Power to the people: The anti-filter movement

Public fights back at the unpopular mandatory Internet filter.

  • Hatred against the Federal Government’s proposed Internet filter has been brewing since it was first announced in 2008.

    Communications Minister, Senator Stephen Conroy, has made many public appearances reassuring the public the clean-feed is designed to protect children against ‘harmful material’ but it has done little to appease public suspicion the filter will be a censorship tool.

    With the government refusing to back down from their filter plans despite widespread opposition, some organisations and individuals have taken matters into their own hands.

    ARN has compiled a list featuring some of the notable anti-filtering actions undertaken in the last two years.

  • ACMA blacklist leaked on Wikileaks

    The Internet filter will include a confidential ‘blacklist’ of illegal websites compiled by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA). Illegal content spans graphic sexual violence and child pornography.

    So when the [[artnid:296161|list was leaked|Australia's Web blacklist leaked]] by Sweden-based non-profit organisation, Wikileaks, in March 2009, all hell broke lose. Innocuous websites such as gambling website, Betfair, and the homepage for of a Queensland dentist appeared on the leaked list.

    As a result, accusations the Government was planning to use the mandatory filter as a censorship tool intensified.
  • Stop the Filter protest

    On March, anti-filter group, Stop the Filter, held rallies in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane in Perth.

    The Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane events reportedly gathered small crowds but the Perth rally was attended by up to 300 people.

    Greens Senator, Scott Ludlam, attended the Perth rally.
  • Operation Titstorm

    An anti-filter group but the name of ‘Anonymous’ assailed at least two government websites as their version of the one-finger salute to mandatory filter plans.

    The attack was dubbed ‘Operation Titstorm’ involved denial of service (DoS) hits on the Australian Parliament House (APH) and the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DCBDE) websites.

    Operation Titstorm crippled the websites for at least 50 minutes.
  • American Ambassador speak out against filter

    US Ambassador to Australia, Jeff Bleich, had this to say about Australia’s plans to clean-feed the Internet on the ABC show, Q&A:

    “The Internet needs to be free. It needs to be free of the way the way we have said skies have to be free, outer space has to be free, the polar caps have to be free, the oceans have to be free.

    “… What we’ve said is we have been able to accomplish the goals that Australia has described, which is to capture and prosecute child pornographers and others who use the Internet for terrible purposes, without having to use internet filters.

    “We have other means and we are willing to share our efforts with [the Australian Government] in order to allow it to at least look at a range of choices, as opposed to moving in one particular direction.”

    It was a public humiliation of the Federal Government’s filter ambitions and was an encouraging development for clean-feed naysayers.
  • EFA blackout

    Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) organised a [[artnid:333952|national Internet blackout|Anti-filtering protest blackout turns websites black]] to protest against the mandatory filter.

    Participants, including the Australian Democrats and the Australian Greens party, showed visitors a black background on their websites with information pop-up screen from EFA that argues against the filters.

    The protest ran from January 25 to 29, including Australia. Hundreds of websites were involved in the blackout.
  • Exit International filter hacking masterclass

    Newcastle IT professional and Pirate Party member, David Campbell, teamed up with euthanasia advocacy group, Exit International, to host [[artnid:342869|Internet filter hacking classes across Australia|Filter hacking teacher: IT industry need to step up anti-filtering action]].
    Classes were held throughout April for the elderly.
    Exit International was prompted into action after finding out its sister site, The Peaceful Pill Handbook, was on ACMA’s leaked blacklist. The list will be used as a guideline for the impending clean-feed.
  • More filter hacking classes As a result of Exit International’s filter hacking masterclasses, networking integrator, Minopher, geared up to host its own [[artnid:343398|lessons for the general public|Internet filtering hacking classes take-off]]. It is testing the lessons on paying business clients before pushing it out at council premises around Melbourne. (Pictured: Minopher director, Chris Hurley)
  • Filter gagging flash mobs

    The Sydney Anti-Filter Coalition encouraged supporters to hit the streets of Sydney’s CBD wearing gags to symbolise the censorship nature of the Internet filter.

    The event happened in April with moderate success.

    IT professional, Chris Bell, set up a cloud-based proxy server provisioning service in a bid to prove [[artnid:344244|how easy the filter is to circumvent|Aussie cloud provider to fight Internet filter]]. will use the Amazon Web Service (AWS) to provision a dedicated proxy server for each customer to bypass Internet filters anonymously. The server will then ‘self-destruct’ after the user has finished. will charge users $0.20 per hour depending on download usage but Bell said he was not trying to get rich from the service. He said he is merely taking a stance against the Internet filtering.
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