Tag Archives: cleanfeed

The umm… err… Communications Minister

This guy is in charge of our interwebs. Doesn’t he sound tech savvy… perhaps he is trying to protect us all from the scary spams with his big filter.

Scarily, he’s also the “Communications Minister” and this is the transcript of what he says in that grab:

“There’s a staggering number of Australians being in having their computers infected at the moment, up to 20,000, uh, can regularly be getting infected by these spams, or scams, that come through, the portal.”

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Clean feed cops pasting…

GetUp has produced an advertisement about internet censorship. It’s not like Microsoft’s ill fated promo of their “private browsing” feature… it’s pretty clever.

Full disclosure

Apparently Senator Conroy is not the Internet killing free speech hating barbarian the Internet community claims.

I’ve been having a lengthy email conversation with the guy who called me a Greens Party Stooge (which still hurts) and he pointed me to this article and these quotes:

Conroy also reiterated that the Government has made clear which content is to be filtered and how.

It will attack RC [refused classification] content, he said, by the same rationale ACMA already classifies content under the existing Broadcasting Services Act for television, radio and print publications.

“There is no political content banned in the existing Broadcasting Services Act,” he said.

“We are not building the Great Wall of China. We are going after the filth – like child pornography. Its been done around the world and it can be done here.”

How it is done “will be guided by the outcome of the trials.”

Most of the assertions otherwise are “patently a scare campaign [against] a policy objective we think is fair and reasonable,” he said.

I have no doubt there is good intention behind this plan. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t like child pornography or other illegal stuff being on the internet – including piracy.

But while I think this “policy objective” is fair and reasonable the policy being promoted to achieve it is not. If this is the case – why the secrecy? If this is the case why are there two trials – one of the ACMA blacklist, and one of a smaller list of illegal sites? And why is Whirlpool facing fines for providing a link to the leaked ACMA blacklist – which demonstrated the lack of vetting of content added to the list (eg a dentist’s site).

So, Conroy wants us to “show good faith” – how bout showing the people of Australia some good faith by making the blacklist process as open and transparent as the classification process? The argument that the blacklist based filter will be “opt in” doesn’t hold water if those who don’t opt in don’t know what’s on it.

Personally, given the choice, I’ll sign up to the filtered version. But that should be my decision – and we should know what we can’t access when signing up.

Uncategorized

Sanity prevails… maybe

iiNet has pulled themselves out of the cleanfeed trial citing an inability “to reconcile participation in the trial with our corporate social responsibility, our customer service objectives and our public position on censorship.”

Their decision came after wikileaks was blocked last week for publishing the ACMA blacklist. Which was meant to be a top secret “for government eyes only” document…

“It became increasingly clear that the trial was not simply about restricting child pornography or other such illegal material, but a much wider range of issues including what the Government simply describes as ‘unwanted material’ without an explanation of what that includes.”

Can K-Rudd hear me

Some time ago I posted a link to one man’s audacious bid to be heard by google. Can Google Hear Me won the hearts and minds of millions. Including Google – who were interested enough to take this man’s journey to the next level.

And now – following news that the Federal Government will now trawl critical blogs I ask the question. Can Kevin Rudd hear me?

It hasn’t taken long for people to make a connection between trawling blogs for criticism and the clean feed/blacklist campaign – particularly because the Government’s own media release listed Whirlpool.net.au’s criticism of the blacklist as one of the examples the Government’s beady eyes were watching.

I have said several things about the Ruddster and his ability to make even the most clear things unclear through erudite obfuscation. That was Rudd speak for using simple words in a complicated way so as to make things impossible to understand.

Kevin, if you’re here, and you can hear me – of if your staff are and they can – let me know in the comments. Perhaps you’d like to give me a job making your unclear communication clear.

Who knows. Perhaps you’d like to read through all the things I’ve had to say about you in the past.

Regards,

Nathan

That which divides

There’s nothing like politics for dividing Christian unity. Jeremy Halcrow writes for the Sydney Anglican website. He’s a writer I’ve largely appreciated and benefited from. We happen to disagree on the Government’s Clean Feed. Here’s his post and long discussion thread on the Sydney Anglican website. Interesting read if you’re looking to sort through various Christian responses to the debate and trying to sort out an ethical approach to online content. 

Here’s what Mr Halcrow had to say to me on another blog for daring to disagree with his position:

“Nathan, you don’t know what is the ACMA blacklist and neither does your extremist libertarian source you quote.

I’m not engaging with you any more for all I know your a Greens Party stooge or some other extremist libertarian group.

I don’t think you are discussing this in good faith.”

A Green Party stooge? Ouch. That’s hit a raw nerve. He follows with this little piece of irony (posted anonymously – but I’m pretty sure it’s him, it’s corroborated on the Sydney Anglican website at the bottom of the article)…

“You are wrong and I know you are wrong.

I am happy to say I have had an off-the record briefing with the Government.

I can’t say any more than that.

You are putting your faith in people who are out to spread mischief and misinformaton”

His information is as sensitive and secretive in nature as the Government blacklist he’s defending.

I did not respond in a loving manner.

Uncategorized

Clean feed ship listing due to leaks

There’s a lot of debate still raging about the proposed clean feed. We all thought it was dead when Nick Xenophon decided he didn’t like it. But no. It’s alive and kicking. And costing money for anyone who dares link to the leaked blacklist.

Obviously there’s a fair bit of support from the Christian side of the fence for anything limiting people’s access to pornography – particularly child exploitation material. But these objections are, in my opinion, misguided. There’s also a fair bit of reasonable Christian objection to the proposal. Examples here from Craig and Seamus.

Here’s some reasons I think the policy is a bad idea…

  1. It won’t actually address the problem it claims to address – I have not read about any court cases involving prosecution of people who took part in illegal pornography via an http website. The filter only addresses these sites. Illegal material is traded via complicated, secure sharing systems.
  2. It provides no deterrent for wrongdoers – a better way to tackle the problem would be to invest in better policing and increase the penalties for people involved.
  3. It gives the government an opportunity to act without accountability – The blacklist is a closely guarded secret – as is the process for sites to get on it. There are fines for people who reveal any of its content. The process is secretive and arbitrary – how long before “objectionable content” becomes “things we don’t agree with”… despite the constant cry from Christian supporters of the policy that “this isn’t censorship” and we should act to protect children and keep harmful material from adults the system we’re introducing is more like the system in China and Iran than the system in the US and New Zealand. It is censorship. In fact, it’s worse. By keeping what’s being censored secret and not addressing the criteria involved other than with motherhood statements it’s more akin to policing thought than to protecting the population from unwanted nasties.

Libertarians want the policy scrapped because they think people should have access to whatever material they believe is in their best interest. I don’t agree. And I don’t think you have to agree with that idea to oppose what is a stupid piece of policy that was only tabled in the first place to appease the Christian vote.

The debate at Craig’s blog continued into a second post – where I joined the fray.

From here on in I’m just reproducing what I said there.

Here’s what Conroy had to say about the issue from an ABC story on the matter of the blacklist and how it will be used… from the horse’s mouth so to speak.

Senator Conroy: A whole range of people have said, ‘Hey let’s expand this’. That’s a debate that we will come to. What we’re trying to establish at the moment, we’re no further than establishing at the moment, whether it’s technically feasible. So in terms of what some of us senators want to claim should be included on the blacklist, I’m sure that when we get to the debates down the track, if it proves to be technically feasible, there’ll be a whole range of people with a whole range of demands about what should be on the blacklist. But what we’ve committed to do is practically implement what’s on the blacklist at the moment, if it is technically feasible.

Conroy is basically admitting that the technology will allow the Government to pretty much block whatever they see fit. It’s scary.

Hansard from this Senate estimates hearing (it’s a PDF) makes for interesting reading (at least when they’re talking about getting newsradio in Townsville and the Clean Feed).

Quotes like this one worry me:

“As I have said, whether we will consider other items will be determined by the live trial.”

It’s not simply restricted to illegal content – this trial is restricted to illegal content – the filter may be open to further suggestions once they know it works…

Having read the entire discussion in that Hansard report I’m still not convinced. I know they say that they’re only dealing with material in line with the current classifications system – but their statements are far too open ended when dealing with the future of the scheme and the way sites are added to the ACMA blacklist – which like it or not is a secret list controlled by the Government and will play a vital role in identifying blocked content.

Nobody is arguing that there aren’t good intentions behind the scheme – just that in its current form it is far too open for abuse in the future for my liking. It also won’t do anything to stop or deter those who use the internet for nasty means – because as has been argued time and time again – they don’t use standard http websites.

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Tanner’s hide

Finance and Deregulation Minister Lindsay Tanner is Web 2.0 enabled with a blog over at the SMH. Today’s post is all about the government’s new Web 2.0 based thinking – they’re probably going to use blogs in some upcoming community consultation. Ironic really, given that the same government is advocating restrictions to the internet that would put us on par with China. Perhaps comments they don’t agree with in the consultative process will be blocked? Or the IP address taken down and the perpetraitor (sic) silently removed from their homes and literally excommunicated (possibly a removal of Internet privileges).

Here’s Tanner’s rather convoluted description of what he thinks about Web 2.0…

“This new mode of production is known in the academic literature as peer production, but is more commonly referred to as Web 2.0. It is a trend that applies to much more than the creation of cultural goods, although these goods, such as the innumerable YouTube video mashups which poke fun at politicians, are acting as the harbingers of change.”

“Peer production empowers every citizen to be creator and critic, as well as consumer, of information. It is a mode of production that is enabled by two key factors. The first is the collapse of cost barriers to producing information – computers are now widely accessible in western society. The second is the removal of logistical and functional barriers to collaboration through new internet based networks.”

“The glue that binds peer production together is the ethic of collaboration it inculcates among groups. People contribute their time to peer production because they find communities with a passion for making their adopted content niche the best it can be.”

“This environment also creates efficiencies by allowing skilled amateurs to allocate their intellectual capital to the content niche about which they are most passionate. This is significant when you consider the quality and value of work done by people for love and not money.”

All in all, his article is a pretty garbled way of saying the Government is down with the Internets and all that.

“These changes are not easy for government to process. Our Westminster bureaucracy has optimised its policy production processes over centuries. Adaptation to the new information environment will be neither quick nor easy.”

I guess that’s something Obama can relate to.
Here’s his obligatory dig at the Howard Government:

“The Australian Government should be leading the way in adapting our old processes of consultation, policy making and regulation to the connected world. Yet we lag behind other nations in both the scale and pace of reform, a situation largely attributable to the culture of secrecy, spin and apathy of the Howard years.”

“I am taking steps to reinvigorate the Commonwealth’s efforts in this area. For example, early in the new year the Government will run a number of trial online consultations using blogs and other Web 2.0 tools”

You know what would be brilliantly ironic – if all this consultation got blocked by the Government’s proposed clean feed (a very bad idea – putting us on par with China in terms of restrictions) with it’s invisible blacklist of sites. My disdain for the Australian Christian Lobby is growing – I think they miss the point on so many issues when dealing with a secular government and trying to impose Christian values on the general public – who generally aren’t Christians. I acknowledge that as Christians we believe our way of life is better – and more in line with God’s expectations – but it’s not for us to impose our code of conduct on the rest of society. I also acknowledge that increased consumption of pornography has some links to increases in sexual violence and is socially undesirable. But I don’t think this is the way to tackle it – and I don’t think – as Jim Wallace so tactlessly put it that opposing this plan is tantamount to supporting the evils that lurk in the dark corners of the internet. Here’s the quote from the ACL Media Release.

“Obviously the Internet industry is going to continue to fight this important initiative

but the interests of children must be placed first.”

“The need to prevent access to illegal hard-core material and child pornography must

be placed above the industry’s desire for unfettered access.”

Censorship is bad. Particularly for the church. Once you start advocating censorship what happens if a militant anti-Christian or Islamic party gets in and adds all the Christian sites to the black list? Have you thought about that ACL? Have you? Christians who are serious about Christianity’s real agenda – which is the proclamation of the gospel can not be supportive of Government intervention into the minds and beliefs of the general public.
By all means, if you’re a Christian then take part in the political process – but don’t pretend to speak for all of us – and do so to raise your opinion on a matter – not to demand legislation be based on a Christian world view. That is not in the spirit of democracy – that’s a theocracy.
Oh, and if you want to voice your opinion on this matter through the press (or the Government’s upcoming Web 2.0 consultancy process) – the ACL has a handy letters to the editor writing guide.
I’m going to do some work now.