Four Corners To Examine Australian Net Censorship Plan

Four Corners To Examine Australian Net Censorship Plan

There have been a lot of developments since the controversial (and, frankly, stupid) plan to censor Australian Internet access was announced last December. Tonight’s Four Corners (ABC1, 2030) provides an overview of the issue and asks why we still know so little about the proposed filtering laws.

While much of this material will be familiar to Lifehacker readers, it could be an ideal introduction to the topic for friends or family who aren’t across the issues. Q&A at 2130 will also examine the issue. If you miss it, the program should be available on iView following broadcast.

4 Corners


  • Frankly stupid, huh? Do you think it might be ‘stupid’ to tell us what we should think?

    I suppose it is irrelevent that technical boffins who market security appliances for this exact purpose have successfully been able to implement similiar stragegies for other state and country governments with little or no measurable impact on latency and throughput — yes you heard right, no matter what the EFF/AFA *claims* it has been done without the sky falling on broadband users’ heads.

    Not to mention that there are other strategies that could also be effective e.g. the oz govt could pay OpenDNS to setup local servers and these with a “illegal in oz” block list could be the defaults used by aussie isp’s. So it is not limited to this proven technology there are other options.

    The real problem is if the govt does not have the will to prevent crimes because “holy” internet is somehow above the law.

    Can we not ask the question: Why do some people want to prevent any blocking of web sites with picture of children being sxually abused? Why would they be against us even trying? Is the freedom on the internet and speed of access etc so much more important? Or are there other, darker motives? Or is it just an irrational worship of the internet?

    Don’t worry Angus, technically savvy users such as yourself will still be able to override the DNS server or use the direct IP when they want to access pix of kids being abused or instructions in how to commit certain felonies.

    This is an issue that many Australians care about and there are more viewpoints that just yours. The govt is acting on my behalf and my families, as well as on the behalf of you and your children.

    Kind regards


    • And there I was thinking it was only Stephen Conroy who actually used the “if you favour this, you favour child abuse” argument.

      My reasoning for why this is stupid? Because — unlike any other form of banned content in Australia — the list of what’s banned would not be disclosed, nor the reason for banning it. It would create a mechanism where a government could block content without having to justify it or even explain it.

      That’s not just stupid, it’s downright dangerous.

      And I’d further argue part of your role in acting on behalf of your family was having some idea what they did online, rather than leaving that all to the government (and branding anyone who disagrees with you as a child porn enthusiast).

    • Please tell us Na Yeo just how the filter is going to block access to Child Porn. Do you know of any child porn sites out there? Can I type ‘Child Porn’ into google and get the goods?

      Your reaction is the typical emotional knee-jerk reaction to critics of the filter. There is a reason the AFP have teams dedicated to breaking child porn rings – it’s extremely difficult to find child porn. The scum that deal in this stuff take it so far underground that the police have to work for months, even years to gain the trust of these people to bust them. They distribute through P2P and email – they don’t use the websites.

      This filter will not stop child porn. It will just inconvinience everyone else. Yes – it is a stupid idea.

    • The comments in this response bother me. It’s a tacit assertion that anyone who disagrees is vouching for illicit material.

      This is precisely the rhetoric that makes people in this debate unable to hold reasonable discussions.

      To one side, it’s seen as some great way to minimise access to horrible, awful material like child abuse. Which is, undoubtedly and without question, a laudable goal.

      To the other, it’s an untenable attack on freedom of communication.

      In the case of the former side – this filter is technically unworkable. Those who want to access such material need only use SSL. One extra character in a URL bar and a correctly set up server defeats a multi-million dollar effort? Sounds like it doesn’t work well to me.

      This is not even to speak of VPN access, peer-to-peer networks or any number of other solutions people can use to encrypt connections.

      These connections aren’t even uncommon – if you’ve got a half decent web designer, they should be encrypting their connection every time they make changes to your website. Evey time you connect to a bank website to pay some bills, you’re using an encrypted connection.

      No one is arguing against the protection of children, but there’s other areas of this which are potentially much more problematic. We’ve got issues like euthanasia and drug use which are (of course) contentious, but not issues that are solved by silencing all discussion of them.

      When Conroy asks you to accept this filter – he’s asking you to trust not only his motives, but the motives of his successors. Are we assured of their honesty? Many are not entirely convinced. Labor did come into the election declaring this filter to be entirely optional. The lack of transparency around these issues isn’t something that inspires confidence either.

      And I think this is part of why it bothers many people (myself most certainly included). We as a nation have very few assurances as to what rights we have. We don’t have a charter of rights (at a federal level) and recent discussions of such things (such as the Brennan report) were limited by the government to preclude discussion of constitutional changes.

      People in both sides of the argument see this issue as one that’s crucial to the protection of many – but we’re interested in going about it different ways.

      Myself, i’d prefer to see the money spent not on a filter, but on more police. If we know these websites, lets catch the people who view them shall we?

      Likewise, It would be great if discussion of the filter evolved from petty discussion on the internet into something more full featured which involves broader consideration of our classification schemes across all mediums, as well as our rights and responsibilities as people. If we considered these ideas, with a mind towards fair and equitable treatment for all under an open and transparent government, I think we’d find ourselves in a better position to build a society that protects not only children but all the disadvantaged in our society. Without clandestine lists that we can never measure the efficacy of independent of what our government tells us.

    • This is one of the least-reasoned comments I have ever read.

      If “this proven technology” is trivial to bypass, it will have ZERO effect at stopping child pornography.

      If the blocked list is kept secret, the government is most certainly not acting on my behalf.

    • Child pornographers can just send over P2P networks or even email. They can encrypt files or hide them inside bigger files.

      This filter is not going to stop anything!!!

      What this filter will do is allow the government to block whatever they want for no reason at all.


      Think of this… In 10 years the government screws up on something and they screw up bad. Instead of the screw up being investigated and the people who knowingly made the wrong choices and didn’t care being brought to justice, they just block any bad publicity about themselves. They don’t have to provide a reason. They just block it. What this filter IS is a get out of jail free card for the government to do anything they want.

  • If it’s to help keep our children safe, why is compulsory for everyone?

    Why is it the governments responsibility to keep children away from RC content? It seems like parents want to dodge the bullet and palm off the responsibility. Communicate with your kids (it’s not hard), and if required, get some filtering software (even easier)

    If the labour government wasn’t being lobbied to hell by a bunch of conservative Christians who think (quote from 4Corners) “the internet is not free/open”, would this policy have been heaved half as far as it has?

    Anyone who thinks the government has majority support for compulsory internet censorship has their head in the sand, why are they pushing so hard when their time, money and expertise could be spend, oh I don’t know, fixing the health care system (which is pretty well screwed), helping people living below the poverty line (yes, in Australia) or fixing the public transport system, or anything which will actually show some sort of positive results because this sure as hell isn’t.

  • The money could be better spend on expanding the police task force, encouraging people within the industry to help tackle online child abuse issues , Or arm said children with knowledge of online safety, proper sex ed, ethnics and self development via our education system.

    If the govt have the will to prevent crimes, it’ll find and resolve the fundamental causes, instead of providing a false sense of security with an overpriced filter.

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