back to article The great Aussie firewall is back - and this time it's personal

Internet censorship in Australia is once more on a roll, with more online content than ever coming up for a ban. It seems the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, deciding that the great firewall was neither a political nor a technical issue, but a moral one. First off, according to a report this week in The Australian, the amount …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Yeah right

    "The AFP has confirmed that they do not foresee any significant operational issues posed by filtering"

    Of course they don't.

    Then again they probably wouldn't foresee any significant operational issues posed by hiring BoFH and PFY...

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Lucky country...

    Not at the moment, I think, unless you're a staunch fan of unworkable moral jihads.

    1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

      And workable ones?

      Yes, they do exist! Personally I choose to not make use of a wide variety of things because I have a moral objection to them. That's my own very workable moral crusade. I do wish more people were like me, but when I try and explain why I personally don't like something I get accused of being out to ban it, which is silly, and prevents others from hearing what I have to say.

      That being: don't be silly. It's a personal choice, and we should all make personal choices instead of encouraging our "leaders" to believe that they have the authority to ban stuff.

      The mistake people make when they hear something like this firewall plan is to automatically assume it's those damn christians behind it (yes this is the point I was coming to) when most christians couldn't give a tinker's cuss what you're doing on the internet. The urge to ban things isn't a uniquely religious one and, over the course of history, has been practised equally by every sort of religious and political movement - especially those with a more authoritarian bent. That the current Australian PM wants to ban things isn't a sign of nascent christianism, but simply a revelation of the fact that she's a control freak who would rather dispense with anything that gets in the way of her own personal vision of how the world works. In fact I'd go as far as to say her attitude and vision is anti-christian, given that banning is judgement, and we are commanded "judge not lest ye be judged" and told that we should take care of the huge dirty great lump of our own spiritual and moral failings before trying to involve ourselves in the speck of dust that is someone else's "immoral behaviour".

      What I'm trying to say is, she's being silly.

      1. c0rruptd

        I see your argument and raise you the ACL.

        I would love for you to remind the Australian Christian Lobby of the whole "judge not lest ye be judged" part of Christianisty. Between them and a few of the more religiously-inclined MP's, they are happy to hurl judgement down upon the filthy heads of the unwashed masses (ie. the rest of the Australian public) like they had nothing better to do between now and the End Times.

        On a lighter tone, for a few (or more likely, many) laughs, go have a look at the ACL's website... =P

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        That said

        The religious do (in my own experience) have a tendency to ignore whatever their preferred book of dos/donts says, judge away to their hearts content and try to stuff their personal morality down the throats of others with a zealousness that would definitely be better employed elsewhere.

        Also quite silly.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      RE: The Lucky country.

      Australians are so media fed we have been brought up beliving that "Australia is a lucky country"

      NOT that "Australia is a lucky country, run by second-rate people who share its luck"

      Since hearing an interview with Donald Horne, I can't stand that reference. It's too bloody true!

      Moral jihads are illegal in Australia, you could say we have a moral jihad against them.

      Very Orwellian

      P.S. Big Brother does NOT exist in Australia. Its ratings went down the tube, suffered from the censors and got canned.

  3. Tron

    Politicians stand firm beside Canute.

    Those Aussie beaches are immoral. All that bare flesh. Why it's no better than people wandering about in their undies.

    Ban swimwear and make them all wear coats.

    1. John G Imrie


      I wish people would get this right. He did not think he could hold back the tide it was his sycophantic advisers.

      So to show them they were wrong he had his throne taken to the beach and bid his advises sit on the sand while he sat on his throne.

      His throne being somewhat on the tall side kept *his* head above water, while his advisers, who where sat on the sand ... er didn't

  4. alien anthropologist

    No sex please... we are Australians.

    Sex only allowed between married couples that have acquired the required licensing and documentation for doing it in bed for the sole purpose of pro-creation. (and you better no enjoy it either!)

    <breaking out in song>

    Every sperm is sacred.

    Every sperm is great.

    If a sperm is wasted,

    God gets quite irate.

  5. The Fuzzy Wotnot

    Dear Julia...

    I don't like it and/or it's illegal, so I keep away from it.

    I do like it and it's not going to offend or hurt anyone else, so I partake in it.

    There, it's that simple. It's called "thinking for yourself". It's quite easy actually, if you have sensible parents and teachers who encourage you to use your brain, implant good morals and a healthy dose of common sense.

    You see Julia, some people do not need to mothered, some do and there are special clubs for people who enjoy that sort of thing, but most of us free thinking and sensible adults are quite good at this "thinking for ourselves", and the rules on legality are quite adequate to cover stuff we should avoid.

    Thanks for all the hard work but please just fuck off and find something more worthwhile to do with your time like, hmmm oh yes, governing your country might be a start!

  6. Andy ORourke

    Look at the numbers though

    I mean given the size of the "Internet" these figures show a few hundred banned URL's (OK, 1400 odd)

    Is it worth it, seriously?

    1. Galidron
      Thumb Up


      People like to bandy about numbers like that but they are meaningless if you don't provide context. 1500 out of 2000 is quite a lot but 1500 out of 200 million isn't really much.

  7. Michael Hawkes
    Black Helicopters

    Moral? Don't think so.

    The Great Firewall of Oz isn't a moral issue at all. It's politics. They want to look like they're doing something productive, but it's really about pandering to voters.

    On the other hand, I think "Banned in Australia" would be a great way to generate publicity for a website. Sort of like films that got banned in different places. "Visit the website so controversial it was banned in Australia."

    1. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD

      You're probably right.


      But... Hmm... we should probably warn everyone they're wasting taxpayer $$$'s on this.

      Anyone here NOT agree that its a waste of money?

      1. T J
        Big Brother

        Yes its a waste of money (tho thats not the issue)

        Yes its a shocking waste of time and money.

        Of course, like the slowdown issue, or the web-only issue, thats NOT the issue.

        its a straight out human rights issue and the government should just rack off back to its little corner. Its got NOTHING to do with them. Nor does it have anything to do with the spooks, they will continue to ply their trade as they have always done by any means.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    What's the Aussie Government afraid of?

    Why is any government afraid of freedom of speech? Oh yea. You can't stifle your political opposition if you actually allow Freedom of Speech. If you don't allow free speech using the guise of protecting the population from obscenity and "hate speech" as the smoke screen, then you can define anything you want as out of bounds.

    Maybe some day, Aussies, the EU and a few others will become true democracies, instead of just facades.

    1. Mark 65

      Re:What's the Aussie Government afraid of?

      The 21st century.

      The dark ages called, they want their era back.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Why don't they just ban the Internet?

    Given how fast the list of banned URIs has been growing, the effect might be quite similar - yet much cheaper for the Australian tax payers.

  10. Scott 19

    Time will tell

    If this tool is mis-used for political/financal reasons by the Ozzy Guberment.

    My guess would be redirecting URL's to Guberment sanctioned web sites is next.

    Hey as long as the tax payers paying for it these politico's will do anything they like.

  11. Bryce 2
    Black Helicopters


    I didn't realize that it was the government's job to decide people's morals for them.

    1. Graham Marsden


      Erm, did Blair and Brown's regimes pass you by...?

  12. Greg D


    I think removing people's right to free speech and freedom to think for themselves is more immoral than any of the websites they are blocking.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    News reporting: The opium of the people?

    "context of genuine news reportage mitigates the impact of the violence"

    So a head on a stick on an ordinary website is bad, but a head on a stick surrounded by journo-pap is OK?

    Does this mean an article reporting - in detail - the plot of Enzai (which is more an interactive graphical novel than a game per se) on a 'serious' news site would be OK and not subject to censure?

  14. Winkypop Silver badge


    Don't make me vote Liberal !!!

    Please !!!

    1. Pablo
      Paris Hilton

      Why would you?

      You can vote Sex Party. (Or--from what understand--both, if you wish.)

    2. c0rruptd


      Or, heaven forbid it, the Greens!!!

      We beg of you, anything but that!!!

    3. T J

      Well vote Greens then

      Why vote for the other half of the Blue Party?

      I mean seriously, what exactly is the difference between the ALP and Libs anymore, on any issue including this one? Thats right, come on, you can do it - NOTHING, that's right. NOTHING. Let me put it this way - The ALP has a right wing faction. I'll just repeat that in case the significance didn't sink in. THE ALP HAS A RIGHT WING FACTION. What the.....

      Just vote Greens. Its easy, since they are the only party left now. Or if you MUST make some kind of (Tired, boring.....oh god it makes me sleep just THINKING of the counter arguments) counter argument, vote for one of the whacko Independants. Xenephon is probably the least whacky. Go for it.

  15. RW
    Big Brother

    @ Tron

    Your comment isn't unrealistic. There was an amusing video clip (sorry, no URL at hand) of an interview with a withered, wrinkled old Ozzie fundie railing about just what you mention: skimpy swimsuits. Here he was standing by one of Oz's outstanding beaches full of sleek bodies barely concealed by a few shreds of Lycra, dressed in long pants, white shirt, and tie, blathering on and on. Too bad the interviewer didn't point out the truth: that old wrinkled dude just has a dirty mind. Instead of worrying that the sight of a pair of budgie smugglers may induce lustful thoughts in someone else's mind, maybe he'd do better to examine his own smarminess.

    The background story is that proportional representation has given a small fundie-based political party the balance of power, so the pols of the major parties suck up to the fundies with nonsense such as that under discussion. It makes one think much better of first-past-the-post systems.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Treat the net like the telly?

    OK let's go with that logic, so the government will stop the scams and spams on broadcast TV everyday? I cant believe this is the same government that is pushing for the NBN. How can they be so progressive in one respect and behave like puritans on another, one wonders but the idiocy of this country never ceases to amaze me, we keep voting for these twits if it's not the Coalitions ass-backwards policies then it's the Labor party's ass-backwards policies that screw us every term. Reap what you sow, we got the government we deserve.

    1. LaeMing

      Slipery slope of a see-saw

      I think the supermarket magazine rack might get a bit bare too! This slippery slope could be tipped in entirely the opposite direction to that which the government's corporate sponsors would like.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I'm not really a fan of gore and horror, but i am aware that there are quite a few films popular at the moment that depict what might called quite extreme violence (the Saw series?).

    So i am not sure how the cinema comparison holds up.

    1. LaeMing

      The main difference is

      that the film industry has a powerful lobby group and a lot of money behind it. Politicians know where their contributions come from if they know nothing else at all.

  18. D. M
    Big Brother

    As I predicted

    As soon as election was over, gov will try to slip the censorship in.

    The bad part is no one can stop it. Lib is just as determined as Labor. Green is the only creditable force against censorship, but they don't have the number.

  19. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
    Big Brother

    She has a point, but ...

    "It's unlawful and we believe it to be wrong. If we accept that, then it seems to me that the moral question is not changed by the medium that the images come through"

    That seems correct within a moral framework. Just because other countries have a different view of morality does not make them right and she wrong.

    The key is "If we accept that". That should be for society to decide not politicians nor anyone else claiming a mandate for a particular viewpoint.

    Ultimately it's about what's deemed acceptable in private regardless of what's acceptable in public and universally there's no easy line to draw. As Gillard and everyone else will note, we do not have a framework where 'anything goes' in private, we have 'democratic societies' which are majority / mob rule based.

  20. Zebulebu
    Big Brother


    "All URLs on the list are reviewed quarterly to check whether they are still pointing to prohibited, or potentially prohibited content"

    The last part of that sentence should give everyone (not just the conspiracy-nut theorists) chills.

    Big Brother because... well, it's obvious really, innit?

  21. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge


    Not to mention books.

    I came across this real slasher novel. Full of mutlilation of penises, wholseale murder of first born sons, child sacrifices.

    The sequel isn't as gruesome but does end with a naked snuff scene.

    1. Blofeld's Cat Silver badge


      Is this the series that starts off with a man and woman alone and naked in a garden, and ends in a Revelation?

      If so then I though the second part went downhill after the death of the hero - Right after he'd managed to make a few pieces of silver.

      It's the one with the scorch marks and a smell of brimstone.

  22. Graham Marsden

    "we believe it to be wrong"

    "So *YOU* aren't allowed to see it because *WE* don't trust you to behave like sensible adults.

    ("Us? Oh, we're morally pure, upright citizens, so we can make those judgments for you, Nanny knows best....")

  23. Scorchio!!

    Which political party was that again?

    Yes, it was the Australian variant of the Liebour party, was it not? These people like to tie everything up with a substantial bow of red tape, and lock it with sealing wax. One of the pre-election promises by both Tory and Liberal parties was to undo all of the horrendous, politically correct, wasteful, restricting, pointless and often unfair legislation.

    I do hope that both the UK and Australian labour parties are forced to take a back seat for many decades.

  24. btone

    the filter

    Just for clarification it doesn't really matter what the PM, or Conroy, or their miniscule moral consultants, the Australian Christian Lobby (run by an ex SAS trained killer, btw) want. The balance of power is held by the greens in our (elected as opposed to the Lords) upper house, and as they and the opposition will vote against the filter it will not be implemented. Nor will we have the current ISP based censorship that the faceless folks of the IWF impose on the UK.

  25. Adam 38

    No Sympathy For The Most Part

    50.12% of Australians chose to vote for the party that openly supports this censorship. I have no sympathy for them whatsoever as they brought it upon themselves. I feel sorry for the rest, though, who never agreed to this.

    And don't say you voted for them for their 'big issue' policies. Mainstream political parties are almost exactly the same in practice, they just spin their messages differently to get to their target voters. It's these little issues which you're voting for and the ones that you will actually see in practice.

    Give them an inch and they'll take a mile.

    RIP freedom in Australia.

    1. c0rruptd

      Damned if we did, damned if we didn't

      Unfortunately, you can scream 'the Aussies got the government they deserved' all you want, but that unfortunately doesn't change the reality that we were stuck with one party intent on censoring the internet (thanks to its religious faction leaders), and another party that as of yet hasn't made its stance clear, yet is lead by a man known as 'the Mad Monk' due to his religious affiliations...

      The only policy difference between the two was was one had big ears, and the other was just boring. =P

  26. JP19

    @ DM

    Did you really use "greens" and "credible" in the same sentence?

    Ha ha ha

    ha ha


  27. Ray Simard
    Thumb Down

    False security

    Consider also that parents who trust this travesty to protect their kids (the ones still young enough to need protection at all) from smut and the rest might well relax their own vigilance and thus make the possibility of undesirable exposure even greater. When it comes to kids not yet mature enough to make their own judgments, parents are still the only ones who can keep an eye on what they are looking at and make any reasonable judgments about what and where and what to do about it.

    Anyway, the real threat isn't butts and boobs; it's things like, for one prominent example, anonymous predators impersonating friends on chat and social networking sites. Unless I'm mistaken, this firewall doesn't address that problem at all.

    Considering how ineffective it will be anyway, you can bet that the not-quite-so-wee ones will soon be sharing salacious URLs on the sly, if only for the thrill of watching "banned" content. It will be about as effective as attempts to throttle P2P piracy, and much more expensive.

    I challenge the proponents of this thing to cite any two historical examples of any government or society trying successfully to protect its people from themselves without trampling on the most fundamental of their rights and freedoms.

  28. Charybdis

    This embarrasses all Aussies

    On behalf of Australia, I'd like to apologise for the stupidity of our politicians.

    The great Aussie firewall is a joke.

    It will not work the way the government wants it to.

    It will not work the way the lobbyists want it to

    It will not work the way normal Internet users want it to

    It will not work the way journalists and media want it to

    Why the %$#$@#! are we still debating this?! How many times do both reasonable public and technical experts need to tell the Government that their request is neither feasible nor warranted....

    To the rest of the world...look, we're really sorry. We're only a 222 year old country (109 if you count since Federation)...we'll grow up soon, I promise...

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    BigBrother is always watching

    Julia Gillard: "All your computers are belong to us" ..... unless you use a VPN ;-)

    Isn't it obvious that the worst perpetrators of whatever she thinks she is blocking are private societies whose websites if they have any are not accessible by law enforcement types? The only possible use of the filter is to block what is intended to be freely accessible information. Now what kind of freely accessible information would a government want to block its citizens from accessing?

    Well, if this were the US government, things like the Abu Ghraib mess.

    If this were the Iranian government, things like Facebook and Twitter.

    What use will the Australian government find for it in the future?

    As it has already been pointed out, parts of news services have already been blocked by use of the filter. So already it has been used to censor mass media. What's next? It's not like anybody got to vote on this issue...

  30. Aussie Brusader

    GiveAF*ckOMeter is twitching

    On one hand I wish them good luck with it as I know it won't work, they're banning the sites already anyway, right?

    On the other, I want them to put in writing that when it does fail to 'save us from evil', that they and the contracted companies will re-pay the costs.

    I won't hold my breath with regards to the second bit, even China can't stop information entering/exiting.

  31. A B 3

    How about...

    How about a campaign to throw black paint on the PM in a effort to censor her, or her car or all the labour party offices. The opposition haven't made any official commitment on a filter with some members opposing it in favour of free net nanny software.

  32. bugalugs

    titless uck

    When Ms G announced her take-over from Mr R amongst her first words were

    " I have taken control ".

    Despite the Orwellian gaffe, this observer " awarded " her an over-sized

    star-spangled wizard's hat and magic wand and has watched with interest

    ever since.

    The wizard's hat appears to be shrinking to a size a clown could use

    and the magic wand seems to be turning into a shillelagh...

    there is no escape

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