The Obama administration has questioned the Rudd Government’s plan to introduce an internet filter on the grounds that it runs contrary to stated US foreign policy of using an open internet to spread economic growth and global security.

Hillary Clinton delivering a speech in January outlining US foreign policy plans on the open internet. Pic: AFP / File

The US State Department has told The Punch its officials have raised concerns about the filter with Australian counterparts, as America mounts a new diplomatic assault on internet censorship by governments worldwide.

Asked about the US view on the filter plan US State Department spokesman Noel Clay said: “The US and Australia are close partners on issues related to cyber matters generally, including national security and economic issues.

“We do not discuss the details of specific diplomatic exchanges, but can say that in the context of that ongoing relationship, we have raised our concerns on this matter with Australian officials.”

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has long faced opposition to the plan by internet freedom lobby groups, but the circle of critics has now dramatically widened. Google – currently involved in high-profile standoff with the Chinese government over censorship – and other major tech companies made their objections public last week and the intervention of the US government will increase the pressure on the minister.

In a speech in January US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton put internet freedom at the heart of American foreign policy as part of what she called “21st century statecraft”. The US, she said, would be seeking to resist efforts by governments around the world to curb the free flow of information on the internet and encouraged US media organisations to “take a proactive role in challenging foreign governments’ demands for censorship”.

Clay’s statement added: “The US Government’s position on internet freedom issues is well known, expressed most recently in Secretary Clinton’s January 21st address.  We are committed to advancing the free flow of information, which we view as vital to economic prosperity and preserving open societies globally.”

In this debate some of Conroy’s biggest allies have been his critics, allowing the minister to place himself in the political mainstream from where he can point to the filter being primarily designed to block obscene content, including child pornography.

But the criticism of the scheme’s design has been mounting, with the US Government and agencies like Google now numbering among those who have publicly declared they have concerns about it. Clearly, nobody is going to accuse either of being in favour of the distribution of illegal content.

The concerns centre around whether it will work in the first place, but also about a government building a system is designed to control the distribution of information. Some critics argue the filter will apply to information on euthanasia and safer drug use. But there are also concerns that it will stop media organisations reporting certain kinds of stories such as on crime.

Shadow treasurer Joe Hockey some of these wider concerns in a speech earlier this month when he said: “What we have in the government’s Internet filtering proposals is a scheme that is likely to be unworkable in practice. But more perniciously it is a scheme that will create the infrastructure for government censorship on a broader scale.”

The Coalition’s position is that it remains to be convinced that a filter will be effective.

Now I don’t doubt Conroy when he says it is aimed only at repugnant content. However there have been significant concerns raised by experts regarding the ease with which it can be bypassed and the accuracy of the filtering. And once the scheme is in place it always leaves open the possibility that it could be used to censor some political views.

There’s also the problem, which Hockey alluded to, that it can be easily circumvented. Once the filter goes live we can expect instructions for getting around it to be easily accessed by a Google search. (In fact, you can get some pretty good results by searching “How to bypass the Australian ISP filter” already.)

Google’s concerns on the filter are mainly that it is likely to be ineffective and will not protect children Google knows a bit about filtering content, given its experience in China and its voluntary filtering of content in other countries, such as in Germany where it filters out Nazi propaganda. Today on The Punch, one of the tech giant’s executives Iarla Flynn summarises the company’s objections, labelling the ISP filtering plan “a threat to the open internet” which “robs Australians of the opportunity to make some vital choices in their lives”.

Flynn also points out that other governments, perhaps of a more sinister bent, could point to the Australian scheme to legitimise their own plans to control information flow in and out of their country.

The list of complaints with the filter is growing, as is the status of the agencies that have concerns about it.

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97 comments

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    • stephen says:

      02:56am | 29/03/10

      If all and any information is available to us at a whim, then we have wise choices to make.
      What then is wrong with wisdom ?
      It’s important, i think, to have everything presented to us, (which is either fact or fiction.)
      Only fiction can hurt us.

    • Winston Smith says:

      10:35am | 29/03/10

      @stephen- couldn’t agree more!  Its those that confuse fiction from fact that provides ammunition to people like Conroy and the ALP to take on the mantle of Big Brother and dish out things which undermine our civil liberties.

    • Kelley Johnston says:

      10:35pm | 30/03/10

      The problem I see is - once the government starts filtering information for good reasons, it will soon become all too easy to do it for bad ones.  Bureaucrats are seldom the right choice as moral arbiters.

      Every survey I’ve seen on the Internet filter has “No” at 90% or more.  I truly wish Stephen Conroy would remember we’re supposed to be a democracy and get off his high horse.  He’s certainly not speaking for me.

    • WKH says:

      04:48am | 29/03/10

      “repugnant content” Funny, that sounds like a Labor Conference…..You would have to wonder, given all the shit this government finds themselves in recently why they would be prepared to push on with this legislation. It has “looser” written all over it. (or is that just the minister and his government)
      As you pointed out, there will be so many ways around this filter you have to wonder why they are prepared to waste so much money. Oh, I forgot for a second who we were talking about…

      KRUDD = FAIL

    • Andrew says:

      08:16am | 29/03/10

      There is only one “o” in “loser”.

    • Alex_D says:

      09:58am | 29/03/10

      Good work Andrew, but don’t stop now. I heard that somewhere else on the internet, maybe in a forum, there’s another typo. Go find it bulldog!

    • Alex_D says:

      09:59am | 29/03/10

      Good work Andrew, but don’t stop now. I heard that somewhere else on the internet, maybe in a forum, there’s another typo. Go find it bulldog!

    • James says:

      02:14pm | 29/03/10

      Good work Alex_D - double post!

    • Udu says:

      06:32am | 29/03/10

      Rudd would do what Obama wants. he is a good at following international orders.

    • sil5er says:

      01:49pm | 29/03/10

      yep, you got it.

      alas, he’s behind the game when it comes to following the NWO plans ... which seem to have totally flip-flopped.  Perhaps they have decided its easier to track people if they arent being tricky and bypassing security?

      And yes, I have to say it ... which internet are they talking about?  There are thousands…. Perhaps this article is referring to _the_ Internet, as in capital I, IE the global IP one?  I guess we should overlook this obvious ignorance and amateur editting/proofing, and just accept that this is what our news channels have come to ... Orwellian lack of vocabulary etc.  Maybe future news stories will be published in SMS/txt abbreviations.  mmmmm.

    • John A Neve says:

      06:43am | 29/03/10

      I don’t often agree with American policy, this is one case where I do. If we are to have a free and democratic ( I use that word in a generic sense) world, then we must all oppose any form on internet filter.

      Rgarding online porn; porn in my view is in the eyes of the beholder, what children watch is the responsibility of the parents.

    • biff says:

      06:54am | 29/03/10

      Another well thought out ALP policy.

    • Bob H says:

      06:50am | 29/03/10

      Remove porn DVDs and such from Canberra first - then implement Kev’s year zero filter.

    • dancan says:

      07:52am | 29/03/10

      Hey!  Don’t take one of the very few things that make Canberra marginally more interesting than a dirty stagnant lake.

    • Bob H says:

      09:02am | 29/03/10

      @dancan - i don’t think you need worry, the slimeballs will never deny themselves their supply of smutty DVDs?

    • Margaret says:

      07:19am | 29/03/10

      I do not need Kevin Rudd or any other politician acting as a censor over what material I access…on the internet or anywhere else.  The problem with this kind of prohibitive behaviour is that, this week it will be censoring porn & violence…but next week or the next government it might be filtering environmental material or material posted by some race or position unsupported by the government of the day.  I am fed up with the government acting in my so called “best interests” and I will vote accordingly.  Take heed Labor party..I for one have already moved my vote to Green after nearly forty years of voting

    • Mick says:

      08:17am | 29/03/10

      You do realise voting green will just hand the labor party a vote anyway as they preference each other.Vote independent or Liberal, I know for some people that’s a hard thing to do, but at the end of the day any party who opposes this is on the track to election victory. Gen X and Gen Y will make the ground shake on polling day and Labor are so self assured they won’t see the knockout punch coming. You can expect them to bombard everyone with other promises to take your attention away from it.

    • neilmc says:

      09:25am | 29/03/10

      @Mick…. or put in the effort to vote below the line. The Greens have had a clear stance against Labor’s idiotic filter policy for some time now & Scott Ludlam has done more to make Conroy uncofortable than even Nick Minchin has.

      Few people vote according to just one issue though. (Maybe on health or taxes, but probably not on this)

      The Libs seem to be fence sitting on this a bit but there has been encouraging comments from some of them.

      Tony Smith in the shadow portfolio seems like there is nobody there at all.

      Labor have morphed their filter policy countless times with each body blow it has been dealt. It lives on regardless (I guess they made a serious promise to somebody). I know people who will likely vote against Labor for the first time because of this issue.

    • Chris L says:

      09:39am | 29/03/10

      Liberal Party has not voiced any opposition to the filter. In fact they have looked into bringing in censorship themselves but abandonded the idea as unworkable. I’m going to give the Liberal Democratic Party a go as their stated ideals are about individual freedoms. Mind you, if they did get any seats they would probably just turn out to be politicians, but we can live in hope.

    • Cam says:

      11:01am | 29/03/10

      Chris, you’ll find that within the Liberal Party the vast majority are strongly against any form of compuslory censorship, especially this internet filter. It was Howard who provided opt-in filters for parents to protect their children if they chose. The Libs know this is a potent political issue and will fight it in the upcomming election.

    • dancan says:

      07:45am | 29/03/10

      I’m against Conroy’s filter whole heartedly.  But I can’t help but question the motives of the US on the matter. 

      On the same day a story is published on news.com.au regarding the fight between Google and China regarding censorship, and the complete lack of any support from the US State Department.  The same State Department then questions Australia?  It’s as though the US State Department aren’t willing to stand up to China so they go for the next, smaller guy.

    • Jaz says:

      11:16pm | 29/03/10

      Duncan your wrong.
      Hillary has been Hammering 3 things with China.
      1.Floating the Currency
      2.Transparency of government (includes internet)
      3.Tibet

      The Americans are more concerned than anyone as they are concerned about proven cases of the Chinese government attacks on American government websites and organised cyber spying.

      The Google move is logical. They gained market share then opted to go it alone knowing that they would probably be seen as heroes for taking on the Gov. Providing more incentive to users to use them as an independent source. This move will boost Googles market share in China.

    • B.Howard says:

      07:58am | 29/03/10

      This is just another nail in the coffin of so called democratic government.Slowly but surely our rights as free people are being eroded.Every time I hear Kevin Rudd telling us we live in a democracy,I laugh out loud.Their socialist leanings are well and truly on show.No more votes for Kevin Rudd.Wake up Australia.

    • Ironhalo says:

      08:01am | 29/03/10

      Margeret, a vote for the Greens effectively means you are keeping Labor in as the Greens give their preferences to Labor. I am amazed that there are so many people who don’t want to vote Labor this election, but who think the answer is to vote the Greens. It makes it worse.

    • John A Neve says:

      08:18am | 29/03/10

      Ironhalo,

      I must disagree, people vote Green or Independent or whatever for many reasons. I vote for any one but Labor, Liberal or National.

      Greens give their preferencs for the most part to Labor because they don’t get enough votes to be either the government or the recognised opposition. If enough people voted Green, their situation would be different.

    • Gilbert Burgh says:

      09:03am | 29/03/10

      The allocation of preferences in one thing. But voters need not direct their preferences according to ‘how to vote’ cards and deals. If more people were informed voters and used their ability to think critically, the issue of so-called minor parties or independents would not be an issue for the Westminster system of parliament we have in Australia. It is the stranglehold major parties have on the perceptions of people that an adversarial two-party system ensures market confidence, political stability and good governance!

    • lorien says:

      09:38am | 29/03/10

      It is at these sorts of times I fully appreciate the wisdom of Albert Langer and the voting scheme he advocated that had him thrown in gaol http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Langer_vote . I’m sorry, but we need some means of preventing parties we vote for distributing out *our* votes to parties we absolutely do not want from (re)gaining power.

    • Robert says:

      10:49am | 29/03/10

      Once again, voting below the line and numbering your preferences ensure that they will not flow to Labor.
      The Greens have a firm stance against the filter whereas the Liberals(sic) are non-committal (except for Joe Hockey) and out of touch with the majority view of the Australian Electorate regarding contemporary values and issues.

    • Dave Sag says:

      04:21pm | 29/03/10

      A vote for the Greens is not an automatic vote for Labor if you vote below the line and allocate your preferences yourself.  Only lazy voters allow a party to decide who to preference.

    • Evan Findlay says:

      05:27pm | 29/03/10

      No Ironhalo, to make things worse would be to vote Liberal, the party that does nothing.

    • Margaret says:

      08:25am | 29/03/10

      mmm - I get that..however, I do not give preferences to anyone…which was certainly the case when i voted two weeks ago…in any event this idiotic policy is bad policy and nanny states are not my cup of tea…no matter which ideology one may follow…including that of the conservatives

    • Wheezle says:

      01:41pm | 29/03/10

      Well the fact is your preferences DID go somewhere, so why not choose them for yourself rather than allow them to be decided by backroom deals? It’s your vote. Take control of it.

    • Margaret says:

      02:41pm | 29/03/10

      I voted straight green…5 made it legal…no others needed

    • Grumbles says:

      06:07pm | 29/03/10

      Margaret, looks like you voted informal. (Thank goodness tho, anyone who wants the greens to run the country has rocks in their head.)

    • Matt Stewart says:

      05:21pm | 30/03/10

      Not necessarily Grumble.  If Margaret lives in South Australia, she did indeed vote informal.  But if she voted in Tasmania, they have partial optional preferential voting, or ‘minimum length’ preferential voting, where they only have to fill in a defined number of boxes.  They are the state that have this system, with all other states being either fully compulsory preferential or fully optional preferential.

      Learn more here:  http://www.dfat.gov.au/facts/electoral_system.html

    • Margaret says:

      08:27am | 29/03/10

      mmm - I get that..however, I do not give preferences to anyone…which was certainly the case when i voted two weeks ago…in any event this idiotic policy is bad policy and nanny states are not my cup of tea…no matter which ideology one may follow…including that of the conservatives

    • Zeta says:

      08:27am | 29/03/10

      I’d like to think that the US Government still represents a beacon for hope and freedom in totalitarian darkness… But they’re probably just protecting their interest in the ACTA negotiations.

      ACTA is the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, currently up to its eighth round of negotiations. If you think Internet Content Filtering is bad, ACTA is a whole other world of pain. Electronic Border Searches, Safe harbour provisions for ISP and mandatory copyright infringement reporting, not to mention the end of online privacy and the total dominance of paid content providers. ACTA will lock the entire internet in the grasp of a few Fortune 500 companies who will never let go.

      When I first heard about the US State Department’s issue with Australia’s content filtering, I wondered why they’d get riled up given that sites facilitating copyright theft could be filtered once ACTA comes into effect, but a quick perusal of the leaked ACTA documents (available here: http://www.michaelgeist.ca/content/view/4516/125/) demonstrates the ACTA signatories are more concerned about people using Tor and other tunneling software to avoid ISP scruitiny of their online activities, the kind of software that mandatory filtering will force people to employ to access unfiltered content.

      Ultimately its about money. The US generates most of our online content, any kind of censorship means less access to that content which means less money for the US economy. Although pressure from the States might be one of the few things that will see the Filter fold, I don’t think we should view the US as some kind of white knight arriving to save us, but rather the lesser of two evils.

    • Dan says:

      02:41am | 30/03/10

      Of course, they aren’t a white knight. The US Government doesn’t exactly have form when it comes to being ‘a beacon for hope and freedom in totalitarian darkness’ (I don’t know if they could ever have been described in such a way), and the idea that the US would be ‘concerned’ about human rights/civil liberties strikes me as an absolute joke.

      I really hate the idea of a net filter, but I don’t buy that the US are in any way the good guys. This is all about self-interest; it just so happens that in this situation, the US’s self-interest is the same as mine (and alot of other people.)

    • Joe says:

      07:33pm | 30/03/10

      Dan i don’t think its about self-interest.  Australia is not a major nor critical market for any internet-based US company.  (As much as you’d like to think you are.  you’re not.  you’re too small by far).  I think the concern really is about abuse of power and the potential for this filter to be mis-used and censor political viewpoints and other speech.  The US has shown countless times that it is strongly on the side of “free-speech” which on the internet translates into freedom of information.

    • LT says:

      08:28am | 29/03/10

      Conroys spent a ridicuosly large amount of money so far on this epic fail of a policy and will just continue on regardless of what the public says, to save face or even to just save his job!  Imagine…how could someone who has spent millions of dollars on something give up, even if he knew he was wrong. It would be the end of his career and he knows it, lets just hope he has the morality to step down and actually acknowledge his failure.

    • Bob H says:

      08:52am | 29/03/10

      There are some very happy IT consultants in Canberra nodding along with Conroy in order to keep those generous fees flowing.

    • Ryan says:

      12:11pm | 29/03/10

      Bob H: probably in India not in Canberra.

    • John says:

      08:37am | 29/03/10

      The social engineers in the Labor Party just can’t help themselves. The filter is an attack on Free Speech and the porno angle is the excuse to up a system so that the government can start to control information from the net.  The porno stuff has already found away around it.

    • Paul Burns says:

      08:48am | 29/03/10

      Does this include stopping Rupert Murdoch’s proposed paywall? I sincerely hope so.

    • Paris says:

      09:01am | 29/03/10

      The Greens will continue to oppose this legislation. A mandatory internet filter will not be passed by the Senate if the Greens are in a balance of power position, unless both the ALP and Liberals vote for it together.

      A vote for the Greens is definitely a vote against the filter.

    • Margaret says:

      09:42am | 29/03/10

      excellent!  I for do not believe that a vote for the Greens will result in the “sky falling” nor do I regard it as a de facto vote for Labor.  & as one other writer observed, if this is a “frightener” related to worry us all about porn sites etc…well they will undoubtedly find a way..and be forced even further underground.  I am simply against this populist attempt to please….well who exactly?

    • Alex_D says:

      10:03am | 29/03/10

      So it’s definitely unless maybe not? Thanks for the clarification.

    • Cam says:

      10:54am | 29/03/10

      A vote for the Greens in the House of Reps is a defacto vote for Labor. In most seats your preferences will flow to Labor. Fair enough, vote for the Greens in the Senate, but don’t blindly follow their House of Reps how to vote card unless you want to vote for this filter.  Put the Libs above ALP if you want to stop this disgraceful act of censorship.

    • Grant says:

      11:29am | 29/03/10

      Nah…

      You do know that the Greens put forward militant pro-censorship intellectual Clive Hamilton from the Australia Institute as a candidate to contest Higgins in Victoria in October 2009.

      The greens are willing to make a lot of ethical soul destroying sacrifices to further their key environmental policies by preferencing Labour and looking the other way on the censorship issue.

      http://www.clivehamilton.net.au/cms/media/documents/articles/crikey_19_nov_internet_filtering.pdf

    • keith hammersmith says:

      11:40am | 29/03/10

      a vote for the greens is a vote against the filter but still a vote for labor, which is a vote for the filter…

    • Robert Smissen of Rural SA says:

      12:37pm | 29/03/10

      Greens are just Labor voters who don’t wear suits.

    • Robert says:

      04:55pm | 29/03/10

      Voting below the line and numbering each party means YOU decide where your preferences go.
      The Greens are the only ones who are strongly opposed to the filter (Scott Ludlam will not support it). The Liberals are non-committal either way.

    • Ben says:

      09:30am | 29/03/10

      Conroy says the filter does not cover P2P which is were all the child abuse material is located, he also said that the filter wont stop kids from seeing R18+ pornography. So if the filter doesnt stop child abuse material or protect kids, what is the point of it? Is there anyone in the world other than Rudd, Conroy and the Australian Christian Lobby that thinks this filter is not a waste of 40+ million dollars?

    • Fungyo says:

      09:48am | 29/03/10

      I don’t understand why all the articles I read say that this Government or the next, MAY broaden the filter to include non RC/illegal material.
      Have these people not seen, forgotten or too scared to mention that the Governments secret block-list has already been leaked (twice) and it DOES include non RC/illegal material.
      Forget about what may happen in the future, this Government and it’s filter, can’t be trusted right now!

    • Roger Dodger says:

      10:01am | 29/03/10

      The reforming Democrats have come out strongly against the censorship plans too.

    • Jennyjenjen says:

      10:10am | 29/03/10

      I’m voting for whoever votes against this filter. If the ‘other’ major political party chooses to vote against the filter then they may just win my vote.

      Hockey’s speech said it well and I hope he speaks for Abotts party
      I can’t believe im saying this…ugh… a liberal said something sensible..What is happening in the world?

    • Harquebus says:

      10:24am | 29/03/10

      The Greens are not going to oppose the internet filter. According to Scott Ludlum, they are only going to put up amendments.

      From an email Scott sent to me.
      “If the Government introduces a bill and we get the numbers to block the mandatory filter proposal while strengthening oversight and independence of the existing blacklist, then we’ll be moving those amendments rather than blocking the bill. But of course, we won’t know until we see the bill. “

      You can not argue with religious nuts which, Krudd and Conroy are.

    • James Morris says:

      10:46am | 29/03/10

      According to Rudd/Conroy logic, the Obama administration are   extreme civil libertarians who support illegal pornography.  Right?

    • Margaret says:

      10:53am | 29/03/10

      It is interesting to note that, whilst we all have differing opinions on our political persuasions, the writers here seem to have a very healthy disagreement with this internet filter.  It would seem logical that all parties should take heed of the concerns we have about our civil liberties.  My close friend is living in China and experiences internet censorship as a daily (and inconvenient) issue, when attempting to communicate

    • The Civet says:

      11:34am | 29/03/10

      It always amuses me to see the ease with which a government, trying to pass something which is odious to the public, smothers it under the heading of protecting the kiddies. Their mums rush, with self-righteous huffing and puffing, to make sure the kiddie widdies see nothing.

      The real reason the government wishes to impose an internet filter is because they can easily track the population, the better to know every detail of our lives. People describe Kevin Rudd as being manipulative, and what does everyone suppose he will be like when he has total control over us.

      Anyone believing the Coalition would do away with this scheme needs to consult a psychiatric specialist.

      Australia, the land of the free, the land of ‘give it a go’, the land of the last of the rugged individuals?????

      And my name is Little Red Riding Hood!!!!!

    • Robert Smissen of Rural SA says:

      12:42pm | 29/03/10

      It still gets back to parents to be RESPONSIBLE for what happens in your home. Whatever Conroy & his boss the Red Teletubby say, it isn’t about porn, it is about their control of every aspect of our lives.

    • Margaret says:

      01:19pm | 29/03/10

      Well, I have just sent an email to Senator Conroy and fully intend to vigorously defend our freedom in whatever way I can. If we permit this sort of incursion, then who really knows where it will end?

    • Bob H says:

      02:13pm | 29/03/10

      I don’t think Senator Conroy has got his head around email yet, but don’t let that stop you.

    • Harquebus says:

      12:48am | 30/03/10

      Comrade Conjob is not listening. My representative and senators know who I will be voting last at the next election.

    • Alex says:

      01:25pm | 29/03/10

      I don’t care if they have a filter, I don’t go anywhere on or off the net my family need to feel ashamed of. The people who cry loudest normally are the ones to gain the most.

    • Margaret says:

      02:45pm | 29/03/10

      well my friend..nor do I…I suspect you would be very bored with my internet footprint… very bored indeed. However, if there is one thing I despise more than inappropriate use of public materials, then it is missionary like zealots who wish to impose their own version of morality upon the rest of us…but if you wish to comfort yourself with the idea that we are all “ashamed” of our internet usage then so be it…bizarre though it may be

    • TC says:

      04:45pm | 29/03/10

      and all it takes for this thing to prosper and become reality is for good people to do nothing.

    • Jay says:

      06:53pm | 29/03/10

      Alex,
      The filter is a complete waste of your money, do you not care about this?
      It also infringes on your rights and dignity as a grown adult in a free society, does this really not bother you?
      And there is a huge problem with our already crippled network being slowed down further and costing more because of this ridiculous idea.
      If none of this bothers you then you have not thought it through or are simply uneducated/ignorant about how this will effect you.

    • SkepDad says:

      08:45am | 30/03/10

      Money wasted on an ineffective filter is money that could have been spent on policing and actually catching the people making the illegal content on the internet. 

      Conroy and Fielding just want to cover it up and pretend it’s not there, as the various churches they defend have been doing with child sexual abuse for centuries.

      The filter will not protect one child, and will, through diversion of funding, give real abusers free reign.

      Do you care about that?

    • Eye4anEye says:

      04:49pm | 09/04/10

      Don’t feed the troll people - look at it and move on raspberry

    • Saint says:

      01:44pm | 29/03/10

      It beggars belief that this is being seriously contemplated and that people aren’t up in arms in the streets….. Q: Name two countries that censor the Internet. A: China and….... Australia.

      Sickening. And to think that Rudd and Labor still enjoy support and will win the next election. Australians who vote Labor should be ashamed of themselves.

      Incidentally, Labor voters reading this…. if you intend to vote Labor again this year, I would be genuinely fascinated to know why.

    • Andrew says:

      02:28pm | 29/03/10

      I’m certainly never voting Labor again nor giving them my preferences.  This policy is straight out of the books of Authoritarian Socialists, and it preys on people who don’t know much about how the internet works.  It’s embarrassing to think that Haystack, which was designed to get around Iran’s filter, could soon be used in Australia.

    • nonny-moose says:

      02:04pm | 29/03/10

      if you cant be bothered to vote below the line, never mind the fact that the Greens havent disclosed what their preferencing deals for the upcoming election are, please stop being shills for Tony Abbott by repeating the “vote for green is a vote for Labor” line.

      He LOVES the fact you repeat it cos its gets votes in his pocket, and obfuscates the issues. stop parroting BS and we might not just make sure not just that the filter isnt followed through on but also that it isnt a gift horse for the Mad Monk.

      do not give either libs or labor votes, vote below the line and ensure a 3rd/independent party seat is filled instead, as long as it isnt Family First.  if neither of the 2 Ls have the ability on their own to field such a bill after the election, and need to rely on independent votes, THAT is the best tactic to squashing the legislation.

      but do NOT allow someone to direct your preferences for you. its your vote after all, take control of the bloody thing!

    • zoe says:

      02:54pm | 29/03/10

      Is it just me, but does anybody else find it slightly disturbing that America is muscling in on this issue?  Now I don’t like the idea of this filter but since when is this America’s problem?  I sense an agenda.

    • Robert says:

      06:49pm | 29/03/10

      Yes their agenda is to stop controlling regimes (China,Iran..etc) and wannabe dictators (Kevin Rudd & Stephen Conroy) from censoring the Internet.

    • Julie Coker-Godson says:

      07:52pm | 29/03/10

      @Zoe at 03.54pm 29/03/10:  No Zoe, its not just you.  I find it disturbing too and I believe they [America] should keep their noses out of Australia’s legislating business.  Whatever the rights and wrongs of internet censoring, the Americans are in no position to be telling us what we should be doing.  I found an interesting little article in the Daily Mail late last night:  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1261284/Were-armed-prepared-civil-disorder-Americas-Tea-Party-revolution-Obamas-biggest-battle-yet.html.  You should read this.  Freedom and democracy American fashion?  No thanks!  Medical and healthcare American fashion?  Not on your life!  And do they care about their fellow 32million Americans who are to be included in healthcare via purchasing health insurance?  Not if this article is to be believed.  A potentially violent Tea Party (see accompanying photo with gun holstered on hip a-la-western style) with threats if they don’t get their way?  We don’t need any advice from America at all.  I am grateful to our Founding Fathers that ownership of guns for all was NOT a part of our Constitution and that it remains that way today.  I wouldn’t have the American way of life if you paid me.  I prefer our healthcare system too.  It is not perfect but at least we are not refused medical treatment when we have a need for it.  Sorry, I digress.  America, stay out of our affairs, we’ll deal with any issues we have with our politicians ourselves thank you!

    • Ryan says:

      09:28pm | 29/03/10

      I sense a democratic country concerned about another democratic country acting exactly like a communist country.

    • Andrew says:

      12:40am | 30/03/10

      Zoe, I live in the USA, I’m Australian, and I’m very glad the USA is “muscling in”.  What Australia is proposing would almost certainly be unconstitutional in the USA. Many people here are looking to Australia and just shaking their heads in disbelief.  In the words of Benjamin Franklin: “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety”.

    • Nigel Catchlove says:

      07:21am | 30/03/10

      The logical extension of your concern is that no country should have the right to criticise another and a collection of countries imposing their will on another is simply a way of bullying.  Do you think that the UN should be immediately scrapped?  Should North Korea or Myanmar be free to do whatever they want as long as they don’t bother others?  How about Zimbabwe, should Australia refrain from any criticism?

      Sometimes a world view or even a view from a different perspective can help you see the folly of your ways.  The same applies to countries.  America’s view is of value in the internet filter debate whether you think Stephen Conroy has got it right or not.  For the record I think he was initially misguided but has now reached the point where he cannot back down or change his proposal because he will appear weak.  The Australian internet filter will be recorded as one of the mankinds heroic failures.

    • Humpty says:

      09:08am | 01/04/10

      I think its good that the US is getting involved. They have made it abundantly clear that they will opposed dictatorships and if their ally gets on the slippery slop then the US are going to pull them off before they fall on their arse and make a fool out of themselves infront of the other countries.

      Think of it this way. If you despised drug addicts and your friend decided to try crack then wouldn’t you step in and stop them?

    • Rex Alfie Lee says:

      01:53am | 30/03/10

      Let’s face it, “Who cares what the Americans think anyway?”. They’re more conservative in so many ways that quite frankly they should butt out of Oz’d politics completely.

      On the other hand this filter could be the one thing that will bring Rudd down completely if he remains so stupidly in favour of it. Until this I have agreed with Rudd completely bcoz he’s only doing what we asked him to do. A for the filter, the large majority do not want it & don’t kid us with your statistics bcoz there are many that totally refute the junk stats Conjob has come up with.

    • John Smith says:

      07:21am | 30/03/10

      The sad thing is this filter will be only put online after the federal election. If it was online before I could guarantee Labour would lose.

    • SkepDad says:

      08:22am | 30/03/10

      We refer to the blackwall as “Conroy’s filter”, but that’s a misnomer.  It’s real name is “Steve Fielding’s filter”. 

      What better way to buy a few key deciding Senate votes than to pander to Family First’s blinkered “morality”.  It has nothing to do with protecting children; Conroy is just the poor sap who has to sell it.

    • John A Neve says:

      01:02pm | 30/03/10

      Shabangabang,

      Do you have any real idea what “communism” is about? Or do you just enjoy making silly statements?

    • TB says:

      01:21pm | 30/03/10

      You know a government is in the wrong when even a fascist regime like the US is displaying concerns over a policy of said government.

    • Matt Stewart says:

      04:54pm | 30/03/10

      I think calling the US a fascist regime is absurd and I suspect we would agree on almost nothing TB.  Which just makes it even more significant that we completely agree on the internet filter.  People who agree on almost nothing can still agree that this is a really, really bad idea.

      Give it up Conroy.

    • NoManCan says:

      07:27pm | 30/03/10

      Are we going to let Ruddy turn Australia into China? Stop Rudd now, vote him out and send a clear message to all future governments!

    • John says:

      09:10pm | 30/03/10

      Where is Persephone’s comment telling us how great this filter is and how great the government is for wanting to implement it?  After all, this government has made one mistake in the last 2.5 years according to her.

    • truckle the uncivil says:

      11:15pm | 30/03/10

      You say this “Now I don’t doubt Conroy when he says it is aimed only at repugnant content.”.

      But I would like you to consider that by now Conroy knows it will not work.  Therefore he has some other motive.

      There are few choices for what that motive might be.  Please consider them.

    • Michael Starkey says:

      06:44am | 31/03/10

      God bless America. I couldn’t agree more with the US. No censorship, ever.

    • Nick says:

      06:48pm | 07/04/10

      I don’t think introduction of internet filter can protect internet user in Austtalia.

      First, internet filter tend to dwart free flow of information. Many form of data can be download from google, msn, bing, yahoo etc. If they block, we may get difficult go find some document.

      Secondly, introduce internet filter would not make sexual abuse related pornography. Because there is no significant relationship between sexual abuse and pornography website. this abuse is simply explained case by case. In fact, sexual abuse in most case is likely to explained by funny brain development.

      Thirdly, some people fail to understand most website related to sexual activities. they simply make money. Mostly,no one want to do that job if they have a choice. Because any government in this world is not capable to maintain natural unemployment rate consistently from time to time. Whatever they do they just earn for living. 
      At the end, internet filter is too wider plan because if the govenment adopt internet filter, the new form of technology software tend to challenge this filter and ultimately depend on people to support this kind of new technology. And if government can hack the internet user password, the individual privacy would be lost inevitably (the recent case hack gmail vs Chinese government.

      Finally, in think, you should use this large amount of fund that derived from tax-payer to put into another form of development.
      - May be government should introduce new software technolgy to target hoax email and websites.
      - You should focus more about environment related to natural disaster interm of theory and new form of technology to overcome this problem. Now we live in the world environmentally uncertainty.  I guess, the future threat of environment is far beyond than Haiti in the recent case.

    • CMB says:

      02:49pm | 09/04/10

      I love all the comments about how america shouldnt say anything as we’re more than capable of handling our own politicians. Honestly how have we fared so far? have we made any noteworthy progress to stopping the filter on our lonesome? last update: a majority opposed it, and ITS STILL BEING IMPLEMENTED. We have no voice so right now political shame might actually help us win the cause.

    • LC says:

      06:18pm | 21/04/10

      The problems with the filter:

      1. Most child pornography is not spread over the part of the internet which we are using now IE; the only part it covers. That is only one small part of the huge network called the internet. Its spread through private, invitation only P2P groups and through encrypted zipped folders sent through email.

      2.It doesn’t deal with the underlying issues that cause people to seek this stuff out in the first place. As such, It won’t stop the any of the deviants that it targets, rather, it will simply cause them to go out onto the streets to look for children to act out their repugnant fantasies on. And for those who stay online, it will drive them onto elusive proxy servers or heavily encrypted connections such as VPNs. This will make the job of the AFP’s anti-pedophile unit NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE (especially considering the recent funding cuts).

      3. It does not deal with the problem at the source. It’s still available for anyone who knows to bypass the filter and those overseas. Instead of just putting a blanket over the problem, Mr Conroy, if you KNOW there’s child porn sites on the net, instead of trying to toss a blanket over them, why not work with national and international law enforcement to have the sites shut down, the people behind them prosecuted and have the images removed?

      4. You can blacklist the site, but not the content. The content can move to other domain names or even hack a legitimate businesses website and put the content there. You’ll be playing infinite and expensive game of whack a mole with my money.

      5. You say this is to protect children. That’s the most ironic thing about this whole fiasco. The children and teens are probably the ones most likely to know how to bypass the filter. And even if only a handful of kids can actually do it, it won’t be long before the whole school knows as well.

      6. The filter may give parents a false sense of security, meaning they’ll feel that the government is keeping an eye on their kids, so they don’t have to. But the reality is (aside from the fact circumvention is not hard) that there are STILL legal pornographic sites which they will need to be protected from.

      7. The fact that not only can a few squeaky wheels get a site added to the blacklist for almost any reason, there is NO appeals process and NO way whatsoever to receive compensation for an incorrectly blocked site.

      8. The massive potential for abuse that is given to the government by a secret blacklisting system.

      9. The fact that the blacklist WILL leak as early as 3 months after the filter is introduced. It’s happened in China, it’s happened in Iran, it WILL happen here, and it will give those who can bypass the filter and those overseas a list of places to find their filth.

      10. The potential to slow down our already neolithic internet speeds down by a further 15-85%.

      11. Judging by the recent commentary from the US, this could put us on bad terms with them and this may result in them not showing up should we ever find ourselves threatened.

      12. With all the above points in consideration, this filter is looking like a ineffective, expensive, taxpayer funded, piece of rubbish which will not do what the government says it will, and it will cause more problems then it solves.

      So, with all those points in consideration Conroy, then instead of wasting time and money on the filter, you put that time and money towards the anti pedophile unit of the AFP, who can track down and arrest people who go to child porn sites, pose as children in chatrooms to bust those who take advantage of them and pose as pedophiles to infiltrate their P2P rings,  which would be far more effective in protecting children. As far as I can tell, the only people who support it are the religious right, lazy parents,  those grossly ill informed on the internet and the plain ignorant (most of which belong to the first group mentioned).

      I, as a labor voter for for as long as I have been enrolled, is seriously considering not giving KRudd and the federal ALP my vote for a long time, if not forever, and instead handing it over to anyone who publicly comes out in opposition the filter, even if it’s the coalition.

    • k says:

      10:24am | 25/04/10

      OK, so why has nobody noticed that this is really about China?

      1. The Melbourne International Film Festival incident indicated Chinese issues with Australian media and their desire to suppress certain topics of discussion in Australia.
      2. China, for all practical purposes, owns Australia’s prosperity by volume of resource purchases.
      3. What happened to Stern Hu was a deliberate show of force designed to intimidate the Rudd government.
      4.The American concerns about Conroy’s filter are not altruistic. The Americans are defending their own interests - they recognise the influence at work here - so why don’t we?

      The Internet filter cannot perform its stated purpose of blocking child pornography. This has been proven beyond reasonable doubt. So what is it for if not that?

      The Rudd government has little difficulty reneging on election promises, as the continued mandatory detention of refugees and the ongoing Northern Territory intervention demonstrate.

      So for Rudd to keep pursuing such a stupendously unpopular policy indicates that there must be a greater source of pressure on him to do so than an angry electorate can raise. The only threat of that scale is China’s anger.

      Where is the discussion of this important angle on this issue?

    • Caseo says:

      08:21pm | 11/07/10

      is the web development and programming company that creates cost-effective custom solutions for IT projects of any degree of complexity.

    • Paul Web says:

      11:29am | 18/08/11

      Seriously? Google still have not explained to the masses how China can bend it forwards and backwards at will.

      Paul
      http://www.connetu.com/

 

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