Links for 25 February 2009 through 01 March 2009

Stilgherrian’s links for 25 February 2009 through 02 March 2009, gathered with gin and joy.

  • Information Commissioner Richard Thomas warns of surveillance culture | Times Online: Laws that allow officials to monitor the behaviour of millions of Britons risk “hardwiring surveillance” into the British way of life, the country’s privacy watchdog has warned.
  • Porn in the USA: Conservatives are biggest consumers | New Scientist: “Some of the people who are most outraged turn out to be consumers of the very things they claimed to be outraged by,” says researcher Benjamin Edelman.
  • Chatham House Rule | Wikipedia: A rule for running a meeting where people can speak freely but their confidentiality is respected. The rule itself is: “When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.” The Wikipedia article gives the background.
  • Australian Internet Filtering Debate at Kickstart 2009 | Midnight Update: A video of the Internet Filtering debate at Kickstart 09 from the weekend, including Bernadette McMenamin from Child Wise, Anthony Pillion from Webshield, Geordie Guy from EFA, and Mark Newton. I’ll write more upon this later, maybe.
  • Internet Study 2007 | ipoque: A report on the impact of peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing, Voice over IP, Skype, Joost, instant messaging, media streaming such as YouTube, from a traffic point of view.

Conroy announces filter-trial ISPs and clams shut

Crikey logo

I’m in Crikey today, looking at Senator Conroy’s announcement from last week of the first six ISPs to be taking part in the Internet “filtering” trials: Primus Telecommunications (iPrimus), Tech 2U, Webshield, OMNIconnect, Highway 1 and Netforce.

One of the questions I ask is: Why is there further mission creep?

Labor’s pre-election policy said: “A Rudd Labor Government will require ISPs to offer a ‘clean feed’ internet service to all homes, schools and public internet points accessible by children, such as public libraries.” Apart from pointing out again that “offer” isn’t the same as “require everyone to use”, the policy doesn’t mention business premises. Yet three of the ISPs (Highway 1, OMNIconnect and Netforce) are business-only ISPs.

As network engineer Mark Newton says, “If the Government is scope-creeping its plan to include business, I think it has some explaining to do.”

The article isn’t behind the paywall so it’s free to read.

Is Internet filtering inevitable?

I’ve written previously that the Federal Budget sort of explained what’ll be happening with Internet filtering. Now that Senator Conroy has announced his Cyber-Safety Consultative Working Group I’m not so sure.

As Michael Meloni says over at Somebody Think of the Children:

When you consider people like Anthony Pillion, manager of filtered Australian ISP Webshield, and Child Wise CEO Bernadette McMenamin are on board, the odds of mandatory filtering being found a good solution are disappointingly high.

Pillion has a business interest and for McMenamin the gesture alone of protecting children is better then doing nothing, even if it has no chance of working. Here’s part of her letter to Stilgherrian:

If filtering of child pornography cannot work then why is there so much anger, fear and resentment to any attempt to block child pornography and other illegal sites?


Thankfully, the group does contain at least two people opposed to mandatory filtering: Sue Hutley from the Australian Library and Information Association (who asked Conroy questions about his plan that we all want answered and is opposed to filtering in public libraries) and Peter Coroneos from the IIA.

I’ve written plenty about censorship before. so while I’m busy at CeBIT‘s Transaction 2.0 today, feel free to discuss this amongst yourselves. Play nice. I’ll ponder it in more detail later.