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Sign the petition here: http://petitions.takingitglobal.org/oznetcensorship.

For a list of posters you can use to place in public and spread the word, please go here.

ACCESS OUR FORUMS!
Click here.

Our intention is to stop the implementation of Internet Censorship in Australia.

In case you don’t know what that means, or who it affects, it is the proposed plan of creating a compulsory internet filter which is intended on removing and banning the access to any website which is deemed “inappropriate”.

While the idea itself is intended to bring a safer environment for children on the internet, the filter brings about no concern for anybody else who uses the internet, and is a serious violation of our freedom of rights, speech and expression.

The idea is being implemented by Senator Stephen Conroy, the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, with the co-operation of our Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd.

The planned internet filters will disable our rights to view and access hundreds of thousands of web pages due to content that filters deem “inappropriate”. The problem with this however is not only the accuracy of the filters which have been known to wrongfully block “safesites”, known to not block “potentially harmful material”, and have also shown that they cripple internet speeds.

Another website which has a belief similar to ours, http://www.somebodythinkofthechildren.com/, posted a great example showing how the filtering system is a complete failure after a trial run by the government in Tasmania. Despite this failure, the filter plan is still being implemented nationally into the future.

(The full write-up can be found here – Also, another similar write-up can be found here.)

The government however has stated that this “Internet Filter” will be compulsory, meaning everyone with an internet connection will be affected. People who don’t even have children in the house will have to suffer by being denied access to their own corners of interest on the internet – if it is deemed “inappropriate” for children.

There however is an inappropriate opt-out option – requiring you to register your details on a government register to monitor your internet usage, to see exactly why you didn’t want to use the internet filter, which is a blatant disrespect and law breaking of our privacy rights.

Our plan is a 3 stage approach in order to do our part to prevent this filter from being brought into place.

Stage 1: Educate Ourselves.

Stage 2: Educate Others.

Stage 3: Peaceful Action.

By peaceful action, we are advocating the use of letters sent to your Minister of Parliament or Letters to the Editor in your local and national newspapers. Any peaceful, non-violent/non-harmful expression of interest is acceptable and encouraged. WE ARE NOT advocating the use of violence, threats and other harmful means of expression.

They will block any sites they find INAPPROPRIATE, including:

- Limewire and Torrent sites (CONFIRMED – any sites for MP3 and movie downloads will be BLOCKED)

- Youtube (Music videos and movie clips, can be used on YouTube in the US where Youtube is based, but break Australian copyright – BLOCKED)

- Myspace (Blogs that offend the Government, music and videos – BLOCKED)

- Facebook (Blogs and videos – BLOCKED)

- Wikipedia (Articles on suicide, euthanasia, and descriptive photos in articles, copyrighted photos and song samples – BLOCKED)

- Your favourite Forums (Anything with an unlicensed song or video, or discussion of topics not suitable for “children” – BLOCKED)

- Any site people can have their say about anything on – BLOCKED

- Anything the Government disagrees with – BLOCKED

- Anything “inappropriate for children” (We won’t even get told why a site would get blocked, it will just go – BLOCKED!)

So please, we ask you, do your part into stopping this for the good of our country, and for our rights to freedom.

POSTERS

To spread the word in public, we are creating new posters which you can print out and stick around publicly to raise awareness, and others which you can send over the internet. You can find these posters here.

PAMPHLETS

We have pamphlets created for you to print out and to hand out in the public. The pamphlets would be more effective than a stand-alone image, as they offer specific details on what is being blocked. Different pamphlets will be created over time to attract different audiences. You can find the pamphlets here.

CONTACTING

If you wish to contact one of your Local MP’s through a letter, or would like to contact Stephen Conroy himself, here are some helpful links as well.

A guide and some help for writing a letter to your MP + help on getting their contact details.

Contact details for Stephen Conroy’s office.

IRC CHAT

If you would like to engage in discussion with members of the community who are fighting against the planned filter, feel free to join us in discussion on our IRC Page at irc://irc.rizon.net:6667/ #ausrage or at irc://irc.rizon.net/#ausrage

LINKS

Other sites of interest regarding the implications of this filter include:

Please spread the word through MySpace.

Tell people to add http://myspace.com/leavethenetalone.

Source: http://www.crikey.com.au/Media-Arts-and-Sports/20081024-Cheap-tricks-not-the-right-response-on-internet-filtering.html

Senator Stephen Conroy, the Minister for Child P-rnography is looking increasingly desper… What? Sorry? Conroy is not responsible for child p-rnography? No? “Cheap rhetorical trick,” you say?

Yes, it’s the very same cheap trick the Minister himself used in Senate Estimates on Monday night when — just as he did in December last year — he accused critics of Labor’s internet censorship policy of supporting kiddie p-rn.

Senator Conroy: […] I trust you are not suggesting that people should have access to child p-rnography.

Senator Ludlam: No. That is why I was interested in asking about the law enforcement side of it as well.

Senator Conroy: No, we are working both angles at it. We are just trying to use technology to enforce the existing laws.

Senator Ludlam: I am just wondering if I can put these questions to you without being accused of being pro child p-rnography. That would assist.

Senator Conroy: I was wondering if I could get the questions without being accused of being the Great Wall of China.

Well, Minister, stop supporting the idea of filters at the internet service provider (ISP) which block an as-yet-undefined range of “inappropriate” material, then maybe the comparisons with China will stop too. Senator Conroy is caught between a rock and a hard place. Prior to the 2007 election, the ALP committed to “ensuring all Australian families can utilise ISP filters that block prohibited content as identified by the Australian Communications and Media Authority. Families should also be able to access filters that can be customised to block more material if they choose.”

He also inherited a timetable for trialling ISP-level filters from his Coalition predecessor, Senator Helen Coonan.

The problem is, ISP-level filters are the wrong way to go. As anti-censorship campaigner Michael Meloni points out, “Is the Government really in the best position to decide what [is inappropriate]? Does inappropriate include information on s-xual health, breast-feeding, drugs and abortion? The one size fits all approach of filtering at ISP level causes problems because young children, teenagers and adults often use the same family computer. Material inappropriate in one household might be appropriate in another, but the Government’s scheme doesn’t allow for any fine-tuning. It’s a poor substitute for the discretion and attention of parents.”

When the report on phase one of the trial was released in July, it showed the filters simply aren’t good enough. They block too much legitimate material. They can’t touch peer-to-per file sharing, which is where most of the nasties live. And they degrade internet performance to boot.

I reckon Conroy knows the filters are a dud. When that report dropped, he “welcomed” it and was “encouraged” by it, but only The Australian used the word “success”. Not Conroy — a fact his office confirmed to Crikey this morning.

I reckon he’s just going through the motions with Coonan’s timetable to keep Family First Senator Steve Fielding happy. Fielding’s Senate vote is desperately needed for other matters, as is überpopulist Nick Xenophon’s — a man who knows the value of words like “kiddie p-rn” in stirring the voters’ emotions. Until that much-anticipated double dissolution election, anyway, after which Conroy can renegotiate with the somewhat-more-rational Greens.

Meanwhile, with all the evidence running against an evidence-based policy for ISP-level filtering, Senator Conroy can only lash out and threaten his critics. It’s not a good look.

I was alerted to this by “Nameless” on the IRC. I felt everybody else would find this a good read too.

Source: http://forums.whirlpool.net.au/forum-replies.cfm?t=967413&p=45#r883

Written by: Mark Newton, Internode.
(Posted as a citizen, not an employee).

I think the fact that you can’t talk about this without making it clear that you aren’t a child abuser says a lot about the way that Senator Conroy has debased the public discourse on this topic.

I was talking to a journo today while he was reading my letter (http://users.on.net/~newton/ellis-2008-10-20.pdf) and he got to that bit near the end where I point out that I’m not an extremist or child abuser, and he chuckled and said something like, “Ah, it’s funny, someone else I talked to about this today said the same thing.”

Senator Conroy lowered the tone again in Senate Estimates on Monday, when on Hansard page ECA 76 he said to Senator Ludlam from Western Australia:

Senator Conroy – Illegal material is illegal material. Child pornography is child pornography. I trust you are not suggesting that people should have access to child pornography.

It’s outrageous that a Minister of the Crown should make such hysterical, irresponsible references. How dare he imply that a Commonwealth Senator could think that “people should have access to child pornography,” merely because his questioner asked about whether censorship should be opt-in. He’s debased the public dialogue so much that nobody can participate in it without being labeled as a child abuser.

Ludlam was offended too:

Senator LUDLAM – I am just wondering if I can put these questions to you without being accused of being pro child pornography. That would assist.

Too right it’d assist. It’d assist all of us, and thank you Senator Ludlam for bringing it up.

In the same Estimates session, Conroy also cited Sweden, the UK, Canada and New Zealand as examples of other countries who have done what he has proposed. If you look at http://libertus.net/censor/ispfiltering-gl.html you can see some well-referenced factual data about each of those countries:

  • UK: Government specifically excluded from online censorship by the Communications Act. British Telecom has implemented a private, voluntary clean feed system which its customers can use if they wish;
  • Canada: Eight ISPs, without any Government coersion at all, run a voluntary parental control tool. The project’s FAQ specifically states that “There is no legal obligation to do this; it will be entirely voluntary. ISPs may have technical or other reasons for not adopting the system;
  • Sweden: One ISP, Telenor, runs an optional blacklist. It was embroiled in controversy last year when the police tried to add P2P trackers to the list as child pornography sites, demonstrating how pernicious “scope creep” is in these systems: As soon as they exist, there’s always political pressure to make them block more;
  • New Zealand: Examined the BT Cleanfeed system from the UK in 2005, and concluded that it was only 10-15 per cent effective in a fitness-for-purpose study launched by the Department of Internal Affairs Censorship Compliance Unit. The Government abandoned the idea as something too stupid to pursue; I contacted the President of InternetNZ today to confirm that there’s no NZ censorship system whatsoever, and they don’t expect that situation to change if there’s a change of Government in their election later this year.

All four of Conroy’s examples delivered under oath to the Senate were wrong. None of those countries do anything like what he’s proposed. All of them perform variations on what various Australian ISPs have already done! Every time this guy opens his mouth he discredits himself.

The web page I referenced above was written in February this year, widely publicized, and made available to the Minister — And here we are, eight months down the track, and he’s still using the same discredited examples he used last December when he launched the scheme. He’s either ignored Irene Graham’s research and misled the Senate about his examples; or he’s too stupid to understand that Irene Graham’s research cuts the legs out from under him.

He’s supposed to know this stuff. He’s paid a lot of money to be the leader in this field, and to either know what he’s talking about or take advice from other people who know what they’re talking about. What the hell is going on here?

If I was Senator Ludlam, I’d be asking Conroy to name his examples again, only this time accurately and honestly.

Kevin Rudd ought to be ashamed of himself. He went to the last election saying that he’d have a Government of new ideas, and almost the first idea out of Conroy’s mouth after the election was to resurrect Sen. Alston’s ten-year-old censorship debate; Rudd has repeatedly said that he’d run a “Government for all Australians,” and here’s Conroy launching personal attacks to malign Australians with opposing points of view, and running this censorship process in a way that excludes the voices of ordinary voting citizens; Rudd went to the election with an NBN as one of his crown jewels, and the first thing Conroy did was cancel the OPEL contract, meaning the most significant contribution he’s made to broadband since he came to power has been to prevent its deployment.

The man is a total embarrassment, and a poor reflection on Kevin Rudd’s lofty ideals for the current parliament. This particular private voter wants to know what the PM is going to do about it. How much longer will he be willing to leave the dumbest guy in the room in charge of Broadband?

I have set up some forums with InvisionFree for more open discussion if you cant access an IRC client.

The forums can be found here – Registration is required to make posts.

I would recommend, if you already frequent the IRC, to register with the same name that you use there. It will cause less confusion amongst everybody.

Thanks a heap for your continuous support.

We are designing pamphlets for you to print out and hand out to members of the public to raise awareness. Each pamphlet has a front and back design.

FRONT/OUTSIDE

BACK/INSIDE

Sent: Wednesday, 15 October 2008 8:10 PM
To: Stephens, Ursula (Senator)
Subject: Government’s proposed internet filtration

Dear Ursula,

Thank you for being one of the few Senators to have an email address
rather than an online form.

As Senator for NSW, I hope you will act on my behalf in this matter.

Why is the government and your party sponsoring the censorship of the
Internet in Australia?

Surely you know the tradition of using censorship to attack the
labour movement and the ALP?

Is it the intention of your government that it be remembered for
implementing freedom of access to information at the same level as
the Chinese government, much like the former government is remembered
for implementing respect for international law at the same level as
the government of the United States?

Please inform me with great urgency:

*What bills or regulations is your government introducing to make the
intended censorship of the internet legal?
*When are these being introduced?
*What policies does the ALP have regarding freedom of speech, and
freedom from government surveillance?
*Why is the government seeking to prevent through technology which
prevents action, acts which are already criminal and prosecutable by
the correct established police and attorneys general?

yours with disgust at this betrayal of the labour movement and its
ideals,
[Name]
[Address]

* * *
Date: 21 October 2008

Dear [Name],

Thank you for your email concerning internet service provider (ISP)
filtering.

I am aware that the proposal for ISP filtering has attracted some
criticism from those, like yourself, who are concerned that it will lead
to censorship of the internet. However, the Australian Government has no
plans to stop adults from viewing material that is currently legal, if
they wish to view such material.

The Government regards freedom of speech as very important and the
Government’s cyber-safety policy is in no way designed to curtail this.

The internet is an essential tool for all Australian children through
which they can exchange information, be entertained, socialise and do
school work and research. The ability to use online tools effectively
provides both a skill for life and the means to acquire new skills.

However, while the internet has created substantial benefits for
children it has also exposed them to a number of dangers, including
exposure to offensive content. As such, parents rightly expect the
Government to play its part in the protection of children online.

A key part of the Government’s plan to make the internet a safer place
for children is the introduction of ISP level filtering. The policy
reflects our community’s growing belief that ISPs should take some
responsibility for enabling the blocking of illegal material on the
internet. Filtering would only cover illegal and prohibited content
using an expanded ACMA blacklist of prohibited sites, which includes
images of the sexual abuse of children.

Consideration is being given to more sophisticated filtering techniques
for those individual families who wish to exclude additional online
content in their own homes.

The Government wants to ensure that Australian parents can access a
‘clean feed’ internet service. This will be informed by the technology
adopted in countries such as the United Kingdom, France, Sweden, Norway,
Finland and Canada where ISP filtering, predominantly of child
pornography, has been successfully introduced without affecting internet
performance to a noticeable level.

The Government’s ISP filtering policy is being developed through an
informed and considered approach, including industry consultation and
close examination of overseas models to assess their suitability for
Australia.

ACMA recently completed an extensive laboratory trial of available ISP
filtering technology. The trial looked specifically at the effect of a
range of filter products on network performance, effectiveness in
identifying and blocking illegal and inappropriate content, scope to
filter non-web traffic, and the ability to customise the filter to the
requirements of different end-users.

The laboratory trial indicated that ISP filtering products have
developed in their effectiveness since they were last assessed in 2005.
The Government will now proceed with a ‘live’ pilot in the second half
of 2008 which will provide valuable information on the effectiveness and
efficiency of filters installed in a ‘real world’ ISP network. An
Expression of Interest will be released in due course seeking the
participation of ISPs in the pilot.

The Government is committed to working closely with internet industries
to address any concerns, including costs and internet speeds. These
concerns will be carefully considered during the pilot and will further
inform the Government’s cyber safety policy.

Thank you for bringing your concerns to my attention. I trust this
information will be of assistance.

Yours sincerely

Dr Ursula Stephens

* * *
Date: 21 October 2008

Dear Ursula,

many thanks for your prompt reply. Of all of my members of parliament
I have written to regarding this issue, yours was the first
substantive reply! I was very pleased with the depth of information,
though I do have continuing disagreements with some points. I
thought, however, that I might wait to raise those points after you
had the opportunity to answer the questions in my original letter
which seemed to have gone without reply:

*What bills or regulations is your government introducing to make the
intended censorship of the internet legal?
*When are these being introduced?
*What policies does the ALP have regarding freedom of speech, and
freedom from government surveillance?
*Why is the government seeking to prevent through technology which
prevents action, acts which are already criminal and prosecutable by
the correct established police and attorneys general?

Am I to assume from your first reply that: no bills or regulations are
necessary; that the ALP has no policies regarding freedom of speech or
freedom from government surveillance (unusual given as you write, that
the Government regards freedom of speech as very important.

While you answered in passing my final question, by pointing to the
issue of child internet access, you did not answer the substantive
component: why is the government seeking to technologically prevent
what is already illegal and a matter for the AFP and state police?

Many thanks again for your prompt reply, and I hope you have the
opportunity to answer the questions I put regarding bills or
regulations, ALP policy, and the difference between Crime Prevention
through technological restriction and Crime Policing through police
services.

yours,
[Name]
[Address]

If you have a personal query you would like to take up to Stephen Conroy regarding the Clean Feed, or if you would like to send a personal message to him directly, or to mail it to him, here are some contact details if you would like to take the matter directly to him, and not your local MP.

Just a word of advice though, you will be more likely to get a better answer if talking to your local MP and getting him or her to raise the issue, purely because, politically, they have a higher status than you do (unless you yourself are an MP).

Senator Stephen Conroy
Minister for Communications, Broadband and the Digital Economy
Level 4, 4 Treasury Place
Melbourne Vic 3002

Landline:
(03) 9650 1188
Fax:
(03) 9650 3521

Please, no abusive messages – we don’t want you to hurt our cause.

Here’s a good template to follow!

How to write a letter to a politician.

Politicians don’t listen to the public. They listen to whiners. So whine to them, and make it clear what position you take.

Politicians are obliged to respond to letters from their constituents. That means you should write to all the Federal politicians for whom you are a constituent. That means:

Your local member in the house of representatives:
http://www.aph.gov.au/house/members/index.htm

And all six of your state senators:
http://www.aph.gov.au/Senate/senators/index.htm

Politicians are *meant* to answer emails, but they often don’t. That means you need to write and post to them.

Additionally politicians must answer questions you ask of them.

You also want to put pressure on them based on their political party, or stated beliefs.

Its also important to express yourself, and your feelings, politely. They ignore form letters.

For example:
From:
You
YOUR REGISTERED ELECTORAL ADDRESS

To:
Senator
Address

RE: Opposition to the ALP’s Clean Feed.

Dear Liberals-Senator,

I am disturbed to hear that the ALP’s proposed “Clean Feed” will not be opt-out. Australia should not have an internet filtering system at all, it is a matter for parental and adult responsibility to protect children, as the previous government did by making net filters available to parents, and a matter for the Police if illegal activity is occurring.

[question time]
What is your position on the Clean Feed?
What is your party’s policy regarding internet filtration?
What is your party’s policy regarding censorship?
Why is a filter necessary if the previous government’s parental filter was working?

[next, appropriately complement them to win them over]
The Liberal Party in Australia has a long tradition of supporting adult responsibility and protecting the freedom of speech so central to our democracy. I would be disappointed in the extreme to discover that today’s party was violating these traditions and supporting the ALP’s Clean Feed.

[next, let them know you actually want an answer]
I would appreciate your reply by post at the earliest convenience.

I would like you to inform me the instant you are aware of the ALP proposing to move Bills or Regulations in relation to the Clean Feed.

Yours sincerely,
You
YOUR ADDRESS AS REGISTERED WITH THE AUSTRALIAN ELECTORAL COMMISSION

To Stephen Conroy and Kevin Rudd.
Thank-you very much for your planned Internet Filter.
You cannot understand how much us Australian residents are anticipating the introduction of the filter.
You cannot understand how much we are willing to receive half speed internet for the same price.
You cannot understand how long we have been waiting for our freedom to be stripped from us.
You cannot understand that parents are monitoring what their children do on the internet and that you are promoting that they do this.
You cannot understand how long we have waited for safe sites to be wrongfully blocked.
You cannot understand how long we have wanted our privacy to be preached.
You cannot understand how long we have wanted our decisions to be made for us.
Finally, Stephen and Kevin, you cannot understand how much Australia wants to be so much like China.
Thank you, Stephen Conroy and Kevin Rudd, for stripping us from our freedom.

~ Concerned Australian Citizen.

We have been designing posters to try and raise attention for the issue.

New posters will be added into this post, and, if you have made your own which we deem acceptable, we will be happy to ad it to the list.

These posters are intended to be printed and stuck to places where it is legal to do so in public, such as at universities etc.

Note: Pressing the thumbnail will open the image in full.

Posters for you to Print Out and display to the public:

Posters to display over the internet:

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