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[News] Australians Furious Over Government's China-isation of the Internet

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Is the Internet going down down under?

,----[ Quote ]
| The battle is now on for the soul of the Australian internet. The outcome 
| could have enormous repercussions for the future of the internet in the UK. 
| Regular readers will be aware of the Australian Government’s plans to clamp 
| down on the internet down under. These, the brainchild of Communications 
| Minister Stephen Conroy, have been bubbling away since last year, and began, 
| as so many half-baked government schemes do, with the plea that 
| someone "think of the children".    
| The scheme would put in place a server-level content filtering system, to 
| block material unsuitable for children. The cat was put well and truly 
| amongst the pigeons with the recent claim by Internode network engineer Mark 
| Newton that there will be no opt-out from filtering for parents.   


They should sue the government.


In Conroy’s muddy waters you'll never know what’s being filtered

,----[ Quote ]
| Critics of Conroy's Internet filtering say Australians will not be able to
| find out what the government censors online, and ask: who watches the
| watchmen?
| An Australian law expert has warned that under the government’s proposed
| mandatory Internet content filtering scheme Australians will have no way of
| finding out what “illegal” content has been censored and blocked online,
| while Greens Senator Scott Ludlam voiced his concern over Conroy’s ambiguity
| regarding exactly what content will or won’t be blocked, and who will be able
| to opt-out of the filtering.
| Conroy’s mandatory Internet filtering proposal caused a stir last week when
| it was revealed a member of his department had tried to censor severely
| critical comments made on the Whirlpool broadband forum by an Internode
| network engineer regarding the merits of ISP level filtering.


Big tech companies back global plan to shield online speech

,----[ Quote ]
| Stating that privacy is "a human right and guarantor of human dignity," the
| initiative commits the companies to try to resist overly broad demands for
| restrictions on freedom of speech and overly broad demands that could
| compromise the privacy of their users.
| The initiative was begun after human rights groups and Congress criticized
| the Internet companies for cooperating with Chinese government censorship and
| demands for information on dissidents. In addition to laying out the code of
| conduct, the initiative will provide a non-governmental forum for the
| companies and human rights groups to jointly resist demands for censorship.
| It will also establish a system of independent auditors to rate the
| companies' conduct.


Internet Companies Pay Lip Service To Human Rights

,----[ Quote ]
| While it's nice that they're actually thinking about these issues, the
| guidelines on the whole are pretty weak and don't bind the companies to do
| anything. Basically, it just says that the companies will consider the human
| rights issues in their decision making. If anything, this seems like an
| attempt to just keep the government from legislating on the issues, and it
| may not be very successful on that front. The real test will be in seeing how
| these companies actually act, rather than what sorts of guidelines they've
| signed.


Labor's web gag 'worse than Iran'

,----[ Quote ]
| The Federal Government is attempting to silence critics of its controversial
| plan to censor the internet, which experts say will break the internet while
| doing little to stop people from accessing illegal material such as child
| pornography.
| Internet providers and the government's own tests have found that presently
| available filters are not capable of adequately distinguishing between legal
| and illegal content and can degrade internet speeds by up to 86 per cent.
| Documents obtained by Fairfax Media show the office of the Communications
| Minister, Stephen Conroy, tried to bully ISP staff into suppressing their
| criticisms of the plan.
| Senator Conroy has since last year's election victory remained tight-lipped
| on the specifics of his $44.2 million policy but, grilled by a Senate
| Estimates committee this week, he said the Government was looking at forcing
| ISPs to implement a two-tiered filtering system.


No opt-out of filtered Internet

,----[ Quote ]
| Australians will be unable to opt-out of the government's pending Internet
| content filtering scheme, and will instead be placed on a watered-down
| blacklist, experts say.


Conroy announces mandatory internet filters to protect children

,----[ Quote ]
| "Labor makes no apologies to those that argue that any regulation of the
| internet is like going down the Chinese road," he said.


Comcast, NetZero latest providers to bow to Cuomo's Usenet campaign

,----[ Quote ]
| But in reality, Cuomo's pressure tactics have misfired. They led Time Warner
| Cable to pull the plug on some 100,000 Usenet discussion groups, including
| such hotbeds of illicit content as talk.politics and
| misc.activism.progressive. Verizon Communications deleted such unlawful
| discussion groups as us.military, ny.politics, alt.society.labor-unions, and
| alt.politics.democrats. AT&T and Time Warner Cable have taken similar steps.


Verizon offers details of Usenet deletion: alt.* groups, others gone

,----[ Quote ]
| Cuomo claimed that his office found child porn on 88 newsgroups--out of
| roughly 100,000 newsgroups that exist. In a press release, he took credit for
| the companies' blunderbuss-style newsgroup removal by saying: "We are
| attacking this problem by working with Internet service providers...I commend
| the companies that have stepped up today to embrace a new standard of
| responsibility, which should serve as a model for the entire industry."
| [...]
| What this means in practice is that, thanks to the New York state attorney
| general, Verizon customers will lose out on innocent discussions. Verizon is
| retaining only eight newsgroup hierarchies, even though over 1,000
| hierarchies exist.


Usenet Villified In NY Deal With ISPs

,----[ Quote ]
| Time Warner Cable will turn off all newsgroup access, while Sprint plans to
| cut access to the whole alt.* segment. Verizon may follow Sprint's example.
| Blocking all newsgroups does appear to be a broad approach to a problem
| involving a minority of such groups. As with the Internet in general, not
| everything in Usenet poses a threat. But no one wants to be tainted with even
| a suggestion of being soft on child porn, hence the rush to apply censorship
| with a sweeping axe rather than a skillfully-wielded scalpel.


Australia to get net censorship

,----[ Quote ]
| The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) will be able to
| force content providers to take down offensive material and issue notices for
| live content to be stopped and links to the content deleted.  


Major Aussie ISP Telstra BigPond shafts open source OpenOffice

,----[ Quote ]
| Australia’s largest Internet service provider Telstra BigPond has removed the
| free open source office suite OpenOffice from its unmetered file download
| area following the launch of its own, free, hosted, office application,
| BigPond Office.  
| [...]
| Our reader was outraged by Telstra’s move, which he sees as an attack on the
| open source software movement.
| “The principle of the matter upsets me,” he said. “The fact that BigPond has
| removed previously allowed open source software is un-ethical. They are
| discriminating against me, even though I pay the same as other customers.  
| They are attacking the Free Software movement.”  


Australia to extend web censorship

,----[ Quote ]
| Privacy advocates take a dim view of this proposal, naturally. Roger Clarke,
| chair of the Australian Privacy Foundation, said "This government's extremism
| has reached new heights today." He asked "How can a politician claim the
| right to hold office if they set out to undermine the critical democratic
| right of freedom of speech, and blatantly decline to evaluate the impact of
| measures put before the Parliament?"    


Suit against blogger weaves legal web in Paris, Texas

,----[ Quote ]
| But there is little case law in Texas or nationally to give judges a standard
| for when to expose anonymous postings on the Internet.  


Web 'censorship' bill brings police state one stop closer  

,----[ Quote ]
| Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) has slammed moves to give the Federal
| Police powers to ban access to certain Internet content as "another step in
| Australia's descent into a police state".  


Howard row over Wikipedia edits

,----[ Quote ]
| Staff in the Australian prime minister's department have been accused of
| editing potentially damaging entries in online encyclopaedia Wikipedia.


AT&T admits it censored other bands

,----[ Quote
| It looks like Pearl Jam isn't the only band that has had its politically
| charged comments bleeped from concerts streamed from AT&T's Blue Room Web
| site.  
| [...]
| AT&T quickly apologized for the incident and blamed the company that handles
| the Webcasting for performances on Blue Room.


AT&T slams Google over open-access wireless proposal

,----[ Quote ]
| AT&T has asked Capitol Hill not to enable an open nationwide wireless
| spectrum, claiming that Google's lobbying of such a network is a bid by the
| search giant to obtain broadband airwaves at bargain-basement prices.  


Microsoft and MySpace join Govt's fight against online predators

,----[ Quote ]
| Microsoft has joined the likes of MySpace and the child protection advocacy
| group Bravehearts to help launch an extension of the Federal Government’s
| NetAlert initiative, the Consultative Working Group.  


Australia's porn-blocking plan unveiled

,----[ Quote ]
| While individual filters will be available beginning later this month,
| ISP-level blocking may take some time to implement. The Australian
| Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is currently planning a trial of
| ISP-level filtering in Tasmania that will inform the government's decision on
| a national launch.    


Yahoo!, Microsoft ink web pact with Chinese government

,----[ Quote ]
| Microsoft and Yahoo! have signed a pact with the Chinese government
| that "encourages" the big name web players to record the identities of
| bloggers and censor content. So says Reporters Without Borders, an
| organization that fights for journalistic rights across the globe.  


Chinese Internet dissident committed to mental hospital

,----[ Quote ]
| "It is not acceptable that Chinese authorities use such methods to silence
| citizens who have merely peacefully voiced their opinions", expressed the
| organisation in an announcement. Apparently authorities have not abandoned
| the practice of punishing those who have exposed the abuse of power and
| defied censorship by compulsorily committing them to mental institutions.    

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