[LINK] ALP Net censorship policy hidden, but alive and far-reaching

Robin Whittle rw at firstpr.com.au
Tue Aug 17 15:21:47 AEST 2010

I would have thought that 10 years of widespread Internet access
would make it impossible to pull something over the Australian people
like this.  Perhaps many people are lulled into complacency by the
fact that it doesn't happen in the USA.  But this is entirely to the
1st Amendment - the US government tried to censor the Net twice in
the mid 1990s, and the laws were passed and quickly found in court to
be unconstitutional.  We have no such protection.

Perhaps people think its OK to vote for Labor because this censorship
policy will never make it through the Senate, due to Greens and
Coalition opposition.  That is wrong too - we must not support any
party which wants to constrain our ability to communicate freely.

Benjamin Franklin's statement (November 1755):

   "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little
    temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."


seems relevant here.  In an altered form, it is inscribed on the
Statue of Liberty:

   "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little
    safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."


My previous messages to the Link list are:


There are 39 policies listed in the Policy section of
http://www.alp.org.au - but none of them mention of the ALP's
Internet censorship policy.

For more information on this policy, AKA "mandatory filtering by
ISPs" of material which is, or would be rated R or beyond, or
"refused classification", see:


The site http://filter-conroy.org seems to be missing the point that
this is bigger than Senator Conroy - it is ALP policy.

Searching for "filter" and "censorship" and ignoring the matches
which are purely comments by forum contributors, I found no clear
statement of the policy.  So this is official ALP policy, being
deliberately hidden from anyone who looks at their website.

It is clear that some or many people in the party view the mandatory
filter policy as applying to many things beyond "child porn".

I haven't seen anything on Internet censorship in The Age in the last
week or more, but in an article in today's Age (page 8):


Julia Gillard is quoted as saying:

   "My judgement call is that you should not be able to see
    on the internet things that are wrong and things that we
    have made illegal for good reason," she said earlier in
    the campaign.

The Greens are quoted as having a policy of optional ISP-level
filtering, while the Coalition policy is to reject any kind of
ISP-level filtering, with support for education and PC-based
filtering software for those who want it.

So I think the Coalition policy is better than those of the ALP or
the Greens.  PC-based filtering is more effective, fine-tunable and
less burdensome for ISPs than any kind of ISP-based filtering.

I was going to put the Greens before the Coalition, with Labor 3rd,
but since the Greens are clueless about something as basic as where
the opt-in filtering should be performed, I am tempted to vote 1 for
the Coalition.

The Age article also reports on a "long internal debate"within the
Coalition, with anti-mandatory filter elements, led by Joe Hockey,

Here are the pages at www.alop.org.au where I found statements by ALP
people regarding this policy.  I did this by searching for "filter"
and "censorship":


  Minister Craig Emerson speaks to the ABC's Madonna King in

Craig Emerson is: Minister for Small Business, Independent
Contractors and the Service Economy, Minister for Competition Policy
and Consumer Affairs and Minister Assisting the Finance Minister on

Amongst other things, Craig Emerson is quoted as saying:

     The argument is to do what we can to prevent the downloading
     of offensive material such as child pornography.

     There will be a system independent of Government.  And I'll
     tell you this: I will defend every day a capacity to prevent
     the downloading of child pornography.

     What we believe is that there should be a filter but we
     need to get it right. And so obviously we're not interested
     in censorship or anything like that or ...

     Well, it's to prevent material being viewed by young people
     who - very young people, I'm not talking about 18 year olds
     and above - but by very young people who otherwise shouldn't
     be seeing that sort of material.

So the policy is intended to make Internet usage in Australia safe
for children - young children.  There's no way this can be done, and
any attempt to do so would chill and block communications between
adults which are perfectly healthy and necessary as part of a democracy.

In another interview:


Minister Craig Emerson is interviewed by Nicole Dyer, ABC Tweed and
Gold Coasts

he is quoted as saying:

     Well, we believe in the concept of an internet filter.  I
     mean National Broadband ...

     (DYER: But won't that slow the system down as well?)

     Well, of course it can have an effect, it can have an effect
     on speeds.  But what's the argument?  That there should be no
     filtering of material that could be completely offensive and
     completely wrong?  We actually think the concept of an internet
     filter is right.

So the criteria for blocking would include things which are judged,
by a government agency, to be "completely offensive" and "completely

This is the condescending, Stalinist, policy of the ALP.

Here is the announcement, from December 2009:


  "Introduction of mandatory ISP-level filtering of Refused
   Classification (RC)-rated content.

   The Government will introduce legislative amendments to
   the Broadcasting Services Act to require all ISPs to
   block RC-rated material hosted on overseas servers.

   RC-rated material includes child sex abuse content,
   bestiality, sexual violence including rape, and the
   detailed instruction of crime or drug use. Under the
   National Classification Scheme and related enforcement
   legislation it is already illegal to distribute, sell
   or make available for hire RC-rated films, computer
   games and publications.

   This material is currently subject to take-down notices
   by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)
   if it is hosted online in Australia. However, ACMA is
   unable to directly regulate content hosted overseas. This
   action is an additional measure to the existing take-down
   regime for Australia-hosted content.

(The censorship of electronic, print, movie and DVD mass-media, and
computer games, is highly questionable and arguably wrong, but is
supported by both Labor and the Coalition.)

Thankfully the ALP site gives people the opportunity to add comments
to some of its pages.  I joined up as "RobinWhittle".

Julia Gillard, on 6 August:


    But I do come back to a very simple judgment here which is,
    you should not be able to see on the internet, things that
    would be illegal if they were shown in our cinemas. And
    that’s for good reason.  It’s lawful for people to try and
    go to the cinema and watch child pornography for example.
    Disgusting.  It should not be lawful to do that on the
    internet.  Now on the practicality of how the internet
    works and what we can do to make this happen.  Yes I agree
    it’s complicated, but my judgement call is that you should
    not be able to see on the internet things that are wrong
    and things that we have made illegal for good reason.

Note the expansive scope of her intentions:  "wrong" here is a
separate set of things which will be banned, in addition to "things
that we have made illegal for good reason".

The PM again on 11 August:


   We also are committed to doing what we can working with
   internet service providers to have the same restrictions
   on content that we accept as reasonable in our cinemas
   and on our TV screens so you know at base here I think
   there is an important judgement and I’ve made it. It’s
   not appropriate for people to go to a cinema and watch
   visual images of child abuse for example, obviously we
   make that illegal and we make it illegal for good reason.
   The same set of judgements should apply to what you can
   get over the internet.

So this is a broad scheme to try to prevent adults communicating, at
least via web-sites (not email, instant messenger or other
protocols?) about a very wide range of matters.

The Melbourne University Library has an exhibition on banned books:


It seemed quaint, or curious, to have these books on display, in
their little glass cases, when all are now freely available.  Yet the
same banning spirit is alive and well in the Labor government, which
could be re-elected with a mandate to do much the same thing as
banning entire books, but for Internet communications in general.

BTW: I noticed that http://www.alp.org.au is located in Australia,
while http://www.liberal.org.au is, apparently in
Washington DC (judging by the traceroutes).  The IP address' reverse
mapping is to: works fine too.

http://www.ethproxy.com indicates it is some kind of denial of
service prevention system:

  Point your domain at the IP Address we provide you and we do
  the rest! The traffic is filtered through our systems and
  routed back to you!

Ping times to that IP address indicate that the server behind it
can't be far from Washington DC.  According to:


the server http://his.com is in DC, and its ping function:


returns 3.1 to 3.6ms.

It is 32ms from Dallas Fort-Worth and 253ms from Melbourne.  Getting
1.3kbyte file such as:


works in "0.1" seconds from DFW, and "0.3" seconds from Melbourne.

I am not concerned about this - but it is interesting to see an
Australian political party base its website in the USA.

 - Robin

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