The Great Firewall of Australia

Tags: Government Stupidity, Internet Filtering, Great Firewall of Australia

Note: Blunt opinion follows. These are not necessarily the views of my employers, past, present or future.

In recent times Australia has been blessed cursed with a series of clueless, idiotic communications ministers each seemingly more ill-informed than the last.

The most recent addition to this list of incompetents is one Hon Stephen Conroy, our Minister for Communications, Broadband and the Digital Economy. One would think that the view on Ministerial function espoused by Yes, Minister would be over the top and exaggerated, yet it appears that this particular Minister is truly hell bent on destroying Communications, Broadband and the Digital Economy in Australia.

His most recent attack of anti-Broadband sentiment brings us the Great Firewall of Australia. Ostensibly a list of "bad sites" that is available for Australians to use to protect themselves and their children from viewing illegal content (think of the children!) it turns out to be a pair of black lists (think of the children!). The first (think of the children!) is a listing of sites not suitable for, you guessed it, children (think of the children!), while the second is apparently "Illegal stuff" (oh PLEASE won't you think of the children!). I say apparently because there is currently no discussion about:

  • What is on the list - will web-based mail services be blocked because you might receive adult spam?;
  • How to get things on the list;
  • How to get things off the list;
  • How granular the list is - will, a web hosting site, be entirely blocked because contains instructions on making explosives?;
  • How long until the lists are exploited for political gain (I estimate about 1.2 seconds before the sites of any anti-clean-feed campaigners are blocked as "illegal")

The press release summarises the report but there is of course no detail about what will actually be tested in the ISP trials.

If you're an Australian citizen, and you want to register a dissenting opinion on this, I'd suggest following the lead of the people at No Clean Feed.

If you're for the mandatory clean feed (think of the children!) there's little hope for you.

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