Australian Christian Lobby: ‘Freedom of expression? meh’
Thursday June 10th 2010, 8:57 pm

ACL: Anti-filter movement doesn’t faze us

Anti-filter groups fail to touch the general public, the Christian group claims

The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) has remained firm on its support for the proposed Internet filter despite numerous protests and campaigns held against the clean-feed.

Recent anti-filter actions including Stop the Filter rallies in major capital cities and the Great Australian Internet Blackout by the Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA), all generated modest success.

ACL has been a longstanding supporter of the filter and saw a clean-feed as a necessary tool to protect children from ‘inappropriate’ content.

ACL spokesperson, Glynis Quinlan, said the anti-filter movement had remained relatively stagnant and anti-filter sentiment was confined to a select number of groups.

“They’re really just talking to each other,” she said. “It doesn’t appear [their message] has touched the general public and society; it is kept to Internet civil libertarians and the people supporting it all appear to be the same.”

It bears mention that the ACL are similarly not ‘fazed’ by evolution, teaching of secular ethics in public schools, women’s rights and drug harm minimisation. In other words, the ACL are unfazed by facts and evidence… but with a mob whose entire raison d’être is wrapped around faerie tales, I suppose one can’t be terribly surprised.

ACL have in this comment succeeded in identifying the campaign weaknesses already identified by the anti-censorship lobby itself… but that’s changing rather quickly. The issue has been covered with significantly increasing frequency by mainstream media. The ABC, Fairfax and even commercial TV are picking up the issue and smacking it down- every few days, of late. EFA have launched a website, ‘It’s time to tell mum’ at, which aims to encourage the internet literate to start with their own families to raise community awareness of the unethicality and unworkability of Rudd & Conroy’s mandatory internet censorship scheme.

The ACL are certainly entitled to their opinions- they’re just not entitled to force others to live by their rules. If the ACL are offended by certain content on the internet, they’re more than entitled to not look at it, but damn you if you think you can tell me what to look at.

Keep it in church, fellas.


Labor Senator Kate Lundy gets it mostly right on internet censorship
Wednesday June 09th 2010, 6:20 am

Senator Kate Lundy has revised her opinion on Labor’s internet filtering policy and is now advocating opt-in, with the default being unfiltered.

Yes, ma’am. This allows parents to parent and preserves freedom of expression.

Will Labor Caucus listen before it’s too late?

Not holding my breath.

However, ISP level filters are still much more circumventable than a filtering application installed on a properly configured PC. Parents should not rely solely on any ISP based filtering apparatus.

There also remains the danger that if a government imposed filtering system is implemented in ISPs that some government may literally flip a switch and make it mandatory for all users.

Rudd could pick up an easy 10% in his flagging poll numbers just by putting Conroy on the backbench and installing Lundy as Communications Minister. It could make the difference between winning and losing the next election.

Mind you, a better idea for Labor would be withdraw internet censorship permanently and entirely from the legislative agenda.


beware of getting infected by spams or scams that come through the portal
Tuesday June 08th 2010, 9:13 pm

This man is the Minster for the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy in Australia. No, I am not having you on.

This fern knows more about the internet than does the Minister.


ALPanic: louder, harder and dumber
Monday June 07th 2010, 7:01 am

oh noes, it’s teh privacey violasion!!!11!!eleven!!!

The mighty Mark Newton tweets:

Polls bad? Watch for panicky crap from the Govt over the next week. Same things they’re losing popularity for, only louder, harder, dumber.

It’d be one thing if the Rudd government’s popularity panic led them to fix the almighty fuckups that are actually causing them to lose support, in particular, the ponderously misbegotten plan for mandatory internet censorship… but instead of pulling out the boot they’ve got stuck in the mud, they not only put the other boot in… but proceed to dive into the muck facefirst.

Case in point:

Federal police asked to probe Google

The Federal Government has asked the Australian Federal Police to investigate internet giant Google over alleged privacy breaches.

Last month, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy labelled Google “creepy” and accused the company of committing the “single greatest breach in the history of privacy” when it collected information from wireless networks.

Google says it mistakenly collected the data and has apologised.

Australian Attorney-General Robert McClelland says his department has received numerous complaints and he has asked the Federal Police to investigate possible criminal breaches.

“Obviously I won’t pre-empt the outcome of that investigation but they relate in substantial part to possible breaches of the Telecommunications Interception Act, which prevents people accessing electronic information other than for authorised purposes,” Mr McClelland said.

“Whether there are charges in the first place is a matter for the Federal Police but in light of concerns that had been raised by the public, my department … thought there were issues of substance that required police investigations.”

First and foremost, Google were dead-nuts stupid for admitting any error. Open WiFi access points are left open because their owner wants them used by anyone within range. If they’re secured, the owner doesn’t want them used to pass data. Regardless, access points pipe up and identify themselves to any wireless device within range. They’re doing exactly what they’re supposed to do.

Google’s not alone in collating this sort of data. There’s several companies which collect data on WiFi access points, open or secured, and use this information to improve geolocation in areas where GPS doesn’t work so well. The presence of a wireless access point doesn’t mean that the device has to be used to pass data. It can function as a beacon, a signpost, if you will.

The mere fact that Google may have mapped WiFi access points is utterly immaterial. If this is ‘breaching privacy,’ then every single WiFi enabled device which scans for a network- every laptop, every iPad, every iPhone, every wireless tablet computer (as pictured above), etc- is ‘breaching privacy.’ My notiPad tablet sees my neighbours’ wireless access points- they’re secured, so I can’t use them to shift any data, but the tabby still sees them. Am I breaching my neighbours’ privacy?

In full-tilt-boogie panic mode, Conroy is looking for any means possible to gain some voter support with elections looming, perhaps as soon as August. Conveniently for Conjob, a bunch of stupid people who don’t understand how wireless devices work have posted uninformed whinges on news story comments and perhaps also have lodged complaints with A-G McClelland.

As a result of the Enex testing of the proposed censorship system, Conroy knows he can’t filter YouTube or Google without breaking the system. No censorship system short of the Great Firewall of China could cope with filtering high traffic websites like Google and YouTube without dramatically slowing- or even stopping entirely- Australian internet access. Conroy’s tremendously put out that Google won’t play ball and voluntarily censor YouTube, so he’s clutching at any straw he can find, no matter how weak and twisted his claim may be, to harass Google into compliance with his and Rudd’s bullshit censorship regime.

This tempest in a teacup about mapping WiFi access points is just the sort of thing Conroy thinks he can twist into some popular opposition to Google. Unfortunately for Conroy, about 96-99% of Australian internet users would rather trust mega-corporate giant Google with a map of WiFi access points than would ever, in a bazillion years, trust the Australian Government with a secret, mandatory internet censorship system.

So, here’s what’s going to happen: The Australian Federal Police will go back to A-G McClelland and tell him that there’s been no laws broken. McClelland will shrug his shoulders and tell Conroy that he’s got no claim against Google. Conroy will then run to the press, arms waving, hands wringing, and say he’s going to introduce laws against this eeeevul Google mapping of WiFi access points, conveniently ignoring the fact that every mobile WiFi enabled device in Australia does this very thing, billions of times a day.

If there’s anything ‘creepy’ going on at this moment, it’s Conroy’s atavistic interpretation of privacy legislation and lame, nefarious attempt to get his way with invading Australian internet users’ privacy via his and Rudd’s mandatory internet censorship conjob.

I’ll make a couple more broad, sweeping predictions: Conroy’s GONE… and if Rudd doesn’t rapidly wise up and publicly, permanently and decisively shitcan his stupid plans to censor the internet, Labor is going back into the political wilderness at the Federal level.

Downside? We get theocracy with Mad Monk Abbott’s Liberal party.



TAMoz: $445 per ticket? Huh? No.
Sunday June 06th 2010, 7:20 am

The Amazing Meeting/Oz, featuring speakers like James Randi, Dr Karl Kruszelnicki, Dr Rachael Dunlop and many more, will surely be enjoyable and educational.

However- the ticket price is $445 (a bit less if you are a student or an Australian Skeptics member)! Sorry TAMoz, that’s just wacky. Let’s think about what $445 will buy in Australia: 6 weeks’ groceries for this household of two, four new car tyres, a new PC, and so on.

I guess it all depends on what the intent of the conference may be. I’d hope that what is intended is to spread the notions of skeptical and critical thinking. However, $445 is a price which is going to prevent quite a number of people who are already sympathetic to skepticism from attending- those who are new to the ideas would almost certainly reject that price out of hand.

Sorry TAMoz, you’ve priced even this sympathetic skeptic out of the market. I hope those attending all have a lovely time, but I think you’re shooting the skeptical movement in your own two feet. At $445 a ticket, TAMoz will merely attract a converted choir with significant disposable income. At that price, TAMoz is not going to spread skeptical and critical thinking. Might keep the riff-raff like me out, though…