Rudd approves ISP level internet censorship
Tuesday December 15th 2009, 4:17 pm

Ding Ding and Dong Dong

Kevin Rudd has just committed political suicide.

In a move which puts Australia’s internet access on par with China and Iran, MANDATORY filtering is to be forced upon Aussie ‘net users by their ISPs.

Filtering at the ISP level is utterly trivial to circumvent with Tor or VPNs. Great biz opportunity for anyone who wants to set up a VPN service with a port in the USA…

Watch carefully over the next few days as the internet using community in Australia (most of us, that is…) explodes. Not even Mr 63% will survive the fury at the polls.


MORE: If there ever was any question that this is going to SERIOUSLY piss off the internet using Australian public, the fact that the DBDCE website is presently crashed tells you everything you need to know. Wait until a YouTube video makes the blacklist! The ISP censorship plan is detailed here, should the DBDCE site ever come back up… Until then, the censorware plan is mirrored here.

From the Enex report:

Other related findings

While not a formal participant in the pilot, Telstra undertook its own testing of ISP filtering of a blacklist of up to 10,000 URLs using a ‘domain name server plus proxy server’ filtering solution. No customers were involved in the Telstra trial and testing was conducted using Telstra’s test environment (which is a replication of its network and used by Telstra for testing its products prior to  release). Telstra found that its filtering solution was 100 percent accurate at blocking a blacklist of 10,000 URLs. Telstra also found there was no discernible performance degradation.

No customers involved in the Telstra trial means no degradation, yep, got that.

Telstra did not test circumvention, because it considers that filtering can be circumvented by a technically competent user.

Yes, we all know that bypassing the censorware is utterly trivial. Makes sense that this is reason enough not to bother testing for performance degradation, because the bypassed route will always be faster. Wouldn’t wanna make the filter look bad, would we?

Telstra found its filtering solution was not effective in the case of non-web based protocols such as instant messaging, peer-to-peer or chat rooms. Enex confirms that this is also the case for all filters presented in the pilot.

As anti-censorship advocates have told Rudd & Conjob all along, ISP level censoring will not do a damn thing to stop the trade in child pornography (the last reason given for the censorship) as most of it moves via P2P. Clearly, not stopping CP via P2P must be the reason to filter http traffic!

Telstra reported that heavy traffic sites could overload its trial filtering solution if included in the filtering blacklist. This is also the case for all filters presented in the pilot.

Duh. Wait until the first YouTube file is filtered. KEEE-RASH!

Testing revealed that the three ISPs filtering only the ACMA blacklist had no noticeable performance degradation that could be attributed to the filter itself.

This is doubtless due to the fact that no content on high traffic sites like YouTube was filtered.The first time that YouTube makes the censorship list, the filtering system will absolutely crash and access times will skyrocket.


A technically competent user could, if they wished, circumvent the filtering technology.

The definition of ‘a technically competent user’ would be any 8-year-old who can search for and install Tor.

Testing was also undertaken against a list of content, prepared by Enex, considered to be innocuous and which should not be blocked by a filter. All participants experienced some level of over-blocking in this test (i.e. blocking of some legitimate URLs).

This is what anti-censorship advocates have said all along.

All filters blocked less than 3.4 percent of such content.

Apparently, 3.4% overblocking is acceptable to the Rudd censorship scheme. Google indexes over 1 TRILLION URLs. 3.4% is 34 BILLION unnecessarily blocked URLs.

Filtering of additional categories of content enabled ISPs to implement measures which made some common circumvention techniques difficult. For example, a third party website which hides the origin of  the requested content (proxy site) can be included in a wider list of URLs to be blocked.

Thusly, you can expect the government to try to block popular, publicly known proxy sites.

The cost to implement filtering of the ACMA blacklist and additional lists of content is influenced by a number of factors including:
• the nature of the filtering solution adopted;
• cost of the filtering hardware/software;
• the extent to which updates of the blacklist are automated;
• ISPs implementing ACMA blacklist-only filtering can expect minimal, if any,
customer service costs; and
• fees associated with commercially provided lists for maintaining up-to-date
URL lists and handling customer enquiries on filter settings.

You can also expect your internet service to cost more, for a filter no one needs nor wants.

I’m setting up my VPN now. Hope Rudd & Conroy enjoy sniffing my securely encrypted packets.

EVEN MORE: An SMH poll on the issue is running 96% against Rudd’s censorship system.

The Greens had better busy themselves finding candidates for all the Labor seats that Rudd’s giving up.

25 Comments so far
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Bob Debus is my local member. This is the letter I’ve sent him on this topic:

Dear Mr Debus,

I am writing to indicate my vehement opposition to the mandatory internet censorship program announced today by Labor.

This is an attempt to address a problem which doesn’t exist in any significant way. The proposed censorship method will not address the trafficking in child pornography, which is known by law enforcement to be carried mainly by encrypted peer-to-peer (P2P) filesharing. P2P traffic can not be filtered.

Labor’s censorship system will not stop children from accessing pornography, nor will it stop email porn spam. Parents who care about their children already monitor their internet usage by putting the family computer in a common area of the household where the child’s usage can be observed, or they install user-level filtering applications. Bad government is an awful substitute for good parenting.

ISP level filtering is MUCH more easily circumventable than a filter installed on a properly configured home PC. Any 8-year-old kid who can do a Google search for and install the “Tor” privacy application will get around Labor’s censorware.

The most disturbing part of Labor’s censorship system is the potential for political abuse. The ACMA blacklist already has been used to blacklist material with which the Labor government does not agree, such as a website concerning photographer Bill Henson and an anti-abortion website.

I am an adult, living in a household without children, and do not require government monitoring nor censorship of my internet usage. Toward that end, this very afternoon, I engaged Virtual Private Networking (VPN) services via a host in the USA, which will carry my internet traffic on an encrypted link, bypassing the proposed ISP filter. Per the Enex report released today by DBDCE, the censorship system is unable to filter encrypted traffic.

The entire proposition of mandatory filtering is unnecessarily paternalistic, fully repugnant to democracy and thus intolerable.

This is a vote changer. Labor got my vote in 2007, but should Labor enact this bad legislation, I will vote Green at the next election and preference Labor dead last.

Fix the hospitals. Fix public transport. Leave internet access alone.

Copied also to Kevin Rudd, Stephen Conroy and Bob Brown.

Comment by weez 12.15.09 @ 6:59 pm

whoa, Mark Newton’s a busy Twitterer.

Comment by weez 12.15.09 @ 7:24 pm

Great rundown of the current situation – thanks for this insight. How can I help to try and stop this Ridiculous move?

Comment by Greg 12.16.09 @ 5:24 am

Greg, you should write to your local Federal MP, Rudd & Conjob, copy Bob Brown if you want to encourage him to remain opposed to the censorship plan.

Mind you, I don’t think Rudd’s got the votes in the Senate to pass an amendment to the Broadcasting Services Act.

Comment by weez 12.16.09 @ 7:20 am

The blacklist with all the child porn sites neatly put together is going to be worth a lot of money and a must have for the pedophiles. Knowing that the largest pedophile organization, the Catholic church, will have access and probably a say in this blacklist must be like the second coming of Christ for their members and an big concern for the population. Going by the stats children are safer in a brothel then in any Christian outfit. And the safer place for a school is next to a brothel instead of a church.

Comment by melchior 12.16.09 @ 2:26 pm

Oh yeah, mel- the ACMA blacklist has already been leaked twice, it’s absolutely a sure thing that it will be leaked again! While they’re taking some care to encrypt the list this time so that ISP folks won’t see it, it’s no big deal to reverse engineer the list.

Are we laying any bets on whether Wikileaks earns a spot on the banlist? I’d bet dollars to doughnuts that it leaks again before the censorship system goes live. I wouldn’t put any money at all against the list leaking AFTER the censorship system goes live- that’s as sure as sunrise.

BTW, Mark Newton is advocating sending paper letters to MPs. Emails apparently don’t carry as much weight as snail mail. Mark sez: “Write a real letter, print it on real paper, sign it with a real pen, put it in a real envelope with a real stamp and post it in a real letter box.”

Comment by weez 12.16.09 @ 3:06 pm

If there’s any interest, I’ll work out how to share out my VPN. I’ll probably have to buy a slice on a big-piped Linux box in the USA, about $80/mo. If 7 ppl will put $10/mo with a tenner from my pocket, it’s doable.

Most of the hosts I’m looking at in the USA will carry ‘unlimited’ traffic, that is, up to 10TB/month for no extra cost so it’s possible that I could share out my VPN with a few hundred users- and make it impossibly cheap for all. With 100 users, I could do it for 70c/user/month or $8.40 per year/per user.

Comment by weez 12.16.09 @ 3:25 pm

Mark Newton in New Matilda: Conroy’s Clean Feed Won’t Block Child P*rn

Comment by weez 12.16.09 @ 8:59 pm

From the Not Getting It Department: Simon Sharwood @ThePunch shows he’s a complete tit. You’d think a technology writer would actually understand technology. Simon doesn’t.

Comment by weez 12.16.09 @ 9:38 pm

Mark Newton interviewed on SkyNews (audio recording of TV interview)

Comment by weez 12.17.09 @ 8:19 am

Through uninformed commentary, Alexandra Carlton proves she’s an even bigger tit than Simon Sharwood in “Child welfare is more important than net freedom,” succeeds in getting her arse handed to her on a platter by about 120 commenters. Carlton clearly panics after about 35 people read her the riot act:

Alexandra Carlton says:

01:59pm | 16/12/09

Whoa. Okay. I’m beginning to feel like Maud Flanders. The point I’m making is not whether or not the filter would work. Nor whether or not we should be protecting the eyes of tiny innocent children from filth. I guess my point is that there are some things we do not have the right to see – ever – and in theory, in PRINCIPLE, the concept of blocking child porn is beyond reproach. The approach being taken by many anti-Clean Feed protesters is “I should be able to watch whatever I want whenever I want and the government can stuff it.” No. You should never, ever be able to see child pornography. But I accept it may be inevitable.

I guess I’d prefer to see the No Clean Feed proponents stick to the more valid arguments – its efficacy, its likelihood of blocking innocent or mundane sites, the chance of slower services. The chest beating, I should-be-able-to-view-anything-I-want rhetoric is counter-productive.

Carlton is still labouring under the mistaken impression that the filter plan has anything at all to do with stopping CP. It will not do anything of the sort. If stopping child sexual abuse and trafficking in child porn were the govt’s real goals for the filter, given that it has been demonstrated that it can do neither, I’d think the govt would be opening itself to charges of negligence by victims of such crimes. Bring on the ex-gratia payments…

Comment by weez 12.17.09 @ 8:34 am

Jamie Briggs redeems ThePunch, if momentarily: Net filtering ‘plan’ is a fraud

Comment by weez 12.17.09 @ 8:40 am

What if the police diverted their resources to find and arrest the producers of child porn instead of wasting most of their time on the insane ‘war’ on drugs. Not the point of course…

Comment by Melchior 12.17.09 @ 1:32 pm

What if the Rudd Govt diverted the resources wasted on a mandatory filter that they do not have a mandate to implement and used them to find and arrest the producers of child porn? A bit more on point, but your point about the failed War on Drugs is also well taken.

Stoush of the day is over on Senator Kate Lundy’s blog. Lundy’s post is disappointing in that she admits that she’s toeing the party line instead of voting in accordance with her constituents’ wishes. Worse, her staffer Pia Waugh tried for a moment to assert that Labor had mandatory filtering as part of their 2007 election platform– when in fact, the ‘mandatory’ part pertained to a requirement that ISPs would make a ‘clean feed’ available, not that ALL users were required to suffer it. Waugh yet is asserting that the ‘community expectations’ were somehow not in accord with the published policy. Hell’s bells, Conroy himself said on 31 Dec 2007 that the filtering scheme would be ‘opt-out,’ but I don’t actually think Conroy remembers what he says from day to day…

Lundy is fairly brave for leaving comments open on her blog- she’s taking quite a bollocking- one she fairly deserves, though.

Comment by weez 12.17.09 @ 2:07 pm

Colin Jacobs: Net filter that helps no-one

Comment by weez 12.17.09 @ 3:33 pm

Net filters ‘thin end of the wedge’: Kirby With audio of Kirby’s commentary.

Comment by weez 12.17.09 @ 4:07 pm

Mark Newton: Testing of Conroy’s internet filter flawed: expert

The Australian’s editorial demonstrates they’re working under the delusion that the Confilter will actually do what Conjob says it will. Naive beyond measure.

Comment by weez 12.17.09 @ 4:57 pm

Christians do ‘research’ everybody else is perving.

Comment by Melchior 12.17.09 @ 5:07 pm

Yeah, gotta worry about those xians. They’re so often not even wrong.

Prepare for porn at 9pm: Christian group

This next link is fairly important:

auDA take down

This story proves, beyond doubt, that there’s clearly political interference coming from Conroy’s office and collusion from auDA to unlawfully help the Minister for Prevention of Communications avoid embarrassment.

Comment by weez 12.20.09 @ 6:22 am

Reporters Without Borders/Reporters Sans Frontières damns the proposed internet censorship regime:

Open letter to Australia’s Prime Minister

Former Supreme Court Justice Michael Kirby speaks on internet censorship: Justice Michael Kirby’s Four Parables on Net Regulation on video

Comment by weez 12.20.09 @ 6:27 am

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