Wednesday, 10 February 2010

     The Secret Truth Behind 
Australian Internet Censorship

From the Managing Director of the Australian Christian Lobby, Mr. Jim Wallace: "To be truly effective, it is important that the list of sites to be blacklisted be continuously updated and that the parameters for blacklisting sites and material are similarly continuously reviewed," he said [Australian Christian Lobby Press Release, February '08]. You would be aware that during their '07 electioneering for the Christian vote in a live simulcast, John Howard and Kevin Rudd committed 189,000,000 tax dollars to an anti-pornography scheme. You weren't? How much?  


This is a short essay that highlights the extraordinary influence Australia's most powerful political action group, the Australian Christian Lobby, and the role it has played in introducing Internet censorship in Australia. The ACLs fundamentalist beliefs - and continuing political influence - may well see an end to legitimate debate on a range of topics from euthanasia, abortion, same sex marriage, to Darwinian ideas of human evolution on Australian computers - YOUR computer. Who cares? Well, that is just the tip of the iceberg - and we will highlight the ACMA 'blacklist' that was leaked, showing there is a long list of not-so-naughty things you'll most likely soon be missing. This piece is not in any way a criticism of moderate Christianity, but the influence of right-wing evangelists in Australia. The legislation, that puts us in line with only China, Saudi Arabia and Iran as the only countries not to offer 'opt-in' filtering, is set to be tabled in Federal Parliment this month. It is important that you understand what the Internet censorship scheme entails and how it affects you. I strongly suggest that you begin by reading the Electronic Frontiers Australia website - here and here

The 189-million dollar event was coordinated by the Australian Christian Lobby, who you'd imagine would be a well meaning, if relatively innocuous, church group that your grandma would support by baking cookies for their fundraiser, right? In November '09, Mr Conroy was questioned by Senator Scott Ludlum about his one-to-one closed door meetings with the ACL [Australian Christian Lobby] regarding the 'clean feed' Internet censorship: "Is the minister only backgrounding supportive stakeholders, or will he also be providing a briefing to some of the many online advocacy and other groups who have been highly sceptical of this proposal? ... There are a great many stakeholders in this net filtering debate, and they have a right to be demand why one group alone has been briefed by the minister." What other groups are granted a private audience and the ear of the Minsister? Some are more equal than others.

Strong Christian Voice in New Senate from Australian Christian on Vimeo.

This from Senator Christine Milne, "The Australian Christian Lobby is a private company, it's a lobbying company, and like every other lobbying company it lobbies on behalf of its clients and it was not clear to us who's funding the Australian Christian Lobby and where they were coming from ...before we see this incursion of really fundamentalist religious right into Australian politics, people need to know where it's coming from, and I think Mr. Wallace could clear that up by actually saying who's funding the Australian Christian Lobby [ Nov '07] At the last election, Mr. Wallace told ABC TV's Lateline program he expected the Christian vote to have a big impact on the coming election; unsurprisingly, it was at this Australian Christian Lobby event that the politicians revealed the $189 million anti-pornography initiative. Senator Allison says the separation of church and state is becoming blurred:

Mr. Jim Wallace confirmed that in the video up above, did he not?

If Wallace were to admit that the ACL are funded by the evangelical religious right - Jim and Tammy Fay Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, and the loopy Ted Haggard types in the USA - would it mostly alter sane, moderate Christian Australian's opinions of this issue? Heaven's above, of course it would! Why do you think that they have continually side-stepped the questions as to where their roots are firmly planted?

"Yes Minister" Kevin Rudd is intent on blindly going where no leader outside of China, Iran and Saudi Arabia has gone before - in full knowledge it is totally ineffective. Holly Doel-Mackaway with Save the Children, the largest independent children's rights agency in the world, said educating kids and parents was the way to empower young people to be safe internet users. Doel-Mackaway noted the claims by the internet industry that the filters would be easily bypassed, would not block content found on peer-to-peer networks and chat rooms and would be in danger of being broadened to include legitimate content such as regular pornography, political views, pro-abortion sites and online gambling. Enter the ACL! Remember ACL Jim Wallace's comment: "To be truly effective... the list of sites to be blacklisted be continuously updated and that the parameters for blacklisting sites and material are similarly continuously reviewed,"[ACL Press Release, February '08].

How long will P2P networks survive? "Bad things can come down those wires, so we need to nip it in the bud and where better to start than Pirate Bay, Google, YouTube and other nasty websites where communists and pedo's congregate?" - I can almost hear them saying. What does "appropriate content" constitute precisely?

Google, you say? Don't be ridiculous! The following from today's Sydney Morning Herald: Google baulks at Conroy's call to censor YouTube - click here - and you may also start to wonder where it'll end. As a matter of fact, Google look set to pull out of China because of its Net censorship, and associated corruption and cronyism - here. That might give you an indication of where we're headed, don't you think?

Labor. Damned Lies. And statistics.

Let's look at Mr Rudd's extreme economy with the truth just two weeks before Labor are set to table legislation to censor our Internet.  From The Australian on  February 10th, 2010: "The performance of Kevin Rudd on Monday night's ABC TV program Q&A was nothing short of embarrassing ... If the Coalition wants to maximise its election prospects, it should make 10 million copies of the Q&A program and post one out to every household." It continues, "The unedifying spectacle of Rudd underwhelming Australians when he directly answers their questions (or refuses to) isn't going to end any time soon."  

Click picture to make Pinocchio's nose grow!

The Australian article: "Listening to him spend 55 minutes struggling to answer questions from an audience aged between 16 and 25 must have left viewers with the distinct impression he is more than a little tetchy with his record of achievements (or lack thereof)." And all those porky pies, hey! And as if that's not evidence of Mr Rudd not being entirely straight, how about THE Senator Stephen Conroy, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy the grand 'architect' of Internet censorship in Australia, giving his ex-Labor friend a $450k per year job - without the position ever being advertised!

Again from The Australian, February 12th, 2010: "FORMER labor MP and apparatchik Mike Kaiser has described the selection process that led to him securing a $450,000-a-year job with the government-owned National Broadband Network Companyon the recommendation of Communications Minister Stephen Conroy as rigourous." "Mr Kaiser was elected to Queensland parliment in 2000 but did not recontest his seat the following year, after allegations he had been involved in electoral rorting in the mid-1980s." Surprised?

Click to enlarge the $450k PR job ... for God's sake!

Conroy has repeatedly proven himself to be extraordinarily economic with the truth - much like Mr Rudd - when it comes to Internet filtering. Are these the sort of men you would trust with your internet? Obviously they're not averse to telling porky pies. Thoust shouldn't do that should thoust? Consider therefore that all of this talk about porn, it might perhaps just be the desire to keep the ACL onside?

Labor's Pedophile "Honeypot".

Internet filtering guarantees disaster for our children. We are all aware that the filtering technology is flawed, easily circumvented and not a 'silver bullet', as Mr Conroy put it. Until today, I had not heard anyone allude to 'honeypots' as this forum poster does:

"With ISP l evel filtering, all one need do is use any sort of proxy (i.e. Tor or web-based proxies) to access the blocked material, which is not only a very trivial thing to do but the technique is already common knowledge amongst teens who want to circumvent school network blocks on Facebook, MySpace, etc. Worse, many (if not most) of the free ‘MySpace’ proxies you can find through a simple Google search are ‘honeypots.’ Unscrupulous free proxy operators harvest usernames and passwords that are run through the system and exploit them to take over the Facebook, MySpace, Gmail or even internet banking accounts which are accessed through them. Free proxy sites also can serve up malware, installing trojans, keyloggers and other nasties on machines which access the proxy site, exploiting kids’ general ignorance of these hidden technical threats. As such, ISP level filtering both will give parents a false sense of security that children are actually limited from accessing age-inappropriate material and through honeypot and malware exploits, cause more problems than they solve."

The immutable fact is that kids & teens WILL use these 'proxies' if Mr Rudd and Labor tries to censor the Internet. It is folly to suggest that this will not occur - and youngsters will swap proxies like we used to exchange bubblegum cards or marbles as children.

Mr Rudd's solution is akin to the finger in the dyke before a tsunami hits - and the tsunami is millions of typically 'rebellious' youngsters who can already bypass filters with their eyes closed. It would be perilous to ignore the fact that many 'honeypots' are fronts for crime gangs, pedophile networks and indeed predators who set up virtual servers to lure their prey. As if it is not bad enough that the filter has proven itself wholly ineffective against perverts, instead of tightening the net on pedophiles, we're creating millions of additional trapdoors where 'spiders' patiently lay in wait for our kids. Allowing mandatory Internet filtering means we - well-intentioned people - are helping to push them toward the holes.

Ask yourself why 'Save the Children', 'National Children's Youth Law Centre', 'The Australian Library & Information Association' and 'Civil Liberties Australia' are vehemently opposing mandatory Internet censorship. It's not too late to voice your opposition to anything other than voluntary 'opt-in' filtering. The legislation is to be tabled this week. 


Please write to Joe Hockey, or Independent Senator Nick Xenephon Remember, if you're not part of the solution 
... you are part of the problem.

If we all allow electioneering, bent bureaucrats and the 'idiot fringe' to decide what we are entitled to see online at the ISP level, we're going to Hell courtesy of born again 'let-me-shove-my-views-down-your-throat' clowns. Of course, you are well within your rights to OPT-IN to a private or Government funded 'Net Nanny' type service. I personally don't wish to have a man that eats his own ear wax telling me anything ... especially a PM who kowtows to a right-wing political action group that decries everything from Darwinian ideas of human evolution, homosexuality, euthanasia, and indeed anything un-Christian.

The Internet filtering legislation is slated to go before Parliament this month - and I am genuinely terrified at the number of my educated and 'well informed' friends and colleagues who are totally oblivious to even the possibility of such legislation - and not a single one who was aware of the huge influence of the ACL. Were you? Let me ask you, if you weren't aware of the group's clout or influence on your politicians, don't you feel that somehow you deserve to be made aware of such religious incursions into Australian politics?

More worrying was a poll this week that put forward that 90% of Australians want to filter child pornography. Duh! I'd like to see an amnesty of, say, 24 hours whereby any decent Australian might attempt to find a single image of true child pornography on the Internet - just to prove how ridiculous this assertion from groups like the Australian Christian Lobby and the Rudd camp actually is. I am a Christian, however, I am furious that reason has given way to the religious-right and nonsense legislation. America has what is known as the 'bible belt' - and the people who live there are entitled to their religious freedoms AND a free internet. We're getting belted by bible bashers, a religious PR militia if you will, and most of us don't realise it exists. We can switch Mr Rudd off; however, once the legislation is in place we will long have a reminder of his short and sorry reign.

So, the Federal Parliament is spending $189 million attempting to counter pornography, with several departments that feverishly monitor and black-out what is termed 'inappropriate content'. Approximately $89 million is already earmarked by Mr Rudd for an Internet porn censorship scheme that has proven itself to be woefully inadequate and easily circumvented by a curious six year old. How much, however, has been allocated for combating cyber-terrorism such as the shut down of critical infrastructure: energy, transportation and Government operations?

I read one headline announcing a grant of $60K for cyber terrorism research as a huge boon. I will personally look after my family and make sure that they are not set upon by sexual predators [which Labor's 'Clean Feed' can not do]. I object to being dictated to by right-wing political action groups and faceless bureaucrats as to what constitutes appropriate content; The government's ACMA 'blacklist' that was leaked recently includes everything from poker sites to those discussing euthanasia. No, I'll decide what I want blocked thanks.

I would be infinitely more comfortable thinking the authorities were shielding my family from dangers which I am outwardly powerless against. If there is a catastrophic cyber attack, not like the purile one on Government websites, I hope that Mr Rudd can provide an explanation as to why he was totally obsessed with watching porn. Even better, there's an election coming up, so just switch him off. If you are a dyed in the wool Labor voter, let Mr Rudd know that you are extremely unhappy with the legislation. Or go Green!

You have about TWO weeks before this is tabled in Parliament. It is too late to join some twee Face Book fan pages by halves. You MUST write to your local member and let them know it was you who elected them and their future that you hold in your hands. Tell them you will not accept YOUR Internet being censored. Join the millions of concerned Australians who do give a @#$% And for God's sake, tell your friends!

Electronic Frontiers for background + for contacts. Please write to them immediately.

Will the 'clean feed' actually work? The Dummies A-to-Z Workaround Guide to Internet censorship – click here - a sterling example of how inadequate and laughably wasteful of taxpayer dollars Internet proxies render the Rudd Government’s censorship scheme. While this page is still 100% legal to circulate today, and you’re encouraged to do exactly that, it is highly recommended you save the webpage offline as it will most certainly be blocked under the proposed ‘clean feed’ legislation. On PC & Mac, right-click and then select “Save Page As …”. Store the file as HTML in a folder and enjoy the Internet as it should be, thanks to Boing Boing



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