Australia Preparing to Censor Internet

Just after taking the positive step of opening discussion on the possible inclusion of an R18+ videogame ratings category, Australia is getting ready to implement mandatory Internet Service Provider (ISP) level Internet filtering.

ITNews reports that Australia plans to amend its Broadcasting Services Act next August in order to implement the changes, which are designed to block content that falls under the Refused Classification (RC) category on non-Australian servers.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy (pictured), a backer of the plan, said that, “Most Australians acknowledge that there is some internet content which is not acceptable in any civilised society".

Australia commissioned a pilot program test of the filtering, conducted by Enex TestLab, on nine live (active) ISP networks. Three ISPs used an Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) blacklist, two used Deep Packet Inspection monitoring technology, while another used proxy filtering technology.  All participants were 100% effective in blocking sites on the ACMA blacklist. Non-AMCA blacklist filtering was between 78% and 84% percent accurate.

From a report (PDF) on the pilot program:

A small number of customers indicated they experienced some over-blocking and/or
under-blocking of content during the pilot. A small number of customers also reported
slower network speeds as a result of the service which filtered additional categories of

Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) spokesman Colin Jacobs was not impressed with the news, calling the government’s posture that is simply blocking child pornography rubbish, “Refused classification is definitely more than just illegal child pornography.”

He continued:

It’s anything that doesn’t fit into the Classification Board’s other ratings and that include video games aimed at adults, criminality and euthanasia and all sorts of controversial things. Our concern is that once there is a secret blacklist in place it is going to be very difficult for the public to know what’s on it and if it will be increased in scope as time goes on.

A list purported to be the actual ACMA blacklist can be viewed on Wikileaks. Released on March 18, 2009, the list contains 2,395 URLs.

|Thanks CMiner|

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  1. digdug says:

    This is what happens when you dont have a Bill of Rights. 

    If this happened in the U.S., even if the majority was for it, it could be taken to court and ruled unconstitutional. Dont assume you can beat this just by democratic means. My guess is a lot of politicians could be intimidated into supporting it, just like the way they can against violence in video games. Its bad politics to be against something like this.

    This is not just about censoring the internet. This points out a serious flaw in Australia’s form of government. There needs to be a movement over there to get a Bill of Rights with a 1st Amendment (or something similar).

  2. TBoneTony says:

    That’s ok.

    I just enjoy the freedom while I still can, at the same time I make my goals for the future to eventually move out of Australia.

    Good things about Australia: The theme parks on the Gold Coast and also Australian Rules Football.

    Bad things about Australia: No R18+ rating for Videogames and we hardly ever get many Japanese Games unless if they are popular in North America or have strong publisher backing. (Thus the reason why Muramasa: The Demon Blade will never be retailed in Australia on the Wii. Same thing used to happen to Japanese RPGs back in the 90’s so I was never able to play Dragon Warrior, Final Fantasy and Chrono Trigger until the release of Final Fantasy 7 on the PlayStation where it became the first Japanese RPG to be sold in Australia and also in Europe.)

    Plus we only get the popular Anime over here too though just one major distributor called Madman Entertainment but there is not enough competition to allow more Anime into Australia. Plus Manga is so hard to find too.

    That is why the internet becomes so important for my hobby of Anime/Manga and Videogames and if the internet is screwed then you can kiss me goodbye Australia.



  3. Overcast says:

    “Most Australians acknowledge that there is some limit to government tyranny which is not acceptable in any civilised society"

    There, fixed.

  4. TBoneTony says:

    Which is why I would consider voting for the senate far more important than voting for the PM or opposition PM.



  5. Aliasalpha says:

    Play GTA4 and listen for an ad for the "Vindication Angel Curse Buster BC". I think thats about where they want to go.

    Where theyll be ALLOWED to go is another matter but i expect them to try.

  6. Aliasalpha says:

    I have no doubt at all that the liberals would do the exact same shit given the opportunity. Sad that political pettiness is our only hope…

  7. Aliasalpha says:

    I’m thinking of moving to Sweden, good music, fast internet, nice and cold and full of swedish chicks. Wanna come with?


    This is one of the classic knee-jerk reactions where it seems that treating the symptom will magically fix the cause. Butter Menthols for whooping cough as it were


    Hmm, wonder how much the paedophile hunting thing costs the AFP each year. Maybe this is step 1 in cutting their budget.

  8. Baruch_S says:

    Wow, I thought only nondemocratic states like Communist China could actually get by setting up stuff like this. How far are they going to take this?

  9. ded2me says:

    I think a lot of you are missing the point here.  This isnt about protecting peoples interests, it is about control over the people.  The Government realizes that the internet is in fact the last free press out there.  They wouldnt want people knowing the truth now would they?  This is yet another small step into something the chinese govt already has in place.

  10. Craig R. says:

    "This is a long way off from passing first."

    The fact that they’re even attempting it should shake every Aussie to their core.

  11. SlyFox says:

    Actually, the average child can bypass the filter in a matter of minutes.  Today’s children are far more in tune with the workings of the internet than the people who support the filter.

  12. count23 says:

    Ok, Ok, settle down folks. This is a long way off from passing first. Let me fill you in on what happens next.

    Conroy has to introduce the bill at the House of Representatives next year, this is where the prime minister’s cabinet ratifies it and introduces it for voting on the floor. It’ll pass here because Labor has a majority control.

    Next step is the senate, the LIBERALS have the majority control here, the only way Labor can pass this bill is if all 5 Greens, the Family First party and Nick Xenophon vote for the filter.

    Here’s how each party feels right now.

    Family First is FOR the filter

    Greens are AGAINST the filter

    Xenophon is AGAINST the filter

    Liberals are AGAINST the filter


    That leaves 33 yes votes (32 Labor + Family first)


    43 NO votes (37 Liberals, 5 Greens, 1 Xenophon)


    Even if labor had every non liberal senator on their side, that is the only way the bill could pass, it gives a 1 senator advantage in the vote. But that isnt the case here.

    This is a rare situation where the Greens are opposed to the Labor party, rather then sucking their c**ks on every issue. And the Liberal party are vehemently opposed to anything labor does at the moment (they were always opposed to the filter, but now they really hate labor and it’s ETS) so they wont have any senators cross the floor on this. Xenophon is "fundamentally opposed to the restriction of free speech" on this issue, Fielding (Family First) is a nut who thinks that this filter will block any material that’s pornographic, violent or non PG13 on the internet.


    So there is hope folks, don’t worry.

  13. Rodrigo Ybáñez García says:

    In related news, Jack Thompson has announced that he is gonna to practice law in Australian territory. He and his new "friend" Michael Nosnikta will share a department where they will discuss how much they hate video games.

    My DeviantArt Page (aka DeviantCensorship):

  14. ecco6t9 says:

    This is a surprise to anyone? Fellow Commonwealth Nation England banned a U.S. talk shot host from the country due to expressing his views on subjects. I’ve heard exactly what the man said, was it controversial? Yes! Did I agree with all of it? Some of it. Do I defend his right to say it? Yes!

    It takes just one small step,cesnoring a man then slowly but surely like minded Government Officials will censor us all.


    I hold only the Governments of said countries responsible and not Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth.

    God Save and Bless The Queen.

  15. TBoneTony says:

    Moving out of Australia after I finish university in 2012.

    But I will need a job somewhere like Canada and also travel experience so it could be until 2015 before I eventually move out of the country of where I was born.

    Both the R18+ rating debacle and the Internet Filter will take away the things I have finally been able to get in these last 5 years. And I am not going to lose those choices again due to the politics of my country.

    Plus I have just turned 25 today and got into university, so this will give me more motivation to move out once when I finish my classes.


    "Hey, Mr Atkinson, leave us gamers alone. Because all in all you’re just another brick in the wall."


  16. Longjocks says:

    I’ll put my hand up and say I don’t mind a little porn and I surf for pictures when bored or ‘inspired’. As such I recognised a couple of the sites on that list… which I just may have bookmarked… which contain regular old porn with nothing that could be considered obscene or illegal. Sex story sites are on the list as well and literature (as bad as it is on those sites) generally doesn’t carry the same restrictions in a legal sense.

    While this worries me in that the list arbitrarily filters legal adult material and indicates either a complete crackdown on such things or complete neglect in investigating the content of these sites, I’m more concerned to see a few YouTube entries. I’ll have a look at these when I get a chance, but YouTube is pretty thorough when it comes to regulating its own material. Anything pornographic or obscene is taken down very quickly. If these channels merely hold controversial opinions then this would be truly bad and I’d fight tooth and nail to have them free to be heard. Even if I find them objectionable, free speech is our most valued possession as humans in a so-called civilised society and needs to be upheld.

    Free speech and the freedom of expression are more important than poor attempts at stamping out things like child porn, which should be handled by the authorities by case. It’s like the whole R-rating issue where they’d rather censor than run the (unfounded) risk of someone drawing inspiration from violent/sexual games. It’s easier than facing the real issues behind such crime. The same can be said here in that we’re all censored just because a few people choose to view obscene material and they would rather that than facing the real issues there as well.

  17. Roh02 says:

    come on australia overthrow your corrupt government allready

    100% effective? please atleast lie realistically china makes people "disappear" and people still figure out ways around the internet censors

    dont make the internet angry you wouldnt like it when its angry

  18. Craig R. says:

    "Austrailia cannot be considered a "free" nation with this going on and most citizens being complicit."

    You know it’s bad when you want to be mentioned in the same sentence as China for the wrong reasons.

  19. muqtada123 says:

    I gonna check all the 30 links manual, what if you just post the relevant and the working link here so my time will save and i will do it in a much quicker time. Wanna see updates ASAP.
    sticker printing | stickers printing

  20. SeanB says:

    I know. the subtext to my last post was how innefective the current list is. If they’re not actually blocking anything illegal, and they block even 1 legal site (which they have), then the entire project can be dismissed.

  21. gamegod25 says:

    But as Mr. Jacobs said it’s not just that, it’s opening the door for the government to blacklist anything they deem "not acceptable" to the public.

  22. Father Time says:

    No thanks, I’m suspicious it’s another shock video.


    Debates are like merry go rounds. Two people take their positions then they go through the same points over and over and over again. Then when it’s over they have the same positions they started in.

  23. Father Time says:

    Please do not list shock videos because it would give me an urge to see them, and only because I could brag that I could handle that crap if only to myself.


    Debates are like merry go rounds. Two people take their positions then they go through the same points over and over and over again. Then when it’s over they have the same positions they started in.

  24. Father Time says:

    You’re not at all skeptical it was faked? As snopes said when discussing snuff films (and I’m paraphrasing here) would anyone risk jailtime and produce videos of their crimes that can be used as the perfect evidence against them in a court of law?


    Debates are like merry go rounds. Two people take their positions then they go through the same points over and over and over again. Then when it’s over they have the same positions they started in.

  25. chadachada321 says:

    Exactly. I’m not interested in watching it for sexual fantasies, I’m interested in watching it just because I’ve never seen it and I’d like to see my reaction. Same with 2 girls 1 cup, 1 guy 1 jar, the Ukrainian Screwdriver Murder video, etc.

    Watching it might even be a good thing for some people. If they’ve seen *real* footage of various crimes before, then they’ll probably be less likely to freeze up if someone attempts the crime near them.

    Example: Friend cuts his arm really badly, and needs to go to the hospital. Someone that’s been exposed to bloody videos online might be more likely to act calmly in this situation.

    I can honestly say that if a zombie-type scenario were to arise, I feel that I would be completely able to fight back, even if the zombies are of my friends/family. I would be able to suppress my "fight or flight" response and emotions enough to be able to think coolly and collectively and neither tense up nor make rash decisions.

    *Edit* Oh right, back on topic. That’s why these videos should be legal to view, just like the Ukrainian Screwdriver Murder videos and other (sick/twisted) crimes.

    -Optimum est pati quod emendare non possis-It is best to endure what you cannot change-

  26. Ambiguous says:

    Watching vids of those playing roles in a rape is one thing, and something that many ppl are interested in not only watching but acting out themselves with an accepting partner.  Not my thing personally, but I can understand the allure of it.

    However, wanting to watch a real rape would be a little disturbing man.  Frankly, if you were actually capable of seperating the sexual nature of it from violence,dominance, and sheer emotional trauma of it, I could honestly say I wouldn’t want to know you.  Not that I’m saying that was what you said, but your wording is skirting the line a little.

    I mean, that would quite literally mean you share traits with a psychopath, specifically a lack of empathy for others.

    Though, I suppose I could understand the desire to expose yourself to that kind of thing just to see what your own reactions would be, without fear of being placed in a bad situation or of those around you thinking badly of you.  I’ve looked at some nasty pics on the net for that reason, such as a man whose head had been blown up by a sniper rifle round or someone who had been chopped up by helicopter blades for example.  The guy who took the sniper round looked like his face was peeled off from around the back, literally, and had brain chunks and blood in a spread splatter behind him. I thought it looked fake at first. 

    Having said that, if youre truly interested, they exist.  If you dig hard enough, you can find all kinds of sick sh**, such as snuff films.  Then again, its easy to fake things in videos so you’d never really know if its real or not, unless you can find it referenced in some news article or something like that.

  27. chadachada321 says:

    …Did you actually find any? I…uh…would like some of those links…for categorical purposes of course…

    But seriously. I’ve always been intrigued by what an actual rape looks like, and I sure as hell am not going to actually do it, so…

    I mean, if you can watch robberies and murders and shit online or on tv (COPS is an example), why would rape be any different? It just makes it seem like forbidden fruit when it’s illegal to watch.

    -Optimum est pati quod emendare non possis-It is best to endure what you cannot change-

  28. SeanB says:

    you sure it wasn’t a squatter domain, just linking to other stuff that wasn’t real?

    sites "promising" incest and rape are quite different than sites with actual content.

  29. tallimar says:

    not quite true, there has been some activity against this.  unfortunately, whatever was done was, obviously, ineffective.  i think they called it operation didgirigie.

  30. Zerodash says:

    The fact that this is happening, today, in a supposedly non-authoritarian government and there isn’t any massive-scale demonstration against it is baffling to me.

    Austrailia cannot be considered a "free" nation with this going on and most citizens being complicit.

  31. Rodrigo Ybáñez García says:

    The sad thing is than Australia is not as over populated as China in any way and a further control of free speech like this (because this is an attack against free speech, I can´t wait for the first outrage) is just too much.

    But like you said, sure thing is than Atkinson admires people like Hugo Chavez, Fidel Castro, Lenin and Stalin. They should be proud.

    My DeviantArt Page (aka DeviantCensorship):

  32. GoodRobotUs says:

    Agreed, China has obtained a level of mental and physical control over its citizens that most politicians would love to have if it weren’t for the fact that Western society is to used to the rights it has fought for, whether in the American, British, French or Spanish civil wars, or a myriad of others.

    Australian politicans, like most, look admirably on China, they are a rising force from a Political perspective, which is all about money and control, and very little to do with Human Beings, we are told that China is successfull, but I cannot help wondering, when you consider the resources China has available, the percentage of the Earth it occupies in land-mass, and the quantity of the Earths population it actually contains, whether that is actually true on  any basis other than the ones that politicians want people to see.

  33. TBoneTony says:

    One step forward with the R18+ discussion paper released yesterday.

    OVER 9,000 steps back to the British Empire stage with the internet filter.


  34. asmodai says:

    How many customers they lost?

    Here’s the number.  Zero.  Ya know why?  The ENTIRE TEST WAS OPTIONAL.  You could opt out of the filtering if you wanted to from most of the ISP’s tested (as opposed to the mandatory nature of the final solution).

    Pardon my french but Conroy can go fuck himself.  I’m too jaded with Australian politics to believe the electorate will pay much attention to this until after it goes in which will probably not happen before the next election…  Thank whichever power you believe in for cheap VPN accounts to the US…

  35. Father Time says:

    Really I went to some and saw some porn sites promising incest and rape.


    Debates are like merry go rounds. Two people take their positions then they go through the same points over and over and over again. Then when it’s over they have the same positions they started in.

  36. SeanB says:

    I’ve opened more than 30 of those links now, still only that 1 website that was actually real, and it wasn’t illegal. Only thing i can say is that "IF" that list is the official list, nobody has anything to worry about. Nobody wants to see cyber squatter sites anyway.

  37. SeanB says:

    I’d like to talk to the ISP’s that participated, and find out how many customers they lost during the test.

    EDIT: Interesting list on wikileaks. I randomly opened 3 links. 1 immediately halted, the second loaded one of those cyber squatter search pages, and the 3rd waited for DNS forever.

    Second set of 3 all went dead immediately, 3rd set of 3 were all squatter sites.

    Another edit: I finally got into one of the links, it was a regular porn site, nothing objectional on legal grounds. Next 4 links were all dead in various ways again. one was a fricken freehost. why would they ban a freehost?

  38. Neeneko says:

    While world leaders publicly condemn China, most are probably very envious of the country.  People who seek power on such levels tend to be the same regardless of the local culture.

  39. Neeneko says:

    Because they know they will get donations and votes if they do?

    Politicians are generally pretty pragmatic when it comes to their own necks.

  40. Cerabret100 says:

    “Most Australians acknowledge that there is some internet content which is not acceptable in any civilised society".

    If he honestly believed that, he’d realize that they also are able to decide where to not click, and wouldn’t need this.

    Why do politicians think that if we know it’s bad and disgusting, it’s okay to censor it? I’d think it’d be the oposite. If I realize something is bad/disgusting, i personally take it upon myself to not go to that site or whatever and therefore wouldn’t need the isp to block it for me.

  41. Father Time says:

    More like 20.


    Debates are like merry go rounds. Two people take their positions then they go through the same points over and over and over again. Then when it’s over they have the same positions they started in.

  42. Ratros says:

    Australia takes two more steps back.

    I once had a dream about God. In it, he was looking down upon the planet and the havoc we recked and he said unto us, "Damn Kids get off my lawn!"

  43. Father Time says:

    Good God this disgusts me to no end, didn’t the most recent polls say most Australians were against this crap?


    Debates are like merry go rounds. Two people take their positions then they go through the same points over and over and over again. Then when it’s over they have the same positions they started in.

  44. Mukake says:

    “Most Australians acknowledge that there is some internet content which is not acceptable in any civilised society".

    This statement might be true… But what does civilized society have to do with Australia?

    Now that Australia has outlawed most of the information age, maybe they can start on the space age by censoring telescopes and observatories… after all, some constellations can be quite obscene, and with enough imagination, even pedophilic.

  45. DarkSaber says:

    Not mentioned in this article is the fact there are also sites (such as gambling sites) that ISPs will be allowed to "voluntarily" block access to. In exchange for a grant from the Australian government.


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

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