Friday, March 20
Or, This Post No Links
So, our present and bountifully incompetent federal government is bent on censoring this internet thingy, though it appears that they have yet to work out quite what it is.
The ACMA (which apparently stands for "petty-minded bureaucrats") has a list of a thousand-odd sites which are banned in Australia.
This list is secret.
Also, it's just a list. The sites are banned, and viewing them is illegal, and linking to them incurs an $11,000-a-day fine, but no-one is allowed to know what is on the list, and the banned sites aren't actually blocked in any way.
So when, for example, popular Australian technical forum and news site Whirlpool found itself featuring a comment linking to a banned site, it also found itself facing a huge fine, and understandably removed the comment.
This even though the site in question has not been shown to be in breach of any law or regulation - except, perhaps, for the wonderfully vague clause other material dealing with intense adult themes, something that would be struck down as unconstituionally broad inside of thirty seconds by the US Supreme Court, bless 'em - and that the details of the site were made public by the original complainant, which is also not a breach of any law or regulation.
The secrecy of the list must be maintained, regardless. And for that reason I can't link to Wikipedia any more either, because the Wikipedia article regarding the ACMA itself contains a link to a banned website. (And was the subject of a 24-hour revert war as the inevitable result.)
We know some of what is on the list, of course, because after Wikileaks published similar secret censorship lists from other countries (Denmark, Finland, and Thailand, to be precise) Wikileaks was itself banned, and so was linking to the relevant pages on Wikileaks. So I can't link to them.
Indeed, now we know all of what is on the list, because the list has been leaked to the banned Wikileaks. Which, as I say, I cannot link to.
It gets better, though.
The leaked list (which, of course, I haven't seen, and won't reproduce, because to do so is to face ten years in jail, never mind the fines) reportedly contains over two thousand banned sites, some of which are reportedly legitimately illegitimate; others including tour operators, religious sites, online gambling sites, and one unfortunate dentist. None of which, of course, can I link to.
I gets better still.
The Minister for Communication, the estimable Stephen Conroy, claims that the leaking of the list is irresponsible, illegal, and inaccurate - that it is not the real thing at all.
Wikileaks is still banned, of course, and it is still illegal for me to link to or reproduce the not-the-real-list.
So I won't.
I'll just link to the ABC, The Courier-Mail, The Brisbane Times, IT News, news.com.au, The Australian, Computerworld (twice), The Sydney Morning Herald, The Register, Slashdot, Forbes, Wired, ZDnet, Gizmodo, CNet, Ars Technica, and Google News.
You're not permitted to know what sites are on the list, but you are warned not to link to any of them, or else.
That's like something straight out of Orwell.
Posted by: Steven Den Beste at Friday, March 20 2009 02:55 AM (+rSRq)
Posted by: Stephen Macklin at Friday, March 20 2009 03:07 AM (UquFN)
Posted by: Penfold at Friday, March 20 2009 07:04 AM (lF2Kk)
What's the adage? "Anything that isn't compulsory is forbidden."
Without clicking on all those links I shouldn't, just what brought this on? Here in the 'States it's usually to "protect" the children, wogs, or some other whinging class.
Posted by: Tiberius at Saturday, March 21 2009 10:23 PM (TXmvK)
Posted by: Pixy Misa at Saturday, March 21 2009 10:31 PM (PiXy!)
Posted by: Pixy Misa at Saturday, March 21 2009 10:32 PM (PiXy!)
On behalf of all the inbred idiots, I resent that!
Posted by: Old Grouch at Sunday, March 22 2009 04:16 AM (wSWeb)
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