Archive for December, 2009
The clean feed circus
It seems that every day the ‘clean feed’ (the mandatory ISP level filtering being proposed by the Australian Government) debate goes on, it appears that Senator Conroy is promising less and misunderstanding even more. The current justification for implementing this filter is to ‘protect children’.
Given that only 33% of Internet connected households in australia have children in them (http://bit.ly/8rMRRU), why do the rest of us have to have this filter imposed on them?
The common misconception is that the internet filter is to filter illegal content, which is totally incorrect. What’s actually being proposed is to filter what the government class as ‘Refused Classification’ content, which means the content could be completely legal, but because our current censorship laws prevent anything above 18+ classification, anything that doesn’t fit this classification will be refused classification and there-for blocked.
“What happens with illegal content then” you might ask. In the event any illegal content is reported to either the Police or the ACMA, it will be referred to the Australian Federal Police (AFP) for a criminal investigation, with the end result hopefully ending with a conviction for involved parties.
The shame of all this, is the senator has been painting people who are against this filtering scheme as people who are ‘for’ child pornography, which is complete rubbish. Given the filter isn’t even in place to filter child pornography, how could not supporting the filter be condoning child pornography?
The other significant concern is the possibility of ‘scope creep’ which basically means that while the government is only filtering RC content now, how long until they, or another government bow to lobbyists and suddenly any material which is offensive to some political minority is suddenly inaccessible to everyone else? It’s honestly frightening.
Even though the filter is flawed conceptually, it’s even worse when you read about the proposed technical implementation.
In the current guise in the Senator’s report, the filter will be some kind of transparent web proxy/filter, which will only intercept traffic running on port 80 (www) port. If any organisations want to side step the filter, they simply need to either run their website on a port other than 80, or run it as a secure website running on port 443 (which can-not be intercepted by the proposed filter). If you wanted to access ‘prohibited’ content still running on port 80, you could simply use an anonymising service, or even set yourself a proxy server up, outside of Australia. Given that this would take someone with even slim to moderate computing knowledge less than 5 minutes to do, it all seems a bit pointless.
Given the government has pledged over $125M AUD to their ‘cyber safety’ policies, I can’t help but think this money could be much better spent on law enforcement, so you know, they can catch the sick people publishing child pornography