Philosophy Hurts Your Head

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

Archive for the ‘News’ 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, which is pretty benign stuff if (unless you have a real problem with nudity), as well as 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 »

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 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

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:

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 ( 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

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 »

Goodbye to the Conroy Blog

Posted by Sam D on December 23, 2008

The day after finally posting on the topic that everyone wanted to discuss, the DBCDE blog is closing comments. I don’t have the words right now to say what I think of this. 


Anyway, if you want to say your piece there, you should do it before 3 pm tomorrow.

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

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.

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

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.

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

Australian Bill of Rights

Posted by Sam D on December 4, 2008

The Sydney Morning Herald reported yesterday that the federal Government was considering the creation of an Australian Bill of Rights. The SMH article quoted Australian National University’s Professor Hilary Charlesworth as saying that “the bill of rights would probably include civil and political rights such as the right to free speech and protection from discrimination.” In the context of the current discussion over internet censorship here, I think it is somewhat ironic for a government to propose the formation of something to enshrine our rights at the same time as it is trialling technologies designed to curtail them. It did occur to me (rather cynically) that the Bill of Rights will be primarily a political tool to lull people into a false sense of security – “Your liberties can’t be under threat, the Bill of Rights will keep them safe”. I admit though that despite it’s sense of righteous outrage, the ALP may see the pro-liberty, anti-filtering brigade as a small enough minority to ignore and therefore to attribute the Bill of Rights idea as a reaction to their efforts may be an error of proportionality. Either way, the formation of this document should be an interesting process and I’m looking forward to participating as much as I can.

In other news:

  • It seems that the Australian Young labor Party has broken ranks with its parent organisation to pass a motion against the mandatory filtering regime . This of course has no actual effect on anything that the grown-up politicians are doing, and while I like to think it could indicate dissent within the greater party, I know that it probably doesn’t. (Thanks to BanThisUrl)
  • The GetUp! campaign against internet filtering has collected 76,157 signatures on it’s electronic petition.

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

GetUp! finally on board with anti ISP Filtering campaign!

Posted by Sam D on November 26, 2008

The title says it all! Please get involved if you can.

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

Australian Sex Party

Posted by Sam D on November 18, 2008

It isn’t as salacious as it sounds, but it is exciting stuff nonetheless.  The Australian Sex Party has been formed recently, and will be revealing their policies (I hope) on Thursday. 

The Australian Sex Party is a political response to the sexual needs of Australia in the 21st century. It is an attempt to restore the balance between sexual privacy and sexual publicity that has been severely distorted by morals campaigners and prudish politicians. (from the ASP website).

If the claim that 4 million Australians look at pornography every year is at all accurate, then a campaign via the points of sale of this product is going to reach a lot of people. I think it safe to say that most consumers of pornography and adult products in Australia are either Labor or Coalition voters (just becuase most Australians are either Labor or Liberal/National voters), so there exists a real opportunity to steal Senate votes from the two major parties, not just the Greens. With the support of the EROS association, they may be a political force to be reckoned with

It is reported that the party’s platforms include a national sex education curriculum, reducing censorship, abolishing the government’s proposed internet filter and supporting gay marriage. I’m waiting to see the actual policies before making a full judgment.  

Comments follwing the Telegraph report on the formation of the ASP suggest that at least some people feel democracy is only working when it elects the people that suit them. As I said in the comments myself, if democracy is good enough for Family First, then it’s good enough for the Australian Sex party. You can’t have it both ways.

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

Resistance, GetUp!: Too Soft on Labor?

Posted by Sam D on November 10, 2008

I have noticed a distinct lack of activity on the part of two organisations with regard to the spectre (if I can use such an emotive word) of non-transparent government internet censorship in Australia. Read more about the censorship here

GetUp!, instrumental in the downfall of the Howard government (or so some think), has had very little to say on the subject, and has launched no campaign. Some do not think the organisation is as independant from the Labor party as it would have the public believe. I’m not sure what has caused this lack of response.

The other political organisation whose lack of response strikes me as odd is Resistance. Now, being a left leaning orgainisation, I understand that their members are probably happier with Mr Rudd as PM than Mr Howard (I know I am, or I was til recently). But I have heard nothing from them on this issue, at all. Nothing on their webpage. Nothing on the Resistance Blog. Nothing in Green Left Weekly. And it isn’t like they don’t know, becuase I’ve emailed them myself. Have they not worked out that ISP interent filtering in the hands of a government hostile to them could wipe them off the web in Australia? Apparently not. I don’t know if Pete Robson is still involved with Resistance, but if he is: Pete, I’m very dissapointed. 

So what is this all about? Why has the Left (and I use the term very loosely to mean non-Coalition) other than the Greens had nothing to say about this? Is it fear of causing a divisive discussion between conservative and progressive members? Is it backroom politics and links to conservative trade union movments (not really my theory by the way). Is it run of the mill disorganisation and incompetance? I don’t know, but I intend to find out.

Posted in News, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , | 12 Comments »