Edit 19/3 4.00pm: The Minister has refuted the authenticity of the list in a media release. Indications are that the leaked list contains the ACMA list plus sites chosen by the filter vendor. In any case, comments about individual sites on the list should therefore be treated with caution.

Electronic Frontiers Australia today hailed the leaking of the government's secret internet blacklist as a "wake-up call for Australians concerned about secret censorship". The blacklist, which appeared on the whistle-blower site Wikileaks, is compiled by the Australian Communications and Media Authority and distributed to the vendors of approved internet filters, but is otherwise secret.

"The leaking of the list has confirmed some of our worst fears," said EFA Vice-Chair Colin Jacobs. "This was bound to happen, especially as mandatory filtering would require the list to be distributed to ISPs all around the country. The Government is now in the unenviable business of compiling and distributing a list which includes salacious and illegal material and publicising those very sites to the world."

The blacklist, which EFA tried unsuccessfully to obtain under Freedom of Information laws, was expected to contain not only some sites publishing illegal material involving minors, but also a majority of sites that were blocked for other reasons. Nevertheless, an examination of the list by EFA has turned up a few very surprising additions. YouTube videos, a MySpace profile, online poker parlours and a site containing poison information were present, as well as many apparently harmless sites such as that of a tour operator and a satirical encyclopedia.

"Now that we have seen the list, it is clearly not the perfect weapon against child-abuse it has been made out to be," said Jacobs. "Many of the sites clearly contain only run-of-the-mill adult material, poker tips, or nothing controversial at all. Even if some of these sites may have been defaced at the time they were added to the list, how would the operators get their sites removed if the list is secret and no appeal is possible?"

The leaking of the list on Wikileaks is ironic, as ACMA this week confirmed that another Wikileaks page containing a similar blacklist from Denmark is now on their own list. It is therefore presumed that the leaked ACMA blacklist will itself be blacklisted.

"Controlling the spread of information on the internet is not as simple as some in government would like to believe," said Jacobs. "The leaking of this blacklist is a timely lesson in this, and we hope the Government will take this to heart before imposing a filter on the entire country."

– Ends –

Below is:
- Background information
- Contact details for media

Background:

* Leaked Australian blacklist reveals banned sites
- http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2009/03/19/1237054961100.html
* EFA’s No Clean Feed campaign
- 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 Colin Jacobs
EFA Vice-Chair
Phone: 0402 631 955
Email: cjacobs at efa.org.au

Mr Geordie Guy
EFA Board Member
Phone: 0415 797 142
Email: gguy at efa.org.au

45 comments

  1. Pingback: ACMA Blacklist leaked, contains legal websites - Somebody Think Of The Children

  2. Pingback: ACMA Blacklist has been leaked! | OzSoapbox

  3. Pingback: Australian Government webpage blacklist leaked at Nick

  4. Pingback: Australian Internet Blacklist Leaked! « Philosophy Hurts Your Head

  5. Pingback: ACMA Blacklist Leaked - Popular Website on the List « Pimpin’ For Freedom

  6. Pingback: Australian Internet Censorship In Practice | pingudownunder.com

  7. I knew the blacklist would be leaked at some point, but I never expected it to happen BEFORE the ISP-level trials!

    Comment by Eddie on 19 March 2009 at 22:01
  8. As much as I'm fond of the ACMA and DBCDE being held accountable for their failure to secure the blacklist, they won't wear it, they've already been hinting that they're going to pin it on somebody else.

    I'm also appalled that barely a week after Stephen Conroy has the hide to command that we have faith in his department, we're shown that he isn't trustworthy in black and white.

    Comment by websinthe on 19 March 2009 at 22:03
  9. If this filter happens, it looks as though I'm going to be breaking the law for the first time.

    Comment by Jackie on 19 March 2009 at 23:40
  10. Reading through the list I would say the government would have less opposition if the list was public, very few would want their children viewing them and I (personal preference) would not mind stumbling upon them unintended. Unfortunately you can be assured the list won't be kept that way and there is no way it should forced onto adults or discusson on it squashed.

    Comment by Russell on 20 March 2009 at 00:31
  11. If you check out the list on wikileaks it is not only probably the best/worst porn list ever it also shows that the thought police are into action already. Euthanasia, abortion, poker etc all being blocked. How long until it is religion and goverment policy... then what? How long until the corporations start to control what we see and think even more than the current media control does. The internet is our current best hope for truth.

    Comment by Sparkle on 20 March 2009 at 00:32
  12. Pingback: Australia The Nanny State? « Delayed Flight

  13. Anyone read that crazy kooky book by George Orwell??

    I am going to make a recommendation to the ACMA about a dicitonary.com word entry (and therefore any other online dictionary would have the same word censored).... Let's see if we can get them to start deleting words from the english language.... That would be hilarious!!

    Hmmm, I'll have to think of one..... Anyone got any ideas of what word I could start with?

    Comment by John on 20 March 2009 at 02:30
    • A = ACMA
      B = Blacklist
      C = Censored

      Comment by Gabi on 30 November 2010 at 03:57
  14. Fundamentally flawed. What is most surprising to those of us in the business is the paucity of websites on the list... To work correctly the list SHOULD be 10s of thousands of websites, not the paltry few shown. 1000s of "SHOULD be banned" websites are not on the list..

    So the list is an incomplete/dated fake, and another simple and poor attempt of an organisation to achieve the unachievable..

    Comment by DangerDave on 20 March 2009 at 03:00
  15. Who do these people think they are? Seriously? How DARE YOU. HOW DARE YOU!

    Comment by Ian on 20 March 2009 at 03:48
  16. It would appear that the entire Wikileaks site has now been blocked.

    Comment by beattz on 20 March 2009 at 04:49
  17. This list has now been converted to a txt file and is being distributed world wide. I've found a few websites that are offering free downloads of this file as well as website that have this converted to a txt file document on their sites - eg. when you click on the web address containing the txt file, you go straight into the text file with the complete list. What the Australian Government has done is compiled a list of child pornography websites for peadophiles worldwide to download this list to their hearts content. In trying to keep children safe, the Australian Government has actually done the opposite and have now harmed children more by publishing a list of child porongraphy websites for peadophiles who may not have known about some of these websites.

    Comment by Socrates on 20 March 2009 at 04:51
  18. From what I understand the wiki leaks website currently cannot be accessed within Australia but can be accessed fine out side of Australia.

    Comment by Jack on 20 March 2009 at 05:28
  19. I read the list. Apart from giving me a ready-made list for all the worst child porn sites available (I had NO knowledge of these before, nor could I search for them on google if I'd wanted to - thanks Kevin Rudd, for peddling child porn), I noted with a raised eyebrow that a handful of LEGITIMATE Porn sites to which I used to be a subscriber were also included in the list. I might add, these were LEGAL porn sites, featuring consenting ADULTS, run by honest and responsible businesses. Today Labor has decided that me, and the thousands of law-abiding adults who subscribed to those sites are criminals now.

    This is pretty disgusting, and even more alarming for Democracy. What next, Minister exchanges with Afghainstan and China? State-sponsored illegal organ harvesting like China ("for your own good"). What industry will the Government decide to censor next? I voted Labor at the last election - after seeing this, I will never vote for them again.

    Comment by disgusted on 20 March 2009 at 07:54
  20. Welcome to China. I scanned through the ACMA list yesterday, but I didn't really think ACMA could be so praeternaturally STUPID as to ban Wikileaks. This is EXACTLY like the Brits blocking Wikipedia because one page had a picture of a band's album cover which someone didn't like. An album cover that was at least five years old. ACMA are clueless; the bird has flown, the information is ALREADY OUT THERE. I want my access to Wikileaks back, you total morons. Atom Egoyan

    Comment by Atom Egoyan on 20 March 2009 at 08:21
  21. You can lead a horse to water but you cant make it drink .. The government was warned and warned the list would be leaked if it continued down the road of filtering ... now it seems they have only themselves to blame for empowering the spread of CP on the internet ....a Democracy is supposed to mirror the majority, here we have a government that blatantly disregards the wants and freedoms of the majority, i think we should have a internet blackout day in protest of the governments regressive internet policy,s ... i call for Blackout day on April the 19th 2009 as a protest ................

    Comment by Pagan1 on 20 March 2009 at 08:25
  22. Countries in the Middle East heavily censor the internet routinely, without consultation with the public. We call them oppressive political regimes. We send troops over there to "fight for freedom". What a joke ! Two years from now the internet will be as heavily censored in Australia as it is in Iran or Saudi. Where is this freedom we all profess so loudly ??? Are we really this easy to con ???

    Comment by Concerned on 20 March 2009 at 08:29
  23. Secret censorship is incompatible with an open and free democracy. Is Australia now becoming a police state that no longer tolerates diversity of opinion and free speech? How sad.

    Comment by John on 20 March 2009 at 09:06
  24. There are now instructions available on the 'Net as to how to extract the blacklist from the filtering software. The list, once extracted, bears a sriking resemblance to the Wikileaks Leaked list.

    Comment by hidden on 20 March 2009 at 09:45
  25. I've just move a start up internet company to Hong Kong. I refuse to work in a communistic nation like Australia. How ironic that Hong Kong is part of China and more free than Australia.

    I have another net business with 25 servers and 100Tb of data. All of it to be moved offshore. With it goes the jobs.

    The first tool of tyranny is to silence dissent.

    Australia is being prepared for the New World Order takeover. Cut news from the outside world. Silence dissidents. Dumb down the people and turn them into serfs. Wake up sheeple.

    I'm outta here. The jobs are following. Evidence Conroy's madness is costing jobs when Australia can't afford to lose them. Furthermore, the county is a laughing stock. We need a Bill of Rights - urgently. None of this common law rights nonsense. We want recognition of nothing less than our god given rights.

    Comment by Gone on 20 March 2009 at 09:53
  26. On every interview I've heard with Conroy trying to field journo's questions, have have not been at all impressed.

    Of the two BIG tasks this guy has on his plate (ie, the National Broadbank Network and Internet censorship),
    I think Conroy wastes time on the Censorship task, eg, because he seems to understand it better than the NBN.

    Again, none of the answered I've heard him offer to journos (on broadcast interview) have seemed to be clear.

    The emotions he expresses are those of a stressed puppy. This guy has to go or Rudd has to replace him. Improved Internet access for all Aussies is too important to be in the hands of such a dim globed fellow.

    My 2.2 cents.

    Comment by IVI on 20 March 2009 at 10:34
  27. If you're having trouble getting to wikileaks, try secure.wikileaks.org. It seems to have less traffic at the moment.

    Comment by dave on 20 March 2009 at 11:08
  28. Conroy says the list on wikileaks isn't the real list. That means it's legal to link to it. Here it is: http://wikileaks.org/wiki/Australian_government_s...

    Comment by dave on 20 March 2009 at 14:13
  29. This looks like another good reason for introducing an Australian Bill of Rights. There has been a push for internet censorship in the US for some time and in January this year the Supreme Court threw it out as unconstitutional. The first amendment right to free speech is inviolable in the US and you have to admire them for it.

    http://www.aclu.org/freespeech/internet/38428prs2...

    I cannot tell you how ashamed and embarrassed I will be to have to admit to people that I live in a country that practices blanket censorship previously only associated with countries like China, North Korea and Saudi Arabia.

    Comment by Captain Sensible on 20 March 2009 at 16:46
  30. The whole idea of keeping the ACMA list secret defies one of the basic tenets of the rule of law. In order to be able to avoid breaking any law, the people need to know what that law is. If today the government secretly passed legislation that made the use of mobile phones illegal. Tomorrow ninety percent of the population would be criminals and would not know it. It’s the same thing: if you do not know what is on the ACMA blacklist, how can you refrain from linking to or visiting those sites? I just (deliberately) went and had a look at the ‘My life in child porn‘ page on Wikileaks (naturally I cannot link to it or the EFA will be fined $11,000 a day) and in doing so I am accessing a blacklisted page. The aforementioned page contains no child pornography, it appears to have been blacklisted simply for containing the words ‘child porn’. Where’s the sense in that?

    Comment by Captain Sensible on 20 March 2009 at 16:49
  31. 1984, doublethink........its moving faster now and the powers that be are enjoying the new found

    power that technology can provide. how long before we have keystroke registers pumped through text engines linked to govt servers registering sites visited or streams of txt they dissapprove of. how long before face recognition systems mean orwellian telescreens ? if you remove the instruments of free thought from the citizens you control there ability to oppose govt and this is a utopian state of affairs for any pure rulership - who decides these things ?> the fact that average jo doesnt see the long term implications in our future is distressing to me. i certainly dont have a tin foil hat or any kind of paranoia but i recognise the small steps in the potential of a bigger and less palatable picture

    Comment by Hats on 20 March 2009 at 19:17
  32. Pingback: Who leaked Aussie blocklist?-Websinthe « FACT - Freedom Against Censorship Thailand

  33. Senator Conroy should be dismissed for his blatant incompetence. Thanks to his idiocy, Australia is now becoming a "laughing stock". Countries that value civil liberties and free speech, are now viewing Australia as an authoritarian state that tramples the rights of its citizens. Under the Howard Government we had the inhumane detention of refugees. Under the Rudd Government, it appears that we are getting more of the same with secret censorship and suppression of free speech, enforced through potential criminal charges and massive fines. Senator Conroy's actions are anti-democratic. By compiling a blacklist of websites Conroy has actually promoted the spread of porn. Conroy is a disgrace. He should be removed from the federal ministry forthwith!

    Comment by John on 21 March 2009 at 01:33
  34. Anyone who thought that mandatory filtering won't be used to achieve political goals with censoring politically undesired or unwanted content, is naive.

    Comment by Snoopy on 21 March 2009 at 15:27
  35. Now this is interesting: both wikileaks.org and secure.wikileaks.org are now unreachable -- from the USA (New York)! Quite a trick.

    Comment by Zog on 21 March 2009 at 16:20
  36. 1. Write GONE, please take me with you!
    2. Please, bring on another Comm election, soon.

    Comment by Useless swines on 21 March 2009 at 21:00
  37. Pingback: ACMA blacklist leaked to wikileaks - So who revealed it? | Websinthe

  38. This move by the Australian Government is such a joke. On the list relseased by wikileaks there were several online gambling sites. They are obviously trying to prevent Australian's from gambling online because they can't tax it. Thanks to EFA for lobbying for us, you guys are doing a great job.

    If anyone is interested in the gabling sites on the list you can see it over at http://www.australiangambling.com.au

    Comment by Nick Haslem on 23 March 2009 at 09:29
  39. Here in the US online gambling is illegal in every state. And yet no one is even proposing that the government block gambling websites or any other websites.

    Comment by dave on 27 March 2009 at 23:03
  40. Pingback: Answering a few questions about the leaked blacklist (updated) | Internet Filtering Monitor

  41. The way to validate the authenticity of the list is to host it on an Australian server and see if ACMA throw a fit about it.

    Comment by Dan on 12 April 2009 at 21:03
  42. ThankGod I voted for Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party.

    Comment by Gordon on 6 October 2009 at 11:12
  43. Great blog this is. The blacklist, which EFA tried unsuccessfully to obtain under Freedom of Information laws, was expected to contain not only some sites publishing illegal material involving minors, but also a majority of sites that were blocked for other reasons. Nevertheless, an examination of the list by EFA has turned up a few very surprising additions.
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    Comment by jacksmith on 9 March 2010 at 08:07