Internet Censorship Bill introduced

A new bill introduced into the Senate is to introduce powers to the Federal Police Commissioner to allow censorship of terrorism and cyber crimes.

The ACMA would hold the power to administer the block lists, the Federal Police Commissioner the power to decide what is blocked, and the responsibility for blocking would fall on the ISPs, which would be an unwelcome burden to the ISPs all over for installing filtering capable of this, without affecting user experiences.

So, the change would require ISPs to filter content, this means fitering all requests through a filtering server, which has the side effect of reducing speed available to connections.

I see no issues with blocking such content really, the content is of criminal or terrorism nature, but a valid point with regard to Greenpeace was raised, which highlights Greenpeace as being accused of criminal actions.. Such a website being blocked might have counter reactions.

I guess we would need to be positive that the filtering would be ONLY on the websites that are of a specific nature that no one in Australia should be viewing anyway.

I’m saying we should allow for the content that might be of a questionable nature, sure, but we should be more “precise” in what is being blocked, and not try to use wildcard style filtering which could block sites that are inappropriate.

I think a list of < 100 sites that shouldn't be visited by any Australian under any circumstances is "valid", but the line is drawn at the censorship of sites that might even be extremely questionable. Who are we to say what a user does with a connection to the internet? Concise filtering is good, because the list would be small, and any flaws in the list would be identified easily. Wildcard filtering for child porn, etc, might not be OK, though it is illegal, I think using wildcards tend to get a few false positives. I found myself unable to browse Whirlpool forums at a NSW TAFE, due to a block put in place. Considering I was studying and researching IT, I felt the ban on such a website.. STUPID, and just highlights how wrong a regexp or wildcard filter can be. I think filtering might not be the answer entirely however, as in a strict model, you wouldn't be scanning incoming content for questionable content, and instead would be scanning for the domain in the request, which is acceptable, but not fool proof, as you could use a proxy to bypass such a filter. So, the ultimate job is obviously going to come down to not filtering internet content, as such a move would see false positives blocked (they DO happen), besides the also mentioned conflict of interest, if the Federal Police Commissioner doesn't like a website, or the government doesn't like a website, they could of course choose to censor it, the same applies to a political website. The filtering bill shouldn't go forward on that basis, as the internet is a interconnection of networks, the user chooses what they look at. I'm all supporting a move to restrict content that no Australian should be viewing, in the interests of reducing crime, sure, but in the interests of the freedom of the internet, I think it will be a bad move. In similar news however, the content filter "NetAlert" will be extended into Medicare, Centrelink, Child Support and the ATO. The goal is obviously to create more awareness of the filter, and the obvious is perhaps they didn't get enough users of the program, and want to make sure everyone knows about it? I don't see myself installing a filter provided by the government, simply because if I want something restricted, I'll restrict the remote IP, and if that's not doing the trick, I'll restrict the local IP - problem solved, though the user tends to be disappointed at not having any IP access, but obviously with reason the restriction is there. Actually, such a move might be best being applied with filtering here too, where if someone was found to be accessing content that no one should (the ISP can track that by referencing IPs accessed, and if the IP is in the list, flag the request for review), the result could be better as it would identify the access, and create a shortlist of those who have tried to access such content. Don't kid yourselves, ISPs have full logs of IP port access, so they know already what you access.


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