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Australia plans Chinese-style internet filtering
12-15-2009, 06:44 PM,
Australia plans Chinese-style internet filtering
Quote:Stephen Conroy, the communications minister, was accused of plotting a "great firewall of Australia" when he said on Tuesday that the legislation, to be introduced early next year, would require all internet service providers to block objectionable material hosted on overseas servers.

He said such material would include "child sex abuse content, bestiality, sexual violence and the detailed instruction of crime and drug use".

Senator Conroy said: "Most Australians acknowledge there is some internet content which is not acceptable in any civilised society.

"It is important that all Australians, but especially children, are protected from this material."

Similar content on domestically hosted websites can already be banned if the sites are included on a blacklist drawn up by the Australian Communications and Media Authority, a government body.

The authority's blacklist caused controversy earlier this year when it was revealed that innocent websites of a dentist's practice in Queensland, a tuck-shop consultant and a kennel operator had mistakenly been included.

Under the new measures, blocked sites would be determined by an independent classification body via a "public complaint" process, Senator Conroy said.

His announcement came at the end of a seven-month trial, which the government says showed that blocking can be done with 100 per cent accuracy and without slowing down internet speeds, another objection made by critics.

Oliver MacColl, acting national director of GetUp!, an internet users' lobby group, said the planned legislation "hands control of the internet to the moral minority".

"It was through public complaints mechanisms like the one Mr Conroy is proposing that classic literature such as The Catcher in the Rye, Ulysses, and The Story of the Kelly Gang were once banned in Australia.

"Innocent people have already been caught in the blacklist," he told Australia's ABC News.

"The introduction of Mr Conroy's great firewall of Australia may lead to many more innocent small business-people being caught out."

Colin Jacobs, vice-chairman of Electronic Frontiers Australia, which monitors online freedoms and rights, said: "People will be worried about the fact that the government will have a secret blacklist that is not very compatible with our status as a democracy and a free society."

Opposition also came from the Greens, with Senator Scott Ludlam threatening the legislation would be given "a very bumpy ride".

"It looks very much to me as though this is a solution in search of a problem," he said.

"At this stage I haven't seen anything at all that justifies the implementation of mandatory net censorship in Australia."

But the measures were welcomed by the Australian Christian Lobby, which called for the scope of the internet filter to be expanded beyond its present limits within three years.

In June, Beijing postponed a plan to install internet filtering software on all computers sold in China after a storm of protest.

It maintains broad internet censorship under a series of controls dubbed "the Great Firewall of China".
The revolution is not an apple that falls when it is ripe. You have to make it fall. - Che Guevara

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TriWooOx Podcast
12-15-2009, 07:41 PM,
RE: Australia plans Chinese-style internet filtering
Didn't they just shut down the internet one morning sometime in October? Will this be done at the CPU, the major hub or the ISP level?

Related stories:

Quote:China to mandate Web filtering software on all new PCs

Sometimes, even a great firewall isn't enough. China has apparently ordered PC makers to bundle access control software—ostensibly to protect its citizens from porn—that may allow it to remotely update a blacklist of sites.
By John Timmer | Last updated June 8, 2009 11:31 AM

Late last month, China quietly ordered PC manufacturers to bundle Internet access control software with all computers sold in the country. The software, which appears to be Windows-only, looks to provide a mix of features, including whitelists, blacklists, and on-the-fly content-based filtering. But the key feature that appeals to the government may be the fact that it allows blacklists to be updated remotely.

The government has already worked with the developers of the software, called "Green Dam-Youth Escort," previously. Jinhui Computer System Engineering Co, which developed it, apparently worked out the basic features of the filtering when assisting the Chinese military in securing the distribution of internal documents, according to The Wall Street Journal, which broke the story over the weekend.

Rebecca MacKinnon, who is an Open Society Fellow and worked previously at the University of Hong Kong, has translated some of Jinhui's press materials, which indicate that the Chinese government has worked with Jinhui to make Green Dam available as a free download, and assisted in getting it installed in schools. Jinhui had apparently already arranged to have the software bundled by a number of manufacturers.

There seems to be some confusion about the exact capabilities of Green Dam, as The Journal reported that one of Jinhui's founders indicated that the software relies on a database of blocked sites that allows it to be updated remotely. Reuters, however, talked with the same person, who indicated that it can perform semantic and image-based evaluation of incoming content—as such, the founder claimed that it's impossible for the software to be used for general censorship purposes. Still the two capabilities aren't mutually exclusive, and it would certainly be possible to tune Green Dam's semantic engine in a way that enabled it to filter out politics in addition to porn.

In any case, Green Dam will have to have been fairly well integrated into the host operating system in order to function well, which presents manufacturers with a whole host of potential problems. Manufacturers tend to bundle a lot of software with their machines, which raises the possibility of conflicts between Green Dam and other software on the machine. The auto-updating of the blacklist is also mentioned as another potential security risk, and certainly raises the prospect that computer makers will have to support software with behavior that changes over time. Although the government seems to have given manufacturers little time to adjust to the mandatory policy—it's set to take effect July 1—for now, it appears that they're being given the option of simply shipping disks in the box, rather than installing and enabling Green Dam.

Although China clearly exerts great control over the political content that reaches its citizens, the government appears to be extremely squeamish about is citizens' interest in porn. As such, it's tempting to take this policy announcement at face value: an attempt at social, rather than political control. Still, if the software does have the ability to perform remote updates of a blacklist, it will mean that the Chinese government has given itself the option of having the capacity to filter political content, available at the flick of a server-side switch.

Quote:Chinese censors pay public to surf for porn

By Stephen C. Webster
Sunday, December 6th, 2009 -- 7:38 pm

In a move that's sure to make Internet freedom advocates everywhere laugh out loud, Chinese government censors hard-pressed to stem the tide of porn are now offering to pay web users to go searching for it.

Almost needless to say, China's interest in pornography has swelled, in a manner of speaking.

Authorities are offering rewards of up to 10,000 yuan (1,465 dollars) to Internet users who report sites that feature pornography, state media reported Sunday.

The scheme, part of a larger Internet porn crackdown that even extends to mobile WAP sites, is being marketed by Chinese officials as a way to protect youths during the holiday. The porn prohibition even includes advertisements for sex-related products.

Within the first 24 hours, a hotline set up Friday by Internet Illegal Information Reporting Center was flooded with more than 500 phone calls and 13,000 online tips, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

Rewards ranging from 1,000 yuan to 10,000 yuan will go to the first person to report each website, the center said in a notice, adding a committee would review the tipoffs to determine what award was appropriate, Xinhua said.

China has launched several Internet crackdowns on pornography, con artists and political activists in the past.

Earlier this year China threatened to sanction major websites, including search engine giants Google and Baidu, alleging that pornography and other material that could corrupt young people was turning up in search results.

Since June, the government has required all personal computers sold in China to be outfitted with an automated censorship program called the "Green Dam-Youth Escort."

There is of course more covert action to snoop on users based on the fact that the limewire user that accidentally downloaded porn and entire police sub-departments that are dedicated to sniffing out child porn surfers. Child porn / porn seems to be the tip of the spear combined with hate laws and labeling 'dissent' as 'terrorism' on the drive to censor and police the internet.
There are no others, there is only us.

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