[LINK] Senate Standing Committee: NetAlert/Mandatory filtering updates

rene rene.lk at libertus.net
Wed Feb 20 22:02:20 EST 2008

On Tue, 19 Feb 2008 12:49:34 +1100, Stephen Wilson wrote:

> Can someone rewind please?
> While there has been loose talk from the government about blocking
> "inappropriate" content, AFAIK the only black-and-white commitment they
> have made is to block (or have blocked) the expressly banned URLs,
> listed by ACMA, of which there are on the order of 1000.

Their election policy fact sheet states: "The ACMA 'blacklist' will be made 
more comprehensive to ensure that children are protected from harmful and 
inappropriate online material." [page 2]

> This always struck me as leaving wriggle room, so they might have a
> baseline that was technically achievable, and leave open to
> interpretation just how inappropriate "inappropriate" would be (i.e.
> they could fall all the way back to that which is expressly banned).

What they have said, from 19 Nov 2007 when they issued their election "fact 
sheet" and at various other times, and an analysis of what it means and/or 
could mean, is now on this new page:

Australian Gov. Mandatory ISP Filtering/Censorship Plan

- "Labor's Plan for Cyber-safety" 
- The so-called "clean feed" service 
- The planned blacklist 
- ISP-server blocking methods
  -BT's and Telenor's Systems

That includes, in the blacklist sub-section, information about the meaning 
of words, in Australian law, that the Labor policy doc. and Conroy have 
been using when they refer to what will be filtered/blocked/on the 
blacklist. From that, one may conclude that either the Labor Government has 
not decided what type and quantity of material it plans to require ISPs to 
block, and/or is intentionally misleading the general public about what 
'clean feed' means in Labor-speak. In my view at the moment one is just as 
likely as the other.

It also appears that Labor believes that ISP-level commercial filtering 
products have improved such that they could now be used without slowing 
down speed (thereby 'enabling' them to mandate blocking material unsuitable 
for children). But, in that regard they keep referring to UK, Norway and 
Europe as alleged evidence of no problem. However, BT, Telenor and others 
are not using commercial filtering software, nor are they attempting to do 
anything other than prevent *accidental* access to child sexual abuse 
material sites - IWF's list in Britain typically has 800-1500 URLs on it.

The above mentioned page includes brief information about BT's and 
Telenor's systems, and much more detail is available on this new page:

ISP "Voluntary" / Mandatory Filtering
   Contains information about ISP-level filtering systems implemented, by 
various ISPs in various countries, to prevent *accidental* access to child 
sexual abuse material on web pages/sites. Page has sections about: 

Europe (EU) Overview | Norway | Sweden | Denmark | Finland | Netherlands | 
Switzerland | Britain | Italy | Canada

The most notable thing about all of the Scandinavian and other European 
systems (except Britain and Italy) is that they are using DNS blacklisting, 
which as many people on this list would know, can only be used to block an 
*entire* domain/site, not a particular page, and is *trivially* easy to 
bypass. It's much less expensive to implement (than e.g. BT's hybrid 
URL-based system) which might well be why some of the ISPs in those 
countries were willing to voluntarily prevent *accidental* access to child 
sexual abuse material sites. However in, at least, the Netherlands and 
Switzerland there are a number of ISPs declining to voluntarily do so for a 
range of reasons.

> [In a similar vein, I had the distinct impression at the time that the
> government mentioned the blocking of ch--d pornography sites, but that
> media reports shifted the language to the fantastically broader realm
> of sites containing material deemed inappropriate for children.]

Conroy tried to make it sound like it was all about ch--d pornography by 
more or less saying that anyone who opposed their plan must want to view 
such material. However, their plan has certainly never been limited to such 


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