Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Or "light up the Doctorow-signal"

So the great firewall of Australia was an epic fail. Now the Oz government wants to go after the links instead.

Yup - Aussies linking to "banned" sites are being threatened with massive fines ($11,000 AUS per day).

Now I'm as rabid as the next reader of the British tabloid press when it comes to wanting to flay the people making and hosting images of child abuse. Slowly. From the feet up. But this isn't what the watch list is about. Or at least, that's never what it stays about for long:

"[Wikileaks] has also published Thailand's Internet censorship list and noted that, in both the Thai and Danish cases, the scope of the blacklist had been rapidly expanded from child porn to other material including political discussions."

Asher Moses, Sydney Morning Herald, March 17th 2009.

The first Aussie site to be threatened with a fine was a discussion board. Why? Because one of the posts had a link to an anti-abortion website. The next big target was Wikileaks - added to the "do not link" list because it hosts "a leaked document containing Denmark's list of banned websites."

Does the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) have no idea how the Internet works? I bet that within six clicks from your favourite auntie's blog you could be at most of the sites on the Internet that would make you wish you could claw your own eyeballs out (including, but not limited to, Conservapedia.) Whether I want to be or not, I'm part of the big network of pointers that makes the web work.

If ACMA doesn't realise that this plan is unworkable then that's some breathtaking incompetence on the part of a body whose whole reason for being is to understand communications networks. If the ACMA dosn't care that the plan is unworkable then they are using bullying tactics to achieve something that they know could never be achieved through legislation and the courts.

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