Posts Tagged ‘Internet filtering’

Poor Conroy – it looks like someone convinced Xenophon that kiddie pr0n is great.

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I call upon Senator Conroy to denounce this rogue group.

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Nick Minchin’s piece in yesterday’s SMH should be commended. If you haven’t seen it, read the whole thing – it’s a clear and cogent summary of the arguments against Stephen Conroy’s foolish plan to exert control over the Internet. I’m not going to quote any of it, because the whole thing is spot on.

The good news is that, given the Opposition and Greens appear to view the plan as fundamentally flawed, Conroy has no hope of getting any legislation through the Senate. The bad news is that, until public pressure or his own Government forces him to drop this, he will continue to waste time and money tilting at what, for him, appears to be the only windmill in the land.

ELSEWHERE: Mark Newton of Internode has developed a form letter to help people who have communicated with MPs and received a Conroy-derived form letter as a response.

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My MSNBC podcasts have been broken since just before Christmas. At first I thought it was related to a more general problem I was having with podcast feeds, so I worked on trying to sort that out. I got it fixed this week, and MSNBC still wasn’t working, so I went in search of a solution. Different podcast software also failed. Downloading directly from the MSNBC web site also failed.

While searching, I managed to find this discussion. I’m not alone – it appears that plenty of people outside the United States no longer have access to the MSNBC podcast feeds. They appear to have implemented a regional restriction.

My question to MSNBC is, “What would you like me to do?” I have no way to take up a paid subscription to MSNBC – if I was to get pay TV, I’d have CNN, Sky and FOX on tap 24 hours a day, but still couldn’t get access to the shows I like from your network. I suspect that in most cases, by creating this restriction, you lose interested worldwide viewers who value your work and discuss it online (raising the profile of your shows), but you cannot gain a paying customer. So, why do it?

It also highlights one of the many flaws with the Steve Conroy Internet filtering plan. In that short discussion thread on the Apple forums, people have already identified and disseminated a solution – use a third-party app that will result in MSNBC thinking you are connecting from the USA. Any time one attempts to restrict content using a technical barrier, someone will develop a technical method to circumvent it.

UPDATE: I should take this opportunity to recommend the service I’m using now to get my podcasts. Because iTunes refused to download files it couldn’t play – meaning that I couldn’t use it to get the WMV video files my MP3 player likes – I have begun using Mediafly, a service that lets you manage your subscriptions online and then gives you a few options to play them. They have a web player on their site, apps for several devices (iPhone, Chumby, etc.) and a SyncClient that lets me download the podcasts to my PC and then automatically synchronises with my portable player. As soon as I have listened to an episode, the next sync will see it removed from the device.

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One more thought on the Conroy Internet Filter. Aside from its filtering proposal, Senator Conroy’s Department (DBCDE) has another major Internet-related initiative – the development of a high-speed national broadband network. If the personnel, time and money that are being injected into developing a flawed programme for regulating access to content were instead available for the latter objective, how much sooner would Australian homes and businesses have access to the benefits of an open-access fibre-based network?

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Good to see that GetUp! has launched a campaign against Conroy’s filter. Aside from the fact that it’s an initiative worthy of strong opposition, it seems to me that it might help to establish GetUp’s credibility as an independent movement among those conservatives who write it off as an ALP spinoff – this campaign takes aim at a policy that is 100% Labor and has no connection to the Howard era.

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It’s not just the Greens – Nick Minchin and the Libs like kiddie pr0n too.

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Last night’s The 7.30 Report had a pretty solid story on Internet filtering. The major views were accurately presented – the bosses of iiNet and Internet got a fair say, Conroy was shown in Senate hearings after refusing to be interviewed for the show, and child protection advocates got to state their case. Of course, once the arguments for and against are stacked up against each other, I think the folly of this filtering approach stands out.

Arguments against the Conroy Filter:

MICHAEL MALONE: The basic problem with mandatory filtering of the internet in Australia is that it just plain won’t work.

DAVID QUILTY, MGR DIRECTOR PUBLIC POLICY, TELSTRA: Filtering everything that goes over the internet – that is simply impractical. It would be horrendously expensive. It’s likely to significantly reduce the speeds that people get on the internet.

MICHAEL MALONE: They all suffer from the same problems as any other solution in that they sometimes block content they shouldn’t and sometimes, of course, they let through things that they shouldn’t.

SIMON HACKETT, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, INTERNODE: Because of the presence of encryption and other sorts of techniques on the internet that make filtering really quite impossible to stop the bad guys, at the end of the day the only way you actually get them is good old-fashioned conventional policing mechanisms.

Arguments for the Conroy Filter:

CLIVE HAMILTON, PUBLIC ETHICS, CHARLES STURT UNIVERSITY: The idea that somehow the internet as another form of communication should be exempted from all of these social and moral controls, I find bizarre and repugnant.

STEPHEN CONROY, COMMUNICATIONS & BROADBAND MINISTER: Illegal material is illegal material. Child pornography’s child pornography and I trust you’re not suggesting that people should have access to child pornography.

BERNADETTE MCMENAMIN: It will block out some child pornography, but not all, and surely, anybody sitting out there in their lounge rooms would think that some is better than none at all.

So, on the one hand we have technically knowledgeable people discussing their area of expertise, pointing out that mandatory ISP filtering is not feasible. On the other hand, we have ethicists, politicians and advocates implying that if you are opposed to this plan, you want an Internet where anything, including child pornography, is freely available.

I know what I find bizarre and repugnant about this debate.

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xkcd strikes the funny bone:


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Hey, look – there’s a political party that is asking the Government to answer questions that would justify its policy. Presumably, this party might base its decision about whether to support or oppose the legislation based on the satisfaction they get from the answers.

By the way, did you know Kevin Rudd is a bit odd?

UPDATE: Via Jeremy, here is video of Senator Ludlam’s questions and Senator Conroy’s non-responses:

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