From the ‘not clear on the concept’ department- it’s Helen Coonan
Monday September 24th 2007, 7:08 pm

you mean we CAN'T censor the intarwebs?

Coonan seeks to censor the Web

Karen Dearne
September 20, 2007

THE Federal Police commissioner will have the power to block and ban websites believed to be crime or terrorism related under an internet censorship amendment bill introduced into Parliament today.

The bombshell web ban bill was tabled in the Senate at 9:58am, without prior notice.

Communications Minister Senator Helen Coonan proposes to expand the “black list” of internet addresses (URLs) currently maintained by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to include terrorism and cyber-crime sites.

At present, ACMA has the power to act against websites containing pornography or offensive content.

Under the proposed amendment, Federal Police will inform ACMA of websites to be blocked, and the agency must then notify the relevant internet service providers. ISPs will be required to “take reasonable steps” to prevent users accessing the website or content.

Senator Coonan is obviously clueless about the intarwebs.

One teck-nee-cal term Coonan needs to become familiar with in a great big hurry is ‘proxy server.’ Anywhere there is a computer connected to the web, there can be a proxy server relaying traffic- and proxies can be set up literally on a moment’s notice.

I run a proxy for my own use on, which is itself operated on server hardware located in the USA. There’s some US website operators who limit access from non-US browsers, so I just relay through my US-based proxy and get in at will. No sweat. My browser is only connecting to my proxy server, no matter what website I’m viewing via that server. Coonan has to ban my proxy server (which would also prevent .au users from accessing any website on, inclusive of this blog and Suki Has An Opinion) to keep me from viewing her list of objectionable sites. If Coonan does ban my proxy, I’ll email my host and have my server’s IP changed. Ban beaten. I win.

I’d like to know what sites are already on the ACMA ban list. Time for a FOIA req.

Absent one being able to set up a proxy (or use one of the squillions already online belonging to someone else), there’s always ‘onion routing,’ which relies on several relay paths to connect a browser to a server. Tor is an onion router which bounces packets through a random matrix of Tor servers so the web browser isn’t connecting directly to the target website, rather through several ‘layers of the onion.’ Tor is a small application which runs on the browsing PC, available for free download. Coonan better get busy banning all those Tor servers- there’s thousands.

The only way Coonan will be able to effectively block Australians from browsing non-Australian sites she doesn’t like is to cut the trans-Pacific cables as they head out to sea- and shoot down all the direct-to-user satellites.

They’re not making them any smarter down in Canberra, are they?


3 Comments so far
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Good luck with the FOI request – FOI law was specifically changed so they don’t have to tell you anything about what’s on the ban list.

Not if you’re an australian citizen, anyway. If you’re a foreign company making a filter, they’ll give you the list, just as long as you don’t let anyone in Australia find out what’s on it.

There was a study released only a few weeks ago about how poorly the Great Firewall of China achieves this kind of blocking (but on a much greater scale) – Coonan’s half-arsed attempt is doomed to even more failure.

Comment by Zhasper 09.24.07 @ 9:05 pm

Z, I’m painfully aware of the govt’s bastardry and deliberate malfeasance regarding FOIA reqs. I’d proffer some hopes that a KRudd govt might be more responsive to FOIA reqs, but after 11 years of HoWARd, I’m fairly cynical.

Coonan’s folly hopefully has only weeks to live.

Roll on the polls.

Comment by weez 09.26.07 @ 6:11 am

[…] Senator Conroy- I’d like to offer you the very same advice I gave your predecessor…. From the Ďnot clear on the conceptí department- itís Helen […]

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