Philosophy Hurts Your Head

The blog of a cranky Philosophy PhD Student from Newcastle, Australia.

Archive for the ‘Censorship’ Category

Labor to monitor Blogs

Posted by Sam D on March 23, 2009

The Age reported yesterday that the Government will begin “trawling blog sites” as part of a new media ‘monitoring’ strategy, with documents singling out popular forum Whirlpool for special atention.  

Soon after Senator Conroy praised Singapore’s Government for reducing monitoring of blogs, tender documents issued by the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy reveal it is looking for a “comprehensive digital monitoring service for print and electronic media”.

The department later attached a clarification confirming the term “electronic media” included “blogs such as Whirlpool”.

Coming from other politicians, this might seem like some sort of move towards community consultation. But coming from Senator Conroy, it comes across as something of a thinly veiled threat, especially in light of recent exchanges between Whirlpool’s host and ACMA over linking to so-called ‘prohibited’ content. 

Apart from being a waste of taxpayer money, this will no doubt inspire a degree of paranoia in some Whirlpudlians, as many users on the forum have been passionately and intelligently opposed to Senator Conroy’s ISP level Filtering plans, as well as his handling of the National Broadband Network. In fact, Whirlpools ISP filtering discussion threads have been pivotal in diseminating information, debunking myths and honing the arguments of those opposed to the Mandatory  ISP Filtering/Internet Censorship plan. 

But the threat fails in many ways. Over time, it has become apparent that the DBCDE has followed the discussion on Whirlpool for many months already, so many people are used to this anyway. The moderators of WP police the policy of not linking to ‘prohibited’ content quite dilligently, so  it’s unlikely that the site, or any of the users can be cought out and used as a political scapegoat.

More importantly, as I have stated elsewhere, systematic cataloguing of the ISP Filtering discussion will provide an immense amouint of material hilighting just how unpopular Senator Conroy really is with the industry he is supposed to represent. This would be a compilation where we demolish every argument provided by the minister and his supporters, where we take great pleasure at his misfortune, where we regularly make a fool of him and prove him incompetant or a liar (or both) before the ink is dry on his own press releases.  I would dearly love for this material to land on the desk of Kevin Rudd, and to be distributed at the ALP national conference in August, so the party can see just how much of a political liability this Minister, and this plan have become. 

I have to agree with Stephen Conroy is  C#nt , this does not bode well for Senator Conroy’s future as the Minister. At least that is what I hope, becuase the alternative is that it does not bode well for us.

Posted in Censorship, News, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Australian Internet Blacklist Leaked!

Posted by Sam D on March 19, 2009

A list of URLs, allegedly the ACMA blacklist, has been posted on Wikileaks today. It is hard at this stage to go into much detail, or link directly to the list, as Australians have been threatened with up to 10 years jail for distributing the list .

However, the intrepid author of Somebody Think of The Children (STOTC) has started to have a quick look at the list. A few things are quickly apparent. There are more URL’s on it than previously thought. And (surprise!) the list contains some completely legitmate websites.  It’s reported by STOTC that these sites include Abbywinters.com, which is pretty benign stuff if (unless you have a real problem with nudity), as well as Betfair.com. Xtube also gets  caught in the ACMA net.

The EFA report that other surprises in the list include: “YouTube videos, a MySpace profile, online poker parlours and a site containing poison information were present, as well as many apparently harmless sites such as that of a tour operator and a satirical encyclopedia.”

Websinthe wonders who leaked the list? I doubt we will ever know for sure.

Posted in Censorship, News, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Another Censorship Round Up

Posted by Sam D on February 25, 2009

Internet filtering — reasons to oppose it By Peter Robson at Green Left Weekly – Keep up the good work Pete!

Conroy confesses: web filtering will hit ‘other content’ Bernard Keane at Crikey reports that the goverment is considering the adding of legal contentbeing blocked by the mandatory filtering. 

Internet Black-list revelations raise further questions about Labors Mandatory Filtering. Nick Minchin highlights the Liberal’s concerns over the content of the blacklist and the publication of the anti-abortion site after it was added to it.

Posted in Censorship, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Who’s afraid of Peer Review?

Posted by Sam D on February 20, 2009

Websinthe reports that Clive Hamilton has accused him of trying to silence him because he asked Charles Sturt University to peer review his public commentary.

I don’t have time to comment at as much length as I’d like, but here is my take on it: Anyone, academic or not, can state their opinion in public – it’s a right I strongly support. But strong claims have to be put to the test. And for academics, one of the most recognisable and strongest tests is peer-review.

Clive does not have to have his public comments peer-reviewed, that would excessively infringe upon his right to express opinions publicly. But without the application of academic rigour, including peer-review, they are only opinions, nothing more.

Posted in Censorship, Ethics, philosophy & politics, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Anti-abortion website blacklisted by ACMA!

Posted by Sam D on January 22, 2009

As reported on Whirlpool and Somebody Think of the Children, ACMA has apparently declared an anti-abortion website to be unsuitable for adults after a complaint was lodged via email. ACMA’s response was posted on both of the above sites, but I’ll repeat it for those of you too lazy to click a link.

Edit: Just to state the obvious, the link below to abortiontv.com will take you to images that claim to be aborted fetuses. If you are a child, at work, or otherwise wish not to see such things, then don’t click on it!

Subject: Complaint Reference: 2009000009/ ACMA-691604278
Date: Wed, 21 Jan 2009 15:45:00 +1100
From: online@acma.gov.au

Complaint Reference: 2009000009/ ACMA-691604278

I refer to the complaint that you lodged with the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) on 5th January 2009 about certain content made available at:

http://www.abortiontv.com/Pics/AbortionPictures6.htm

Following investigation of your complaint, ACMA is satisfied that the internet content is hosted outside Australia, and that the content is prohibited or potential prohibited content.

The Internet Industry Association (IIA) has a code of practice (http://www.iia.net.au/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=415&Itemid=33) for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) which, among other things, set out arrangements for dealing with such content. In accordance with the code, ACMA has notified the above content to the makers of IIA approved filters, for their attention and appropriate action. The code requires ISPs to make available to customers an IIA approved filter.

Information about ACMA’s role in regulating online content (including internet and mobile content), including what is prohibited or potentially prohibited content is available at ACMA’s website at www.acma.gov.au/hotline

Thank you for bringing this matter to ACMA’s attention.

Disturbing, but undoubtedly political content. So, not even political speech is safe from ACMA. Pete, I hope you take note of this.

Edit: spelling & formatting.

Posted in Censorship, News, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Conroy Finally Blogs about ISP Filter!

Posted by Sam D on December 22, 2008

Stephen Conroy has finally adressed the questions regarding the ISP Filtering plan ALP internet censorship policy on his department blog. I use the term ‘adresed’ very loosely, because having read “Minister Conroy on: Promoting a civil and confident society online“, I can say that he has allayed none of my fears regarding this plan. 

 

In fact, he actually confirms one of my concerns, that material will be blacklisted in accordance with the ACMA prohibited content rules. Maybe I’m reading it wrong, I will seek further clarification. In the meantime, if you like anything on that list, then you had better get downloading!

I’ll post more detailed analysis later, right now I’m off to spread the word!

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ISP Filtering – A lesson in History.

Posted by Sam D on December 12, 2008

There have been some very good articles coming out of the Australian Blogsphere regarding the IPS filtering plan. My favorite for this week has been Liberal tyranny on the World Wide Web at Spiked Online by Kerry Miller, (who blogs at Strange Times ) which describes the role that Clive Hamilton has played in the development of this policy. I note that his new employer CAPPE ( Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics)  has minimised reference to his pro-filter position or articles.

It is worth noting that across a political spectrum (not that it is the best way to categorise political views) the more coherent and critical reactions have come from the libertarian right. That said the Greens have come out strongly against this, and in some ways they are libertarian left-ish. However you cut it though, the response from much of the left has been pretty weak. I was surprised by this. Is it because left leaning ideologies have a weaker sense of individual rihgs or liberties? I don’t know. What I do know is that at least one of my friends is going to say “I told you so” (or something along those lines, but more eloquent) when I see him next.

Posted in Censorship, philosophy & politics, Politics | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

Digital Economy Future Directions blog: What is this about?

Posted by Sam D on December 11, 2008

What is this about indeed? The following is take from the front page of the new Digital Economy Future Directions blog launched recently by the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.

The Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Conroy has announced that the Australian Government will develop a Future directions paper for the digital economy—a roadmap for Australian businesses, households and government to maximise participation in the digital economy. And we would like you to help us create the roadmap.

We want to hear your thoughts and ideas about the digital economy. Click on the blog topics (starting with Minister Tanner’s welcome) in the column at the right or in the list at the bottom of this page to start engaging with the blog. We plan to release a draft of the paper for detailed feedback shortly; but in the meantime, it seemed logical to us to use one of the key communications platforms of the digital economy—blogs—as a way to engage with you and your ideas.

Oh, the Minister has discovered blogs! Surely we are living in the future! Time will tell if the feedback the online community gives to this blog will be taken into account. I’m deeply cynical/realistic, so I will put my money on most suggestions being ignored. Be that as it may, I’d encourage all Australians to comment on the blog as is their right.

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Live trial of ISP level Filtering not actually Live.

Posted by Sam D on December 5, 2008

In an email regarding the ISP Level Filtering trials to be held later this month, Senator Conroy has seemingly admitted that the part of the trial testing the effect of an expanded blacklist will not be live as such.

In consultations with ISPs, concerns have been raised that filtering a blacklist beyond 10 000 URLs may raise network performance issues, depending on the configuration of the filter. The pilot will therefore seek to also test network performance against a test list of 10 000 URLs.
This will be a closed network test and will not involve actual customers. The list of 10 000 sites will be developed by the technical organisation assisting the Department on the pilot, which has access to lists of this size. As this test is only being performed to test the impact on network performance against a list of this size, and actual customers are not involved, the make-up of the list is not an issue.

This might explain why Senator Conroy failed to answer Senator Bernardi’s questions regarding the trial, as reported by BanThisURL. If Senator Conroy had got to the point quicker he would have had to let this cat out of the bag in question time, but luckily (for him) the Senate President cut him off.

Massive hat-tip to frankfil for publicizing this on Whirlpool and Twitter.

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