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Censorship Government Politics

Australian Government Backing Down On Censorship 116

Posted by kdawson
from the won't-work-won't-scale-but-besides-that dept.
Combat Wombat sends the news that the government in Australia has begun waffling on whether country-wide Internet censorship will be mandatory. "The Rudd Government has indicated that it may back away from its mandatory Internet filtering plan. Communications Minister Stephen Conroy today told a Senate estimates committee that the filtering scheme could be implemented by a voluntary industry code. ... [The shadow communications minister] said he had never heard of a voluntary mandatory system. ... Senator Conroy's statement is a departure from the internet filtering policy Labor took into the October 2007 election to make it mandatory for ISPs to block offensive and illegal content." The censorship plan, which has been called "worse than Iran," was bypassed even before trials started. A minister's defection may have effectively blocked any chance of implementation.
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Australian Government Backing Down On Censorship

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  • !victory (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sakdoctor (1087155) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @05:30AM (#28106891) Homepage

    Keeping back dumb censorship plans, in otherwise democratic countries, is an eternal struggle.

    • Re:!victory (Score:5, Insightful)

      by qpawn (1507885) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @05:55AM (#28107021)

      Agreed. There was no need for it in the first place. Sometimes politics is like when you dangle a person over a cliff, but then pull them back up and act like the hero.

      • Re:!victory (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Shakrai (717556) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @08:57AM (#28108317) Journal

        Sometimes politics is like when you dangle a person over a cliff, but then pull them back up and act like the hero.

        Reminds me of the old joke about "moderate" Democrats and Republicans:

        A moderate is someone who throws you a ten foot rope when you are fifteen feet offshore and later tells all of his friends that he went more than halfway.

        • Re:!victory (Score:5, Funny)

          by goose-incarnated (1145029) <lelanthran.gmail@com> on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @10:04AM (#28109061) Homepage Journal
          Well, yeah ... if you can't be bothered to swim 5 feet to safety, why should you live?

          :-)
        • Re:!victory (Score:4, Insightful)

          by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @10:20AM (#28109295) Journal

          Good analogy...note that Obama considers himself a moderate - and his actions generally match. People are drowning 15ft. away on both sides of the sandbar he's on and he's not willing to use more than 10ft. of rope, even on those who voted for him.

          Don't mod me Flamebait, I expected more of him too, But here we are and there's the ACTA agreement [wikipedia.org] - a textbook example of corruption ("Corporate Lobbying" as they call it nowadays) and policy laundering; Guantanamo acting as a handy distraction while other "secret" prisons [wikipedia.org] remain open, an Iraq deadline that he only used 10ft. of rope on, the list goes on...

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Scrameustache (459504)

            Guantanamo acting as a handy distraction while other "secret" prisons [wikipedia.org] remain open

            I guess as long as we can get links like that, it's fair to say that freedom of speech is still alive.
            Thanks for the info, it's infuriating, but I'd better be mad than be ignorant.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Tokah (859694)
            I was also sorely disappointed when the point of closing guantanomo became divorced from ending indefinite imprisonment. Obama's desire to finagle it in the US borders is no better than Bush's use of extra-US detention to avoid the legal requirements.
            • Re:!victory (Score:4, Insightful)

              by Shakrai (717556) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @01:18PM (#28111951) Journal

              I was also sorely disappointed when the point of closing guantanomo became divorced from ending indefinite imprisonment.

              To think that there would be anything but indefinite imprisonment was pretty naive. Prisoners of War don't have habeas corpus rights and it's generally accepted that they will remain prisoners for the duration of hostilities.

              • Re:!victory (Score:5, Insightful)

                by fractoid (1076465) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @10:36PM (#28118541) Homepage
                Suspected terrorists are not prisoners of war. The "war on terror" is a fabrication which can be extended indefinitely as long as there is one nutjob on the planet who has the United States in their sights.
                • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                  by Shakrai (717556)

                  Suspected terrorists are not prisoners of war. The "war on terror" is a fabrication which can be extended indefinitely as long as there is one nutjob on the planet who has the United States in their sight

                  Yes, it can. And I find that troubling. More troubling though is the notion that people who aren't citizens and whose only connection to our country is their professed desire to do it harm deserve the full protection of our constitution and criminal justice system.

                  When non-citizens seek to do us harm from overseas I do not regard that as criminal activity. It's not state-directed activity either and falls somewhere in between. An appropriate response would be to issue letters of marque and treat them l

                  • An appropriate response would be to issue letters of marque and treat them like the pirates of old but I suspect that if we actually did this it wouldn't go over very well.

                    Now if people start talking bounties in hard dollar figures, red passports, expense accounts, and access to the identification production facilities of certain U.S. agencies along with letters of marque...

      • The main reson this whole ldea was pushed by the aus govt was to keep the religious right senator Fielding happy, he and several other independant senators hold the balance of power. This has not worked, he has blocked several items of govt legislation, so perhaps they dont care anymore.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by kylben (1008989)

        Agreed. There was no need for it in the first place.

        Yeah, cause if there was a need for it, it would've been just fine. No censorship without a pretty good reason, that's what I always say.

    • Re:!victory (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Shakrai (717556) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @06:55AM (#28107413) Journal

      Keeping our civil rights, in otherwise democratic countries, is an eternal struggle.

      Fixed that for you. I don't think anyone can look at the "War on Drugs", gun control or just the expansion of Government in general and say that it's only free speech that we need to worry about.

    • Filtering is already voluntary.

      Ask yourself this "Why not just drop the proposal?"
      obviously something else is in the works.

  • I laugh at politics (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Sparx139 (1460489) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @05:36AM (#28106925)
    It's so funny to watch a government make a huge mistake, and then try to back down from the decision without saying "sorry guys, we screwed up"
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Make no mistake, this was all about lining the pockets of the companies that were involved, nothing else.

      How could they not know this would fail? Fiasco was written all over it.

      Canada had the gun registry that failed miserably [wikipedia.org]. It was supposed to cost about $120mil, but ended up costing the (now poor) tax payers $2 billion. Yep. 2. Billion.

      My question is - who got paid...someone did...a lot. Every man, woman and child alive today would have to register two guns for this money to be recuperated.

      The sam

      • by Shakrai (717556) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @08:56AM (#28108301) Journal

        Canada had the gun registry that failed miserably [wikipedia.org]. It was supposed to cost about $120mil, but ended up costing the (now poor) tax payers $2 billion. Yep. 2. Billion.

        Had as in past tense? I thought it was still around?

        Can't say that I'm really surprised. New York State has CoBIS [state.ny.us], a program to collect fired brass from all handguns to enter into a ballistic databank. This program has had numerous cost overruns and has solved zero crimes since introduction. So naturally our fearless leaders in Albany want to expand it to cover more types of firearms......

      • The only figure I've seen for the trials was $80K but that was $80K too much in my book since we already have a govt. sponsored filter that is used in public schools and govt deptartments.

        "Yep. 2. Billion."

        I'd be pissed about such obvious pork too, IIRC it cost Australia less than that to buy back (at a fair price) every semi-auto and pump action in the country and crush them.
      • by Meski (774546)

        Make no mistake, this was all about lining the pockets of the companies that were involved, nothing else.

        How could they not know this would fail? Fiasco was written all over it.

        Fiasco, they make routers, right?

    • by TapeCutter (624760) * on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @08:34AM (#28108097) Journal
      Not picking on you personally but the average slashdotter is pretty gullible when it comes to machiavellian politics. This was no mistake, politicians often adopt a cause in order to kill it. Conroy deliberately killed the trails and legislation by including Fielding's anti-abortion supporters on the blacklist. I and many other Aussies predicted this outcome [slashdot.org], not because we are particularly astute, mearly because we saw the same thing happen with the last government.
      • the average slashdotter is pretty gullible when it comes to machiavellian politics.

        Here is some recommended reading [amazon.com] for Slashdotters who have not read The Prince [wikipedia.org] or any other works of Machiavelli.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @05:37AM (#28106931)

    So he could tell their government how good incompetently implemented filtering mechanisms worked for them? Maybe, just maybe, they could learn a thing or two.

    • Tell you what, on behalf of a vast majority of Australians I invite you to keep him.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Opportunist (166417)

        If we lock him up in Germany, I'm sure the average politician IQ in both countries would suddenly increase dramatically.

        Say what you want, but he at least had the smarts to realize when he makes a huge blunder. The German government didn't achive that evolution step yet.

        • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          [quote]New Zealanders moving to Australia increase the IQ of both countries![/quote] - Robert Muldoon, former New Zealand Prime Minister.

          • That's theoretically possible, assuming 100 = worldwide mean and the IQ of a country is its mean or median IQ, if NZmeanIQ > movingPeopleMeanIQ > AUmeanIQ. But he's a politician, so by Occam's razor, he's probably just dumb.

  • by rastilin (752802) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @05:43AM (#28106965)
    You knew it would happen.
    I knew it would happen.
    Things that live under rocks on the floor of the Pacific Ocean knew it would happen.


    Something like this won't get off the ground as long as there are people willing to fight against it, and we've got no shortage of those around here.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by SlashWombat (1227578)
      I am somewhat amazed that these "politicians" have backed down ... I was getting ready to use a proxy in another country, just like those in China must be using!
      • by dov_0 (1438253)
        Waffling? Isn't that what politicians do anyway?
      • by Starayo (989319)
        I even had several installable packages for those not computer-savvy. They're sitting in a folder on my desktop labelled "LOL CENSORSHIP". :\
    • by kestasjk (933987) * on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @06:28AM (#28107223) Homepage

      You knew it would happen.

      I knew it would happen.

      Things that live under rocks on the floor of the Pacific Ocean knew it would happen.


      Something like this won't get off the ground as long as there are people willing to fight against it, and we've got no shortage of those around here.

      Not really.. It has been very close to getting through, even recently there was a TV show about it and it gave a definite impression of an idea which is unpopular but will go through.

      Remember it was (I think still is?) actually implemented on several small ISPs, and I won't be happy until I hear a definitive no; watered down filtering isn't a victory, an opt-out clause isn't a victory, and it could still well end up that way.

      Also I don't know about "people willing to fight it" being the real reason. In the TV show debate about the internet filter (and in mainstream online news forums) the audience were largely in favor of censorship, but it was the glaring impracticality that swung it slightly in the opposition's favor.
      Maybe the debate audience was a biased sample, but there really wasn't (and isn't) the fierce opposition to the filter that would make a senator do a U-turn.

      • Yes, there _are_ filtering ISP's, a friend of mine runs one... if you don't want filtering, go elsewhere.

        Brilliant idea for schools.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by KingOfGod (884633)

        The day public mass media reports anything even close to reality will be a cold one in hell.

        Don't assume that a "TV show debate" represents anything even close to reality.

        • And don't forget that only TV and down market newspapers ever "think of the children" in our world so bereft of scaremongering. Though I am surprised that disreputable semi underground political parties prefer the idea of murdering or mutilating people of different skin colour in preference to "thinking of the children". Maybe it just reflects the backward cultural leanings of their memberships that they haven't cottoned onto this hot topic and used this particular fear as a recruiting banner.

          The whole thin

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Falconhell (1289630)

          The particular debate refered to was the SBS show insight. This is of a much higher standard than the average TV debate show. It even had Network engineer Mark Newton, one of the leading opponents of the scheme there, and he managed to get this main points accross. Conroy did not look happy at having to respond to well informed crticism.

    • by AnalPerfume (1356177) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @07:00AM (#28107439)
      "Things that live under rocks on the floor of the Pacific Ocean knew it would happen"

      Citation required. How many were polled, what was the species make up and how many were just sheltering from predators when the clipboard people came to call and were just answering the questions to avoid drawing the "outsider" tag and being forced outside?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Opportunist (166417)

        None of the things living under rocks on the floor of the Pacific Ocean that I asked said they didn't know about it 'til I told them.

        This is a good example of how opt-in and opt-out are "technically the same"...

      • by Meski (774546)

        "Things that live under rocks on the floor of the Pacific Ocean knew it would happen"

        Citation required. How many were polled, what was the species make up and how many were just sheltering from predators when the clipboard people came to call and were just answering the questions to avoid drawing the "outsider" tag and being forced outside?

        Here's a citation for it

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cthulhu [wikipedia.org]

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Lachlan Hunt (1021263)

      Something like this won't get off the ground as long as there are people willing to fight against it, and we've got no shortage of those around here.

      Just because there is a lot of vocal opposition to some proposal, doesn't mean it doesn't stand a chance of passing. There is a lot of unpopular legislation in many countries that get passed despite significant protests. For example, the DMCA in the USA, and the Australian free trade agreement that gave us DMCA-like crap of our own to live with.

      Besides, the article doesn't say for sure whether the plan would be dropped. Conroy basically just said the legislation wouldn't be needed if the ISPs just agreed

  • by Rizzer (122184) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @05:49AM (#28106991)

    The summary says "A minister's defection may have effectively blocked any chance of implementation."

    But that link refers to Senator Nick Xenophon. He is an independent senator, not a Minister in the government.

  • Balance of Power (Score:5, Interesting)

    by novakreo (598689) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @05:59AM (#28107055) Homepage
    This is why Westminster-style governments should never have a senate majority.
  • by tygerstripes (832644) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @06:02AM (#28107073)

    I'm really pleased to read this story, but sadly I think the only reason this "backing down" has come about is because the politicians in question were so bare-faced and blunt with the proposals in the first place. I suspect that has a lot to do with the character and nature of Australians in general. I may get criticised for stereotyping, but most Australians of my acquaintance take pride in the blunt honesty prevalent in their culture, so I don't think I'm out of line.

    Unfortunately this culture of an honest (if ineffective and ill-considered) approach to government implementation of web-filtering - and indeed of all privacy-crushing legislation - is rather rarer elsewhere. I'd love to see our ministers "back down" from the measures being artfully and insidiously emplaced under the auspices of all sorts of other harmless- or necessary-sounding legislation, but I just don't see it happening.

    I'm not saying Australia is the land of enlightenment and open government or anything, but somehow the top-coat of bullshit and whitewash over there seems to be somewhat shallower on the whole.

    Good on yer, Oz. Now please, expose some of the hypocrisy and skullduggery going on in the rest of the developed world for what it is - an ingrained attempt at tightening power and control over the voting public.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MichaelSmith (789609)
      (I am an Australian).

      As for your theory, well, I dunno really. Our low population density tends to give us a slightly different attitude to waste and security issues. It really is possible to walk away from your problems here. Its different from the UK where people are crammed in a lot more and have to live with their mistakes. Also we make our living from mining, basically. We dig stuff up and flog it to the Japanese and Chinese who sell it right back to us with a million percent markup. Eventually the s
    • by ewe2 (47163) <(ewetoo) (at) (gmail.com)> on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @06:45AM (#28107345) Homepage Journal

      I'm another Australian.

      Unfortunately it's mere incompetence. They actually want to have all the fun "security" bells and whistles you have in the UK, they're just hopeless at getting it through without being noticed. Our politicians are no less sneaky and dishonest than anywhere else, but perhaps the apparatus to hide such intentions isn't as well developed here. We don't have that grand tradition of bill riders as in the US or the UK in our legislative conventions, so far.

      The tradition we do have is assigning problematic (read: politically ambitious) ministers to a complicated technology-based portfolio where they can make fools of themselves while their rivals go on to bungling something else. The opposition did something good for a change and appointed the politically astute Nick Minchin as shadow minister and he's been ripping truck-sized holes in Senator Conroy's plans from day one.

      The fatal mistake Conroy made was not to make sure this couldn't be done by bypassing legislation and farming it out to a statutory body beyond the reach of public opinion. And even that body is incompetent at censorship, so it's truly is a case of don't ascribe to malice what is adequately explained by idiocy.

      What bothers me most is how difficult it was to get the story out in the media, its been relegated to tech pages and my efforts to raise the alarm among my non-techy friends met with disinterest. This isn't going to go away, they will try it again.

    • by adamkennedy (121032) <adamk@c[ ].org ['pan' in gap]> on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @07:18AM (#28107535) Homepage

      > I suspect that has a lot to do with the character and nature of Australians in general.
      > I may get criticised for stereotyping, but most Australians of my acquaintance take
      > pride in the blunt honesty prevalent in their culture, so I don't think I'm out of line.

      Speaking as an Australian, I'd say that it's not because the honourable minister is blunt and straight forward, it's just that he's a bloody idiot.

      • by grcumb (781340)

        Speaking as an Australian, I'd say that it's not because the honourable minister is blunt and straight forward, it's just that he's a bloody idiot.

        How true. If being blunt and straightforward disqualified Australians from anything, none of them would have any work.

        Oh, and you're all bloody idiots, too, so I'm not sure what my point is, exactly.

        Signed,

        The blunt, straightforward Canadian idiot in the glass house across the water. 8^)

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Meski (774546)

        It's traditional for our communications ministers to be incompetent. Name one in the past few decades who hasn't been.

    • by deniable (76198)
      It's more likely because Steve Fielding stopped doing what he was told and they dropped their side of the deal on censorship. The whole thing was done to have Family First back their other programs in the Senate. Look at the AlcoPop debacle and you'll get an idea.
    • by Aceticon (140883)

      My personal experience in living in a culture where people are blunt and open is that it makes it easier to hide the deceitful and machiavellic under a "loud" apparently blunt and open exterior.

      Some of the most devious people I know are also the most loud and insistent in their affirmations of friendship towards others.

  • Not dead yet! (Score:5, Informative)

    by stavros-59 (1102263) * on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @06:15AM (#28107149)
    This idiotic plan is not killed and dead. The Labor government in general, and Senator Stephen Conroy in particular, have been taken aback by the strength of the opposition. The article noted in the summary only covers some of the incompetent answers given to hard questioning by the main Opposition party and one of the minority parties.

    Trials are still being underway involving 4 tiny ISPs, one medium ISP, one Christadelphian ISP and one large ISP majority owned by Singtel [zdnet.com.au].

    There is no engineering, vendor neutral specification giving trial design criteria or testing methodology as the basis for the trials. There is no requirement for the ISPs to disclose which method of censorship they selected. The ISPs have been supported to the tune of $AU300,000 but there is still a $AU887,000 consultancy contract for the testing and reporting of on a system to block up to 10,000 URLs. The IWF annual report lists between 1100-1300 sites blocked by their system. Rumour has it that much of the testing in the small ISPs is using equipment from the same censorware vendor [watchdog.net.nz] but this is not confirmed as several censorware vendors have been lobbying for the windfalls. Watchdog, using the NetClean [netclean.com] system was involved in some separate testing undertaken by another ISP, Exetel [computerworld.com.au]. The Exetel trial received a great deal of criticism in the Australian internet community [whirlpool.net.au] and Exetel customers [exetel.com.au]. The trial has not been cancelled and neither has the testing consultancy.

    Any assumption that the scheme will disappear is premature.

    A list of 1000s of banned films and publications is still in existence. [somebodyth...ildren.com] The censorship regime has become more and more repressive over the last 10 years. Realistically the entire basis of censorship needs serious review. It is managed by more than one government authority under several different pieces of legislation. The proposed censorship of the internet is under the control of the telecommunications authority which is yet another government authority.

    You would have to try very hard to find a more incompetent approach to anything to do with IT, networking or civil liberties all in the same package.
  • YAY (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Choozy (1260872) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @06:17AM (#28107161)
    In Australia, we have a small enough population (and mandatory voting) that its not a wise option to piss off too many people while you are in power. Especially if you want to get back in. The ministers' defection was caused due to backlash in his region. It is my guess that the labor government will try and sweep whats left of the issue under the rug and we won't hear about it again (or at least until some other polly thinks it may be a good idea and may get some conservative votes and we will have to go through this again).
  • Rarrrr! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Cally (10873) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @06:29AM (#28107227) Homepage
    OpenAustralia.org [openaustralia.org] is your friend.
  • They are not backing down...as the summary sais "...it MAY...". Big difference between "It has" and "It may".

  • Thanks to all the people around the world who exposed the Australian Taliban who wanted to take us back to the digital dark ages.
    Their evil backroom deals with the left and the right of Australian.
    I still want to know if you get a pop up saying your IP has been passed onto a state or federal task force on the first attempt?
    Start shredding cd's, dvds like an East German spy with a pile of files in the late 1980's or a US embassy worker in Iran ;) Wait for the party van?
    Or a "not found" and your IP is log
  • Is it just me or is the shadow minister lacking some knowledge of common government policy.

    [The shadow communications minister] said he had never heard of a voluntary mandatory system.

    Surely that'd be the kind of thing we get in the UK, and I'm sure other nations do, where the government goes "There is a problem and we think the industry should volunteer to solve it. If it doesn't then we'll mandate a fix." It's entirely voluntary to create the solution, but not volunteering leaves you with the option of be

  • by CustomDesigned (250089) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @09:02AM (#28108379) Homepage Journal

    would be a positive filter. Instead of trying to filter the entire internet for everyone, create a Government Certified Safe Internet that lists web sites deemed "appropriate for children" by a new bureaucracy, and make it available to anyone's private filter on a voluntary basis. Require all government internet terminals available to children (e.g. libraries) to subscribe to the filter. Yes, there are already private companies that offer this service, but the constituents driving this evidently trust a giant government bureaucracy more than they trust a somewhat smaller corporate bureaucracy.

    There will still be a market for private filter companies because they can offer different censoring standards to parents. It could actually be a good thing to have a voluntary censoring standard backed by general consensus. Private filters could start with the government database as a baseline, then add sites that "really should have been approved" or subtract sites that "my kid(s) can't handle". (For instance, my daughter had nightmares about "ducks biting her" after an incident involving a goose. She was not allowed to view "Jurassic Park" until she was much older, even though it was appropriate for the other kids.)

    • Australia tried that. We gave out free copies of pc filtering software. The takeup was so low that gov decided in their wisdom we were crying out for a filter on the pipe into the country.
      • "PC filtering software" is not very flexible at all. It ties you to a monopoly OS, and doesn't support filtering gateways (HTTP proxies). Ideally, users should be able to customized the approved list by adding/deleting entries. I would suggest publishing the approved list via secure DNS.

  • by dakameleon (1126377) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @09:04AM (#28108403)

    Hang on a sec!

    Senator Conroy's statement is a departure from the internet filtering policy Labor took into the October 2007 election to make it mandatory for ISPs to block offensive and illegal content

    Labour never announced this policy beforehand, or at least not in the form it came up as. The core announcement they made was that they would abolish the former conservative government's near-useless web filter software scheme and "investigate options" for parents to choose blocking at an ISP level. (Which several ISPs already provided as a viable commercial service for those who wanted it.) It was only afterwards, when a significant majority was won in the lower house and a sway-able majority in the Senate that they pushed a policy of compulsory industry-wide filtering.

    • by Swampash (1131503)

      No, Beazley announced a Labor policy of mandatory ISP-level filtering in March 2006. I remember writing to the party and saying "kiss goodbye to my vote forever".

      http://www.efa.org.au/censorship/mandatory-isp-blocking/ [efa.org.au]

    • Thanks ... I'm so sick of hearing the misconception that mandatory filtering was a labour "promise" at the election. Quite the opposite. They "promised" any filtering scheme would be optional at the individual subscriber level (opt-out, but optional none-the-less) and it was only 6 months after being elected that they suddenly came up with mandatory. (And coincidentally, Senator Nutjob Fielding passed a raft of legislation the next week, inexplicably reversing his position on several issues).

      Thus mand

  • he had never heard of a voluntary mandatory system...

    That's because he's Australian. Here in the US, filing you tax forms is "Voluntary, but not optional". I swear I wish I were making this up...

  • ... to see if an information controlling measure is intended to empower citizens or to manipulate the choices of citizens by controlling what they can know is as follows:
    a) Is it a mechanism where people are allowed to opt-in (for example, forcing ISPs to make available to their clients page blocking software which they can install on their home computers) or is it a default mechanism or worse, one from which the users cannot opt-out
    b) How is the list of blocked sites supervised? Is it open for all to check

  • When money is short in far more important areas... like food and education!

    I often wonder why we should worry about some kids looking at smut on the net, when everyday they see war and death and violence (and bloody victims) all over in the news AT PRIME TIME!!!

    It just makes my mind boggle...

    I do think that like terrorism, the "protect the kids" is being used just as an excuse for harder and more restrictive laws all over the world.

    O.o

  • As an Australian citizen and having listened to Conroy speak in a number of public forums, my concerns over his filtering scheme have shifted dramatically.

    Originally I was concerned that the proposal was what most people still seem to think it is: mandatory filtering at ISP level of a government-defined blacklist.

    Conroy has made it clear a number of times that what he is trying to implement is quite different.

    There is, and has been for 8 years, an existing process whereby Australians can request classificat

  • "So where the bloody hell are you?" Ooops... Got firewalled I suppose

We can predict everything, except the future.

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