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

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