back to article Big boost for Aussie firewall

The controversial Great Aussie Firewall got a big boost yesterday when Australia's second largest ISP Optus agreed to join the pilot. The testing of filtering technology has suffered credibility problems since the refusal of iiNet to take part, after it was unable to reconcile the trial with its opposition to censorship. iiNet …


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  1. Osiris
    Thumb Up

    This is a title

    Optus Primus? Is that Optimus Prime's latin cousin?

  2. Dan
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    Why would a particular ISP sign up for the pilot? ISPs are aware that this stands to cost an arm and a leg, potentially impact performance and place the onus of responsibility for policing the web (as perceived by Aussies) squarely onto them. So to make a company sign up, surely either a. political pressure is applied to the company or directors, b. gov subsidies to pay for it, or c. the offer of the equivalent of a knighthood or whatever to the head sheds. If any of these is true, it needs to be completely open and transparent. I always imagined that Oz would be a nice place to emigrate to, but not if Wacqui Jackboot's doppelganger has any influence over there, as appears to be the case.

  3. Tony

    Won't somebody think of the children

    Here's an idea - Rather than filtering the entire damn internet why not make it the legal responsibility of anyone that is giving access to the internet to minors to ensure that they are either supervised of that a reasonable attempt is made to employ some form of filtering locally on the machine they are using?

    PC manufacturers should be required to ask 'will children be using this machine' when selling an off the shelf PC and if so explain the owners responsibilities under law and offer parental control software. If a parent allows a child unsupervised access to a computer with no parental controls and they access things they shouldn't the parent should be held legally responsible. If a machine is in a school, library or internet cafe then the organisation providing it should be required to ensure it is secured.

    Sorry don't know what I was thinking - It's a crazy idea as it would actually required parents to take some responsibility for what their children do. Madness.

  4. Juan Inamillion

    Such a shame

    The great Aussie public don't realise what a slippery slope their now on. Liberty once removed is far far harder to reclaim.

    I wonder what 'incentives' these ISP's have been given? Big stick or big carrot? The ISP's that hold out will be portrayed as the equivalent of sleazy sex shops 'adults only' massage parlours that only low life would sign up to.

    I lived in Oz a long time ago and it always amazed me how very conservative the officials are there, considering how liberal the younger populace are and how they don't seem to replace those officials.

    Ah well...

  5. Anonymous Coward
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    Optus, from the home of freedom

    Australia's second biggest ISP? Sorry to be pedantic but it's the second biggest ISP in Aus because it is a wholly owned subsidiary of Singapore Telecommunications. We all know how much the Singaporeans love their freedom of speech and other democratic traditions.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Utter tosh!

    Optus has had so many bad PR issues to hand as of late this is like some Marketriod thinking "hey this will make us look proactive". Actually, their 3G network has been in the press in continual overload/meltdown, they're about the 5th or 6th ISP here behind the ISPs that have given the communications minister the finger.

    However that being said, ALL ISP's muck with your data to a certain extent -- in fact traffic shaping is a prime cliff's edge to all this B.S. If little Johnnie and little Susie like pr0n, then go for it. Its no worse than what the daytime Satellite TV/ Cable TV shows to a fair extent before the watershed.

    And El Reg, shame on you for not pointing out your own article from yesterday to see how to test if your ISP is mucking with your data.

  7. Bob

    Stupid bloody politicians

    Again the conflation of "web" and "internet". I don't know, but I'd guess that the vast majority of really nasty stuff that's going around the internet isn't going by HTTP(S).

  8. Anonymous Coward
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    Second that emotion.

    In all other areas of life, children are prevented from going into "dangerous" places. We don't let them in buy alcohol, visit sex shops or bookmakers. We don't let them drive cars or play on railway lines. So just keep the little darlings off the internet.

    [End Rant]

  9. Fingers

    'merkins by another name

    As a Kiwi (and completely unbiased of course), I have come to the conclusion that the Australians are the Americans of the South Pacific.

    This gives you an idea of the mindset at work here...

  10. Anonymous Coward

    re: sleazy sex shops

    Actually, despite (because of?) Oz's conservative officialdom (fnar, fnar), Melbourne has quite a lot of these.

    If you must give your children internet access, its cheaper and probably more effective than filtering tech, to put the pc where everyone can see the screen. If you want to go further, use a tinyproxy which logs somewhere the children can't erase and sort the logged urls to make them easy to scan quickly.

    Call my cynical, but the larger ISPs wouldn't want this because costly filtering tech raises a large barrier to entry would it? Nah, big business and politicians colluding? Never!

  11. John Smith Gold badge

    More customers

    More complaints.

    Gets ditched faster?

    Incidently for Auss readers in the UK all (AFAIK) users of the IWF watchlist display a "404" page message. Is Mr Con-roy's scheme more honest and says the page is on the banned list?

    Happy because given what's been said about disallowed sites and their size the complaint level should be rising nicely.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I am actually embarrassed at the human race for the amount of censorship it enforces upon its self.

    Why should anything truly be censored? I can't think of a single good thing that can come from censorship of anything.

  13. mittfh

    Will it filter outgoing mail?

    Just wondered, because close examination of the headers on all the phishing attempts autofiltered into my Junk Mail folder appears to reveal they originated with Optusnet...

    Or (perhaps more likely), someone on Optusnet hasn't been keeping their anti-malware protection up to date...

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    According to the ABC, Optus users can withdraw from the trial. I suggest they do so as soon as possible. So, pass the word around to anyone you know who may be an Optus subscriber.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    That ISP has just given away a large amount of its customers to other ISPs.

    @Dan: If you're looking for a nice country to emigrate to, try Norway. the weather is better than australia too. I am actually considering moving there myself if things keep going the way they are here.

  16. Joe M

    Why am I not surprised

    The only surprise is that it took Optus so long to go with the swing. It's actually quite pleasing to see them jump on board because, sure as rain, they will f__ck up the trial and it will become even more meaningless than it is now.

    I have had the misfortune to deal with both Optus and Telstra (the largest Aus telco) both as a supplier and as a customer. If stupidity and incompetence were marketable comodities these two could get rich selling them by the bottle.

  17. The Fuzzy Wotnot
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    @Dan - Why?

    Simple! They want to sign up so that they start blocking things video sites and torrent trackers, which in turn will lower the bandwidth requirements, finally it will mean that they can squeeze more mug....sorry customers onto less "wire", thus charging more for less actual service!

  18. Anonymous Coward
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    one to restrict "unwanted material",

    Yes; and just so you properly understand; it's anything we don't want you to see. Anything at all; got it? We don't want it so you don't want it...therefore, it's "unwanted".

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Riiight... because in the US, we're trialling an all-encompassing internet censorship law, ban books on a regular basis, ban the sale of some video games to adults because they're not suitable for children, and have no constitutional protection for freedom of speech.

    Oh, wait - none of that's true! Turns out that you're just an ignorant jackass. Carry on.

  20. Maty

    pass the dictionary please ...

    He said the decision 'would help the government obtain "robust results" from the pilot'.

    Have you noticed the fondness of some govt spokesmen for the word 'robust'? As in 'robust policing' or 'robust legislation'? Is is because 'robust' sounds so much better than 'fascist'?

  21. Andrew Fraser

    Staying in Canada

    Yep, glad I left, and I am staying over here.

    Australia just keeps throwing up more and more reasons for me not to come back.

    The sad thing is, BOTH parties (labor and "liberal") want this filter. Liberal party has only ever objected on technical grounds, never on the idea of a filter.

    Thats the distrubing part.

    So if anyone wants my spot in Australia, your more than welcome to it.

    Mine's the one with the Canadian citizenship papers in the pocket.

  22. LaeMi Qian


    OptusNet access became so slow and unreliable about 2 moths ago that I had assumed they had already joined.

  23. Goat Jam
    Thumb Up


    Yes, well, I've had the "pleasure" of dealing with Optus as both customer and supplier, and I can say without a shadow of a doubt that they are BY FAR the most incompetent telco in the great land downunder.

    This is a telco that has unable to get its SMS network working properly for nigh on a decade. It is still broken. I ditched them way back in 2001 because people would send me multiple sms messages which wouldn't reach me. Then, as if by magic, some server at Optus would fart out the whole lot of them in a torrent of beeping frenzy, usually around midnight. I know people to this very day that are on Optus and they still suffer the same issues!

    Then, as a service provider I have lost count of the number of times that their "technical experts" have logged a "faulty router" job which invariably turned out to be a problem with their own ATM/frame-relay network, a network that they allegedly built and operate themselves but they are completely unable to diagnose on their own.

    If anybody is going to royally fuck up the great aussie firewall it will be those clowns at Optus.

  24. Michael Heydon

    Don't be too quick to pick on optus (or to change ISP)

    Don't assume that because Optus is taking part in the trials that they support the project.

    You can bet that there will be a few mum & pop ISPs in the country who would be quite happy for this to go through. It would have a minimal effect on them since they probably only have a few dozen customers and it will mean little Timmy will grow up in a world full of flowers and rainbows. Do you really want these people to be the only ones who get to comment on how well the filter works?

    iiNet made it clear from the outset that they intended to participate in order to show how hopeless the filter would be. It is quite possible that Optus have similar plans.

    For similar reasons, customers shouldn't change away from Optus because of the trial. There will almost certainly be a few people who are pro-filtering who are involved in the trial. They will come forward and say that they didn't notice a significant speed difference and that they felt much safer. We need to make sure that the other side is represented as well. We need people involved in the trial who are going to come out and show what is wrong with the proposal.

  25. Adrian Esdaile
    Black Helicopters

    Stupid Australian Government censorship

    Those *******!

    **** ***** ** ***** **** ***** ***** *****!

    *********!! ********** *** ***** ***** *** **** *******

    **** ***** ***** **** ** ** *****!

    But I suppose we have to expect that because we live in Australia where *** ***** ****** ***!


  26. Eric Pinkerton

    Forget the Internet - what about the other dangers piped in to my home?

    •Gas and Electricity, Burns, maims and kills thousands of people worldwide every year, many of them children.

    •Water:- Has the potential to poison, spread disease, scald or even cause death by drowning -responsible for millions of fatalities each year, you guessed it – many of them children.

    •Telephone Lines:- Can be used to convey dangerous and illegal information with criminals throughout the globe, and have the potential to connect dial-up networks to anywhere in the world and transfer illegal files and information.

    •Postal Service/Couriers:- Many gigabytes of data are transferred every day using this medium on CD’s, DVD’s and Magnetic tape - how do we know they dont contain child porn?

    What the government doing about that?

  27. Anonymous Coward
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    Disappointing. . .

    It really sucks that I have to find out my ISP has started filtering my internet by reading it off El Reg.

    Even an email from them would do, but I guess they just aren't that decent.

    So. . . has anyone ever tried ddos'ing an ISP?

  28. Joe M

    @Eric Pinkerton

    What's the government doing about that? Nothing!

    Hey dude, you are living in a world where heroin (in its pure form, a mild sedative and pain killer) is überverboten and can even land you on death row e.g. in Bali, and alcohol (which is arguably the most dangerous substance known to humankind) is readily available in the parliamentary caf.

  29. John Smith Gold badge

    @Joe M

    "•Gas and Electricity, Burns, maims and kills thousands of people worldwide every year, many of them children" etc.

    I think you'll find he is being amusing. If you are sufficiently hysterical you can play the "But think of the children" BS to justify the removal of *virtually* anything on the grounds that it *may* at some point cause harm to some child. The stop sign is in the spirit of this sort of hysterical over reaction

    And just to be perfectly clear. Child po(n is far too serious a matter to deal with by *hiding* the problem so *ordinary* people won't see it. It is however a *very* useful excuse to hide other pages you (the government) don't want people to see. Which seems to have been happening.

    I agree with you on alcohol and heroin. Some years ago a documentary series showed 2 brain slices. One looked normal, the other had holes in it. Literally empty spaces like a slice through a sponge. That was the alcoholic. The other was a heroin addict.

  30. Cortland Richmond

    Spelling error reveals conspiracy

    In "This is not part of the official pilot but will influence policy,"

    shouldn't "official pilot" read "official plot" ?

  31. EJ
    Thumb Down

    And here I thought we voted stupidity out of the US government...

    But instead it just moved to Australia.

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