Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) today expressed alarm at the news that the Government's “Clean Feed” Internet censorship plan will not allow Australian adults to opt-out.

The filter, which will be mandatory for all Australians, was initially touted as a “cyber-safety” measure for homes with children. However, recent comments by experts have revealed the existence of a second, secret black list, that would apply even to homes that managed to opt out of the child-safe filtering scheme.


“The news for Australian Internet users just keeps getting worse,” said EFA spokesperson Colin Jacobs. “We have legitimate concerns with the creeping scope of this unprecedented interference in our communications infrastructure. It's starting to look like nothing less than a comprehensive program of real-time Internet censorship.”

The scheme seems at odds with the Government's campaign promise to improve the speed and availability of Australian Broadband. The Government's own research has showed that filtering lowers speeds by 30% or more even under ideal testing conditions. The same data raises serious questions about the accuracy of filters, with even the best performers over-blocking hundreds of thousands of innocuous web sites.

EFA questioned the overall wisdom of having Government policy change the architecture of the Internet. “Australian parents that want filtering can easily acquire it for their homes. Filtering the entire Internet is a bad policy, but makes even less sense technically.”

Most worrying of all is the ever-increasing scope of the filtering scheme. “The definition of inappropriate material has never been well defined,” said Jacobs. “With Government-mandated software monitoring each Internet connection, we expect the scope to expand further as time goes by. How will the Government resist pressure by Family First or other special interest groups to permanently block material considered by some to be harmful?”

– Ends –

Below is:
- Background information
- Contact details for media

EFA analysis of the proposal: https://www.efa.org.au/censorship/mandatory-isp-blocking/

EFA clean-feed site: http://nocleanfeed.com

About EFA: Electronic Frontiers Australia Inc. (”EFA”) is a non-profit national organisation representing Internet users concerned with on-line rights and freedoms. EFA was established in 1994, is independent of government and commerce, and is funded by membership subscriptions and donations from individuals and organisations with an altruistic interest in promoting online civil liberties.

Media Contacts:

Mr Dale Clapperton
EFA Chair
Phone: 0416 007 100
Email: dclapperton at efa.org.au

Mr Colin Jacobs
EFA Board Member
Phone: 0402 631 955
Email: cjacobs at efa.org.au

Electronic Frontiers Australia Inc — https://www.efa.org.au/

71 comments

  1. I like my porn. The government can stick this law up thier crack.
    Stuff the children, haven't these a$$holes heard of parental control....

    Comment by corstar on 25 October 2008 at 4:17 pm
  2. Interpol and the AFP recon the reason that it's so hard to catch the lowlife that deal in child porn is because they use encryption: No filter can stop this traffic, end of story.
    Why is no information going to be available via the freedom of inf act as to which sites are actually blocked?

    Valid reasons for blocking sites.

    The mainstream media is very accommodating in not reporting what the government does not wish to be publicly known the internet is not
    Any site with political content the government disagrees with can be blocked.
    Any site critical of the same can be blocked and the list goes on.

    Learn all about "onion" routers such as Tor and how no amount of filters can block your access. Protect your own right to information and free speech

    Comment by David on 26 October 2008 at 5:33 am
  3. It is extraordinary that those who oppose Sen. Conroy's plan for blocking internet access are described by his spokesman as "extremist".

    The only extremists I see in this debate are in the government and Sen. Conroy's office in particular!

    Thankfully programs such as TOR and FreeGate (designed to get round the Great Firewall of China and Iran and Burma's blocking systems) will be available.

    I have no interest in or desire for the muck on the net but I do not want or need Sen. Conroy (or Sen. Fielding) deciding what I do or do not read or see.

    Already the international internet press is awash with stories of the government's plan ....the response is one of horror and surprise that a so-called democratic government would even attempt this sort of attack on the rights of its citizens.

    This sort or creeping censorship is a blight on Australia.

    The price of democracy really is eternal vigilance!

    Comment by chris b on 27 October 2008 at 11:11 pm
  4. VPN, Anonymous Proxies, TOR, FreeGate, FreeNode, this will not work.

    It just reminds me of them damn christian do gooders in the simpsons.

    OH BUT YOU HAVE TO THINK ABOUT THE CHILDREN.

    Comment by Steven Spiers on 29 October 2008 at 6:35 pm
  5. There is no way to describe proscribed content in a systematic, content or intent-based policy. So any content proscribed is either arbitrary, and does not address the problem, or is identified through some bias, such as publisher. people invent new forms of communication to communicate banned subjects, so perhaps it is just a publicity stunt or diversion...

    Comment by test on 29 October 2008 at 9:37 pm
  6. Eat my @$$ rudd, they cannot be serious. This page will be on the list soon.

    Comment by Andrew Hall on 30 October 2008 at 5:13 am
  7. Internet Censorship!!!

    this is freaking extreme,

    any company who has the words or combination of words as prescribed by the filter would have to have their identities changed because their websites would more than likely be banned, doctors who do research or post research on 'sex' for example would be blocked, as their sites would be blocked, I'm assuming based on a wide spanning block.

    come on, we have gone from such a democracy, to having ruled by an iron fist. don't get me wrong, though I though this was a 'free country'.

    I think the people of australia have to have a say about this, not just by the big wigs whom we've elected in. As the policies affect all people here.

    Comment by w on 30 October 2008 at 10:09 am
  8. The truth is (and there's no way Senator Conway doesn't know this) is that there's no way this will stop child pornography. People involved in any universally-despised activities like child porn will have a system of transient sites, and non-internet-based networks to allow themselves to continue what they do.
    Meanwhile the rest of Australia suffers under the Maoist regime of censorship & hysteria. Senator Conway will continue to label the 70%+ of Australians who don't want the Internet censorship as 'pro-child-porn'. This has everything to do with Digital Media Rights (will only partially work as people will establish other methods and networks) and bending over backwards for special interest groups.

    Comment by TeamRudd-Fear&Ig on 30 October 2008 at 10:18 pm
  9. The general good-will behind the scheme may be fine in theory, however in practice, the golden numbers were around 30% network reduction speed, up to 75% for the "more effective filters" according to the Tasmanian test report.

    As a personal thought, I believe that the money would be better invested in Law Enforcement if the senator were truly trying to take these sites off the internet, and not trying to impress special interest groups, including those with interests in Digital Media Rights.

    Taking away all non-public transport because of drink driving won't stop the problem, it'll only extend the lengths people will have to go to get at it. Blanket solutions don't tend to work, and labelling those who speak out as pro-child porn will in the long run just paint that as the Hon. Senator's catchphrase for years ahead.

    Comment by Chris Crawley on 1 November 2008 at 5:37 am
  10. Absolutely typical, the government is treating us like children, last time I looked, I was classified as an adult, capable of making my own decisions, like being able to choose what I want to look and not look at on the internet.
    If this madness of a filter gets through, it will ruin the internet in Australia and we can thank the government for that, as far as I'm concerned, they can stick it where the sun don't shine, Senator Conroy is a fool and nothing more.

    Comment by Ross on 1 November 2008 at 9:36 am
  11. Just coming up to speed on this. It's encouraging to read so many excellent, thoughtful and feisty comments.

    I've written an article entitled 'Building the Great Australian FireWall, brick by brick' that may be of interest.

    It's at http://www.cairnsblog.net/2008/11/building-great-... and focuses on my primary concern, which is political censorship by the back door. I suspect the 'child protection' angle is a ruse.

    Good luck to all of us, as the Irish say.

    Comment by Syd Walker on 3 November 2008 at 6:13 am
  12. You Aussie folks just let me know when this filtering stuff takes effect and I'll be glad to launch a geostationary communications satellite and position it over your country so you all can get your totally UNfiltered and UNcensored internet directly from my satellite, okay? I'd like to see your country try to find a way to stop this solution, because short of shooting it down I don't see how they could, do you?

    :)

    Comment by The Entrepreneur on 4 November 2008 at 4:08 am
  13. I work in the IT field also (although not in Australia at the moment). The modern economy runs on a backbone of technology, and, if there's not sufficient legal grounds to halt something this extreme, an equally extreme response comes to mind.

    Time to start organizing service providers and IT professionals for some national downtime? The government might be able to legislate it, but they certainly don't keep it running. I can't think of a better way to hit them where it hurts, politically speaking.

    Comment by Concerned Expat on 4 November 2008 at 4:37 am
  14. Tunnel your traffic out via an encrypted ssh (secure shell) client and the filter won't be able to filter anything as it is encrypted gobbleygook.
    LOL I see a business opportunity

    search google for ssh tunnel and squid proxy.

    Comment by UseSSH_tunnelling on 5 November 2008 at 6:11 am
  15. Listen here all you wingers....... very easy implementation without any loss of speed:
    Only sites allowed *.gov.au Piece of cake!!

    Comment by Peter on 7 November 2008 at 3:35 pm
  16. Peter; Hope you're only taking the pi$$. Seriously, Peter, I think that might be just what they want. Remember TASS?

    Comment by Maximus on 7 November 2008 at 10:33 pm
  17. As I'm out of the country, all updates on this matter is greatly appreciated. I plan on moving back home in the years to come, but would like to know just what's going on regarding this specific matter.

    Comment by Concerned Expat on 13 November 2008 at 6:45 am
  18. If this does go through what assurances do we have that blocks won't be extended to other information in the future? What assurances do we have that the Government of the day won't bow to pressure from self-appointed "baby-sitters" such as FF(A) & DFA to extend blocks further?

    Comment by Swampy on 16 November 2008 at 4:19 am
  19. There are nationwide protests being organised on December 13th. Currently there are protests being planned in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Hobart, as well as a Perth protest which has not yet been confirmed. See http://www.stopthecleanfeed.com for details.

    Also, if you're interested in helping to organise protests, online or offline (eg. making posters, putting up posters, etc) please go to http://www.nocleanfeedforum.com

    Comment by Elena on 16 November 2008 at 11:32 am
  20. It took 5 letters each written to both my local member and to Senator Conroy before I got a response and it was a standard reply, in other words, they are full of sh**. Has anyone else who's written to their local member had to wait so long for a response to a letter you've sent them?? I'm still going to write a letter every week to these politicians until this madness stops and it was a letter I found on this site, which is perfectly written for this situation.
    If this filter ever works properly and that's a BIG IF, I've decided to NEVER vote for the labor party again, both federally and at state level, this will be my protest against these ****holes, they can stick this filter where the sun don't shine.

    Comment by Ross on 2 January 2009 at 7:22 am
  21. Don't forget this whole plan is 'exempted' from the Freedom of Speech Act.

    Comment by Xaero on 8 October 2009 at 12:45 am