Posts Tagged 'ACMA'

Conroy disappoints again

SBS’s Insight programme tonight was good, but not great. Conroy for once had to stand up to his critics, but as usual, his responses were lacking.

He did manage to expand on a point he made last week on Q&A. He talked non-specifically about reforming the way classifications are made to ensure public “confidence” in the system. I won’t bother talking too much about the implied admission that the current regime isn’t suited to classifying websites (even though it’s been doing it for the past nine years, as Conroy loves to remind us so often), as I’d much prefer to talk about these reforms in terms of the way they could change our debate.

As it stands at the moment, those of us campaigning against Conroy’s filter know exactly what we’re fighting against: a mandatory scheme which will attempt to block all kinds of material from some MA15+ to child porn and everything in between. Individuals who have had their websites blacklisted will have no recourse, as the list will be held under lock and key.

With these reforms Conroy has hinted at, he is essentially asking us to support a scheme without telling us how the classifications will be made, even in the short/medium term. One of my deepest held concerns is that there is no way to know how the proposed mandatory filter will be (mis)used in the years and decades into the future. Conroy has brought this concern forward, and it now applies to the coming months.

newtonpattenI have to commend Mark Newton of Internode and Fiona Patten of the Australian Sex Party. Both were extremely knowledgeable, and took it to Conroy on all levels. In particular, Mark destroyed the idea of the filter having any shred of efficacy, and Fiona exposed Cornoy’s “refused classification and illegal material” doublespeak.

All in all, the Insight format was far better than Q&A, even though they did spend a lot of time on what I would consider topics inconsequential to the current debate. Check it out.


An oldie, but a goodie

Just in case anyone hasn’t yet seen it:

Downfall was a great movie, but this beats it hands down.

Don’t get too worried about Optus

Optus has renewed its wish to be included in Conroy’s mandatory filter trial.

My understanding is that Optus and Conroy have always been in “negotiations”, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Conroy now starts trying to push Optus to get in on it. He is in desperate need of a large ISP to add credibility to his trial.

There’s no reason for Optus customers to overreact just yet. What they’re saying still sounds reasonable:

  • Optus is participating in order to accurately gauge the impact this type of technology would have on our network.
  • Willingness to participate in the trial does not necessarily indicate support of mandatory filtering.
  • It’s a trial – and designed to test the effectiveness and impact of such filters on a network environment.
  • Optus wants its customers to have a safe experience on the internet and considers cyber-safety an important issue for all internet users.
  • Optus would rather be a ‘part of the conversation’ than not be involved if the Govt decided to mandate filtering.

The only problem I can see is in the answer to the last question, “What about other content like adult content and things the government might like to stop people viewing?“. Optus answers:

  • Optus will NOT be filtering this type of content.

As I’ve previously reported, some of the most popular pornographic websites in Australia do appear on the ACMA blacklist. I think Optus customers should be notified that this is the case, as the current answer is very misleading.

Such are the difficulties for a PR department trying to answer questions about a secret blacklist.

Conroy to appear on “Insight”

Stephen Conroy will appear on SBS’s Insight at 7:30pm AEDT this coming Tuesday. It looks like they’ve found guests and experts on all sides of the debate, so I don’t think Conroy will be able to get away with as much as he did on Q&A.

Naturally, you can expect an angry write-up from me after the programme finishes. I can’t wait.

I don’t support it…

…but I still think it’s funny.

Hackers defaced the Australian classification board’s website last night.

UPDATE: Websinthe offers a sensible comparison between pros and cons of the attack.

I’m later than I thought on this news. I guess I was too caught up in Conroy’s Q&A rubbish last night to notice.

Conroy suggests voters give Labor the flick

It looks like Conroy is starting to talk some sense:

(Voters can) toss us out if they don’t like what we do or they don’t like what somebody else does.

I think we might just take you up on that.

Webshield’s Anthony Pillion is an idiot

Anthony Pillion

The neckbearded Anthony Pillion

Of the six ISPs participating in Stephen Conroy’s mandatory filtering trial, none have had a higher profile than Webshield. Webshield’s managing director, Anthony Pillion, has frequently made himself available for comment, generally offering his heartfelt support of filtering.

Webshield, who voluntarily offers ISP level filtering to its customers, could see its niche in the market destroyed by Conroy’s MIF scheme. This makes some of Anthony Pillion’s comments all the more bizarre. In a terrible article published by AustralianIT, he had this to say:

The mandatory level of filtering proposed by the government is not some pipe dream; filtering large volumes of traffic for small lists of URLs is possible and viable with technology available today.

Another complaint is that content will be blocked when it shouldn’t be. Over blocking is an issue for dynamic filtering not for blacklist filtering.

This is absolute nonsense. Considering that the blacklist will be handled by government bureaucrats, it will be subject to the full array of human error, or more likely, human stupidity. As the recent ACMA leak shows, popular and completely innocent websites have made their way onto the blacklist.

The most telling comments from Pillion emerged following the first ACMA blacklist leak, which was said to have been inaccurate:

Anthony Pillion, managing director of Webshield, one of six ISPs participating in the Federal Government’s internet filtering trial also said “there is a giant question mark over the motive and credibility of the content in the leak”.

Pillion said the leaked list was not a list of URLs in use during the trials.

“It seems as if it is a compilation of information available on the web, and includes some URL’s never investigated by ACMA,” he said.

“That makes it questionable at least.”

“It has more basis in michief than in credibility.”


An online story in a Sydney newspaper earlier today attributed the leak without qualification to a Government-approved maker of internet filtering products.

Pillion doubted those companies would leak the information.

“The only motive could be somebody that dislikes intensely what the Government is proposing at the moment, and will go to any lengths to undermine it.”

For the past two years, ACMA has sent weekly updates of its lists to makers of internet filters, Pillion said: “There would have to be copies of various lists floating around”.

The lists used in filtering trial are encrypted and “far more secure”, he said.

While it’s not easy to work out exactly what Pillion is trying to say, it seems he’s unaware that the blacklist can be easily extracted from filtering software by people who have the relevant technical knowledge. The companies themselves don’t need to leak the information as, by design, the list must be stored somewhere within the program. Is Pillion computer illiterate, or just completely stupid?

It seems amazing that Pillion could talk about leakers lacking “credibility” when he’s supporting actions which are bound to hurt his company.