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Australia Censorship Politics Your Rights Online

Australian Enterprises Block Sex Party's Political Site 160

Posted by timothy
from the be-the-change-you-want-to-see dept.
schliz writes "Corporate web filters in some organizations are blocking web access to the Australian Sex Party, which is a registered political party that is contesting Australia's upcoming August 21 Federal Election. The site features policies and campaign material, including opposition to the Government's mandatory internet filtering proposal. Party convener Fiona Patten said that although the term 'sex' in the party's website URL could be responsible for its filtering woes, the party is unlikely to consider a name change: 'I think the fact that people are still blocking our site just because of the word "sex" in the name shows that we need this political movement.'"
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Australian Enterprises Block Sex Party's Political Site

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  • Though to ponder. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sjwt (161428) on Saturday July 24, 2010 @05:04AM (#33012354)

    Just because they think the reason it is bolocked is because of the word sex in the URL, dosent meen that is the reason.

    • by mwvdlee (775178) on Saturday July 24, 2010 @05:11AM (#33012382) Homepage

      What could be another reason and would that reason be any better?

      • by deniable (76198)
        Most of the filters are made somewhere else and block all sorts of strange stuff in the default lists. We used to have 'New Guinea' blocked for RACISM. It was easier to to turn that filter off. Our current filters decided to start blocking a local pizza joint as PORNOGRAPHY. Does anyone know why the categories are always in all caps?
        • Clearly, they're acronyms. I assume this PORNOGRAPHY thing is something about Pizza related Obesity etc...

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Hooya (518216)

            Pizza Ordered Regularly, Nearly Obviously, Gives Rise to A Phallus Handling Youth??

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by davester666 (731373)

          Because the product started out being developed on MS-DOS 2.0, and back then it took extra effort to support both upper and lower case, so they just went with upper-case. And like most Windows software, it was modified just enough to work with the newest operating system.

      • by tomhudson (43916) < ... <nosduh.arabrab>> on Saturday July 24, 2010 @09:59AM (#33013460) Journal

        What could be another reason and would that reason be any better?

        Maybe they also have a few other words mixed in that the filters object to:

        "We're upset about business blocking us - we have absolutely no pornographic content whatsoever!" said Marsha Sexsmith, a resident of Cockburn Street, Originally from Scunthorpe, England, she's an anthropologist. She's traveled to Matiti (French Polynesia), Clitheroe, Fistina, Woody Bay (UK), Pisset, Balsac, and Pussy (France), Bastardo (Italy), Hashita (Israel), Youfukyou and Fuxingmen(China), Labia (Egypt), Licking (US) and Titicaca (Titicaca, Peru, Titicaca Creek in the US, and of course Titicaca court in Western Australia). "It's only in Titicaca, Washington, that I saw anything as silly as this! Even Suckstem and Cassman Spring (also in the US) weren't as bad!" Ms. SexSmith was commenting from her campaign office on Fistula Street in Queensland.

        • by Sique (173459)

          What? Marsha never was in Fucking (Austria) and in Petting (Germany)?

      • by Artifex (18308)

        What could be another reason and would that reason be any better?

        They could be being blocked simply because they're a political party that's in the minority.
        If political speech is protected there, they should sue.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by jamesh (87723)

      "sex" is a word associated with pornography, but also with a huge number of non-pornographic meanings.

      "sex party" on the other hand has less non-pornographic meanings. A google search for "sex party" gives the Australian political party web site as the first result. A number of the other results on the first page are not related to political parties. A google image search for "sex party" with safe search turned off gives a page full of skin.

      If I was stupid enough to develop an internet filter, I might omit

      • Unfortunately the main flaw in your rational is that most companies work with a whitelist rather than a blacklist. I've only worked at a few places with a blacklist, and they are usually set up for specific sites, rather than terms.

        The fact users can get to an other political party's site rather than the ASP's site would generally mean it's been whitelisted. I'm sure a friendly word to the network admin would open it up. Then again, why are you looking up political material at work? I can't think of anywher

        • I can't remember anywhere I've ever worked where you were allowed to surf the fucking internet.
          Some jobs obviously would require it - blogger, journalist, Corporate PR person searching out bad publicity fires to put out, etc.

          But the general worker really has no reason to be browsing, period.

          • by cduffy (652)

            I can't remember anywhere I've ever worked where you were allowed to surf the fucking internet.
            Some jobs obviously would require it - blogger, journalist, Corporate PR person searching out bad publicity fires to put out, etc.

            And I've never worked anywhere with a total ban on personal browsing during work hours. I just recently handed in my notice from a Fortune 50 company with something on the scale of 100,000 employees, and even they allow reasonable personal use of company resources.

            Accept that your exper

          • Wow, I'm glad I don't live in your world. Every place I've ever worked didn't mind some surfing, and I probably wouldn't even work in place that didn't let you surf through downtime.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Jedi Alec (258881)

            But the general worker really has no reason to be browsing, period.

            Suit yourself. In that case I'll be spending my lunch hour in the internet cafe, with my phone turned off.

            What's that, you'd gotten used to me being reachable by phone during lunch break? Well, that's just tough cookies, trust and flexibility go 2 ways. Treat me like we're in kindergarten and I'll be happy to return the favor.

            Or we could both go on pretending we're responsible adults...

          • by jmcvetta (153563)

            I can't remember anywhere I've ever worked where you were allowed to surf the fucking internet.

            I'm not quite sure what you mean when you say none of your jobs have permitted employees to surf the net. Sure, most (tho anecdotal evidence says not all) bosses would be quite pissed if a worker wasted away his entire day browsing the net, or even just wasted enough time that it impaired his work performance. But it would be a bit tyrannical for a company to ban all net access. I've only even heard of such a policy a few times, and always in very low skill (e.g. customer service phone monkey) positions.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jamesh (87723)

          Add to that the basic rule that computers at work are for work purposes only...

          wtf? I can't tell if you are trolling or just clueless.

          Some organizations do indeed have policies that prevent any use of company computers for personal use, but most aren't that inflexible. It's a matter of policy, not a "basic rule".

          • by deniable (76198)
            "Reasonable, personal use" is usually the term I've seen. It's seen as better for the boss if you jump on the net for five minutes rather than taking an hour off to stand in line at the bank or other variations on the theme. That being said we're running into a generation that complain about us blocking Facebook, IM and streaming audio / video.
            • Hi! Nice to meet you. I am that generation. I'm a millennial, raised in a schizophrenic constant bombardment of media chunks measured in minutes. Consequently I rarely focus on anything for more than an hour without starting to fall asleep. If I'm not able to sprinkle a few random periods of entertainment into my work day, I will lose focus and literally start to fall asleep. The upside is that I work faster than my predecessors when I do work, and I am capable of handling more work items at any given time.
              • by jamesh (87723)

                Hi! Nice to meet you. I am that generation.
                ...
                One standard or no standard I say.

                It seems to me that last bit you said conflicts with the rest of what you said, but maybe I just misunderstood.

                The problem is that facebook and the like can become too much of a distraction for some (and it doesn't seem to matter that much what generation they belong to). Just like most people can have the occasional alcoholic beverage without any problems, some people become addicted.

                If you want one rule to bind them all then that rule is going to be "no facebook for you!".

                • I was talking about standards of performance. If I can do the same job as one of my colleagues while watching YouTube videos, but if he did the same his performance goes down, that doesn't mean I should be barred from watching YouTube videos. I am not responsible for other people's deficiencies. If I can do my job to the same level expected from everybody else it should not matter that I intersperse snippets of non-work into my day. Especially considering that if I were forced to drop those to zero, my prod
                  • by Smauler (915644)

                    You obviously have no love for your job - you know you could do your job better, but you are comparing your performance to somone who does the same job badly. Don't fucking do that... don't say your co-workers are shit so that you can do what they do with your hands tied behind your back. Little priveledges are that - little.

                • by sjames (1099)

                  How about be grown up enough to not go to facebook if you find it too distracting?

            • by jamesh (87723)

              "Reasonable, personal use" is usually the term I've seen.

              Same here. As long as people don't go to excess and spend all day on it then there is seldom a problem. For a bank or something where security is an issue I've seen personal use banned outright (and rightly so) but rarely at other workplaces.

              I remember one guy resigning not long after ebay was banned at one place (ebay traffic dwarfed everything else). He was running a business on it when he was supposed to be doing graphic design work completely unrelated to ebay.

              Blocking facebook does seem to be an increa

              • by deniable (76198)
                Exactly so. Most of the issues with excessive or improper use shouldn't be handled at a technical level. It's standard 'not doing the job' disciplinary action. We've blocked Facebook et al, mostly because of the traffic. Before the block social networking was about 25% of the traffic through our proxies.
                • by DavidTC (10147)

                  Blocking facebook is a good idea in general, but companies that block entire sites like that should also have a computer free from the blocks, like in the break room or something. It's entirely reasonable to want to check facebook before leaving work for the day.

                  Having a separate computer and network would also let companies avoid security issues that unfiltered internet access can present, and also have a network to put visitors on who come in with unsecured laptops. Setup a separate, unfiltered network,

      • by srothroc (733160)
        Even more than the word itself, consider the combination of letters, since it's a URL. For example, anything with the pattern *sex* would be filtered, whether it was actually a word or not -- consider "expertsexchange.com" or something.
    • by Urkki (668283)

      Just because they think the reason it is bolocked is because of the word sex in the URL, dosent meen that is the reason.

      Indeed. Just think who will benefit from this news about the blocking... ;-)

    • by nospam007 (722110) *

      They're in the same filter as www.sexparty.tv

  • by kaptink (699820) on Saturday July 24, 2010 @05:05AM (#33012358) Homepage

    I have to admitt that seeing www.sexparty.org.au does not make me think of politics at a first glance. But it's interesting however that filters will pick it up as adult content when i'm sure other sites contain sex somewhere in the url - for example deliveriesexpress.com.au. I assume since sex is the first part of the url it is picked up. What about sextantrepairs.com or any of these http://www.morewords.com/starts-with/sex/ [morewords.com] ?

    • by hvm2hvm (1208954)
      lemonparty.org seems legit though
      http://www.cslacker.com/images/file/mediums/lemon_party.jpg [cslacker.com]

      (note -- the first link is NSFW, the second one is SFW)
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by eulernet (1132389)

      Here are 2 other examples of harmless words that are filtered by DansGuardian (which is the filter we use in my company, and probably the one used here):

      cluster -> because of 'lust' (there is one link on Microsoft's site with this word in the URL)
      ptit (which is a contraction of the word petit in french) -> because of 'tit'.

      After that, we disabled keyword and content filtering, because of the false positives, but we are keeping the sex filters anyway.

      BTW, if you want to have nice links, just download D

      • by mpe (36238)
        Here are 2 other examples of harmless words that are filtered by DansGuardian (which is the filter we use in my company, and probably the one used here):

        Nice to see the "Scunthorpe Effect" is still going strong :)
    • by Culture20 (968837)
      I'm sorry, but "sexparty" just screams 70's key-party or the like. What's next, a political party site named goatse.au?
  • Come to Australia (Score:5, Insightful)

    by acehole (174372) on Saturday July 24, 2010 @05:12AM (#33012388) Homepage

    In the (Blacked out) of the [Censored].

    I've been making plans to get a job in another country. This [smh.com.au] is something you'd expect to see in North Korea or East Germany circa 1980, not Australia.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      I support your outrage, As an Oz resident, and a netizen. This is not cool. I also am considering to leave, although a pa$$port burning is not yet on the cards. Do not forget the Australia gov' has a pretty nasty track record in a lot of areas. At least this info is being leaked/discussed, not completely censored.
    • by donscarletti (569232) on Saturday July 24, 2010 @08:15AM (#33012904)

      I've been making plans to get a job in another country.

      I'm an Aussie living abroad. I have been to many, many countries and I've got to say, that there will always be something wrong with most places. I think it is once thing to see something bad happen in your own country, like seeing your own house in flames is worse than your neighbours, but you can never find a country which is how you like it.

      This story is a beat up anyway, this is just private internal networks, they can block the Labor, Liberal, National, Greens or whoever they want for all I care. I think doing stupid shit in your business is part of the great freedom that Australians enjoy.

      Getting back to the point, where will you run to? The world is full of conflicting social agendas. There will always be things you can say and things you can't. I caught my Chinese girlfriend wearing this extraordinarily racist T-shirt. She told me that she should be able to say what she wants about the Japanese because she doesn't like them. She can wear it on the streets of Beijing without a hassle, but would be at least severely reprimanded in most "free" countries.

      I have not been to Australia for close to a year, but last time I was there, the amount of stuff you can get away with saying, looking at online, keeping for personal use or doing in your bedroom was astoundingly high by world standards. My advice is that unless Family First and Christian Democrats form a coalition government or Sharia law is established in Western Sydney that moving somewhere else for more freedom may be a counterproductive piece of theatrics that only has the consequence of giving the country one less supporter of liberal policies.

      By all means, if you want to own a big gun, go to somewhere like the Philippines, if you want drugs and porn, you could go to Amsterdam. If you want to escape racism, you can go to somewhere diverse like Singapore or if you want to indulge in racism, just pick any other country in Asia. If you want freedom to be in a legally sanctioned Homosexual marriage, you can go to Belgium, or if you want freedom to say you hate homosexuals you can go to Saudi Arabia. But I guarantee you, something about wherever you are will piss you off and you will act like your standard whiny Aussie expat moaning about how Australia does X better. Something akin to the flood of wannabe refugees threatening to pour over the Saint Laurence river in either direction whenever some unpopular policy comes up on one side of it.

      The problem with Australia is the bitching. Some people complain about "hostile workplaces" so they bring in filters to block porn. The porn filter apparently blocks this "sex party" because someone thought it referred to a site about orgies so it is met with another tide of complaints.

      Australia is unfair, just like the planet on which it is located. By all means, decry your country at the pub, but just remember, that kind of behaviour is enough to get you flattened by rednecks in other free countries. And honestly, if you think redacting a non-binding discussion paper released to the public is on the same level as what happens in the "Democratic People's Republic" of Korea or the German "Democratic" Republic, then that just shows how sheltered you are in your little country and how much of a shock you'd get if you left.

    • Wow, that's even more brash than the secrecy around ACTA. They're not even making up bullshit excuses about national security, they're just telling you straight that you don't need to see it, citizen.

      Definitely GTFO of there ASAP, Australia is looking worse than the US at this point.

    • by mjwx (966435)

      I've been making plans to get a job in another country.

      Good riddance, kindly fuck off. Australia will be much better off without your knee jerk fear mongering.

      This is about commercial web filters like Websense. Filters that cover the internet connection that the corporation pays for, why shouldn't they be able to do what they like with it?

      This is about a PRIVATE corporation deciding what can be accessed on their PRIVATE network. I may not agree with hard line Christians that want to block anything t

  • by Gavin Rogers (301715) <grogers@vk6hgr.echidna.id.au> on Saturday July 24, 2010 @06:13AM (#33012544) Homepage
    Australia may rank 16th on the Press Freedom Index [wikipedia.org], But unfortunately Australia doesn't have US 1st Amendment-like protection for political free speech. (The High Court has ruled that it's heavily implied in the constitution, but it's not absolutely stated). There's no "You can't block that, it's political free speech!" kind of laws.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      The first amendment wouldn't apply here - a private employer has every right to block whatever they wish, it's not a freedom of speech issue.
      • by Scrameustache (459504) on Saturday July 24, 2010 @11:15AM (#33013970) Homepage Journal

        The first amendment wouldn't apply here - a private employer has every right to block whatever they wish, it's not a freedom of speech issue.

        The amendment would not apply because its scope is limited to government, indeed, but it is a freedom of speech issue. The concept of freedom of speech is independent of the legal framework devised to protect it. Private censorship is still censorship.

    • by SJ2000 (1128057)

      There's no "You can't block that, it's political free speech!" kind of laws.

      To quote myself:

      [...]many of Australia's rights are "implied" in the constitution and exist merely through the High Court's "creative" interpretations. Such as the implied right for Political speech in Australian Captial Television Pty Ltd v. Commonwealth (1992) which was also extended in 1994 in Theophanous v. The Herald And Weekly Times. Australia also took an active role in 1948 when drafting the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. Unfortunately, many attempts to introduce entrenched Human Rights into the constitution such Lionel Murphy in 1973 and 1985 with the Federal attorney-general have failed before they even reached the stage of a referendum.

      http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=436328&cid=22244392 [slashdot.org]

      And if you compare it with other countries which do have explicit rights, it all comes down to how the courts interpret it anyway (Just take a look at the US). Mind you, I think even ethically I don't see why blocking access to anything from a corporate network is bad, in today's highly networked world it's hard to argue you're depriving anyone of anything and with even high profile sites being targeted by malware and hackers you

    • The first amendment didn't seem to stop the US from being down at number 20, below a lot of other countries that didn't have such constitutional rights, and didn't stop it being even further down, past number 30, back in 2008, with 2007 being an even lower point.
  • "Prophylactic filters foil fornicators' free forum . . . film at five!"
  • CORPORATE. CORPORATE filters block access to the website from within their PRIVATE CORPORATE NETWORKS. Companies can filter the web searches of their employees however they please. How is this in any way close to news?

  • You know, I know this is in the context of a business, but if you're going to name your political party the Sex Party, do you even stop and think about it? Are they allowed to run ads during prime time? Are you going to have 8-year-old asking, "Daddy, what does sex mean?" I'm not sure I'd vote for a party that put me through that kind of hassle.

    • by amck (34780) on Saturday July 24, 2010 @10:32AM (#33013696) Homepage

      Had you thought that this might be the point of naming it so ?

      Breaking down taboos about talking about such matters is ones of their aims. My daughter is 7 and long past asking such questions: she knows google and the internet and will look it up herself, even with filters on the PC. While most of the nastier bits of life have not been covered yet, kids at that age need to know the basics; what sex is, why you don't post personal details to the net, etc.

      The idea of keeping kids ignorant until their 18 simply isn't an option, and honest, healthy discussion of such topics, rather than treating _adults_ in an infantile manner to preserve false innocence is part of the Sex Partys platform.
       

      • Had you thought that this might be the point of naming it so ?

        Yeah.

        But remember the price when you name your app "The GIMP?"

        Not every idea is a good idea.

        "sexparty.org." As in orgy? This has the feel of what passes for geek humor - not serious discussion.

    • by Scrameustache (459504) on Saturday July 24, 2010 @11:19AM (#33013996) Homepage Journal

      Are you going to have 8-year-old asking, "Daddy, what does sex mean?" I'm not sure I'd vote for a party that put me through that kind of hassle.

      "Sex is the difference between men and women. When you fill out forms, they have a question about sex and you answer boy or girl." Wow, what a hassle.

      • by Gnavpot (708731)

        When you fill out forms, they have a question about sex and you answer boy or girl.

        So "Yes, please" is not the correct answer?

        That explains a lot about those rejected forms...

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Jedi Alec (258881)

      Are you going to have 8-year-old asking, "Daddy, what does sex mean?"

      Pfft, as though it's uncommon for an 8 year old to ask that kind of question...or to hear the word sex used for that matter.

      I'm not sure I'd vote for a party that put me through that kind of hassle.

      Tough cookies. Your punishment for having sex is to educate the next generation about it ;-)

    • by nedlohs (1335013)

      I'm not sure I'd vote for a party that put me through that kind of hassle.

      Obviously you wouldn't vote for them anyway, so no loss.

    • You know, I know this is in the context of a business, but if you're going to name your political party the Sex Party, do you even stop and think about it? Are they allowed to run ads during prime time? Are you going to have 8-year-old asking, "Daddy, what does sex mean?" I'm not sure I'd vote for a party that put me through that kind of hassle.

      And see THIS kind of retardedness is EXACTLY why THE GOVERNMENT thinks it's OK to censor the internet.

      oh look it says "SEX" - WON'T SOMEBODY THINK OF THE CHILDREN

      (ie insert knee-jrek reaction here)

      The FUNNY thing is, supposedly this is all about *stopping* those people who are constantly thinking about children (ie the paedophiles).

  • Can we stop with the sensationalist non-stories about people sitting behind corporate intranet filters.

    Just because you use a computer at work, that doesn't mean you have carte blanche to surf wherever and whenever you want. You are there to work, not play Farmville.

    And what corporate filter WOULDN'T have the word "sex" on it's blacklist ?

    There are no sinister connotations, no "big-brother" censorship issues, this is simply what's called a false-positive.

    Nothing more to see, please move along.

    • And what corporate filter WOULDN'T have the word "sex" on it's blacklist ?

      Maybe if the computers doing the censoring had used a little common sense, the Australian Sex Party wouldn't be in this mess. But, no, they had to use a blacklist. How crude.

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