back to article Great Aussie firewall claims first victim

The great Australian Firewall might be struggling to make political progress, but regulators are already using its blacklist to threaten local websites with fines. Broadband discussion forum Whirlpool was threatened with an A$11,000 (£5,148) a day fine by the Australian Communications and Media Authority because a commenter …


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  1. GettinSadda
    Black Helicopters

    Great fun!

    "...ACMA added the website to its secret blacklist after receiving a complaint about one page on the site from someone in Melbourne with the user name Foad."

    So, who wants to be the first to submit "" or "" to ACMA!

  2. Anonymous Coward

    chilling effects down under

    Electronic Frontiers Australia is on the case:



    and the link in dispute is:

    (WARNING: graphic content)

    (you did read the WARNING, right?)

  3. General A. Annoying

    Brilliantly simple...

    and simply brilliant.

    Shows just how crap a grasp ACMA actually has on common 'net slang, never mind content.

    Quite literally FOAD!

  4. Christoph

    What a lovely law

    You're not allowed to know what sites are on the list, but if you link to one of them you get fined thousands of dollars a day? What an amazing cash cow.

  5. TeeCee Gold badge

    Did you pass on this delicacy deliberately?

    "....someone in Melbourne with the user name Foad."

    Er, you do know what FOAD* stands for, don't you? Sheer quality from the bloke in question, not only proving the point but also making them look like complete arses when they owned up to the allegedly genuine complaint responsible......

    *F*** Off And Die.

  6. GT

    and FOAD is an acronym for ... ?

    something not unusual in this context.

  7. Colm Donoghue

    Foad eh?

    a user name where the last three letters are like the acronym Off And DIe and the first letter being F....

    I guess the Aussie's missed that too

  8. Dave Coleshill
    Black Helicopters

    An interesting test

    A national firewall like the one Oz is trying to implement needs to be very carefully (and intelligently) managed. This looks to be proof that this isn't happening...

    I wonder how long it'll be before someone gets gets blacklisted?

  9. Ray


    the reason that any large scale project like this will never work (be it public or private) is because the employees

    a) aren't held responsible

    b) don't own it

    the systematic results of this are:

    1) the employees don't care as much as they might

    2) mistakes happen more frequently and don't get corrected when they are discovered

    the article demonstrates precisely these points, viz. someone didn't care to check their facts, followed procedural guidelines on assumption and, as a result, a perfectly acceptable system was blacklisted. kudos to the astute aussie for the exposure.

    in this particular case, however, it is all parenthetical if you believe that adults are capable of making their own moral judgements (in my book, that is a good part of the definition of the status).

  10. Max

    Do you hear that?

    Its the sound of free speech dying.

  11. Paul Murphy

    A complaint?

    Just the one?



    Not peer reviewed?

    In that case I'll go and write a spider for every web page on the MMM* and submit each page in turn, because, well there are bound to be some in there that should be banned, I'm just submitting them all so that they can be judged.


    I like 'MMM' since it's 'WWW' upside down, which is particularly appropriate for several reasons:

    1) It's Australia, and everyone knows that they live upside down,

    2) The web was based on free exchange and access to information, and this is story is the opposite

    3) Todays 'Letter by TBL' suggesting the Magnificent Mondial Mesh as a suitable name for his invention

  12. MnM

    no wonder they missed it

    It should be 'foad, mate'. Devious little possum.

  13. Charles King

    We're next

    If the NSPCC have their way this will happen in the UK as well.

    "Dougal, Whatever you do don't click the red button"

  14. D. M

    It is not even funny

    I'm ashamed for what my gov is doing. They are determined to kill free speech. It just shows we can never trust any politician. The bar has been left 6 feet under for too long, it's time to lift it up.

  15. Neil

    Effing stupid

    So, you don't know what's on the list, but if you - or one of your users in the case of a forum - links to something that is on it you get fined.

    How is this different to making up new laws with big fines for breaking them but then refusing to tell anybody what they are?

    "Excuse me, sir, you've just violated the new law we didn't tell anybody about on not looking 56 times before crossing the street between the hours of 3pm and 4pm on a Monday. That'll be $5000 please".

    FOAD indeed.

  16. michael

    hold on

    it is after lunch so forgive me if I am a bit slow but this is what I thought the article said

    guy submits link to authority saying "I think this should be banned"

    guy posts in forum saying "look I just sent them this link lets see if they are stupid enough to ban it"

    authorities ban it

    authorities send letter to forum saying "this site you are linking to is on a black list please remove it"

    some things come to mind

    1. did authorities not check the site?

    2. did they not read the forum post before they sent the letter and see they where being taken

    3. did they not care?

    4. how is the law written so that they fine pepol for a forum link?

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    FOAD: obvious troll is obvious (at least to most sane and minimally-clued people).

    Kind of reminds me of the fun with the goatse-inspired entry for the 2012 Olympic logo.

    Also, isn't Whirlpool (iirc) somewhat connected to opposition to the firewalling idea? If so, that seems like a major demonstration of the feeping creaturism that can be expected if the idea is implemented... first they pay lip-service to the children, but really it's just a front to crack down on speech they don't like.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Won't someone....errr

    Yes, think of the child we've just saved from this horrid picture. Whew, glad we got that before someone got their mind warped forever.


    ODFO, indeed.

  19. Someone
    Thumb Up

    Who’s next?

    This story’s already moved on. Wikileaks has been censored.

    You only have to look at what happened in the UK to the IWF over the censoring of Wikipedia, to realise this is only going to get much worse. More and more people will submit URLs to the ACMA as a form of protest, and then publish each successful outcome response on the Internet. I can’t imagine the ACMA are happy about having to respond to complainants, but I think they have no choice under the legislation.

    In a one-party state, the net treats censorship as damage and routes around it. In a democracy, it bludgeons the censor into submission.

  20. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Emigrating to North Korea

    Seems to be the same Big Brother model the west is intent on pursuing and I'm sure I'll get some perks as an asylum seeker from the evil west.

    Funny how all those taking liberties away, imposing censorship, restricting free speech, trampling on rights are the very same, allegedly, sowing the seeds of democracy and freedom around the world. Of course, that is at the end of a gun, in a pool of blood from a mountain of decaying civilian bodies.

    There's something seriously fucked with the western world.

  21. blue

    Re: Emigrating to North Korea

    >Funny how all those taking liberties away, imposing censorship, restricting free speech, trampling on rights are the very same, allegedly, sowing the seeds of democracy and freedom around the world.

    Jason, they're not spreading democracy, they're spreading corporatism. 'Democracy' is the butter on the enema.

  22. null


    "Jason, they're not spreading democracy, they're spreading corporatism. 'Democracy' is the butter on the enema."

    You might want to learn what a word means before you use it, you dunce.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    RE: chilling effects down under

    So, now that the link to the image is posted in the above comments how long before El Reg gets banned as well?

  24. Seán

    Intellectual Titans

    I'd like to express my gratitude fot the genius level input of those who commented on the meaning of foad. You guys are the leading lights of your generation, never let the flame go out.

  25. Anonymous Coward


    Somebody put a Rage Against The Machine album on this thread's CD player!

  26. jay
    Black Helicopters

    CP Poster Child

    It hurts my brain to think of the number of times CP is held up as the justification for govt to do whatever the hell they want

    how about instead of enforcing $AU11000 /day fines on the hosting company if they dont remove a link to banned content - whatever it may be - actually do some law enforcement.

    removing a link to genuine CP wont prevent that child from being abused. do some goddamned police work and catch the f***ers.

    maybe its too much work - much easier to ban the link.

    dont worry about what one whirlpool user referred to as 'internet censorship scope creep' where you move from banning images (and links to images) of late term abortions to banning wikileaks (and links to wikileaks) because they publish the website blacklist of another country.

    that looks like distinct scope creep from RC to political

    please someone think of the children and hack the ACMA site, put this link (objectionable content):

    on their front page then submit the ACMA website to the blacklist for hosting a link to objectionable content.


    i hear the AFP black choppers now - i need to move to europe.

  27. Ken Lord
    Black Helicopters

    Wish it was a 2 way firewall

    I should be a two way firewall.

    The Coral Seas Villas hotel in Port Douglas Australia abused their guest email list recently ... intentionally sending me in Canada a PETA chain letter, stupidly thinking it was somehow a legitimate petition, encouraging me to send it on to more people.

    And they exposed their entire guest email list to me. ... idiots must not know about BCC.

    Make the firewall two-way ... If australians are too stupid to be able to surf without censorship, then they shouldn't be able to send their crap to the rest of the world either.

    ... and yes, the hundreds of email addresses I received did get a reply telling them to never stay at Coral Seas Villas ever again (I encourage you to never stay there either) as they've shown they can't be trusted with our private personal data.

  28. Adrian Esdaile

    Hmm, might try to submit these...


    Come to think of it, why not block




  29. James
    Thumb Down

    Linking = bad

    So if the ACMA won't allow an Australian site ( to link to the banned material, is it ok to link to a non-Australian site that has a link to the material? ie will the ACMA leap into action to protect innocent Australians if I put in link on whirlpool to the second comment above? And if that is verboten and going to cost AUD11,000/day, how many intermediate links do there have to be before it's ok.


  30. Big Pete

    @Colm Donoghue

    "a user name where the last three letters are like the acronym Off And DIe and the first letter being F....

    I guess the Aussie's missed that too"

    No we're all down here snickering with our hands over our mouth, as the print media, both on and offline, refer to the user by his FOAD nick.

  31. Alan Newbury

    Breaking news...

    Some bright spark has put the censored link on the ACMA's Wikipedia page, in the 'Internet censorship and criticisms' section. Let's see how long it takes them to censor that one...

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wonder

    how long it would take for the ACMA process to grind to a halt if everyone submitted every page they visited to the ACMA for review.

    For your further edification about the ACMA review process:

  33. Mathew McBride

    Censor this

    Full text of foad's post with 'banned' URL:

    Bonus points for this post getting IWF'ed.

    Subject: Complaint Reference: 2009000009/ ACMA-691604278

    Date: Wed, 21 Jan 2009 15:45:00 +1100


    Complaint Reference: 2009000009/ ACMA-691604278

    I refer to the complaint that you lodged with the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) on 5th January 2009 about certain content made available at:

    Following investigation of your complaint, ACMA is satisfied that the internet content is hosted outside Australia, and that the content is prohibited or potential prohibited content.

    The Internet Industry Association (IIA) has a code of practice ( for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) which, among other things, set out arrangements for dealing with such content. In accordance with the code, ACMA has notified the above content to the makers of IIA approved filters, for their attention and appropriate action. The code requires ISPs to make available to customers an IIA approved filter.

    Information about ACMA’s role in regulating online content (including internet and mobile content), including what is prohibited or potentially prohibited content is available at ACMA’s website at

    Thank you for bringing this matter to ACMA’s attention

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The is the start of a Dicatorship. Facebook revealed the website to be here: Its a US based Anti Abortion website, and the ACMA has no authority to control what people visit. What I question is that the person who lodged the complaint, either new of the website or someone told them of it, as how could some just stumble across it accidentally without knowing the site?

    If people want to visit this stuff, hey let them. It doesnt worry me.

  35. Cameron Colley

    Nothing to do with children.

    Governments don't care about children -- they care about control. Strangely, though, it seems that the Australian government don't seem to know what to do with that control and let any old fucker decide what gets blocked.

  36. Anonymous Coward

    ACMA Wikipedia Page Modified To Remove Link

    In reference to Alan Newbury's post above, an edit to the ACMA Wiki page has been made to remove the "offending" URL, see the wiki history of the edit here;

  37. Censored in Australia

    Looks Like The ACMA Wiki Entry is Being "Censored"

    Interesting comment on the ACMA wiki page; "This page is currently protected from editing until disputes have been resolved." after someone attempted to reinstall the link that was "banned". See the most recent edit change here; Has ACMA ordered it's own wiki entry to be locked down ?

  38. xjy
    Paris Hilton


    Megalomaniac motherfuckers trying to legislate life and the future. "Tide, Stop!!" "We're going to prohibit sex - and drugs - and rock n roll - and booze - and eyes and ears and mouths". If people disobey us, we shall exterminate them. Not even Stalin and Hitler managed that, although it wasn't by any lack of due diligence. Britain and the US, however, exterminated Dresden, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki.

    Canute got a lousy rap, by the way. He was a Great Dane! (Which Harold wasn't, but the Norman (northener, ex-Viking) Willy was.)

    (Paris, cos she would never try to prohibit the motions of life, now or forever)

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