Australians picked up their morning papers yesterday to find heavily blacked-out text instead of front-page headlines. This bold statement was instigated by the “Your Right to Know” campaign, an unlikely coalition of Australian media organisations fighting for press freedom and source protection.
Tagged With censorship
In the last three months, the Australian Classification Board has “refused classification” for at least four video games – effectively banning them in Australia. The latest is zombie-survival shooter DayZ. Despite being previously available on digital storefronts with an MA15+ rating, it was banned when its developers tried to get a retail version of the game classified.
“Free speech” is often raised as a defence in the court of public opinion, particularly when people are called out by their ideological opponents. “You’re attacking my right to free speech!” However, either through forgetfulness or ignorance, many Australians don’t appear to realise free speech is not a legal right they hold.
Ninjas (AKA shinobi) were covert mercenaries in feudal Japan who were trained in the arts of espionage, sabotage and guerrilla warfare. In the 1980s and early '90s they became a popular subject matter in Western entertainment, with countless masked assassins popping up in movies, TV shows and comics.
For some reason, this freaked the hell out of the UK government.
Australia is a world leader in passing the most amendments to existing and new anti-terror and security laws in the liberal democratic world. Since September 11, 2001, it has passed 54 laws. The latest suggested addition is the Turnbull government’s crackdown on foreign interference - and it has dangerous implications for press freedoms in our country.
While Facebook and Instagram make their stances on naked flesh relatively clear, where and when they enact their nipple and nudity censorship have become infamously arbitrary. These examples -- from Picasso artworks (banned) to Kim Kardashian nudes (allowed) -- show just how arbitrary the policy is.
The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) has approved the use of the 451 HTTP status code for websites that are inaccessible for legal reasons such as government censored content or blocked copyrighted material. There are limitations as to whether internet users in different geographical regions will see this error code but the approval of 451 is an acknowledgement of the prevailing issues of internet censorship and the online piracy.
Just two days before the election, the Coalition has announced it will introduce an internet filter that would be switched on for all broadband services and mobile devices by default should it win. Quite aside from the political timing , the plan seems light on technical detail to the point of confusion. UPDATE: The Coalition is now saying the policy it issued was an "incorrect document", though that leaves several questions unanswered.
Twice a year, Google issues Transparency Reports covering government requests for information. The latest figures covering July to December 2012 suggest that the Australian government is maintaining a steady pace when it comes to demanding data from the search giant.
Twitter has emulated Google and released a transparency report disclosing how often it has been asked for user information by national governments in the first six months of 2012. The Australian government and legal system apparently hasn't engaged with Twitter much yet, having made fewer than 10 requests for user information over that time.
Communications minister Senator Stephen Conroy last week reminded us that internet filtering is still very much an item on the government's agenda. That's a worrying prospect, but it could be worse: the UK is contemplating a plan where access to all adult content would be 'opt in', with adult material blocked by internet service providers (ISPs) unless customers specifically ask for it to be switched on.
Bugger. Just when Senator Stephen Conroy got back into our good books with the long-overdue inquiry into price gouging, he gets all gung-ho and says the internet filter censorship plan is still actively moving forward with new developments "soon". Stephen, oh Stephen, when will you learn?
Australia hasn't yet seen a blogger die in custody (that was Bahrain) or had a major internet service provider deliberately redirect users onto pages featuring malware (that was Belarus). However, internet censorship rules still see Australia featuring on the 'Enemies Of The Internet' list of countries produced by Reporters Without Borders.
One of the more tedious arguments used by people who favour compulsory Internet filtering and other forms of censorship is "People who have nothing to hide have nothing to fear from these systems". In his LCA keynote today, security researcher Jacob Appelbaum highlighted a simple point that's worth making when people say that: if you have nothing to hide, why are you wearing clothes and why are there curtains on your house?