Liberal Party member Chris Abood on the internet blacklist

23 03 2009

From his recent Online Opinion piece:

So how does one get blacklisted?

Quite easily.

There are two ways to end up on the blacklist, either through direct channels or inadvertently. Currently, if I come across a website that I do not approve of either because I believe it is illegal or does not suit my ideological bent, I can make a complaint to the ACMA. In order to make a complaint, I must be an Australian resident or a company that carries on activities in Australia, provide the internet address and/or sufficient access details to enable ACMA to access the online content and provide reasons as to why I believe the online content is prohibited. The ACMA will then make a determination as to whether that site is added to the blacklist. It is not clear how the ACMA makes this determination. It has also been reported that other bodies such as filter software companies can also add websites to the blacklist. It is not clear how this is policed.

So how does one inadvertently end up on the list? Imagine that Big Buba from the Buba crime syndicate published a websites called FriendlyTours.com. However this is a front for an illegal website publishing unsavoury pictures. The site is found, a complaint made to ACMA and rightly added to the blacklist. A few weeks later, Big Buba closes down the site and moves to a new domain called BubaTours.com to try and keep ahead of the authorities. This site is also added to the blacklist and a few weeks later the site moves again and again.

Meanwhile, Jan who has been working for a large multi-national for 20 years is called into her manager’s office and told that she is being made redundant. With her large redundancy cheque, she decides to pursue her dream of running a tour business. She calls her business Friendly Tours and finds that the domain name is available. She registers the domain name and has a nice website built.

Jim, a dentist, decides to have a website built for his practice. His Internet Service Provider assigns his domain JimsDentistry.com to an IP address that was previously occupied by BubaTours.com. Both Jim and Jan are friends of mine. I offer to help them increase their Google rankings by linking to their sites through my website, my blog and my Facebook page.

A few weeks go by and Jim and Jan start getting emails from people saying they cannot access their websites. They don’t know why. They try to contact me for an explanation but cannot get hold of me. That is because I am in court being fined $11,000 a day for linking to a banned site. The people who emailed Jim and Jan are also in court facing jail terms of ten years for trying to access a site contained on the blacklist.

This blacklist is to form the backbone of the government’s mandatory filtering regime. The leaked list apparently contains 2,395 websites. The Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy wants to expand this to 10,000 websites. Will the ACMA be under pressure to find sites, any sites, to reach this number? The legitimacy of the blacklist will always be in question while owners of websites on the blacklist have no means of recourse especially if that site is legitimate.

Something I am curious about is whether this policy is unanimously supported or even popular among members of the ALP. If not, what are dissenting ALP members doing about it?





Think of the children

18 01 2009

Three girls in Pennsylvania ranging in age from 14 to 15 took nude or semi-nude photographs of themselves with their mobile phones, and sent them to three of their teenaged friends. All six have been brought up on child pornography charges.

In the Pennsylvania case, a school official seized the phone of one of the boys after he was caught using it during school hours in violation of a school rule, according to local police Capt. George Seranko. The official found the picture on the phone, and after some interrogation, discovered that two other girls had also e-mailed photos of themselves in the nude to friends. That’s when the school called police, who obtained search warrants to seize the phones and examine them. Police showed the images to the local district attorney, who recommended they bring charges.Seranko said the images “weren’t just breasts; they showed [gasp] female anatomy.” Read the rest of this entry »





In which various media outlets and bloggers prove that Dawkins

30 10 2008

makes for a very convenient strawman.

Dawkins responds: Read the rest of this entry »





The Religion Report and the Archbishop’s unnecessary persecution complex

22 10 2008

Most of what Archbishop Phillip Wilson of the Australian Catholic Bishop’s Conference has to say in his statement about the axing of The Religion Report is sensible. He points out that according to the 2006 census, 70% of Australians identify themselves with a religion, which doesn’t imply that 70% of Australians are ululating fundies, but does suggest “in theory at least, seven in 10 people will have a nominal interest in seeing, hearing or reading about matters of religion.” He notes the following that The Religion Report appeared to have garnered among atheists and agnostics, judging by the online response to the axing of the programme. Religion is socially relevant, he argues, because it “calls for engagement with one’s neighbour, and in the Christian tradition from which I come, this has meant that for more than 2000 years, religion has been at the forefront of public discussion.”

I would add at this point that “engagement with one’s neighbour” hasn’t always taken on benign manifestations, as many an apostate, backslider or outgrouper who has lived to tell the tale can attest. Still, the Archbishop’s point stands. Religion is relevant to theists and non-theists alike, albeit (at least in some cases) for different reasons, and therefore it is newsworthy.

Therefore it merits the professional, journalistic treatment that Crittenden’s programme provided (well, most of the time). Read the rest of this entry »





Funny joke I heard today . . .

21 10 2008


ABC suspends top presenter” (Sydney Morning Herald).

Even funnier:

Classic. Read the rest of this entry »





They should have axed The Spirit of Things

16 10 2008

Stephen Crittenden is justifiably incensed at the axing of his Wednesday morning Religion Report, but in all fairness, religion had a fairly big slice of the cake on the Radio National schedule with four weekly programs (The Religion Report, The Ark, Encounter and The Spirit of Things). His suggestion that the axing of his program and the religious history program The Ark will spell “the death of religion at the ABC” is a touch overblown in my view; but it is disappointing that ABC management chose to discard the two religion-themed shows that at least endeavoured to be informative, relevant and educational. Encounter‘s usually not that bad either, but Ark presenter Rachael Kohn’s The Spririt of Things is a syrupy paean to belief in belief and religious pandering that has been dumbing down the Radio National brand for a long time.

Of course, the shows mentioned here aren’t the only ones to go, and former RN presenter Andrew Dodd gives his take on the programming reshuffle at Crikey.com (“The dumbing down of Radio National“).

The good news is that The Philosopher’s Zone—perhaps the best philosophy radio show/podcast available anywhere—has been retained. They would have had to pry it from my cold, dead hands.





“Just look at the bloodlines”

12 10 2008

Times have changed. Time was when an Ann Coulter could spout off a line like “We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity,” or muse dreamily about what might have been if Timothy McVeigh had bombed the New York Times, and it would barely have raised more than a guffaw among the right-wing chattering classes. It certainly wouldn’t have harmed Bush’s re-election prospects.

In 2008, the ritual brainfarting that ensues each time a drooling authoritarian follower decides to open its mouth is embarrassing the Republican presidential team. Said team, of course, executed the initial shooting of itself in the foot with its desperate attempts to link Obama to terrorism. As this footage of a McCain rally in Ohio demonstrates (and where you’ll hear the “bloodlines” soundbite), where authoritarian leaders lead, authoritarian followers follow, with consequences by turns outrageous, racist and stupid:

There’s even more in this NBC report, in which political analyst Richard Wolffe advises the Republican team to take a leaf out of the Australian conservatives’ playbook and engage in dogwhistle politics rather than foghorn politics which, he suggests, will turn off the swing voters and independents.

As you can see, much has changed since 2004. The fallout from the Obama=terrorist smear campaign now has McCain and Palin at loggerheads.

HT to OK WASSUP and Evolutionary Middleman.





Quick update on “Muslim Massacre”

16 09 2008

It appears to have been a Poe that misfired after all. Sigvatr has taken the game and its host website down, issuing an apology in the process. (Unnecessary in my view—the taking down of the game, not necessarily the apology—but there it is.) An irony-deficient Australian neo-Nazi [update: make that two] promptly made the game available at his website. Read all about it at Slackbastard.





The Daily Telegraph, UFOs and the appeal to authority

28 07 2008

That august newspaper of record The Daily Telegraph is enthusiastically and uncritically reporting Apollo astronaut Edgar Mitchell’s claims that aliens have visited Earth on several occasions, and that teh government has been covering it up for 60 years.

Dr Mitchell, 77, said during a radio interview that sources at the space agency who had had contact with aliens described the beings as ‘little people who look strange to us.’He said supposedly real-life ET’s were similar to the traditional image of a small frame, large eyes and head.

Chillingly, he claimed our technology is “not nearly as sophisticated” as theirs and “had they been hostile”, he warned “we would be been gone by now”.

Mitchell presents no evidence in support of his claims beyond his own personal testimony, but then again, he does hold “a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering and a Doctor of Science degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics,” and he does “hold the record for the longest ever moon walk.”

Moreover, the Telegraphcan present the video evidence supporting his claim“, as well as poll results indicating that “an overwhelming 74% of respondents” back him. Ergo, “ALIENS REALLY ARE HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

(This is not to completely discount the possibility that extraterrestrials have visited the Earth, nor even that such encounters have been the subject of government cover-ups. But we do need a tad bit more to go on than anecdotes, opinion polls and YouTubes.)





Smelling salts! Stat!

18 10 2007







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