Australia To Build Great Firewall Down Under
Australia To Build Great Firewall Down Under
By Elaine Chow, 2:05 AM on Thu Oct 16 2008, 11,081 views
Looks like China won't be the only place with a Great Firewall in placeThe Australian government is introducing its own censorship regime that will determine what is or isn't illegal for you to view on the web. The move is said to help stop teenagers from accessing online pornography, but even if you opt-out of the pr0n filter, you'll get put on a different blacklist for illegal content.
So what could be considered illegal content? There's the possibility that the government will block any website related to controversial opinions on euthanasia, drugs or political dissent. Even legal content might get screwed with, considering even the best Internet content filters still incorrectly firewall about .1% of webpages. Who knew the land of bloomin' onions and Crocodile Dundee was teetering on the brink of Big Brother-ness?
'Net filters "required" for all Australians, no opt-out
By Jacqui Cheng | Published: October 16, 2008 - 11:14AM CT
Australians may not be able to opt out of the government's Internet filtering initiative like they were originally led to believe. Details have begun to come out about Australia's Cyber-Safety Plan, which aims to block "illegal" content from being accessed within the country, as well as pornographic material inappropriate for children. Right now, the system is in the testing stages, but network engineers are now saying that there's no way to opt out entirely from content filtering.
The Australian government first revealed its filtering initiative in 2007, which it expected to cost AUS$189 million to implement. That money would go toward imposing filtering requirements on ISPs, who would have to use the Australian Communications and Media Authority's official blacklist, which is in turn based on the country's National Classification Scheme.
Australia moved forward with its plans despite widespread public outcry and began testing the system in Tasmania in February of this year. At the time, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) said that the filters would be enabled by default and that consumers would have to request unfiltered connectivity if they wished to opt-out of the program.
Well, it turns out now that those promises were only partially true. Internode network engineer Mark Newton told Computerworld that users are able to opt out of the "additional material" blacklistwhich targets content inappropriate for childrenbut not the main blacklist that filters what the Australian government determines is illegal content.
"That is the way the testing was formulated, the way the upcoming live trials will run, and the way the policy is framed; to believe otherwise is to believe that a government department would go to the lengths of declaring that some kind of Internet content is illegal, then allow an opt-out," Newton said. "Illegal is illegal and if there is infrastructure in place to block it, then it will be required to be blockedend of story."
A spokesperson for the Australian Communications Minister seemed to confirm this revelation by saying that the filters would be required for all Australian citizens.
Assuming this is in fact the way the scheme is implemented in practice, it raises plenty of troubling questions. "Illegal" is a broad definition, leaving users wondering exactly what kinds of content will end up falling prey to the government's apparently mandatory filtering restrictions. Will Big Content be ringing up the Aussie government soon to have tracker sites added to the blacklist? What about sites that discuss topics like at-home bomb making, or something a little less explosive, like DVD decryption tools? And how about those sites that advise users on how to get around the filters? Will various Wikipedia pages be blocked?
Australia continues to ignore its own government-funded studies from 2006 that show ISP-level filtering to be ineffective and costly. The Australian government's disregard for those prior studies suggests that the driving force behind the current plan is more political than technical.
Fortunately this never went ahead, but is back on the cards now with our Prime Minister attempting to force this on us without our consent via signing the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) which among several economic blows it will bring to this beautiful country, will also mandate ISP level filtering, effectively achieving their goal by completely sidestepping the fact that a government is meant to be "by the people, for the people" in fact by signing this agreement he will be enforcing the filtering without even consulting the Australian Legislature. A very crafty move in my opinion.
It is bad enough that the government of all western cultures already actively force their ISPs to provide the web history of their customers upon request, and then share them with each other, which can only create a climate of fear just because you are a different sexuality, I am not looking forward to the day when the content police come knocking on my door for being a bisexual, But now they are threatening to take away my access to content as well
Anyway, sorry to revive a thread that is long dead, I just think more people should be aware of and be outraged by what the government is doing in this country. And yet i can't help but feel that we are only seeing the beginning of things to come.