back to article Oz govt pushes mandatory net filters

Australia's newly elected Labor government is pushing plans that would make it mandatory for local ISPs to install porn-blocking filters, offering "clean" internet feeds as a preferred option. Telecomms Minister Stephen Conroy said the policy would protect children from online pornography and violent websites, ABC News reports …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    he Australian Constitution does not expressly protect freedom of speech or expression.

    Plus, Australian constitutional framework for freedom of the press is weaker than in other liberal democracies. So censorship in Australia? Why would anyone be surprised?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "If people equate freedom of speech with watching child pornography, then the Rudd-Labor Government is going to disagree."

    That's a nice jump of logic.

    From blocking porn, to people who watch porn watch child porn.

    I like it.

    Sadly that's a prevalent mentality in society today.

    porn means child porn, so if you want porn you must be a peado.


    They watch violent porn = they are going to rape and murder woman!

    They watch loli anime = they are going to rape and murder children!

    They ageplay = they are going to rape and murder children!

    They roleplay S&M fantasies = they are going to rape and murder woman!

    However interestingly apparently only porn makes people want to do things to people.

    Violent films/games evidently don't make people become violent. People just do it.

    Racing games don't make people speed and behave dangerously. People just do it.

    Reading lolita doesn't make people go out and get seduced by children.

    Now the rational man may say

    Of course someone who commits a violent sex offence may have watched some violent porn. However it was the person that commit the offence, and for every person that breaks the law there are thousands who just watch the porn and fap. So is it sensible to say that violent porn makes people violent sex offenders and lock all those thousands who are happily fapping up? The same is true for my other four examples.

    I wonder what the rational man would say.

    Porn doesn't make people do things, people just do things.

    Course all the above are different from actual child porn, or films of actual violent abuse, those are both criminal acts and watching them makes you an accomplice of sorts.

    Law should be a scalpal not a dragnet.


    O well. People are stupid.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    What about proxies?

    Are they going to be blocking proxies as well? If not, it's way too easy to get around the filters to any content. And of course no filter is going to block it all.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    They'll be calling us terrorists next ...

    "If people equate freedom of speech with watching child pornography, then the Rudd-Labor Government is going to disagree."

    Nice bit of ground work here - any one who wants the filter switched off by the ISP is, if we agree with the quote, wanting to look at child porn.

    Apart from a few very sick individuals nobody thinks images of child abuse is freedom of speech. Wanting to stop children seeing pornography and violence is not a bad idea - it's just when you start looking at the details that it becomes a very hard problem to solve. Stopping people have access to certain sites because they * just might* stumble onto some child porn is silly. I have been looking at internet porn since 1994 and never accessed child porn.

    Parental responsibility? We all have seen young children smoking and drinking - so it is obvious that some kids are already seeing mainstream porn. How do you stop it? I don't know. Should we try and stop it? I think so. Does it harm children to see these images? I think so but I have no idea - I know I don't want my young child seeing these images. I use a filter for his surfing and the computer is in the front room.

    When he is older (18) the filters come off and he'll told off for accessing porn and not sharing with his dad. All the skills I have built up to stop him reaching porn sites will be used to my advantage.

    In my day we got to see porn by passing magazines around (Razzle mainly) at school or went looking under hedges. It was hard work keeping the mags in good condition and smuggling them. And dangerous, a big kid, older brother or teacher might steal them from you - things are too easy for kids these days.

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  6. Graham Marsden
    Thumb Down

    It's to protect the children...

    > "If people equate freedom of speech with watching child pornography, then the Rudd-Labor Government is going to disagree."

    If the Rudd-Labor Government thinks that people will be fooled by the "it's for the children" argument...

    ... they're probably right, after all, it works here too :-(

  7. Anonymous Coward

    I knew we should have waited for Kevin 07.1

    Not that I have any more issue with Labor than with the Coalition doing the same braincrashed things. Like in most modern countries, choosing between the two major parties is like choosing between whether to step in dog poop or cat poop, assuming you can tell the difference at all. Rather happy with their environmental and whaling stances so-far, though.

    At least we will be able opt out once we find legit sex-but-not-porn sites, and all sorts of other stuff that has nothing to do with protecting anyone from anything, being blocked.... for now.

    I am not sure which side, (probably both, and I saw neither making any fuss) is responsible, but a number of educators have noticed chunks of civil-education disappearing from state school curricula, specifically the bits that deal with exactly how preferential polling works. Started about the time both major parties started informally propagating the myth (in Australia - I believe it is true in the US, for the presidency at least) that "a vote for a minor party is a wasted vote". That's who is setting themselves up as Czars of censorship! And we are supposed to trust these people with our children, our education system and our future?

  8. Josh

    Let's hope

    Let's hope it works a bit better than their other net filter. The one the 16 year old bypassed in under half an hour.

  9. Herby

    Won't work with a preloaded iPod!!

    OOOPS! Someone got a preloaded iPod, and it has nasty pictures. We need to censor those as well. Then to get information on the list, we need to have an uncensored feed, so why bother! I assume that information on the list is off limits! Oh, well....

  10. John Tserkezis

    Yeah, I don't think so.

    "Senator Conroy compared the Labor government's filtering proposals to schemes in the UK and Sweden"

    And China.

    I have yet to meet a list that doesn't have some "innocent" entries in there, so I'll be calling to disable it when it's finally turned on - and I'll be encouraging others to do the same.

    I'm a big boy now, I don't need some mindless politician who's trying to earn brownie points make up my mind for me.

  11. david

    orwell was right...

    so they're seeking to remove access to information on violence...

    will they be seeking to change the language to prevent certain thoughts next?

  12. Anonymous Coward


    WTF is that? If you aren't paid it must be sex, and you are paid it's pron? Or maybe a how-to HDef video is OK (educational for the tots)...

    And don't forget to ban any racy classical literature and images (or is that not pron? Ever see images from the Naples Archaeological Museum (erotic wing), art recovered from Pompeii? [Ref: _Eros in Pompeii_, Grant and Mulas]) Aussie pols must know it when they see it... whatever it is, as long as they get elected to collect that paycheck. Just like pols everywhere.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    It's OK it will just

    Keep people from blabbing about it on the internet, when the revolution comes and these fuckwits are due to be up against the wall, wouldn't want them to run now would we. No need to worry the kids about it just some unpleasant criminally insane people we had to execute.

  14. Maksim Rukov


    Something like this should really be opt-in, not opt-out.

    I feel sorry for the ISPs. Mostly for the help desk staff who will be answering more calls from dummkopf users whenever the filter breaks and blocks otherwise normal sites.

  15. Steve Roper

    I told you so

    I knew more than a year ago that this was on Labor's agenda if they got in - I even posted about it on El Reg. Several times, in fact. Surprise, surprise.

    At least it's optional - for now. I also will be ringing my ISP and ordering the filter turned off as soon as it comes on. However, the first time I see a "Blocked by Australian Govt" page, even though I've opted out of the filter, I will be setting up a spoofing spambot on my overseas mail server and sending a continuous stream of emails pointing to the blocked site to every politician's email address at the rate of 30,000 an hour, 24/7/365.

    So what if I get put in prison? This country is already a prison. It has been since the UK started using it as such 200 years ago.

  16. Ronny Cook

    Aussie porn filters...

    As long as opting out is straightforward (i.e. instructions are included on the page you get for blocked sites, and the instructions work 24/7, not requiring you to spend 4 hours on hold with the support line...) I see no great problem with this.

    There's a risk of sites being blocked for political reasons, but there are workarounds for that sort of thing. For example, allow anybody to submit a site for removal (after review), and have the list of such sites published on a regular basis (whether the review succeeds or not).

    Also collate all such removal vs. the person/group who submitted the addition to the list in the first place. Anyone who keeps submitting bad suggestions is removed from those authorised to add site blocks...


  17. Tim Bates

    Really, really afraid of the potential problems

    Working in a government school (in Australia), I already know just how bad things get when politicians make decisions about IT systems.

    We are lucky to get internet at dialup speeds, and not due to lack of bandwidth... It's down the the filtering they now do.

    I really am afraid of what will happen to internet speeds, and general traffic when this happens. I also have concerns about the potential for broken HTTP traffic and the likes too, since transparent proxies break HTTP standards (and face it, that's how it will be implemented for 99.999% of ISPs).

    I didn't vote for Kevin's mob. I don't want them. Now they are really pissing me off.

  18. TeeCee Gold badge

    Common ground.

    It appears that we have more in common with the Aussies than we sometimes think.

    Labour Govt = Intrusive Nanny state seems to hold true over there too. Good on yer guys, you have our sympathies. We've been putting up with this sort of stalinist shite for a good few years now.

    Quick question for Aussies present: If Rudd's the grinning, meeja-friendly monkey like Blair, who's your dour tight-fisted bugger whose job's to screw the money out of you to line their mates' pockets?

  19. Count Ludwig
    Paris Hilton

    .xxx domain

    A ".xxx" domain would go a long way towards fixing this problem: Parents could easily block it and be fairly sure that what remains is harmless as ISPs / sites that don't keep their content within bounds could find their IP addresses on blacklists. The argument against, that this "legitimizes pr0n", is a subjective value-judgement that exacerbates the problem.

  20. Steve Roper

    To answer some questions...

    @TeeCee: To answer your question, his name was John Howard, the former PM. We have the same situation here you do in the UK: Both major parties are pushing for a totalitarian police state, using FUD to brainwash the populace. Liberal does it to cut public services and feed cash to big biz; Labor does it to pander to the nanny vote and extremist lobby groups. So: John Howard = Tony Blair, Kevin Rudd = Gordon Brown, and you have the picture.

    That's why I didn't even vote in the last election. It makes no difference. Big Brother is here and he's going to stay no matter who you vote for.

    @ Ronny Cook: Giving people the ability to opt-out may make the censorship more palatable, but here's a thought for you: Why is it not opt-in instead? Why do we have to opt-out? Is it because the government wants a list of all the potential terrorists, paedophiles and freedom-loving troublemakers who choose to opt-out? What's the bet that those who do opt-out will end up on a register or database somewhere, earmarked for "special attention" or increased surveillance?

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