Govt undeterred by blacklist leaks

Conroy says latest leak “close” to the real list.

Further leakages of the government's Web site blacklist will not affect plans to deploy a national Internet content filter, according to Communications Minister Stephen Conroy.

Speaking at a Sydney press conference this morning, Conroy said the leaked list would serve only to publicise Web sites that promote terrorism, hate and child porn.

“Does the [leaked blacklist] mean we are going to stop blocking access to the sites? No. People can continue to put up the lists if they are proud to do that,” Conroy said.

“It is completely untrue that the leaked blacklist contains political content. This is a list which contains sites that promote incest, rape, child pornography and child abuse.

“If people think [leaking the list] is a victory for free speech, to make available that sort of information, they have a perverse sense of free speech. You can oppose the filter and not be a supporter of child pornography, but equally you can support the filters and still be supporter of free speech.

Conroy said the Queensland dental surgery, revealed last week to be on the published blacklist, was added by the vendor that leaked the list after pornography was injected into its Web site by hackers.

He said the latest blacklist published by on the March 20 “seemed to be close” to the list currently held by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

Conroy said much of the analyst and media commentary about the filtering scheme and the blacklists are false.

“The majority of claims and allegations that are made about what we are doing are entirely false. The filter is based on the Broadcast Services Act that does not include political content [and] the same people do the same test for TV, print and radio.”

The blacklist was setup nine years ago by the then Howard government and continues to operate independent of parliamentary intervention.

Web filter participant Tech 2U managing director Andrew Robson also said the leaked blacklist bears little resemblance to the one held by the government regulator.

He said the blacklist he received from the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) in February this year contained about 1000 Web addresses. The first list published last week on Wikileaks contained about 2300.

“The list is made up of sites lodged from complaints that have breached the classification guidelines. And if it breaches guidelines, the regulator can only block the offending page, not the whole site,” Robson said.

“These lists are given to a stack of software vendors and ISPs that add their own content.

“I am told a page saying 'this site is blocked by the federal government' will be displayed if pages are banned.”

Robson said opponents have double standards if they accept restricted content in television, print and movie theatres but object to comparable filtering of the Internet.

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Conroy is correct - the blacklist is not new.

What is new is the use (mandatory filtering at every ISP) now planned. The problem is not that it has political content, but that there is no mechanism to prevent it from doing so, and no review mechanism or mechanism to provide relief for the inevitable mistakes. Further, since it is based only on complaints, it is never going to be complete, remembering that the number of web pages created each day is hundreds of thousands. Since the criteria for listing are secret, nobody outside ACMA has any way of knowing whether a particular page would be included or not, and no way of finding out except by making a complaint.

These problems are relatively minor where the blacklist is used only for optional filters, but once it is proposed to be used as a filter for everything that any Australian can see, they become much more important.

As a footnote, anyone who considers the internet to be just another part of the media, is clearly lost in the past.




I for one do not accept censorshp in any form.

"Robson said opponents have double standards if they accept restricted content in television, print and movie theatres but object to comparable filtering of the Internet."

Most people do not accept such restriction but have no choice in the matter. As for the internet, if one knows what they are doing they can get access to uncut movies, banned books, banned (or uneditied) computer games, banned television stations) etc.

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