back to article Oz net censorship apparatus to target BitTorrent

The national web censorship apparatus being built by the Australian government will also include technology to restrict peer-to-peer traffic, according to the minister responsible for the plan. Until today it had been thought that what opponents have called the "great Aussie firewall" - in a nod to Chinese internet censorship …


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  1. michael

    how the f

    do thay plan to do that it sounds like a bit of a unworkable plan

    what are they planing to look for?

    how would they know what they have got is in valid?


    we are sorry this posters brain just exploded normal service will be resumed as soon as poaible

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Everyone seems to forget...

    ...that peer-to-peer is, for a lot of people, the only way to distribute the things they create. Bandwidth is expensive if centralized, and if you're making very high quality videos, mods and total conversions for games, or any number of other things, peer-to-peer is the only practical solution (Don't try to tell me that rapidshare and its ilk are reasonable alternatives).

    Even if 90% of peer-to-peer traffic IS copyrighted music, it's a fundamental violation of liberty to stomp on legitimate interests just because your boot's too big to only step on the bad guys.

  3. Neil McAliece

    Clues on the how that Conroy didn't answer

    Apparently filter vendor Brilliant Digital have been giving sales pitches for CopyRouter in the US that leads in with a claim that they are about to launch a trial with an Australian ISP.

    That seems to fit with Conroy's blog post.

  4. Jaap Stoel

    Well now

    That slope became slippery real real fast

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Oh, FFS.

    That is all.

  6. Jaap Stoel

    Well well

    Now that slope became slippery REAL fast.

  7. Rob

    What a waste...

    ... apart from the obvious complaint that nobody likes censorship. Isn't filtering against HTTP and HTTPS a bit pointless, if they stick to that rule then obviously someone will find a away round it making the investment the Oz Gov have made a bit of a white elephant, it's gotta be the whole hog (or kangeroo) like china or nothing at all?

  8. Adrian Jooste

    Smith would be proud

    Jacqui Smith would be positively creaming herself for coming up with something like this and it actually being approved for trial. They seem to take the exact same approach as she does down there. Ignore the statistics, ignore the experts findings and reports that you commissioned and do it your way regardless of the facts.

    Chinese democracy indeed, Mr Rose...

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "...include technology to restrict peer-to-peer traffic..."

    So they are going to block SMTP then? - probably the most widely used peer-to-peer protocol on the internet.

  10. Stephen Bungay
    Black Helicopters


    Pure and simple censorship. The maddening thing is the apparent inability of the proponents of these draconian measures to see that their actions have more potential for harm than good. All of the people in Australia will suffer when (not if) these measures are used to oppress legitimate freedom of communication; and when that happens, those that these measures are being implemented to protect will indirectly become victims of the crime(s) they were protected against.

    Use the tools you have, catch the criminals and punish them WITHOUT opening cracks that allow authoritarianism to slowly replace your democracy . A Police State is something which must be guarded against.

    The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Next Headline

    Internet banned in Australia.

    "Makes us look stupid" says govt.

  12. Jimmy Floyd

    Very confused

    This whole saga is extremely vexing. Given all the Australians I know, and the experiences I have of their country, taking active censorship of this manner is just incredibly un-Australian.

    For a nation that prides itself on having a relaxed, matey, "good bloke" attitude this is a remarkable case of a runaway government out-of-touch with the people who elected them.

    And the worse thing? They've only just been elected!

  13. Anonymous Coward

    'Child Protection' Means Loss of Freedoms

    It's very simple - aspiring autocrats, dictators and fascists take note: just tell the great unwashed that whatever it is you are doing, you are doing to 'protect the children' or as part of 'the fight against terrorism'. Those few simple words can censor all dissent, silence all critics and open the way for as much bad law and loss of personal freedoms you might care to dream up. After all, you've made it just about impossible for anyone to argue with you without themselves being labelled 'sympathisers' with both these scourges. Assuming, that is, you'll even permit any argument.

    The 'fear of' child pornography and terrorism: in the hands of western governments, the biggest threats to civil liberties in the world today.

  14. Anonymous Coward


    The wilder this idea becomes, the more chance of it (and hopefully the misguided idiots promoting int) being told to rudely FUCK OFF by the techies and/or the general public as it progresses along it's merry path over a cliff! :-)

  15. Tim

    Skype too?

    Has anyone seen a mention of whether Skype is going to be blocked there too? I am aware its encryption & general difficulty to snoop makes it unpopular with Govts. Especially that type of Govt.


  16. Anonymous Coward

    It's an almighty GAF.......

    What right has a Govn Minister to tell the people we live in a democracy and oh by the way, you're not allowed free movement of communication at the same time?

    GAFs = Governments Are Frauds

    GAF = Great Aussie Firewall.

    Good job I live in a true democracy....the UK.....gulp.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    Now the truth be known

    It was never about censorship, it probably has more to do with ACTA and attempts to kill filesharing pushed for by the American Media Juggernaut . Typical politicians trick where they try something really evil, pretend to listen to the people then try to get them to settle for something just evil.

    Hey Aussies we hope you like nappies because your nanny state government is going to make you all wear one.

  18. shay mclachlan

    No worries

    No worries, Aussies wanting to escape this nonsense can always move to a more civilized country like New Zealand.......

  19. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    Where's Tom Zarek...

    ...when you need some serious dissent?

  20. kissingthecarpet

    @very confused

    Certainly, the Aussies I've met in the UK (i.e. the ones who've travelled round the world) are an open-minded crowd, sure....but several of them told me that they were the minority & most of the people they went to school with are very conservative, seemingly in a manner similar to US conservatives, but with less religion. Also about half of them settled here permanently - apparently something do with the richness & depth of the culture here compared to Oz.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters


    are intelligent, normal adults going to have to start sabotaging this sort of thing?

  22. Scott
    Thumb Down

    @shay mclachlan

    yeah, we're great.... we only have this piece of legislation to contend with:

    "Guilt Upon Accusation" laws...

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Sub culture

    IF this gets up I can see a whole sub culture of dissent coming about, one that uses encrypted tunnels and anonymous proxies, etc. I know that's where I'll be.

    I don't think the filtering will get up though, I reckon it will be just another waste of government (our) money. This whole fiasco will also damage their chances come the next election.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm witholding judgement

    until it happens. There's a school of thought that this is just a ploy to buy off a couple of loony xtian right senators - that the "tests" will prove that it's not viable and the gubmint will abandon it.

    I sincerely hope that's the case. I sincerely hope that the Oz gubmint isn't as pig ignorant as this farce would indicate.

    I'll continue to be slightly optimistic in the face of evidence to the contrary, until the facts force me to accept otherwise.

    Where's the Rudd with Horns icon?

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Firewall news firewalled shocker...

    As an Englishman living in Melbourne for the past 6 months I've got to say the only place I've heard about this is El Reg and the occasional moan from one of my dingo-fearing work mates. The media over here simply don't report on it at all, which I suspect is why only 'hundreds' of protestors turned up to tell they don’t fancy the idea - people over here really don't seem to know this is happening.

  26. Paul
    Thumb Down

    Current Govenrmnet = EPIC FAIL

    Its Ironic that a lot that was elected to save us from draconian labor laws. That promised to be conservative with the budget that was well in the black.


    1. Spent all the savings

    2. Raided the piggy bank of protection scheme against rural aust falling too far beind with communications.

    3. Killed the nascent domestic solar industry just as it was starting to find its feet.

    4. Put in stone C02 reductions of only 5% by 2020, regardless of what the population actually does to try and reduce their footprint.

    5. Put more out of work, unless you work in one of the bazillion quangos they've setup

    6. Buggered up lots of things in only 12 months !

    7. And come up with that many 5 point lists that most of us just want to strangle the nearest person when hear a another one.

    Oh.. Im doing it now [Arrghhh..... !!]

  27. Anonymous Coward

    Protecting children?

    Yeah right!

    Australia is a great target for this type of anti-filesharing legislation. Internet adoption is rather low compared to the US and UK (I know people in their mid 30's with no internet access), its also expensive and most ISP's have very low bandwidth caps. I have a 25gig limit (the second highest my ISP offers) and it costs around $75/month. Telstra also counts uploads as well as downloads in the traffic allowance, so internet usage and filesharing in particular hasn't really taken off.

    Yes you can use encryption to defeat filters but that isn't really the point - it will still be illegal and the Australian police are very zealous about law enforcement. In answer to the skype issue, I seem to think the Chinese have their own tapping facility for skype so a similar Australian version shouldn't be too hard to put together. <opensource plug goes here>

    Also, it doesn't have to work particularly well, technically. If its passed in Oz, it will be pushed harder around the world.

    I'm not sure how exactly children are thought to "stumble" across porn torrents. TPB takes great pains to move porn out of the way and "cross-posters" usually get abusive comments for putting such material in the wrong place. As for kiddie porn, I'm pretty sure police from all countries are happy to cooperate to stamp this out - its already illegal. Without private, encrypted (i.e. non-filterable) torrents purveyors of this stuff are going to jail pretty quickly. No further legislation is needed.

    I agree with kissingthecarpet. People who travel tend to be more progressive in their outlook and technically savvy. The bulk are rather conservative, technically ignorant, internet impaired and too laid-back for their own good. I could easily see this legislation being passed.

    Yes, its cyber-security, its just not for kids, its for Hollywood. If you want to protect kids from sex&violence, it would make sense to hit those who sell it where it hurts, in the pocket. That would mean encouraging copyright infringement, surely!

    Pirates - that's big business and government with big boots.

  28. James
    Black Helicopters

    @Sub culture

    At least the Oz government finally seem to be listening to everyone telling them that kiddie porn isn't done using http, and are broadening their internet-slowing filter to suppress other avenues. Shame they're not listening to the even louder cries that this whole thing is an epic steaming pile of Fail waiting to happen.

    I very much look forward to saying "we told you so" when they eventually quietly drop this and move on.

  29. Chris C

    So when...

    So when are we going to stop calling them "Internet Service Providers" and instead call them "World Wide Web and Email Gateways"? That seems more appropriate, since that seems to be all ISPs want to do nowadays. Anything they can't do deep-packing-inspection and filtering on is unwanted. Anything they can't monitor and turn into advertising revenue is unwanted. Anything that uses more than dial-up bandwidth is unwanted.

  30. Moss Icely Spaceport
    Thumb Down

    @ Jimmy Floyd

    The current Govt is beholden to a small number of mad-christian senators. These god-bothering retards want the whole country to worship the baby-jebus, or failing that to not look at the nekked ladies on the intertubes!! Stop it, or you will go blind!!

    These red-neck fundies should get a clue and just get [expletive deleted]!!!

  31. Adrian Esdaile

    @ "And the worse thing? They've only just been elected!"

    Yep, the other mob were EVEN WORSE.

    Seriously, I couldn't make this shit up!

  32. Kieron McCann

    It's no surprise really...

    Don't get me wrong, I quite like Austalians (a rare thing for a New Zealander)

    In recent years Australia has moved closer and closer to the US. They have a lot in common, they are both federalist states comprised of separate state governments, they are countries which were founded by integrating immigrant communities, they both took their nations by conquest at the expense of the indigenous population and they have both become increasingly xenophobic in their world outlook.

    Combine that with a strong British heritage you also get a reluctance to speak out, general inertia about erosion of privacy and an otherwise docile electorate.

    The result? An increasingly insular and paranoid nation that fancies itself as a regional superpower. Sound familiar?

    The great Firewall of Australia is something that the US would most probably have implemented by now if the constitution allowed for it. Unfortunately for us, one implemented in Australia it will be used as a model by every other government.

    @ Shay McLaughlin you know as well as I do that it's only a matter of time before the NZ government will want to follow in the footsteps of our bigger brother across the Tasman. Lacking the funds to build our own I wouldn't be surprised if we sign up to using the Aussie firewall. Another step closer to becoming a new state of Australia..

  33. Frederick


    Internet Filtering and the DRM coincidence.

    Recent moves from prominent Labor party politicians in Australia to implement a government 'big brother' on the country's Internet usage have uncovered a web of questionable motives. The plan would see a 'middleman' hardware installation being placed in a consumer's Internet service provider (ISP). By way of decrypting and monitoring every single packet of data, the plan promises to rid the Australian consumer of illicit data such as child pornography and other objectionable material. Even though highly educated critics have opposed the plan saying that the ability to 'url swap' (that is, change the name of a site in a matter of seconds) means that the filter couldn't possibly keep up, and a range of literally thousands of other methods of data transmission could make the system a multi million dollar white elephant, Senators seem consumed by something other than concern to proceed.

    Recent revelations have emerged as 2 large media stakeholders have shown a very large interest. The figureheads that cannot be identified for legal reasons have followed and supported the process to date, and it has been suggested that they are hoping for a large success of this scheme in Australia as it fits neatly with their intentions to enforce DRM (digital rights management).

    Phase 1 would see the smokescreen of 'child pornography' and 'terrible violence' being filtered and its sources identified, phase 2 could see the sharing of licenced media (MP3's, Movies etc) dealt with in the same way. Reports that prominent Labor politicians could be receiving benefits to rush this bill through are all too troubling, especially when recent efforts to take individual consumers to courts over MP3 violations have failed.

    "This is the perfect smokescreen" explains Reece Shaw, advocate of DRM watch group, "By tricking consumers into having a monitored data delivery system, you're setting them up for the ultimate pay as you go system, you can control what music files and videos a consumer shares with another, and subsequently cut off anyone that doesn't' co-operate"

    Reece Shaw suggests that political advocates of this legislation, their friends family and immediate acquaintances should be monitored for a spike in asset and/or income levels, "Unfortunately when it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck" he said.

  34. Tony Paulazzo

    Title 264769

    Divide and Conquer... To be honest, I hadn't realised about the IWF until I found out about the great Australian firewall. The human race has apparently gone into some 'head in sand' witch hunting mode.

    Historically speaking, how long do these purges go on for until they sputter out of existence?

    oh yea, and happy christmas to the reg and its readers. Here's hoping the aliens come in 2009 or 10 to save us from ourselves (or, you know, conquer our unworthy asses), or that The Singularity arrive sooner than postulated...

  35. Jacob Reid


    BitTorrent can be run on ANY port, I assume they will only sniff the default port.

    The data sent and received has been encrypted for years anyway.

  36. Anonymous Coward

    time for an erasure

    Smith would be proud

    By Adrian Jooste Posted Monday 22nd December 2008 14:16 GMT


    Jacqui Smith would be positively creaming herself for coming...

    EWWWW...please kill all those brain cells RIGHT NOW.

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