back to article Aussie censors implement six degrees of separation policy

The Australian Government yesterday broke new records for web censorship by requiring the takedown not just of a page containing harmful content, nor even a page linking to harmful content, but a page linking to a link to allegedly harmful content. The content that the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) …


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  1. Charles Smith


    No more links to the Google website.

  2. s. pam Silver badge

    Soon, Jackboots and Jodhpurs will be de rigeur in Oz!

    This gov't is more than enough to make you sick. Stingrays, Snakes, Spiders, and Internet Censorship -- what's next? You've never seen a more Blair-like gov't in your life -- blames everything on (a) society, (b) the previous administration, (c) pubic interest, (d) anyone else.

    This is yet another China in the making here in Oz folks -- Free Tibet eh? Free Oz to view what it wants!

  3. Anonymous Coward

    New firefox plugin anyone?

    So now they don't link directly they tell you what to enter in google, to try and find the site. Presumably will end up having this entry filtered. So maybe we should put up notifications of what to search for in less censored search engines. Even better, put it together in its own tagged text format. Make it human readable, but a plugin could read it and display it as a link.

    That way its not a link. (Good grief! I wonder what the legal definition for a link is?)

    If a link to a link does become illegal, will that mean I'll hear jack boots down the hall cause I have a desktop link to google?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Unfortunately, this sort of thing seems to have bipartisan support here. The worst criticism you will hear from the opposition (regardless of who is in power) is: "Their filtering is ineffective and a waste of money". They won't criticise the idea of censorship.

    Only the Greens are seriously opposed, but they're hardly going to form Government any time soon.

    Worse, the Sir Humphreys in DBCDE are all-for censorship. Labor took a silly, but benign, censorship policy to the election (opt-in censorship), but once the public service got their hands on the Minister, it was transformed into the current monstrosity.

    Thankfully, the current link-deletion policy is so unworkable that it will collapse under its own weight if implemented widely, and the plans for internet filtering are a total unimplementable farce. We'll all be saved by our own bureaucrats' incompetence.

  5. Rob Moss

    Steven Conroy

    Is a deluded fool. He is the most hated person in the government right now, and first in line come the revolution!

  6. Matthew
    Thumb Down

    Google banned then?

    Stupid stupid policy made as usual by people who haven't yet learned how to put the paper in the fax machine, let alone learning about the interweb.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    So, they'll be banning Google next, right?

    Since it'll link to these sites. And in a few days, following this to its logical conclusion, the entire internet will be banned in Oz.

    Muppets. Absolute muppets.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    For its next trick....

    ....Australian Censorobot will attempt to nail jelly to the wall.

    Seriously, what?? The whole point of the creation of the Internet was to provide resilient connectivity to hosts and it's worked out rather well; if they think they can pretend a website's not there by removing a link to it they're pitifully naive. As to the political censorship aspect, it's a slippery old slope.

  9. Nigel Wright
    Thumb Down

    You would have thought by now that...

    ..."western democracies" would understand and recognise that you cannot suppress free speech whether or not you like the content of said speech. What next? Forbidding people from writing the link down on paper, texting it or speaking of it.


  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Doesn't seem that long ago when we should have been looking at Oz's immigration, settlement etc system as they seem to have a pretty clued up group running the whole shebang down there..

    But WTF is going on here......

    Government invading more of our lives...

  11. John Smith Gold badge

    The Aussie policy in a nutshell

    Lalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalala- I can't hear you.

    Digging their own own grave one stupid idea at a a time.

    That is all.

  12. Ash
    Thumb Down

    Difficult example

    I agree with the sentiment; Filtering *is* bad.

    However, maybe these "political" websites need to become a little more than just shocksites (snuffx anyone?) and stop showing pictures of aborted foetuses, or animals with chemical burns from cosmetics, or any other horrifying image. They should instead concentrate on getting their point across more eloquently, perhaps through debate. Like they do in all democratic societies.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Of that of which we must not speak

    Goodness me, I can see a point in the future on this where the discussion of the fact that there might be some bad things in the world will not be allowed either.

  14. Dan
    Thumb Up

    six degrees of separation... for me, because they'll eventually end up blocking everything, which ought to make it blatantly obvious how unworkable the whole thing is.

  15. Cameron Colley

    This beggars belief.

    The fact that Australia is run by morons who think that blocking access to aborted foetuses will stop child abuse is bad enough, but the fact they will prevent even links to link to it puts them in a league with China or North Korea.

    Are there any countries left that have freedom of speech?

  16. AC

    pah :(

    so much for emigrating to aussieland then :(

    is there anywhere left I can go where there is no corruption and stupidity????

  17. Alex

    Just some questions raised..

    Is a link to a google search illegal, if one of the top hits (on the day viewed by the censor) is a censored site? Or a link using Google's "I'm feeling lucky" service to return a page for that matter. What if the top site changes?

    Heck, what if someone makes a randomizer service where people can submit keywords, reset daily, which are strung together and returned as a url. If a user kept on adding "Abortion" and "tv", would such a site need to be taken down? Would the site owner be responsible for the url's it generates if hosted in Australia?

    The mind boggles.

  18. MnM

    Like any diaspora

    the aussies amplify their roots. What a bunch of cnuts! Give me the UK any day of the year. Gives a bit of perspective on our own hapless leaders - yes we've got a few wrong 'uns, but at least they're roundly unpopular.

  19. John Geddes

    What constitutes a link?

    Banning links seems futile - even if you had sympathy with the need to censor. In order to point users to a page that upset the censors, surely one could simply create a link that creates a Google (or other) search that would be fairly sure to present the relevant page in top position. Or is Australia planning to ban their citizens from suggesting search phrases that might lead to information that they consider inappropriate?

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    Jesus christ. It's high time for a revolution in this country. Next thing you know they'll be banning Encryption.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    the mad freaks in charge of the UK wont stand for this, they're the king of the fruitloop censorship mountain and wont let any backwater cast offs mess up their standing. They need at least one thing to be proud of.

  22. Winkypop Silver badge

    Caution: Contains banned content

  23. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Whither search engines

    Lots of comments about replacing links with search expressions, but no-one (yet) noting that Google's output is a page containing links to items. Indeed, it is hard to imagine a search engine that doesn't work this way. Presumably then, search engines are now illegal in Australia unless they enforce the Porn-Proof Fence, which they would have to do using the flaky GeoIP stuff.

  24. D. M
    Black Helicopters

    The next move

    I'm aussie, the next logic move of our great leader Kevin Rudd would do, is to jail or kill anyone who dares to disagree with gov.

    The way our gov is moving, we are not far from North Korea.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    ...if Austrialian prioviders are so concerend, then every Australian website should post a link to this site. Let's see them issue 10's of thousands of take down notices. Then find another site then repost

  26. Scott
    Thumb Down


    Great the only way i can think of old Wacki beating this is to ban all web sites with images on incase they are offensive to someone.

    (Should i give her ideas)

    Or a username on your ID card that you have to use everytime you 'logon' to the internet.

    Or just banning the internet full stop (this may happen when the labour govt don't give up power at the next election (George W Bush election for the labour party anyone)).

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Blame it on the time difference

    First, ban the link,

    Then the link to the link,

    Then the link to the link to the link,

    Soon there won't be any need for anyone in Oz to have the internet.

    Still it show the time difference between Oz and the rest of the world, about 800 years

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: banning the Internet

    Scott, the plans for banning the Internet are well under way in the form of Phorm. Once implemented you won't actually be able to connect to the Internet, merely a proxy.

  29. Neil

    What happened to...

    ... Ozzie common sense? I really thought Ozland might be a good place to run to on the offchance that Labour win another election here (cos then we're all fucked).

    What's next? Taking books out of libraries if they're not on approved reading lists?

    Agree with AC above - exactly where can we move to that has a non-opressive government and some common sense? Sealand?

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have a solution...

  31. Dave Stevenson
    Thumb Down

    How about

    So if an Australian web site wished to link to a "banned" web site, why not just create a shortcut to that particular site and publish that link? Same end result for the surfer, but the website isn't publishing a direct link to "banned" content, so (potentially) no problem.

    If links to links aren't permitted, then go through 2 URLs (although I've never tried that to find out if it works).

    I think the idea is to make themselves look foolish and waste a lot of taxpayers money - they're succeeding.

  32. Palladius

    RE: Australia???

    "Doesn't seem that long ago when we should have been looking at Oz's immigration, settlement etc system as they seem to have a pretty clued up group running the whole shebang down there.."

    You're surprised that a fascist immigration policy has developed into a fascist censorship policy?

    Or are you only interested in freedom when it directly benefits you?

  33. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Re: Are there any countries left that have freedom of speech?

    No, because all the citizens of those countries have preferred to leave instead of standing up for their rights and the rights of others.

    Alternatively, no because they couldn't be arsed to stand up for anything between reruns of whatever inane TV series it is they watch.

    You don't get the country you ask for, you get the country you work for.

  34. Anonymous Coward


    Exactly what I was thinking! What a bunch of utter clueless gonks!

    Dear stupid Oz politicians,

    You people have no flipping idea about how a vast, unregulated network like the internet actually works do you? Listen pillocks, it is not a single "thing", it is a vast spaghetti mess of interconnected computers that simply hang together by string, sellotape and the odd bit of blue-tac just to keep those RJ45 leads plugged in!

    Listen to one last fact, unless ALL governments in the entire world collude to control it, you cannot regulate it! You can attempt to limit your little island's view, but there will always be chinks in the armour, always!

    Thank you for listening!

  35. Scott

    Make a change

    Here in the States, we have the ability to protest our idiot government and its ideas on banning things. I have personally done this in the past. Takes a lot of work, but it does work and it does create changes in the way our officials make policy.

    Make the banning policy seem archaic, which it is in any country, and show the press how unworkable it is. Its obvious that your government has no practical experience with technology and the internet so it will be really easy to make your government look like a bunch of religious idiots who get their banning ideas from some book writen 1800 years ago. We have some real idiots in the US government as well and as soon as you make them look like an idiot, changes take place. Politicians want money, power and quiet annomity and they cant have the third if the people are protesting in the streets.

    If you get enough local, and international press on your side you WILL win. Organize and protest. Oh, make sure its peaceful and you have all your permits if any are needed.

  36. NogginTheNog

    Why bother?

    What's so friggin' mind-bending or destablising to good ordinary folks in pictures of aborted foetuses anyway??

    I mean yeah it's not pretty, but well if you find them offensive them perhaps you should consider whether asking medical staff to perform them is as well... which I guess is exactly what the website is aiming for!

  37. Mark
    Black Helicopters

    Not blocked though

    I'm (unfortunately) on a telstra (the great BT satan equivalent) connection and could navigate to the site and page of the banned link.

    What's the point of issuing a take-down notice for a link if the country's largest ISP is still allowing you to visit the site? Nothing surprises me with this place any more.

  38. Anonymous Coward

    Sad day..

    I have to say this news brings home to me how far my countries government have fallen. I never liked Howard (did shake his hand once though) and Rudd is definitely an idiot, proven by this type of shite..

    I am seriously considering staying away for a few more years as i am reluctant to line the coffers of a government that are so obviuosly wrong. (I have to say i don't agree with the label of facist's though that may be a tad extreme...)

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Uh, dudes.

    Where did they publish a link to a link?

    They republished the original link in their article, which was duly squashed, and only later made a flippant suggestion that links to links might be contentious.

  40. Scott
    Dead Vulture

    @Scott by Scott

    Something a miss here i got your logon but i am in blighty not the US?

    Is there an Ozzie Scott around maybe a house or wife swap is in order?

  41. Luther Blissett

    Protecting the children, or not protecting the children?

    What could more clearly refute the claim that internet censorship is to protect children than pictures of the mangled remains of those who would be children.

    Why should information about abortion be proscribed by the government? Could it be that the reality of the various procedures are such that would make descriptions of abuse in child murder cases, and descriptions of animal cruelty, pale into insignificance? Find out, before Whacky Jacqui decides you should not know exactly what goes on in this area of industrial-scale social engineering.

  42. Britt Johnston

    re: anywhere left with no corruption and stupidity?

    I heard that the non-state of Guantanamo is under new management.

  43. Pierre

    You got to love the name...

    "Bulletproof [Network] pulled the link."

    Time for a name change shirley?

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    It's really quite simple

    Any form of state or government censorship is wrong. Period.

  45. night troll


    ...we could send them Stazi Smith, Loon Broon and Plastic Blears. Then they woould have the complete set of nutters.

  46. garbo

    @Sad Day

    Shook Little Johnnie's hand? Didn't the rabies shots hurt? As for the label "Fascist Oz" , it's appropriate given the way Big Biz dictates govt policy. Fascists don't need to ban McDonalds or Footie or TV. In fact, they support any opiate of the people that keeps them hoodwinked while the big boys make off with the/your loot. Oz was already fascist when I left in the 70s & it's only got worse.

  47. Jeff

    Easy solution

    The AMCA pages must contain copies of takedown notices, which must contain details of the infringing links (or links to links etc).

    This means the AMCA is guilty of the same behaviour! So they should issue a takedown notice to themselves, which will contain an infringing link, which will necessitate a takedown notice....

  48. Tony


    so in effect they are making any site that published their banlist illegal too without having to specifically legislate for that.


  49. Scott

    Re: @Scott by Scott

    If you're refering to this Scott, Im located in the Great Lake State of Michigan. Wife swap you say? :) I dont have a wife but I do have a Golden Retreiver. I dont know if she would be open to that though... :)

  50. Wayland Sothcott
    Thumb Down

    Re: How about

    Well that's the link to the link that the articlke headline refers to.

    Anything that makes it possible for someone to find illegal content is illegal. If illegal is defined by 'what can get you for'. The Pirate Bay provides links not to websites but to torrents. It is a search engine and yet they got convicted and imprisoned. Google is different because they don't fight the authorities but work with them, China is a good example. YouTube is getting flack for not taking stuff down fast enough, that will change.

    The Web could change to be more like the Pirate Bay model. Instead of file downloads we could be hosting websites on our PCs that work by Bit Torrent or something similar. Obviously some of those websites would be the the search engines themselves. Everything multiply hosted and global.

    Unless the foundation of the Internet is changed then this will be what happens when filtering is added on the top.

    So what is the foundation of the Internet? TCP/IP, the IP stands for Internet Protocol, currently IPv4, we are jumping to IPv6 which will be a fundermental change to the foundation of the Internet.

  51. Jo Jackson


    Makes pretty good sense to me dude

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Ban the Reg

    You've done it now Reg.

    You said the banned words, and you shamelessly linked to sites - that link to other sites - that link to other sites - that might not be suitable for Australians.

    Its all over for Reg readers in the Southern Hemisphere now.


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