Tag Archives: internet censorship

Stephen Conroy in Egypt?

It would almost seem to be that our “Minister for all thing internet censorship related” the *cough* honourable *cough* Stephen Conroy has been assisting the Egyptians.

A court in Cairo has issued a ruling that bans pornographic websites in Egypt, state news agency Mena reports.

The Administrative Court in Cairo has ordered the government to block the “venomous and vile” sites in response to a case filed by a Muslim lawyer. from BBC News

I wonder if that lawyer knows Stephen?

From my reading of the article it looks like a very odd case. One person has managed to convince the courts that porn should be banned on the Egyptian Internet. But, the government (which would actually have to uphold that law and force the ISPs to comply) has had nothing to do with the case. Though as the article points out, the government is now in a difficult position:

The decision can be appealed in a higher court, but would put the government in the awkward position of being seen to defend pornography…

It always worries me that one person, or a small group of people, can have such an influence on the rest of society. And it always seems to be the religious that are that person or small group.

Religious people why can’t you just stay in your churches, I’m happy to stay out of them.

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Filed under atheism, internet censorship, religion

Guide to Australian Internet

How the internet works according to Senator Conroy and his Internet Filter.

filter_flow_chart

Internet filter flow chart courtesy of (well, OK, I stole it. Hope they don’t mind too much?)  crikey.com.au

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Filed under atheism, internet censorship, internet filter

No Clean Feed

More news of the Governments crazy Internet Censorship / Clean Feed debacle.

As you are all probably aware by now wikileaks.org leaked a copy of the Australian Governments and ACMAs URL blacklist. It turns out, according to Stilgherrian writing in Crikey today, that until recently the list was also available from within filtering software available from some ISPs! Stilgherrian poses some interesting questions on the possible size of the banned URL list and whether there may in fact be two lists.

Additionally, it was revealed by Sam Davies in newmatilda today that Australia has been put on a watch list of repressive countries, such as Zimbabwe and Malaysia, because of the government’s clean feed proposal.

I highly recommend you read both linked articles if you are interested in the Clean Feed proposal, its inherent problems, risk of abuse and the position it puts Australia in with respect to democracy and in they eyes of the rest of the world.


Thanks to Mojoey I have updated my Atheist Blogroll page, which now contains a list of all the atheist blogs on Mojoey’s list as of March 2009, in one easy to see long (very long) list.

For other wordpress.com users who can’t put Mojoeys list in their sidebar (due to scripting being disallowed) and would like to have an Atheist Blogroll page like me, I can provide a copy of Mojoeys list as a text file, just ask.

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Filed under censorship, Clean Feed, internet censorship, internet filter

the things you read 2

Stuff that I’ve read on the net lately.

Internet Filtering

Big news this week was the leaking of the ACMA blacklist to wikileaks.org of course Senator (minister who has no idea) Conroy said it wasn’t the real internet blacklist but you could still be charged with a criminal offence if you even linked to it. A brilliant WTF? moment if I’ve ever read one.

[Ed. Why has Australia had so many incompetent idiots in charge of ICT in this country? Every Minister for ICT over the last 12 years (at least) has been a complete incompetent moron when it comes to knowing anything about the internet and/or communications and technology]

Here’s a few links of the latest happenings:

Wikileaks tells Conroy where to go.

The EFA has some updates about the leaked blacklist.

There’s plenty more where that came from, you just have to search for ACMA blacklist to find lots of articles.

Only In Texas

Get a Masters Degree in Creationism.

A Texan Senator wants “private school[s] that teaches creationism to grant a Master of Science degree in the subject.”

I don’t know what to say about this, it’s one of those things that is so stupid as to defy belief. Seriously I’m thinking the “men in the white coats” should be coming along any minute to cart Senator Leo Berman away. Not surprisingly he’s a Republican Senator.

Just Say No

I’ve forgotten how many time’s myself and numerous others have shown that abstinence-only sex education is a complete waste of time and money. Since president Reagan introduced it and with the support of “God told me to” G. W. Bush, the amount of funding for abstinence only education has risen to $175 Million per year (but still the rates of teen pregnancies and STDs has increased, such that the US has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancies in the developed world) and has totalled over $1.5 Billion!!

Well it looks like some sanity may be coming back to America’s education system.

But in an ominous sign for them [abstinence-only advocates], the new Congress is already shifting its emphasis. Louise Slaughter, a congresswoman from New York and a former scientist, has introduced a bill that would fund “medically accurate” comprehensive sex education in schools. It is likely to pass.

I’m thinking the “medically accurate” education will include the use of condoms and other preventative measures. Measures that have proven time and again to work, because no matter what you say or do most people will eventually have sex. So it is far better that they are prepared than ignorant.

Atheist to Battle Christians

Feed me to the lions.

Christopher Hitchens is scheduled to take part in what will likely be a very lively discussion at this weekend’s Christian Book Expo at the Dallas Convention Center.

now that’s a debate that I’d like to watch.

Hat Tips to tweeps on twitter for the links.

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Filed under abortion, atheism, Barack Obama, internet censorship, internet filter, President Bush, religion

Too tired to wank

MGK has a good rap-up of some of the latest articles on the Internet filtering debacle titled ‘prohibited’ does not equal ‘illegal’, well worth a read.

Of interest is a study MGK found by Todd Kendall, from the Economics Department of Clemson University, who thinks the proverbial “pornography use causes sex crime” accusation is invalid.  Kendall’s research indicates that since the internet came online, and thus freer and greater access to pornography has become readily available, the rate of sex crimes has dropped. There may be other reasons for the drop, as the Ohio.com article states,  but it may also be that, to put it bluntly,  some rapes have been avoided because the perpetrators were too worn out from too much wanking?

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Internet Censorship part 4 (or maybe more)

Thailand’s Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT) has blocked another 1203 websites from being accessed by their citizens. The official reason from the Thai government blocking these websites is because of  “lese majeste” (criticising the King). You can view the list of websites on the wikileaks site.

So whats’ this got to do Australia or atheism?

Well (as most of you probably know by now) Senator Conroy and his buddies in the Labor Party are attempting to introduce ISP level internet filtering in Australia (see No Clean Feed links in the side bar). Whilst a lot of the hype about this has centered on the porn aspect of the filtering, the more worrying aspect is the possible bans on web sites deemed “inappropriate”.  With no explanation of what “inappropriate” sites might be, this leaves a huge hole for the government of the day to just ban sites that they don’t like for whatever reason. Because the blacklist is, supposedly, unavailable to the general public ( I say supposedly because all you need to do is look at the wikileaks site to see how despite bans these lists can be released to the general populace)  you won’t even know what has been blacklisted.

So what has this to do with atheism I hear you ask? Well how many atheist blogs are critical of the government? I’d hazard a guess nearly all of them have been at one stage, I know I have on many occasions.  Separation of church and state, government wasting money on religious activities (C-WYD anyone?), taxpayers money being wasted on religion and religious schools and the list goes on. We already have sedition laws in this country, brought in by the previous draconian Liberal government, which can get you locked up if you speak out against the government. Even though these are about to be overhauled by the current government it has demonstrates how easy it is for the government of the day to bring in restrictive laws if they don’t want people speaking out against them. So the government doesn’t like what you wrote on your blog? Blog goes on the blacklist, never to be viewed by an Australian again. Think that’s not too big a problem? Government notices incoming links to your site, so all those get banned, and so it goes on until no atheists are able to speak out against the injustices of the government.

A wild fantasy, over-hyped conspiracy theory? Perhaps, but what would stop the government bringing in “lese majeste PM interwebs” (criticising Rudd on a blog), if they have virtually unlimited capability to ban web sites deemed inappropriate?

Whilst checking some details for this post I noticed that the governments (pathetic excuse for a) blog has now been closed, see the  Thanks and so long… link. Of note the American President – Elect has got a blog, which despite the fact you can’t comment on each blog entry they do at least have a seperate section where you can comment on specific topics – see the Open Government section in the side bar. Importantly the site looks like a blog. It will be interesting to see if Obama keeps this going after his inauguration in 14 days. Perhaps our hopeless government and their useless blog programmers could ask Obama and his team for some tips?

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Filed under atheism, atheist, internet censorship, internet filter

Why Internet Filtering is NOT a good idea

When someone decides the picture on an album cover is offensive and adds it to a black-list then everyone suffers. from Wikipedia added to child pornography blacklist

Wikipedia has been blacklisted by a British online child pornography watchdog, causing almost every internet user in Britain to be blocked from contributing to the site anonymously.

The British Government-backed Internet Watch Foundation blacklisted Wikipedia over an article on the 1976 album Virgin Killer by German heavy metal band Scorpions.

At issue was a screen shot of the album cover, published with the article, that featured a naked, young girl with her genitals obscured by a simulated tear in the photograph.

After hearing of the blacklisting, Britain’s six main internet service providers blocked their users from accessing the article.

Here in Australia our government is considering having mandatory ISP filtering, unlike the UK where it is not compulsory. But as can be seen if something is considered child pornography then most operators will also consider it such, quite likely to avoid being seen as being soft on child pornography, it then becomes a matter of self censorship. Having seen the offending picture I can see how it could be considered child pornography, but then again I thought Bell Henson‘s pictures were as well.

The problem with the ban is that now all users appear to wikipedia as one of six users (the six ISPs blocking the site), so if just one user gets banned then all users on that ISP will be banned from modifying wikipedia. This may seem a bit innocuous but think of the consequences.

One person complains to the watchdog (and in this case it was only one user), the site gets blacklisted, all users on those six ISPs (about 95% of home internet users) now appear as one of six users. Lets say six people, one on each of the six ISPs, purposefully get themselves banned by wikipedia, then just about every internet user can no longer edit anonymously. Then using an alternate ISP these nefarious gang of six edit various wikipedia sites, the rest of the populace now finds it difficult to correct these edits. These new entries come

I know I’m probably being a bit paranoid and ‘conspiracy theorist’ here, but it just shows how easy it could be, if mandatory filtering was in place, for a small group of people to wreck  havoc on the internet for everyone else. Worse still, in Australia you might not even know it had happened, as the government doesn’t have to expose which sites have been black-listed.

1984 anyone?

In more political correctness gone wrong, comes the story of the man who has been convicted of possessing child pornography, and then lost his appeal. The offending matter?  A cartoon of Homer Simpson having sex with Lisa Simpson. Yes folks a cartoon! The judge (where do they find these people?)  stated:

the word ‘person’ included fictional or imaginary characters …,”

and

“… The mere fact that the figure depicted departed from a realistic representation in some respects of a human being did not mean that such a figure was not a ‘person’.”

feckin’ genius this judge, even most four year olds know the difference between a cartoon and a person, but not our ‘learned’ judge.

There are a few other bloggers covering this and they have come up with some, at times quite funny, extrapolations of this ruling. How far could this go?

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Filed under activism, atheism, censorship, freedom of speech, internet censorship, internet filter, no clean feed, porn