December 31, 2007

Australian national censorware news report notes

First, a link to an Australian national censorware news article, without which this post would languish in even more obscurity than it will already.

Now, there's a basic issue of confusion: Is this for "illegal" material (under Australian law), in which case an opt-out makes no sense, or "adult"-only material, in which case there'd be a serious problem managing all the opt-out which would be needed.

I believe this is about "illegal" material, though the most recent reports and blustering make it sound like it's about "adult"-only material.

Paul Montgomery has the best local coverage. Which of course is relegated to obscure discussion status compared to the BigHeads.

One correction for this column: Why Australia isn't the new China

most recently in a column about the Australian approach by Seth Finkelstein pointing out that censorware never works.

I shouldn't be ungrateful for a press mention. Except I didn't say that :-(. The headline-writer did. The title "The internet can't be censored and it's wrong for governments to try" was not my words. I have a much more worried view of the effects of national censorware.

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in censorware | on December 31, 2007 09:52 AM (Infothought permalink)
Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

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You do yourself a disservice stating that you'll be ignored, Seth. And a disservice to those not ignoring you.

I agree: Paul Montgomery's take is the sanest. I'm astonished at the degree of hyperbole that seems to exist within this environment, now. If this is the 'new journalism', great squid help us all.

Regardless, those who seem to get more attention have relatively none past a few days, and absolutely no impact regardless of audience size.

Posted by: Shelley at December 31, 2007 11:41 AM

Shelley, my Z-listery is simply a fact. Denying reality doesn't change it :-(.

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at December 31, 2007 12:20 PM

Saw the Australian article in The Guardian.

VERY cool stuff. Well done.

Posted by: hugh macleod at December 31, 2007 12:50 PM

"Shelley, my Z-listery is simply a fact. Denying reality doesn't change it :-(."


If you were an A lister, like Scoble or MacLeod, would you effect any more change? Could you drum up enough sustained interest to make a difference?

Posted by: Shelley at December 31, 2007 03:07 PM

You're writing for the Guardian, which is more of a forum than most of us have. More, in reality, than the so-called A listers of weblogging.

Posted by: Shelley at December 31, 2007 03:10 PM

Shelley: In fact, that was the theory - that I could effect more change if I had more support. Maybe that theory is wrong, that it wouldn't be enough. Which is even worse.

Let's put it this way - nobody has tried to bribe me with stock options yet.

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at December 31, 2007 03:50 PM

I had some kind of stock with the dot-com I worked at. I don't think we lived long enough for it to become paper.

As soon as I incorporate, you'll get first shot at Burningbird stock.

Posted by: Shelley at December 31, 2007 05:28 PM

As an Australian I have a different perspective on this.

1) some members of the gov come from the (NSW) right wing of the Labour party - heavily backed by the Catholic Church. So no porn/save the kiddies = good.

2) while the Australian gov can screw up anything technical, there are quite a number of very technically literate people about who can make this happen

3) as Telstra the major - essentially monopoly - provider needs friends and while they can be hopeless - they can also be brutally efficient.

4) the new content access scheme is due to go live in 7 days (8 Jan) I think so don't think they won't try it. This is to do with verifying age on naughty access. Setup by prev gov but still going ahead with this one.

5) as Seth has repeatedly pointed out censoring at the isp level is not that hard if you have the will.

6) don't for a moment think they won't try it if people don't complain, Tinfinger's comments while partially valid, don't mean much to any government of any persuasion (not personally) - they just won't care. Even if people do complain they will probably just say - opt out/suck it and see.

7) for the paranoid - if they weren't serious they wouldn't have released this when most of the country is still half asleep from Xmas lunch or at the beach (or both).

8) I can almost see the email for telstra isp (bigpond) marketing - unfiltered access at your disposal - (see the fine print - just pay extra).

Posted by: tqft at December 31, 2007 08:50 PM

hugh: Thanks

tqft: But user-level settings require a lot more work than an ISP firewall. I would think that if user-level settings are going to be imposed, there would be ISPs complaining about the effort involved, and they'd have to talk to their entire userbase about the new procedures.

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at January 1, 2008 01:50 AM

"there would be ISPs complaining"
hence the extra fee

"and they'd have to talk to their entire userbase about the new procedures."
That would require caring about their customers.
More likely would be an obscure link in an email no-one reads until their porn is cutoff and they ring up - to be directed to an IE only site requiring an ActiveX plugin (for security - if only I was joking)

I don't know how much work the user-level settings would be, but it should be almost an transparent addon to the billing setup where most everything up/down is logged for billing anyway. How much more work? It is less work for the unfiltered and only 1 extra bit (FILTERED aka evil bit) really against a relatively fixed list of no-no's, but yes multiplied by a lot of traffic. If anyone has a good technical suggestion on how to do this - keep it to yourself until they are offering money for an answer. They already throttle users over quota so defining the naughty quota as zero isn't that much of a technical leap.

Would they cutoff the naughty list while they worked out the technical details? Probably yes.

Posted by: tqft at January 1, 2008 04:15 AM