Moore’s Law meets Murphy’s Law
Tuesday April 07th 2009, 4:35 am

ACMA boss Chris Chapman blames media for blacklist ‘conspiracy’

By Andrew Ramadge, Technology Reporter

April 06, 2009 03:15pm

THE head of the media watchdog has accused journalists of whipping up controversy over the Federal Government’s secret list of banned websites.

In an internal email obtained by, Australian Communications and Media Authority chairman Chris Chapman said journalists had invented a “conspiracy”.


“I write to you because you cannot have missed the resultant media storm,” said Mr Chapman in the email to department staff.

“Much of the reporting has verged on the breathless.”

As well as sites appearing to contain child pornography, the list included sites dealing with abortion, euthanasia and controversial photographer Bill Henson.

Mr Chapman said that there had been a “minor technical issue” that had led to a site being incorrectly added to the list.

“Murphy’s law would have it that the incorrectly included URL involved Henson, and this was all that was needed for people to connect the dots on some conspiracy,” he said.

“ACMA has conducted a full review of additions to the list for this period and found that this is the only URL where a computer system error resulted in the URL being incorrectly added.”


Mr Chapman said the watchdog was looking at ways to prevent further leaks.

“The events of the past week have obviously and understandably raised concerns about the security of the distribution and protection of the list in use,” he said.

“As you would expect, we are investigating and pursuing this with a view to rectifying and improving it.”

Please, let me be the 3,724th person to call ‘bullshit.’

No computer woke up that day and said to itself, ‘Self, let’s ban a photographer’s work that has been rated PG by the OFLC.’ Simple as this, no error was made by a computer. This was either a ‘conspiracy’ (as Chapman said- no anti-censorship advocate made such a claim) or a complete cockup, but either way, the ACMA chief blames the controversy on the media. Chapman wants to patch up the leaks of the secret banlist, not fix the staff problem which resulted in material which should not have been banned being added to the ACMA banlist nor fix the flaws in the PC level censorware (Integard) that the ACMA list is provided to, which facilitated reverse-engineering and thus leakage of the list.

Senator Conjob claimed on the SBS Insight program that Moore’s Law, that hoary notion that computing power doubles every so often, would come to save his proposed mandatory filter. Actually, if it is computers committing the error of improperly adding websites to the ACMA banlist as Chapman has claimed, if anything, those nasty computers will start making those ‘Murphy’s Law’ errors much more frequently.

Seriously, how stupid do ACMA think the average internet using Australian really is?


MORE: Mark Newton sez:

God this cracks me up, I still can’t get over the fact that ACMA’s internal email about leaks leaked.

– mark

Australian Taliban seeks control of internet, public law
Saturday April 04th 2009, 11:08 am

When the Taliban gains control of a piece of land in Aghanistan or Pakistan and imposes sharia law, nearly everyone in the western world is outraged. HOW could anyone with any semblence of humanity about them tolerate these supreme authoritarians victimising women by sanctioning violence against them, preventing them from being educated and punishing them (not their attackers) for being raped, murdering non-believers, imposing disproportionate penalties for petty crime and so on? Even questioning sharia in Islamic theocracies will get you arrested and given a long prison sentence. In areas where sharia has become the law of the land, this is only possible because religion has forced itself into public law which affects all citizens, not just those who favour theocracy over public law which respects human rights. The only way religious authoritarianism can successfully be enforced is at the end of the barrel of a gun. Absent force, punitive theocracy is rejected.

Down here in Australia, we have our very own Taliban, albeit ‘Taliban lite,’ until now. The Australian Christian Lobby have the explicitly stated goal of inserting their beliefs into Australian public law. If the ACL accomplish their aims, it won’t matter if you’re not a xian, you will be required by law to live by this tiny authoritarian sect’s medieval dystopian rules.

If you don’t believe me, have a listen to ACL Managing Director Jim Wallace, excerpted from their 15 January 2008 podcast (excerpt, 2:53, MP3 audio, 344kb). Wallace describes how he will direct the group to pressure government to include their religious views into public law which affects all Australians, not just the ones suffering from a God Delusion. This of course includes the present Labor government’s deeply flawed internet filtering policy.

The ACL are also opposed to a Bill of Rights or human rights declaration, for one reason alone- they know that religiously based laws do not respect human rights first and foremost. A human rights declaration would significantly dilute religionists’ influence as laws would invariably be tested to assure absence of religious bias.

Australia has a historical relationship to xianity only in so far as the (now quite irrelevant) Queen of England is also the head of the (now quite irrelevant) English state church. Australia was not founded as a theocracy and in present times certainly doesn’t function as one. As such, there’s no popular mandate for xians to claim supremacy in public law. Australia is a pluralist society, where practice of religion or absence thereof is a personal decision, not one which can or should be imposed by government.

The only difference between the Taliban and the Australian Christian Lobby is the shape of their symbols. They are both fringe dwelling religious extremists. If participation in religiously based nonsense is optional and voluntary, as a general rule, I have no problem with it. However, when obedience to religious rules via Australian public laws becomes mandatory, it will be enforced over my dead body.


I mean, who’d miss out on free donuts?
Thursday April 02nd 2009, 5:36 pm

See you on Sunday!

mgk commenter Nate thinks porn is bad, mkay:

You cannot deny that there is horrible, damaging and illegal content on the net. And while you’re right – looking at this stuff isn’t going to kill you. But despite the fact there is no hard evidence or studies – I still think that all of the RC, illegal Etc. stuff they were talking about – right down to most pornography in general – IS very damaging to to people (whether they think so or not), and even more so to teenagers. I work with Youth and know that kids do get addicted to pornography and it escalates and can ruin lives. I don’t think there needs to be a university study to realise that.

And I agree that the system is imperfect, can be hacked broken through, bypassed Etc. BUT saying it ‘doesn’t work’ I think is incorrect. It would still save millions from the destructive influence of porn, let alone the illegal content classified about it.

So yes, despite the filter not being perfect and not working 100%, I would still implement it.

It’s terrible how looking at porn is just seen as the norm these days. Forget for a second the characteristics of males Etc. few people seem to grasp just how destructive it can be to a person – In relationships, families, businesses Etc.

There is so much more to this than ‘Oh it will never work so i’ll shoot him down’.

Can you not see that IF it could work, it could do some good?

Comment by Nate 04.02.09 @ 12:41 pm

No shit, some people actually believe nonsense like this.

Lemme tell you how it is, Nate- if you don’t like porn, don’t look at any, but don’t ever mistake your belief that ‘porn is bad mkay’ for any sort of a mandate to dictate to others what they can view on their computers. There’s absolutely no psychological evidence that viewing porn harms anyone. This is a moralist objection with a basis in religion- in other words, a furphy, a canard, a lie, intended to force religious morality on everyone regardless of their personal beliefs.

The Conjob filter has been exposed. It’s not about stopping child porn. It’s about government control and imposition of religious (namely christian) morality on all Australian internet users, whether they are xians or not.

I will not have it.

If the government does eventually mandate filtering with a secret, unappealable blacklist, I’ll be looking into how to provide VPN services at cost to anyone who can’t set up their own to circumvent the filter.


How soon they forget… fridge magnets
Thursday April 02nd 2009, 6:38 am

ACT Senator Kate LundyKate Lundy, ALP Senator for the ACT had quite a lot to say about HoWARd’s approach to internet censorship while Labor was in opposition.

3 March 2003 – Media Release
Labor Senator Kate Lundy
Internet user education the key to protection from unwanted porn

The findings contained in the Australia Institute’s report, Youth and Pornography in Australia demonstrate that the Coalition’s ‘big brother’ approach to internet censorship is not working.

The Report indicates that young people have little trouble in seeking out sexually explicit internet content in the same way that young people have had little trouble seeking out pornography in other forms of media, such as X-rated videos and magazines.

The Report’s conclusions are already well understood and accepted and have informed Labor’s approach to internet content management. This has been to point to the need for greater education to prevent internet users’ exposure to unwanted sexually explicit material.

Labor has consistently advocated that the most effective approach to reducing young people’s exposure to sexually explicit material is to ensure that parents particularly have the ability to use internet filter products and other forms of internet content management, rather than having laws that imply the internet is ‘safe’ for children.

There is a risk that some parents are being misled by the Coalition into thinking that their children are being protected by internet censorship laws when they are not.

This risk is that unsuitable content can be accessed from overseas sites – sites which cannot be regulated. This is why the best form of internet content management is in the hands of the internet users themselves.

Izzat so? How bout that.

4 March 2003 – Media Release
Labor Senator Kate Lundy
Fridge magnets will not prevent unwelcome porn

The Regulating Youth Access to Pornography report released today vindicates Labor’s criticism of the Coalition’s nonsensical approach to internet censorship.

In response to concerns raised about internet content, part of the Coalition’s solution was to establish ‘Net Alert’, which sends out a kit to concerned callers containing a fridge magnet, the usual Howard Government information campaign cop-out. In all, the annual report stated they had sent out 32,523 fridge magnets!

The Regulating Youth Access to Pornography Report found that only 17% of Australian parents with internet connections have currently installed filters. NetAlert needs to concentrate more on educating parents directly to help them control their child’s internet experience.

Labor supports the Australian Internet Society’s ( recommendation to establish a ‘user voice’. This body would provide support and advice for individual users and user organisations to increase awareness of internet technology.

Labor believes the Report’s recommendation to increase internet regulation by forcing all Australian internet service providers (ISPs) to filter all of their content is unworkable. The cost this would place on ISPs would be prohibitive, and internet speeds would be significantly reduced.

The end result for consumers would be a slower, more expensive internet.

Furthermore, while filters are an important tool for managing internet content, to suggest that ‘mass-installed’ filters represent a 100% reliable defence against objectionable internet content is misleading. The Australian Broadcasting Authority has conceded as much to a Senate Estimates Committee:

‘A common finding in relation to existing [internet filter] products has been that they are only partly effective ‘ In particular [none of the products currently available] meet users’ expectations with regard to blocking accuracy, usability and system performance.’

[Source: Senate ECITA Legislation Committee, Answer to Questions on Notice #51, 20/11/02]

Ultimately, there is no all-purpose, ‘easy fix’ to this problem. While filters are important tools, they can only ever be a part of a holistic approach that emphasises end user education.

Won’t Senator Lundy PLEASE get Senator Conjob on the phone?

Labor Senator Kate Lundy
Internet Content – parent education is the key
Senate Adjournment Speech
19 March 2003


Independent experts continue to expose flaws in filter technology. A 2001 CSIRO report found that, despite improvements in filtering technology over the years, there is no filter that is 100 per cent effective in keeping out all undesirable material without simultaneously blocking acceptable content.

Even the regulatory body responsible, the Australian Broadcasting Authority, acknowledged in relation to filter technology that none of the products currently available meet users’ expectations with regard to blocking accuracy, useability and system performance. Therefore, the suggestion that the entire Internet should be filtered is unrealistic and inappropriate.

Unfortunately, such a short memory regarding the debate in 1999 about Internet content has led the Coalition to already offer support for greater censorship by actively considering proposals for unworkable, quick fixes that involve filtering the Internet at the ISP level.

Apparently, having your party elected to government causes total amnesia regarding internet policy.

We’d better shut that whole horrid internet thing down before everyone forgets everything!

uh… what were we talking about?


Human sexuality 101
Wednesday April 01st 2009, 12:02 pm

Neil Mitchell from radio 3AW addresses the child-produced porn problem from an unfortunately wowserish position.


Parents are generally ignorant and even the most computer literate will be outpaced by their children.

A starting point is to recognise that pornography is now a significant part of Western culture and will not go away.

Children will be exposed to it early and increasingly will be invited and encouraged to become part of it.

If parents, police and teachers confront that and then set out systematically to warn and educate families, at least they can be prepared for the inevitable and perhaps minimise the damage.

There is a role for police here, but schools must be involved and so, too, must parents and politicians.

There is massive ignorance around the dangers and the reach of internet pornography and the industry is breaking new ground daily.

It is time the real world tried harder to catch up.

First things first. The internet and mobile phones are not the problem. It’s the behaviour of the kid that’s the problem. Sexually precocious behaviours have been around as long as there have been children who have discovered the difference between girls and boys. How parents respond to that sort of behaviour is a cultural matter, but expression of human sexuality under no circumstances begins when we turn 18, with asexuality as normal until age 17 years, 364 days. Sub-18-agers canoodle and lots more, often rather enthusiastically.

Pornography certainly is more instantaneously available with the current internet, but it certainly was available long before. In the late 1960s, boys in my neighbourhood swapped highly coveted copies of Playboy nicked from their fathers’ stashes. Long before then, dog-eared Tijuana Bibles made the rounds. Remarkably few boys exposed to Playboy or cartoon porn turned into murderous child sexual predators.

The recent moral panic over child pornography on the internet has gone way over the top. Even the creator of Megan’s Law insists that minors found to be making porn of themselves should in no way be accountable under the stringent penalties of that anti-child predator statute.

The upshot to normal kids is that if their ordinary if unacceptably youthful sexual expression, ie. sharing nudie pics with a boy/girlfriend with no initial intent for the images to go further than that, goes awry, they can find themselves convicted of child porn offences, with all the future-destruction that entails, such as registration on child sex offenders’ lists. This can block employment and educational opportunities for kids who are really guilty of no more than some inappropriate expression of normal human sexuality, needing nothing more than a parental intervention and admonishment. There’s no place for police intervention unless there has been coercion to produce intimate self-portraits.

As technology makes inappropriate sexual expressions easier, kids need to know the risks of unintended redistribution of their private pics, but at the same time, should not be taught their sexuality is a crime.

Clearly, this entails an open and honest dialogue with your kids about sex and sexuality, not insulating them from it or pretending it doesn’t exist until age 18. It means understanding human sexuality, acting like a parent and protecting your kids with the very best information you can muster.


Conroy sacked as Minister for Broadbanned
Wednesday April 01st 2009, 7:04 am

Conroy dumped as minister for broadband
Today, 6:45 am

Staff writers

Senator Stephen Conroy has been sacked as Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.

Conroy has come under increasing fire in recent weeks as the figurehead for the government’s ISP level filtering plan and the national broadband network (NBN).

The Prime Minister remained tight lipped when questioned about the reasons for Conroy’s departure. “Senator Conroy did a commendable job over the past 14 months, but it’s time for a change of direction”, he said.

The move leaves the government’s unpopular ISP filtering plan up in the air. Conroy had recently appeared on both the ABC and SBS to champion the policy, where he met significant opposition from panellists and the studio audience.

Continual delays with the NBN tender and the exclusion of Telstra from the plan have been cited by analysts as key reasons for why Conroy has been dumped. Earlier this year, the Senator was found by a Whirlpool survey to be a less effective communications minister than his Liberal predecessors.

Conroy has been in the post since Labor took government in 2007, and was previously the Shadow Minister for Trade, Corporate Governance and Financial Services.

Analysts suggest that next week’s NBN announcement is likely to go ahead as planned, and a replacement minister will be appointed before then.

Too damn bad it’s 1 April. 😆