look if you want a taste of what the ‘clean feed’ internet experience in Australia could be like.

Oh yes, somebody will always think of the chiiiiiildren, at least for a given value of ‘think’. And in Australia one of the poeple doing that ‘thinking’ is Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, one of our Victorian Senators and one with some Victorian fucking attitudes. And what he thinks is a good thing for the chiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiildren is for Australia’s internet access to be filtered by the government at ISP level, the so called ‘clean feed’ I talked about a few months ago.

The clean feed is basically internet censorship, pure and simple. It’s the responsibility, if not bastard brainchild, of Authoritarian Lackwit Party Australian Labour Party Senator Stephen Conroy, and in my opinion he’s either a complete window licker who must have been born yesterday to believe that this loony scheme will work, a gold plated sucker who has been so completely taken in by some slick internet filtering salesmen that he can’t bear to go back on it and admit he’s been taken (along with the Australian taxpayers) for a ride, or a thoroughly nasty authoritarian nanny stater who doesn’t give a rip that the whole idea is hopelessly flaw ridden because we poor stupid citizens need our hands held out there in the howwible electwonic world of the internet…

The reasons I’m against this are simple. First, for various reasons broadband internet connection in Australia is a bit hit and miss, is often not as fast as customers would like, and is fairly pricey compared to the UK. … The sometimes less than speedy and generally pricy Australian internet connections will become slower and more expensive. This is not speculation… While you’re at it would you like to pop round my house tonight and charge me $1000 for jamming my car in 1st gear?

Secondly, it won’t fucking work. … We know that a large proportion (circa 10%) of dodgy sites will slip through the cracks while a smaller but still significant proportion (1-6%) of innocent sites will be blocked by accident. Let’s put that into the context of the war in the Middle East shall we? Imagine if Sen Conroy was involved in the Dept of Defense instead and proposed a new bomb for the RAAF that worked about 90% of the time and would generally inflict up to 6% civilian casualties wherever it was used. Your average ALP supporter would swear they were listening to a right wing abomination who should be taken out into the middle of the Simpson Desert and staked out to roast alive in the sun while going mad from the heat, thirst, pain and carrion feeding on his living flesh. But because it’s the internet and this is all “for the chiiild-ren” he’s a fucking saint.

… third, experts are pointing out that the technically savvy can and will find ways to defeat the filtering… As one blogger puts it:

Real-world experience in everything from spam filters to the record industry’s futile attempts to stop copyright violations always shows that filters only block casual users. Professionals, the desperate or the persistent will always get through.

However if a politician demands a filter, pretty soon a shiny-suited salesman will appear, ready to sell him a box with “filter” written on the front. It’ll work — well enough for the demo, anyway.

“Look, Minister! Nice Minister. Watch the screen. See? Filter off, bad website is visible. Filter on, bad website gone. Filter off. Child in danger. Filter on. Child happy and safe. Filter off. Voter afraid and angry. Filter on. Voter relaxed and comfortable. Cheque now please.”

Fourth is the phrase “illegal and inappropriate content” … Inappropriate? That sounds very much like it’s synonymous with “perfectly legal but we don’t want you to see it or think you can handle it if we let you”. Who the fuck is the government to decide what we can or can’t look at in our homes? Who the fuck are they to decide that something legal may not be appropriate? More worryingly … we won’t even know what and how much we are being prevented from seeing [or] what is being added to the lists (it’s a given that not very much will be taken off) and when…

Fifth this is a lowest common denominator approach. Personally I don’t use the web for porn but … because the internet is accessible to anyone old enough to switch a computer on the fucking government intends to treat everybody like fucking toddlers. Look, I’m in my 30s and I’ve been to German sex shows and watched some hard core Dutch porn, and if I choose to do so again it’s my decision and I should not be prevented from doing so by this brainless one-size-doesn’t-fit-anyone policy of yours. Fuck off, you patronizing bastards. Fuck. Off. And. Die.

Sixth is the anti-nanny state argument. Whose children are you protecting? They are not children of the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia you vile cunts… It is a parental responsibility to keep an eye on what websites children look at in the same way that it is to be aware of what games they play, what TV they watch and whose company they keep. Yes, the internet is technical and challenging for some parents, but Jesus Christ how technical do you need to be to look over their shoulders now and again? And if you’re concerned how technical must you be to pull the fucking plug out of the wall? …

As I said, a window licker, a sucker for a vaguely convincing sales pitch or a nasty authoritarian – probably all of them actually. And not long after I wrote that we had the whole Wikileaks website blacklist business followed in short order by an admission that the filter won’t even fucking stop child porn, which I understood was one of, if not the, main reason for having the fucking thing in the first place.

But of course it was never going to stop there, was it? Not when governments set themselves up as moral guardians and not when ministers of a deeply religious persuasion are inevitably influenced by their personal beliefs*. And sure enough it isn’t stopping there because now computer games are being added to the list of things Conroy wants to censor.

The Federal Government has now set its sights on gamers, promising to use its internet censorship regime to block websites hosting and selling video games that are not suitable for 15 year olds.

Separately, the Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy, has been nominated by the British ISP industry for its annual “internet villain” award, competing alongside the European Parliament and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

True, he really is in line for a prize “for continuing to promote network-level blocking despite significant national and international opposition”. Is there anywhere we can vote for the clown? I’d love him to win.

Australia is the only developed country without an R18+ classification for games, meaning any titles that do not meet the MA15+ standard – such as those with excessive violence or sexual content – are simply banned from sale by the Classification Board, unless they are modified to remove the offending content.

So far, this has only applied to local bricks-and-mortar stores selling physical copies of games, but a spokesman for Senator Conroy confirmed that under the filtering plan, it will be extended to downloadable games, flash-based web games and sites which sell physical copies of games that do not meet the MA15+ standard.

This means that even Australians who are aged above 15 and want to obtain the adult-level games online will be unable to do so. It will undoubtedly raise the ire of gamers, the average age of which is 30 in Australia, according to research commissioned by the Interactive Entertainment Association of Australia.

Oh? Adults getting pissed off for being treated like children? D’you think? No shit, Sherlock, though if anyone wants to see for themselves you need only look at articles (and the comments) such as here, here, here and, demonstrating by means of electronic people having sex why Second Life is in the firing line, here. The joke about the last point is the famously liberal attitude to sex in Australia has resulted in legalized brothels across much of the country. If I I go to a sex shop and buy some porno DVDs, or even pay to slip one up some barely legal girl at the nearest knocking shop, it’s all fine, but watching some electronic person with no existence outside a computer doing the horizontal tango with another non-existent electronic person is a big no-no in case kids go to the same site or buy the same game. Similarly a DVD porno might be left lying around where kids can watch it, or even hidden but not quite well enough to prevent your kids finding it. And while this isn’t a problem for the government (actually it probably is but they haven’t come up with a way of policing what goes on inside millions of homes**) it’s enough of an issue online for them to want to block World of Warcraft and fuck up the innocent fun of a group who are mostly adults.

Again, I’m sure the hard core gamers will find ways around this, as will people who really want the smutty stuff (legal and otherwise), and the casual computer user who happens to like online gaming will be the one to suffer. But as I said before and as is made clear in the links, everyone in Australia will be affected by the more expensive and slower internet connections we’ll be forced to pay for. When the fuck is it going to stop? How long will governments insist on fucking up the freedoms of large groups of innocent people, sometimes even a majority of the population, because of the actions of a minutely small number of irresponsible people, or even when nothing’s actually happened and the move comes simply through irrational fear. But as poor as such excuses are that’s not even the worst aspect of this latest nannying move of Senator Conroy’s. The thing is that the government seeks to sideline parental responsibility with that of the state (by which I mean the Commonwealth government rather than at state level), to subvert individual morality with it’s own, and to force that morality on everyone in Australia. Not. Fucking. Acceptable. Aside from the semi-proselytising, even if my morality matched Conroy’s or the Rudd government’s exactly, which it most certainly doesn’t, there’s no guarantee that it would continue to do so in the future. How would Conroy feel if in a few years from now his current position was occupied by a scientologist, and who intended to impose on Australia a morality revolving around 10 million year old reptiles living in volcanoes (or whatever the fuck it is) by means of precedents and technology introduced today? I don’t know the guy but I know quite a few Catholics, and I very much doubt they’d be comfortable with that. But it’s exactly what is being done to everyone anyway, just with a different set of values and morals. Clearly they can’t please everyone so the only logical solution is to make no attempt to please anyone at all. We can still go to churches, temples, mosques and synagogues, and indeed our own life experiences and what our parents told us as children, but the imposition of morality of any kind absolutely must not be a government function.
Start telling them now. Sign the petition (also at the top of this blog) – the clean feed must be stopped. For those outside Australia all I can say is don’t let the bastards start.
UPDATE: An interesting comparison between the Clean Feed filter and the Iranian government’s actions with regard to the internet is made at Thoughts on Freedom.
… we learned that the Iranian government was using technology supplied by Nokia and Siemens to detect ’subversive activity’ on the internet, and the cell phone network. And they used it to censor data and shut down the protests. Naughty Nokia and Siemens.
Now Slashdot reports that two US senators (Schumer and Graham) want to punish Nokia and Siemens for providing that technology. Apparently supplying governments with the technology to restrict internet access is an evil thing to do.
Funny thing is, there are many governments with that this kind of technology. Including the US, and including Australia.
In fact Uncle Kevin is part way through an internet filtering trial which would stop us mere citizens from accessing ‘unwanted’ material (so ‘unwanted’, apparently that we wouldn’t want to access it anyway).
Are they willing to punish multinationals for selling that technology to Australia as well – or just to Axes of Evil?
Selling internet censorship technology must be only evil if it it is sold to bad governments, not to good governments. Because we all know that the likes of Uncle Kev would never abuse their power.

Not terribly flattering for Kev and Steve, but perfectly fair if you ask me.

UPDATE 2: China ahead of Australia on internet freedom? Hmm, could be. Fucking hell!
H/T Shibby.
*Yes, you could say that of everyone and I’ll happily admit that if I had Conroy’s job my beliefs would be a massive influence, but since my beliefs are about leaving people alone I’d force precisely fuck all on anyone else and let them decide these things for themselves instead. Conroy’s beliefs seem to be that government should be the nation’s morality policeman which means 20 million people have to conform to what he and his government colleagues feel is appropriate – I stress appropriate since we’re not necessarily talking illegal content.
**Yet.

>Senator Conroy…. again.

>I think the poor bloke is starting to get a bit overwhelmed by this and is getting confused.

Web blacklist won’t stop child porn, admits Communications Minister Stephen Conroy.

So what the fuck is it for? Why are you proposing to slow everyone’s connections, for which they’ll almost certainly pay more, and it won’t even achieve the vary dubious aim that gets it support from Australia’s Helen Lovejoys? On top of that Conroy also had this to say about the ACMA blacklist:

“Publishing the list would defeat the purpose of having the list,” Conroy said. “It’s a genuine condundrum.”

I get the impression they’re doing this because they think it can be done (which it probably can’t) and haven’t given it much thought apart from that.

>Australia wriggling out from under the censors.

>News on Australia’s nanny overseen clean feed censored internet from Thoughts On Freedom. The third largest ISP in Oz has pulled out of the trial of Senator Conroy’s electronic gag. Not a huge surprise since iiNet always said it was a waste of time and they were only getting involved to demonstrate that it was futile, but you’d think they’d have stuck it out longer. Whatever the reason it’s good news. I was particularly interested in this bit:

Thankfully, at the moment it’s looking like the Senate can be counted on to kill this ghastly idea. Credit where it’s due to the Greens, who whatever their other shortcomings can usually be counted on to support civil liberties (firearms aside). Also a lot of credit is due to Nick Xenophon, who I cordially dislike, but who has taken a sensible stance on this issue. While I’m sure he’d like to impose internet controls on his pet issue of gambling, he’s had the sense to recognise that the filter is a bad idea which won’t work.

I’d also have assumed that Nick Xenophon, having been elected on an anti-gambling platform as an independent Senator, would have been all for clean feed and blocking sites he didn’t like the look of. At least he’s pragmatic.

>Senator Conroy again.

>Well done mate, very well done. Wikileaks is down, presumably because the ACMA blacklist (or something purporting to be it) is there and despite your threat of an $11,000 for anyone in Oz linking to it since most people know what search engines are for and how to use them so every bugger is trying to see what webshites are on the list.

Could you not see this coming? Your efforts to censor the net and keep what is being censored a secret is generating world wide interest. It’s human fucking nature for Christ’s sake. Tell people that this or that is not allowed and many will be curious and want to check it out to understand why it’s not allowed. The supreme fucking irony is that many wouldn’t have fucking bothered otherwise. How the fuck can’t you be aware of this? Have you pricks in Canberra actually stopped to meet any real people or did your political careers not leave you the fucking time? Because normal people seem to have had enough contact with other normal people to be aware of it, or understand it instinctively.

I repeat, curiosity is part of our nature. Senator please try to grasp this simple point. It’s part of what we are. Historically it’s taken us up mountains, across oceans and into space. It’s also one of the reasons why some people try dope – not because they want to get stoned or because they’re warming up for heroin, it’s because they’re curious to see what’s so bad about it that it had to be banned. Sometimes our curiosity does us harm but overall I’d argue that we’ve benefited from it so presumably it’s a trait that’s being maintained if not reinforced. This ridiculous attempt to legislate websites you’re uncomfortable with, either because they don’t fit with your morals (and probably not mine either to be honest, though that’s not remotely the point) or because they might – might – breach Australian law, is just adding to the curiosity. What you’re doing is like trying to put out last month’s bushfires with petrol.

I know the footy season doesn’t start till next weekend and this is a blatant rip off of Channel Ten’s Before The Game show, but you have to be my vote for Tool Of The Week. And in this house it’s only me and Mrs Angry who have a vote, so you’re likely to be our Tool Of The Week for as long as your censorship lasts.

Edit: in case any Australians or people in Australia come along and read this, and I know a couple have, I’ve added a widget from GetUp!, a campaign against Australian web censorship. If you’re unhappy with the idea of slower connections, higher costs, innocent websites being inaccessible through being censored in error and, worst of all, ‘no holds barred’ Government blocking of websites without scrutiny, then please add your name. If you’re outside Australia I suggest you keep a real fucking close eye on what’s going on here, and in the meantime pass it along to any Aussie’s or Aussie residents you know. And if you’re happy with censorship I have a movie recommendation for you – while it’s still allowed. Maaaaahh!

UPDATE: I hate to say “they just don’t get it”, I really do. It usually sounds so weak, like someone can’t be arsed to make a real argument for or against something. But since the arguments have been made I’m going to say it anyway – Senator Stephen Conroy just doesn’t get it.

Conroy ridiculed suggestions that the trial is “the thin edge of the wedge” – the beginnings of a Government cracking down on political dissent.

Look fucknuts, I’m really not too concerned about you and what you want to ban. You may be in Opus Dei and* your religious beliefs may well be influencing you on this, but all the same I’m not desperately worried about you, Rudd or the ALP. I’m quite sure it is not your intention to censor sites with political content that disagrees with the ALP’s position. Okay? That’s not the fucking problem. The fucking problems are firstly the precedent you may set for future governments, one of which may be lead by a world class bastard who does like the idea of stifling political dissent, and secondly that since the fucking blacklist and what’s on it is being kept from us we wouldn’t find out if a world class bastard is stifling political dissent until it’s too fucking late. See? The intention of the government is not in itself scary – it’s the fucking ability you’re putting in place for future governments. Any fucking chance of that getting through to you?

Did I say Tool Of The Week? Tool Of The Fucking Century more like.

*UPDATE June 09 – Or not in Opus Dei. I can’t remember where I saw it apart from Wikipedia, but it’s not there now and I can’t be bothered to look further. It’s really not that important when it’s known that Conroy is both strongly religious and Catholic, and that his Catholic values, which he’s quite entitled to hold as an individual, might be being imposed on the rest of us.