Internet

What's Wrong with Australia?

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First a 16-year-old cracks the $84 million ($70m. US) government-built Internet porn filter in 30 minutes. Then they talk about it in bizarre ways. And conclude what Australia really needs is ISP-based content filtering.

Tom Wood is the cheeky fellow who did the deed for the Herald Sun. The tabloid describes Wood as a "former cyber bullying victim" as if we know what that means. Wood also complains that the filter is waste because it was designed outside of Australia. Obviously.

Sure enough, when the tabby contacts "the Government" an Australian-made filter is added to the list of Government-approved filters on the Government site. Tom then busts that sucker in 40 minutes.

That prompts this observation:

Family First Senator Steve Fielding, a long-time campaigner for cyber safety, said cracking the software showed the need for compulsory filtering by Internet providers.

"You need both. You need it at the ISP and at the PC level," Senator Fielding said.

And you manifestly need the Government—the Department of Communications—to do it.

Better still the filter scheme component of the department's NetAlert system is known as the…National Filter Scheme. This is an outgrowth of the Online Content Scheme, which features the National Classification Scheme. This scheme is backed up by the Australian Communications and Media Authority Blacklist of "malicious websites."

A more pointless undertaking—scheme, excuse me—I cannot imagine. Australia has been on this kick for quite some time, so it is not by accident. There seems to be a conviction that the Internet should operate more or less exactly like a tightly regulated broadcast medium. Not broadband, but TV Plus.

Good luck with that.

NEXT: Highway Robbery

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  1. Just add the cost of a 24/7 morality official to be shipped with every house hold PC. Use the 84 million to initiate the program and add any extra costs to the overall cost of the new PCs. Then ditch the program once this porn craze is over in a year or so. All food/medical bills associated with morality official can be tax deductible. Everyone’s a winner ‘cept the evil pornographers.

  2. Do they think they can successfully come between a teenage boy and porn? The will always come a distant second in technical skills and certainly in motivation.

  3. Then they talk about it bizarre ways.

    please….please re-word.

  4. At this point, it makes more sense to have two computers. One with just spread sheets and word processors that you keep offline. All personal stuff can go on there. Another for browsing and entertainment. Parents can keep the second one in a part of the house that gets lots of foot traffic to discourage inappropriate browsing.

  5. If the ChiComs can’t do it, what makes the Aussies think they can?

    -jcr

  6. Of course Aussies are going to be able to crack this stuff fast, they’re descended from criminals! It’s in the blood!

  7. “Of course Aussies are going to be able to crack this stuff fast, they’re descended from criminals! It’s in the blood!”

    Racist! Oh – um – I mean – bigot! – Oh – um, never-mind.

  8. Psst. Check out truecrypt for great open source strong encryption of your porn ๐Ÿ˜‰

    truecrypt.org

  9. Sure enough, when the tabby contacts “the Government”…

    Oy. Jeff, I was wondering why a kitty cat suddenly appeared in your story. Took about half a minute for my uncaffeinated brain to figure out “tabby” meant tabloid. Unless you actually are Australian, please refrain from using jaunty, colorful slang where a good old American noun will do. If you are Australian, I guess it can’t be helped.

  10. I was wondering why a kitty cat suddenly appeared in your story.

    Yeah I thought that was your sly way of calling some bluenose a pussy.

  11. The Mormon church’s standard advice is to put the computer in the living room. Any filter can and will be hacked.

  12. Australia, for all its many charms, has possibly the worst newspapers of any civilized country. I suspect that this is a plot to undermine the alternatives to the Murdoch-dominated MSM.

    Or maybe it’s the kangaroos.

  13. Filters are useful as a way of stopping younger kids from being unintentionally exposed to porn, so for that purpose I think they should be encouraged. Once they get old enough to want porn enough to go to the trouble of disabling filters, it’s not really worth trying to stop them. Parents who don’t want their adolescent kids from autosexual activity are going to have to convince them not to in other ways.

    After all, if your average pubescent male is denied access to high resolution video, he’s fully capable of jerking off to stick figures.

  14. That should be:

    Parents who don’t want their adolescent kids from engaging in autosexual activity are going to have to convince them not to in other ways.

  15. After all, if your average pubescent male is denied access to high resolution video, he’s fully capable of jerking off to stick figures.

    Obviously, we need mind filters.

  16. 1. Please.. if they can’t even get their broadband sorted (http://www.itwire.com/content/view/13908/1095/) what hope have they got on internet filter?

    2. Countries should stop playing big brother and have an infantile reaction to social issues. Filtering content is not the answer. Public education and parental guidance is more important. Is riske media in Europe more dangerous and detrimental to children than highly regulated countries?…

    3. Racism and bigotry is a widely embraced phenomenon and historical heritage in Oz… Pauline Hansen, Cronulla riots, Dr Haneef, “Two whites don’t make a Wong” all whites migration policy….. ….. …..

    4. They’d be better using one of the world’s highest taxed dollar on the crumbling education, transportation, healthcare, aboriginal welfare issues….

  17. but mr taylor, i think you misunderstand the social benefits of the filters. the teenage sex drive is the most powerful force known to man, and it is very dangerous to social cohesion to allow it to be expressed in a haphazard fashion. rather, the existence of standard internet filters, with fatal but difficult to find weaknesses, encourages young people to pool their resources and develop trust relationships with their fellow masturbators. this transforms the masturbatory act from a self-absorbed pursuit to one of community. also, it promotes the development of skills valuable in the global economy.

  18. all this mess for nothing. the simple solution is a .xxx extension for porn.

    the second the government, any government, starts to shield our poor eyes from dirty things is the moment we can’t get legitimate information on breast, prostate, and colon cancer. not to mention filtering out any “South Park” transcripts!

  19. What in the hell is a “wong”?

  20. jonni – so is porn forced to use the .xxx extension? What qualifies as porn? Does softcore porn use this extension? How do we filter out the porn sites that don’t use this extension? Even if you have answers, your solution isn’t as simple as you claim.

  21. …and once more with proper formatting.

    If the ChiComs can’t do it, what makes the Aussies think they can?

    I think the bigger question is this: Why is Australia, supposedly a free, first-world nation doing their level best to imitate the ChiComs?

  22. Sometimes, you get to see the good guys win. Other times, you get to see the bad guys fail embarrassingly over and over again. Fortunately, seeing the latter is nearly as emotionally satisfying as seeing the former.

  23. This won’t be hard to regulate. All they have to do is watch to see who goes to those websites, then come down with a zillion pound hammer on those people, and you’ll scare enough people out of even trying.

    Think RIAA lawsuits. Think U.S. anti-internet gambling laws. The government doesn’t always have to fix stuff with technology. Sometimes they can fix it with a very, very large hammer.

  24. Why is Australia, supposedly a free, first-world nation doing their level best to imitate the ChiComs?

    Wakeup call: The United States is the only country to explicity guarantee freedom of speech. Welcome to the rest of the world.

    Now, we can fix that here if we can just get some more campaign finance laws with bigger teeth.

  25. The United States is the only country to explicity guarantee freedom of speech.

    Is that really true? Who comes in second, etc.?

  26. Yes, this is an absolute disgrace, but a few things need to be pointed out.

    The filtering software is just a government-subsidised election-year offering – a choice, not compulsory. The problem is only the standard ‘why the fuck are they giving my tax dollars to others’ scenario. It’s a particularly clear example of that, of course, because if you can afford the PC and net etc. you can pretty clearly afford the content filtering as well.

    Australian newspapers are indeed utter shite, and you could certainly get a dozen rabble-rousing stories from each per day.

    In this particular case, the Senator in question is the sole representative of the Family First party, perhaps you have a sprinkling of the religious right in your political system as well? What he proposes would certainly be even more shameful than the current ‘waste of tax dollars’ situation, being more of a deliberate ‘curb on freedom’, but he’s the sole rep of the religious right in Oz Federal politics. As the article says “the government has not listened to common sense”, i.e. the government has NOT restricted internet access.

    In other words, currently, it’s all voluntary and just another example of the government using tax dollars (which it is absolutely awash with, running an AUD17 Billion surplus last FY) to use essentially as advertising about how ‘caring’ they are.

    Yes, I’m worried about government controls on freedom, I haven’t been coming to this site for 10 years just for the witty banter in Hit and Run, but wide eyed inaccuracies are unhelpful.

  27. Yes, it’s true, Aussies have terrible broadband and an even worse government… but we have a much better health system than you bloody yanks ๐Ÿ™‚

  28. At least you all don’t have the highest rate of rape in the world unlike a certain neighbor we have to the north of us, Steve!

  29. First a 16-year-old cracks the $84 million ($70m. US) government-built Internet porn filter in 30 minutes … Wood also complains that the filter is waste because it was designed outside of Australia. Obviously.

    The problem is that the US-made filter wasn’t designed to detect kangaroo porn, which is almost unknown in the USA but accounts for an estimated 68.2% of all Australian-created Internet porn content. Also abundant is koala fetish (14.6%) and bandicoot bondage (25.1%)porn. The US-made filter was too American-centric, as it was designed to detect such things as images of naked women, which only constitute a mere 0.1% of all pornographic Internet traffic viewed by Australians.

    Only savvy Australian software designers, in touch with their their own native culture, are capable of creating a truly effective filter against genuine Australian porn.

  30. I’ve been peeved with the Little Woman since 1969 when she refused to go the extra mile to Australia for my R&R from VN. She was only willing to go as far as Hawaii…ugh!
    But here in the US of A, are we burdened by white guilt?
    Guessing here, but over and under there, are they still consumed by “condemned to rot in hell social undesirables guilt”?

    On checking my genealogy, some of my roots In the US of A were from South Carolina, which may have been the dumping ground for the incorrigible?
    So, consider the source here.

  31. Think RIAA lawsuits. Think U.S. anti-internet gambling laws. The government doesn’t always have to fix stuff with technology. Sometimes they can fix it with a very, very large hammer.

    Yes, because no one steals music or gambles anymore.

  32. Oy. Jeff, I was wondering why a kitty cat suddenly appeared in your story. Took about half a minute for my uncaffeinated brain to figure out “tabby” meant tabloid. Unless you actually are Australian, please refrain from using jaunty, colorful slang where a good old American noun will do. If you are Australian, I guess it can’t be helped.

  33. I’m not sure where the non-italicised comments went – must have done something stupid with a tag. What I meant to say was: “Tabby” for tabloid has never been an Australian slang word. The original commenter must have been on a frolic of his/her own.

  34. Senator Coonan and Family First are clearly on the path to a P.R.China- or North-Korea-modelled internet system, where everything is sanitised and clean, without any nasty images or bad words, or dissenting viewpoints, free speech, etcetera…

    even China, with tens of thousands of Communist party watchers could make their system work for long, savvy pc users routinely get past the ‘net “censorship net”; whilst in DPRK very few people have access to computers so censorship is not much of a problem.

    if our Govt. is prepared to pay $84M+ for a largely useless filter, how much would they pay for re-education (l?o g?i) camps for our offending teens?

  35. Yes, because no one steals music or gambles anymore.

    Understood. But they don’t do it as widely as they did before. Most of my friends who used to have kazaa on every computer have either backed way off, or don’t do it at all anymore.

    Also, many of my circle of friends were willing to buy music, but we didn’t want the music to be licensed so it could only be played on a computer, mp3 player etc. We didn’t want it locked to the player. We got around that, so we’re back to buying music. Plus, downloading music is one thing, serving it is another. The RIAA targeted people who were not only heavy downloaders, but had large server repositories. For the RIAA, that’s easy to do. They simply download KAZAA, (or whatever the young people are doing), see which IP’s have large repositories of music and WHAM, you get one of these.

    Point being, that if the RIAA were completely uneffective, I don’t think we’d see so much media coverage about the wide net they’re casting. People are being touched.

    Basically, if the government (in Australia’s case) wants to make a few examples, they can cause a larger number of people to ask “am I feeling lucky?” before browsing teh innernets for pr0n. And with the “if it stops one person” mentality of most overactive government bureacrats, that’s all they need.

  36. @ Stevo Darkly. True, but we’re not into goat porn as much as Americans.

  37. WE NEED TO HAVE A MASS DEBATE ABOUT IT

  38. This is a good thing. Australia has a skills shortage.. what better way to improve IT know-how than to put an internet filter between the youth and their porn? These kids will be recruited by Russian cyber-mafia in no time.

  39. Australia, for all its many charms, has possibly the worst newspapers of any civilized country.

    Yep, but they are one of our leading export industries. Mostly to America and Britain. So soon your’s will be just as bad.

  40. Stevo Darkly thats 108%.
    You’ve been reading too much Rupert Murdoch press for your statistics.
    Apart from springhillvoice.com all other Aussie media is pretty much crap.

    Barp.

  41. “The United States is the only country to explicity guarantee freedom of speech.”

    Which is worse, admiting that you censor the media and do as you say; or explicitly guaranee freedom then detain enemy combatants,bug the telephones of your law abiding citizens, claim a secular government and push thru obviously christian ethos policies…..

    Calwell’s remark in Parliament in 1947 that “Two Wongs don’t make a White” although not intended to be racially derogatory (definitely not politicaly correct in this day and age) unfortunately ran too close to the racial bigotry in Australia for it be interpreted to be anything BUT its intended joke/pun.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Calwell

  42. Senator Coonan’s attempt to attract the Family First demographic failed when it was discovered that technology unlike politics is grounded in reality.

    Filters will never work.

  43. It’s an election year.

    Any amount of money spent on pork barrelling is money well spent for a tired and corrupt Government.

  44. Bongo,
    is it an election year in Australia????

  45. Unlike the USA, Australia does not have a First Amendment.

    However, in PRACTICE, I find that Australia is far more open in terms of political discussion than the USA, with its faux PC assertions. Australians are far more willing to call B.S. when they see it, and to do so to the P.M.s face, unlike the obsequious U.S. press.

    1. What a load of old CRAP, Aussies are so passive to their “Ruling Class” that pollies get away with murder. Its also “Un-Astra-yen” to say anything that might make Australia look slightly less than perfect, that’s why Australia is so mediocre.

      The US media are far more savage to their Governments, Culture and Peers than any part of the Australian media would have the guts to be.

      Pull your head out!

  46. ..of course, because if you can afford the PC and net etc. you can pretty clearly afford the content filtering as well.

    I’m not an economist, nor a social engineer. That said, i’m pretty sure if the price of something goes up, less people can afford it. If the price is only raised a few dollars, than only a few people will be priced out of the market. Those evil corporations are constantly trying to reduce production, distribution and advertising costs, to increase market share, even if the savings are only pennies per unit. I have thus concluded that government mandates that increases costs to consumers, reduces access/affordability.

    I haven’t been to college, so I’m probably talking out of my ignorant, uneducated ass.

    OTOH. it ain’t rocket science.

  47. Which is worse, admiting that you censor the media and do as you say; or explicitly guaranee freedom then detain enemy combatants,bug the telephones of your law abiding citizens, claim a secular government and push thru obviously christian ethos policies…..

    Ouch.

  48. Parents who don’t want their adolescent kids . . . engaging in autosexual activity are going to have to convince them not to in other ways.

    I cannot imagine many parents are worried about, nor are many adolescents engaging in, “autosexual” activity. The term “autosexual” typically refers to a sexual attraction to oneself or, at least, to preferring masturbation to sex with a partner. Clearly the adolescent is not masturbating out of some erotic narcissism, nor because he prefers it to nailing the girl next door (though if he were, I suppose his parents ought to be concerned).

  49. Calwell’s remark in Parliament in 1947 that “Two Wongs don’t make a White” although not intended to be racially derogatory . . . unfortunately ran too close to the racial bigotry in Australia for it be interpreted to be anything BUT its intended joke/pun.

    Sorry, but I’m not buying it. When you consider what he had to say in his memoirs (as quoted in the Wikipedia article you sited), I don’t think you can blame anyone who has a hard time swallowing the attempt at a non-derogatory explanation (or rationalization) for the remark.

    I am proud of my white skin, just as a Chinese is proud of his yellow skin, a Japanese of his brown skin, and the Indians of their various hues from black to coffee-coloured. Anybody who is not proud of his race is not a man at all. And any man who tries to stigmatize the Australian community as racist because they want to preserve this country for the white race is doing our nation great harm… I reject, in conscience, the idea that Australia should or ever can become a multi-racial society and survive.

    It is one thing to give a person the benefit of the doubt for a potentially misunderstood remark when there is no other reason to suspect him of having racist views. It is quite another thing to expect the same benefit to be given a person who so proudly publishes such patent evidence of his racism.

  50. “Wakeup call: The United States is the only country to explicity guarantee freedom of speech. Welcome to the rest of the world.”

    It is also included in Canada’s constitution since 1982 (late, I know).

  51. RE: ~~~~~~?~~

    Yes, it’s an election year in Australia.

    The Howard govt are on the brink of being slammed over; Iraq, “War on Terrah”, Gitmo, Industrial Relations and the price of left handed hammers (or any other excuse people may have).

    They are going down and out, time for our own regime change!!!

    BRING IT ON HOWIE!

  52. i loved this part of the original story:


    Senator Coonan said the Government had anticipated children would try and find ways to get around the NetAlert filters, and suppliers were contracted to provided continuing updates.

    “The vendor is investigating the matter as a priority,” Senator Coonan said.

    “Unfortunately, no single measure can protect children from online harm and … traditional parenting skills have never been more important.”

  53. Cyber-bullies? “Paypal me your lunch money, or… else?”

  54. Those evil corporations are constantly trying to reduce production, distribution and advertising costs, to increase market share, even if the savings are only pennies per unit.

  55. 84 million dollars for a porn filter!!!! Excuse my ignorance but I fail to understand the justification here. How is it that seeing some pornography should affect children worse than the horrible, explicit and excessive violence they see on TV every single day for many hours? How can porn affect children worse than the countless computer games that only have one goal: exceeding each other in the grade of their grotesk and exlicit violence?

    How come we see such an increase of gangs and violence, ok, drugs and especially ice have something to do with it,clearly the violence ridden movies and games are strongly contributing factors. The violence destroys people’s lives – now, the day they become a victim. For the hell of it I fail to see that porn can have an effect that is anywhere nearly similar in severity.

  56. 30 minutes must be the magic number for 16 year olds. It’s how long it took me to crack it today. It’s very simple when you get down to it.

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