No Filter, No Censorship, No Great Firewall of Australia

On Saturday, Renai LeMay poignantly makes the case against the Interpol filter in Australia with five points. It's the best summary I've read so far, but I have a further five to bring us around to an even ten. David Letterman might use them.

His points in a nutshell

  1. Telcos aren’t informing users
  2. There is no civilian oversight
  3. The law in unclear
  4. The potential for scope creep is strong
  5. There is no open and transparent appeal process

My points

Icon from the Tango Desktop Project

6. It will ultimately be ineffective

The telcos that have misguidedly implemented such a system want to appear they're doing something to stop the spread of child pornography, but Interpol's DNS based filtering scheme is even more simple to bypass than what Senator Conroy is suggesting.

As I've repeatedly stated here, every point about the ethical and financial burdens such a system introduces are entirely moot as long as this stands.

7. It can potentially implicate the innocent

Technically competent internet users regularly and legally use their own or alternative DNS servers for privacy and speed reasons. Requests from these users will be indistinguishable from those who have elected to use alternative DNS servers to access illegal and/or filtered content.

If we follow this Interpol filter to its logical conclusion, it's not inconceivable that ISPs could begin to demand usage of their own DNS servers in their terms of service, and those that don't could find themselves implicated alongside people distributing banned content. The social implications are obvious.

8. It encourages precedent

Assuming ISPs resolve Renai's first point and are honest with their customers, this filter is setting a worrying precedent that could be used to justify the more sweeping and comprehensive filter schemes Senator Conroy is proposing. I can see the talking points now: "The Interpol filter was benign and worked great, and our filter will be even better!"

Complacency, and acceptance of this as the status quo are what terrify me.

9. The Interpol filtering scheme itself is misguided, and won't save children.

Plenty has been written on this point already, but the fact that certain large ISPs are so willing to implement this raises serious ethical questions.

10. We've always been at war with Eastasia