Since Friday’s Crikey story about the leaked blacklist — which Senator Stephen Conroy denied was the actual ACMA blacklist of banned Internet content — there have been further leaks. And two more Crikey stories.
Monday’s piece was Yet another ACMA internet blacklist springs a leak. I explain how the leak unfolded, and how Wikileaks published instructions for extracting the cunningly-named file
Websites_ACMA.txt from a certain brand of Internet filtering software — one of the Internet Industry Association’s Family Friendly Filters and one of those provided free to (a few) Australian families by the Howard government’s now-defunct NetAlert scheme.
I also run through Wikileak’s’s legal threats, and Senator Conroy’s latest spin — that the government never intended to block all of the ACMA blacklist, just the “Refused Classification” items. It’s a shame that doesn’t match a list of seven public statements about what’s planned to be blocked.
Tuesday’s was It certainly looks like the ACMA blacklist, eh Senator Conroy?. There’s further evidence that the most recent leaked list is, almost certainly, the actual ACMA blacklist. I also look at Senator Nick Minchin’s daft attempt to portray Conroy as Big Brother over a perfectly ordinary-looking government tender for media monitoring service.
Last night Sydney radio station 2SER‘s science program Diffusion broadcast an interview with me about the Australian government’s plans for Internet censorship. It’s available as a podcast and MP3 download.
Mark Newton, the network engineer who Senator Conroy’s office tried to bully, has written to his local member Kate Ellis MP detailing his criticism of both the Internet censorship plans and Conroy’s behaviour — and calling for a detailed response.
The PDF of the full letter has all the references, but I’ve reproduced the main text below — verbatim, except for minor changes to suit my own typographical and linking preferences.
One important figure which was “hidden” in a footnote….
When translated into the network traffic handled by a medium-sized ISP, the 3% false-positive rate of the most accurate filter tested corresponds to more than 3000 “bad blocks” per second.
Imagine the bureaucracy you’d need to undo all that damage to legitimate Internet traffic!
Imagine if your business or your family’s holiday photos were being blocked and you had to “prove” to the government that you’re not a child pornographer — because that’s how Senator Conroy is characterising you!
Here then, The Letter… it had been released into the public domain, so spread it wide! (So to speak. Sorry, Senators.)
Continue reading “Dear Ms Kate Ellis, MP…”
[This article was first published in Crikey yesterday. I’ve added some follow-up comments at the end.]
Let’s sing along with Senator Conroy! You’ve got to accentuate the positive / Eliminate the negative / Latch on to the affirmative…
[On Monday] our Minister for Broadband was “encouraged” that lab tests of ISP-level Internet filters showed “significant progress” since 2005, and The Australian had him declaring the trial a success. But if you actually dig into the full report [2.8MB PDF] things aren’t so rosy.
Yes, on average filters might be more accurate than three years ago and have less impact on Internet speeds — well, at least for the six filters actually tested of the 26 put forward. But it’s about them being not quite as crap as before.
Continue reading “Crikey: Internet filters a success, if success = failure”
Yesterday I heard that the Enex TestLab report on the Australia’s Internet filtering trial has been delivered on schedule.
A spokesman for the minister, Senator Stephen Conroy, confirmed that saying, “I can confirm that the Australian Communications and Media Authority has provided the Minister with a report on its trial of internet filtering technologies. The Government will consider the report and comment in due course.”
So, will the report be released?
Yesterday I suggested, “It’s a govt report. If results are what’s needed politically, we’ll get a summary. If not, we’ll never hear anything again… This is called responsible government, and what Kevin Rudd thinks is a new era of transparency and evidence-based policy. Bah!”
That is all… for now.
Internet lobby group Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) has expressed “disappointment” at the government’s decision to fund the “clean feed” Internet plan in this week’s budget. They’ve also launched a campaign website at nocleanfeed.com.
“At a time when the Government is cutting services to fight inflation, it’s bewildering that they would decide to spend tens of millions of taxpayer dollars on a filter before feasibility trials are even complete,” said EFA spokesman Colin Jacobs…
“Australians are very uncomfortable with the idea of having the Government decide what’s appropriate for them and their families,” said Jacobs. “In fact, in a survey of 18,000 Internet users, only 13% agreed with the policy. That’s why we feel it is a shame, when the Government has identified real needs for better education and policing, that their approach to Internet policy is so skewed towards the filter initiative. There are greater risks to Australian children online, and real steps can be taken to mitigate these risks. That’s where the funding should be going.”
Unfortunately EFA made a fundamental mistake which could allow critics to dismiss their arguments. They talk about the Cyber-safety Plan costing $24.3m this financial year and rising to $51.4m next. However only part of this is for Internet filtering. There’s also things which critics could say EFA would support: AFP investigations and plenty of education programs.