back to article The Great Aussie Firewall is dead: Long live the firewall

The Australian government announced new laws today – or yesterday in local time – that will force all Australia-based ISP’s to block dodgy material entering the country from overseas, or face swingeing penalties if they fail to do so. The announcement came in an official statement from the Department of Communications which …


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  1. Subban

    A new sport...

    Paste the Goatse ascii in IRC and watch all the Aussies ping out :]]

  2. Defiant

    Block all propaganda then

    "to block dodgy material entering the country from overseas"

    Hope they've blocked the BBC than

  3. The Original Ash

    Oh no!

    Blocking of drug use! Did you know that cannabis can be smoked with tobacco rolled within a cigarette rolling paper? That's El Reg gone from Ausland.

    By the way, tell Dare ( ) they're no longer welcome in Australia.


  4. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. The Original Ash


      Then they plugged the patch lead back in and let a 13 year old at it.

      I hear he went to and turned SafeSearch off.

  5. DJV Silver badge

    Remind me...

    Remind me not to go live in Australia then. It must be terrible having the government deciding what you can and cannot view on teh internets, and have them easvedropping on your surfing habits. Not like the free and open society we have in the UK.

    ...oh wait

    1. Scott 19

      US of A

      The biggest threat to them in power is the free exchange of information and the internet doesn't help them in this, they need to take control again before everyone becomes to well informed. The UK is trying with BPI but the Ozzys are going one better and just blocking everything along the lines of China and Iran. Our American cousins seem to be lagging behind this but with kids shooting each other in school the 'think of the children' brigade may not sound as loud.

      Who would of guessed owning a gun would help with freedom of speach?

  6. Bunglebear
    Thumb Down


    And how do the ISPs feel about all this? A great deal of burden is on their shoulders. And it wouldn't surprise me, using the UK government as an example, if the definition of RC material starts to slip with future governments, leading to the blocking of political or run of the mill pornographic sites. Very worrying indeed.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Just a little revolution between friends

    It's been covered many times before that Conroy is a complete f***wit, and really not very bright at all. Unfortunately, on this issue, he has the backing of the PM and many of his Parliamentary coleagues ... but not the backing of the people. He *claims* that he has a popular mandate to introduce filtering, but at the last election most voters were oblivious to that policy and those who were aware, though it would be voluntary (as surveys showed later). But Conroy and his mates will use that ploy again: there'll likely be an election in August 2010, and the current Opposition are utterly unelectable, so Labor will be returned. The proposed legislation will be introduced in the first half of 2010 - Labor will take it to the election, win on other issues, then claim another (fictional) popular mandate! Am I the only one sick and tired of these shenanigans?

    There were some television advertisements some years ago (over here) congratulating Australians on the Centenary of Federation, ostensibly for having a country that had been formed by a simple Act of Parliament rather than a revolution. I think I'm beginning to see what happens in a country where the rights and liberties of its citizens have never been fought over: the "leaders" view whatever they "give" to the people as a something for which we should all be thankful.

    At this point, I'm really left wondering whether what we really need isn't another election, but a revolution instead.

    1. Luther Blissett


      Do you think Labour can succeed in removing both Australians' bread (viz, the climate change tax) AND their circuses (viz, internet infotainment) - at the same time? Are they madder than a box of frogs?

      1. LaeMi Qian

        A lot of us Ausies feel

        that we are in an effective one-party system these days. Even if the opposition wasn't a joke recently, the policy differences between the two major parties have largely come down to details of rhetoric for several terms now.

        But it is, in the end, our own fault for letting it get that way.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      erm, small problem here....

      Didn't the overly protective government take all your guns to protect themselves from you?

      1. Winkypop Silver badge

        Errr not quite

        Forget all the red-neck NRA propaganda you may have read son.

        The vast majority of Aussies, 95%+ (a guess), never wanted nor needed a gun in the first place.

        As for Internet freedom, well that's another thing altogether !!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Big Brother


          Son? I'm probably older than you. And who said anything about guns, Mr Presumption?

          Nevermind, you can nominate to be second against the wall if you prefer ... but first spot is taken (Conroy).

    3. Goat Jam

      Where do I sign up?

      The post is required, and must contain letters.

      Here are the required letters;


  8. Jeremy 2
    Jobs Horns


    The BBC's reporting of this story (here: ) makes for interesting reading. In particular this bit:

    "A seven month trial in conjunction with internet service providers found the technology behind the filter to be 100% effective."

    Oh really? So it blocks access to the naughty sites consistently and accurately without any failures, false positives or loopholes? Riiiiiiiiiiight....

    So glad I'm not an Aussie ISP customer right now... Evil Jobs used in lieu of an Evil Conroy icon.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    Are they banning..

    good taste and culture, as that's offensive to most Australians

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So Conroy wants the sites to stay online?

    So to be clear, instead of wanting the sites taken down, which is quite easy since it's illegal everywhere in the world. Instead of this Conroy wants the sites to remain online, and just for Australian public to block it.

    This Stephen Conroy, from the Australian Labor Party?


    1. Pablo
      Thumb Down

      But that's just it

      Most of the content they want blocked ISN'T illegal everywhere in the world. It includes gabling sites, games that would be rated 18 in the UK, and their own version of extreme porn. And even when it comes to "child abuse", their definition includes acrobatic Russian circus babies and naughty drawings of Bart Simpson.

  11. Paw Bokenfohr

    it's almost like it's The Ashes of stupidity...

    ...which is worse? Australian gubbermint trying to shield Auzzies from bad thought, or British gubbermint trying to shield Brits from terror-photographers?

    Aaaargh. Why are politicians so stupid!?!?!

    I guess the answer is that we all get the government that we deserve, isn't it? Dammit. It's all our own stupid fault.

  12. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

    they should go further

    ... and ban images of torture, too.

    Oh wait, that would mean that crucifixes would be out. Ah well, can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      But on the bright side...

      ... at least we wouldn't have been allowed to see all the photographs of what they were doing at Abu Ghraib and Bhagram. Hey, with just a little luck, we might never have found out at all.

      Wouldn't that have been convenient. No need for Mr. Justice Eady any more, just throw a few more URLs into the filter.

    2. LaeMi Qian
      Thumb Up

      The old Testament

      already fails RC on numerous counts - child abuse, terrorist acts, etc.

      The New Testament is probably safe - for now. Until Jesus' particular brand of communism (yes it is, by any reasonable definition - go read it) is deemed anti-establishment (that is largely why the Romans staked him out in the desert to die* in the first place).

      *Rome didn't use crucification as a method of execution until a good time after that particular Judea-based political discenter was publicly executed. But that just happens to be about when the passed-down oral histories made it to paper (the idea that fishermen and shepherds were actually book-writing literate in 1AD is rather amusing too, but some out there will believe anything if it saves them the effort of having to think?)

  13. Scott 19

    Bye my Ozzy friends

    Once El Reg's play mobile re-enactments get rated its bye-bye Oz.

    The real test will be proxy's, what will be the buisness case to block these as i'm going to assume they will be pretty quick.

  14. Juiceman
    Big Brother

    Welcome to the underground down under

    This is why software like Freenet is going to be crucial in the coming years. It is not a proxy like TOR, but allows access to material found objectionable by some (which will be decided by the lowest common denominator. That is where these bans head.) The material cannot be taken down and access is anonymous.

    It's a good think the Amish don't use the Internet. ;-)

  15. John 204

    Throw another pr0n on the barbie?

    I'm sure the hairier palmed expats will be looking up proxies as we speak :-)

  16. asdf

    religious window lickers

    I swear why is it most religions in the world refuse to allow adults to be adults? Fear of freedom and need for control two of the ugliest aspects of human behavior. Trust that most people have internal ethics and nail those that don't instead of blanket controlling everyone. Ever noticed the biggest holier than thou types are usually the ones caught doing meth and engaging in gay orgys? Basically the religious right is all about enforcing morals on everyone but themselves and the rich.

    1. LaeMi Qian

      If you were living high on a monopoly on morals and ethics,

      with all the choir-boys/lonely-housewife-parishioners you could poke... um..., wouldn't you fight to protect the status quo? If the MPAA/RIAA think they are doing anything new they are deluded.

  17. Combat Wombat


    With the change in leadership on the liberal (who are not) party, I can see this PoS bill getting through. The libs want the filter in place as bad as labour

    The leader of the libs is an outspokem Catholic, and once trained to be a priest.

    I am in the process of setting up a proxy box for my mates back home, so they can porn surf free of government snooping.

    The guidelines that Conroy has published are so vauge, that anything can be blocked on a whim.

    As dirty as it makes me feel, I will be voting for the greens next election..

  18. Daemon ZOGG

    "...Long live the firewall?"

    Once the filtering is in place.. "Stage two" will consist of rows of barbed-wire with automated guard towers on the shorelines. "stage three"... All residents must install iron bars on their doors and windows to keep out the corruption of western influence. Australia was originally a PRISON COLONY. RIGHT?!

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Barbed wire and guard towers?

      We already have seas filled with sharks, crocs and stingers. It's time to build a canal from the ocean to Canberra.

  19. Joe M

    I told you so...

    Some time ago I posted that this unspeakably sorry excuse for a government is going to introduce net filtering come what may. I was correct - unfortunately.

    Our British readers may be interested to know that our buffoon minister for communications, Comrade Conroy, is an import from your own fair land. On balance it would have been far better if you had kept him for yourselves. He would have been able to do all his damage over there allied with your Anthony (aka Tony the Liar) Blair and New Labour. No one would have noticed yet another leftie totalitarian boofhead running amuck trying to take over people's lives.

    And I apologise again; mea culpa, I voted for this lot.

    1. Ian 54

      so is it true...

      ...that when Conroy moved from the UK to Oz the average IQ of both countries rose slightly?

      Ah, British imperialism - we may not have an Empire any longer, but we can still export idiots to senior positions in other countries better than anyone else.

  20. cphi

    and Conroy's a bloody pom!

    just to add insult to injury :)

  21. A B 3

    The actual promise was

    The actual promise was to create a free net nanny program to download, not ISP level filtering. Talk about sugar coating for parents.

    I like the former PM (John Howard) he actually did wait till elections to introduce major policy. This current government has gone on a spending crusade of it's own choosing. They are into their education revolution and nationwide broadband while everything else goes wanting.

  22. Mark Simon

    Missing the Point

    Not for the first time there was a recent report of child abuse which the local authorities neglected to address despite the usual warnings. Rather than fooling around with Internet censorship, a little more effort in dealing with the real problem would be appreciated.

    But then this government has always been more about mind control than about serving the people.

  23. Cameron Watt

    The report is bogus

    FYI, this is the same Conroy that is trying to build a nation wide 100mbps fibre to the premises network in Australia. Remember that when they talk about negligible (defined as < 10%) speed reduction.

    The testing requirements were to test filtering on Internet connection speeds of 56kbps (dialup) to 12mbps. While planning the rollout of the nations biggest infrastructure project, 100mbps FTTP!

    But it gets better, if you read the report available (when the government server isn't lurching under high load) from you might note that none of the "speed" test were conducted above 8mbps! WTF?

    They didn't even test the upper of what the testing framework required, let alone mid-high speed ADSL2+ speeds. They didn't test at 100mbps either, the FTTP project will cost up to $42 Billion yet Conroy is happy with the testing they conducted at <8mbps.

    Conroy is claiming 100% accuracy of blocking, this is bullshit. It is similar to asking a child to spell a word written down in front of them a declaring them a perfect speller when they don't make a mistake.

    The report on considers the technical aspects of blocking, does it block what is on the list. We have had various websites on the list due to errors in the way the list are administered, an animal boarding kennel site, a dentist's site, an photographers fan site to name a few. The technical testing do not reflect that.

    What is also overlooked is a number of the test participants couldn't even load the full list into the filters required to be tested. The testing of these filters did not begin until the filter vendors patched their product. So it is devious to claim 100% block rate when the testing didn't begin until they could finally load the full list.

    The other interesting point from the report shows they could only block between 3/37 to 6/37 circumvention attempts for the mandatory filter. That is dismal, the filtering report also states that the test participants were notified and encouraged to reconfigure the filters before the circumventions test were undertaken.

    You will bypass the mandatory filter simply by using https if available.

    The biggest concern is money is being thrown at this half witted policy while Australian police and prosecutors are saying they don't have the resources to pursue all criminal prosecutions of people producing and consuming child pornography. It is fucking wrong!

    PS: You can you please take Conroy back, we do not want him any more... please?

  24. JP19

    "100% successful trial"

    What they fail to mention is that virtually all ISPs refused to take part in that trial and that even for the ISPs that did take part, individual user participation was voluntary - did they really expect paedophiles to sign up for such a trial??? All they really discovered was that god-bothering 90 year old grandmothers rarely download kiddie porn and terrorist manuals...

  25. Steve Roper

    OK, stop a minute here

    I also read news articles on media sites here in Australia, and one thing is that this has NOT yet been passed by the Senate. It's been introduced as a bill before the Senate, having been knocked down once before. Conroy being the would-be dictator that he is, is talking it up big like it's a done deal, and the media of course have picked it up and hyped it even more. But since it's still just a bill, and won't be debated until the new year, it's NOT yet signed and sealed.

    With a lot of independents and Greens in the Senate who are opposed to this censorship, chances are it'll be knocked back again, thus triggering a double-dissolution election.

    This is where the shit will hit the fan. As someone pointed out above, the Liberals are unelectable, meaning that Labor will likely now gain a majority in both Upper and Lower Houses. THEN we'll see this bullshit pass.

    I know it's going to happen eventually, which is why I'm in the process of developing a server-side page relay system in PHP which will allow me to bypass it. Stay tuned for details.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Double Dissolution Trigger?


      I am not sure what you are talking about. Conroy's cronies are yet to write the legislative amendments that will be required for this. The government already have a DD trigger over the ETS bill. They don't need this as a trigger at all.


  26. Tony Paulazzo

    This has happened before

    What was the first sin? disobedience (search for knowledge)

    The second, lust for power (control)

    The third, murder (destruction of a human being)

    What games are our children allowed to play? (even in that great southern land where Fallout 3 was allowed past the censor when they changed the ingame drug Morphine to a pretend name), murder, death dealing and warfare.

    What is forbidden to children and controlled for adults? human sexuality in its myriad and beautiful forms.

    The best form of psychological warfare and control? divide and conquer, repression thru guilt, surveillance with threat.

    freedom defined is freedom denied. - 'some one'

    China - The great firewall

    Great Britain - 3 strikes and IWF

    France - 3 strikes

    Australia - IWF Enhanced

    USA - $30 Billion government handout to the MAFIAA to combat 'piracy' (wonder how many starving children that would've fed?)

    The world may be getting smaller, but human stupidity is growing in leaps and bounds.

    Smiley because; 'it's always darkest before dawn' - 'some one else'

  27. Head
    Thumb Down


    It's got to get past the senate yet... thank the maker they are sensible, and should refuse it immediately.

  28. Me Meeson
    Big Brother

    All Reg Readers please email Stephen Conroy

    Hi Peoples,

    As an Australian I appreciate the amount of intelligence and disbelief the rest of the world has to this draconic policy.

    Can I please ask all of you (Aussie or not) to contact (Stephen Conroy's email) and tell him he's a grade-A arse-clown? He might listen to the rest of the world. Australian politicians never listen to Australians.

    Thanks ;-)


  29. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Poll results are crystal clear

    The SMH poll tells the story of what Australians really think about Internet censorship:

    With neary 12,000 votes (at the time of posting) 95% are opposed to net filtering. 95% !! That's unmistakable.

  30. night troll

    We do not want Conroy back...

    ... thank you very much. You have a nice big desert, go set him free in that so he can convert the lizards to his new Stalinist form of comunist oppression.

  31. magnetik


    "violence or drug use"

    Surely that means no footage of rugby or fans drinking beer.

    1. Ian 54

      Rugby isn't considered violent... the country that invented aussie-rules football

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