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Censorship Entertainment Games Your Rights Online

Australian Web Filter To Censor Downloaded Games 200

Posted by timothy
from the we've-already-got-these-cool-filters-in-place dept.
Xiroth writes "The Australian Federal Communications Ministry has confirmed that they intend to use the planned filter to block the download of games that have been refused by Australia's classification authority, the OFLC. As an Electronic Frontiers Australia spokesman noted, 'This is confirmation that the scope of the mandatory censorship scheme will keep on creeping.'"
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Australian Web Filter To Censor Downloaded Games

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  • Refused? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by roger_that (24034) on Thursday June 25, 2009 @02:08PM (#28470323)

    Who decides what games even get looked at for classification? What if they just haven't gotten to the game you want yet? Is there a backlog of games to classify? So many 'gotchas', so little logic/common sense/ways to appeal. My heart goes out to you Australian gamers.

    • Re:Refused? (Score:5, Funny)

      by lgw (121541) on Thursday June 25, 2009 @02:14PM (#28470393) Journal

      It's all worth it though. Since we know that if little Johnny sees one pair of tits, his head will explode, and we know that all other forms of censorship are effective, this is a critical step to protect the kids. If even one child's head is saved from exploding, brutal totalitarian dictatorship is worth it!

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dk90406 (797452)
        Please correct me if I am wrong, but it was my impression that Australia is more scared of violence and drugs than tits. Titofobia seems to be patented by USA.

        But it still puzzles me that the AU people, which I've always considered as easygoing and enlightened, accept this level of government "protectionism".

      • Re:Refused? (Score:4, Funny)

        by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Thursday June 25, 2009 @02:43PM (#28470789)

        It's all worth it though. Since we know that if little Johnny sees one pair of tits, his head will explode

        Oh crap... how are they going to protect nursing babies???

        • Re:Refused? (Score:4, Funny)

          by lgw (121541) on Thursday June 25, 2009 @02:46PM (#28470801) Journal

          It's all worth it though. Since we know that if little Johnny sees one pair of tits, his head will explode

          Oh crap... how are they going to protect nursing babies???

          Are you some kind of pervert that wants little babies sucking on breasts?!? Pedophilia at its worst!

          • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

            by Anonymous Coward

            It's all worth it though. Since we know that if little Johnny sees one pair of tits, his head will explode

            Oh crap... how are they going to protect nursing babies???

            Are you some kind of pervert that wants little babies sucking on breasts?!? Pedophilia at its worst!

            Hey hey hey, that's not funny. God gave women breasts to be ogled at, not to feed some mutated kids that should be drinking artificial, drug and hormone filled milk-byproduct like REAL REDBLOODED AMERICAN MEN.

            Our hardworking conservative Overlords are working hard to ensure that the next generation are just as properly sexually dysfunctional and neurotic as God and Church demand, and god bless them for it.

            Now, if you'll excuse me, I have an appointment with my Senator to speak about the dirty, dirty men ru

        • It's all worth it though. Since we know that if little Johnny sees one pair of tits, his head will explode

          Oh crap... how are they going to protect nursing babies???

          Get them to swallow.

      • by poetmatt (793785)

        Do you know what happens if kids were to find Duke Nukem and pause it when he gives the hookers money? BLASPHEMY.

      • by mcgrew (92797)

        This is only marginally on topic, but what I think is really wierd is when they censor a movoe for TV, all they censor is the tits and swear word. All the blood, gore, violence, etc. remains.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      Who decides what games even get looked at for classification? What if they just haven't gotten to the game you want yet?

      According to the article, somebody from the public needs to make a complaint;

      Senator Conroy's spokesman said the filter would cover "computer games such as web-based flash games and downloadable games, if a complaint is received and the content is determined by ACMA to be Refused Classification".

      I'm sure there will be special interest groups of many varieties saving the children from various categories of filth and immorality. The Internet will be a much more polished facade of reality than it is now.

    • by nurb432 (527695)

      Stop being too logical, its not about the true effectiveness, its about the progression of control of the population. If they try, and manage to block one thing, they consider it a success and continue down the same road, looking for #2, then #3. The have time, and unlimited budgets.

  • Unclassified games (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 25, 2009 @02:09PM (#28470335)

    My understanding is a LOT of games don't get classifications out there.
    Filtering them out so you can't get them at all is horrible as the content isn't necessarily bad (and if it is they shouldn't be the ones judging if someone of age should be able to play them).

    What's that? It's just a file so it could be *gasp* encrypted and bypass said filter?

    OFLC: Yeah, good luck with that.

    • by moderatorrater (1095745) on Thursday June 25, 2009 @02:14PM (#28470401)

      It's just a file so it could be *gasp* encrypted and bypass said filter

      If any legitimate services do this, they'll be banned. This is a lose for game companies, honest consumers and the government (who loses out on tax revenue). Once again, this dosn't effect the pirates in the slightest, although (for once) this doesn't target them. Is it any wonder that piracy is so widespread?

      • by Techman83 (949264)
        The filters are only capable of filtering HTTP and DNS so far.. Yeah that's going to stop all the nasties....
    • by MrMista_B (891430) on Thursday June 25, 2009 @02:28PM (#28470611)

      If it is encrypted, it will not bypass the filter. It will be blocked, because it is encrypted. The innocent have nothing to hide, the innocent have nothing to fear. Are you innocent? Only criminals use encryption. Trust the government.

      • by oolon (43347)
        Seeing as the Encrypted channel could be connecting on any port to any computer on the internet, how will they know it a game update download they are blocking? So they can block games they know about, how are they going to provent the access of proxies, vpns, and every other kind of tunnel out there. For services like steam how are they going know a bad game is being downloaded not a good one? I really wish politicians would atleast try to understand how things work, the internet is a network of peers not
        • Its simple. You drop any packet that does not look like normal 'nothing to hide person surfing' traffic.

          There is not just black list, there is whitelist approach too. Technology does not win this once the other side gets serious because the other side physically controls the tubes.

          As for steam and whatnot, opeartors of those services will take care of it if they want to keep doing business there.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Orion Blastar (457579)

      This is the same problem with Cable and Satellite TV filters. Most of the movies and TV shows are unrated and setting the V-Chip or whatever filters for PG-13 and under will also filter out unrated shows and movies.

      When you block something to keep the children away from it in this way, it also blocks adults from getting the games as well. Just like blocking TV shows and Movies will prevent an adult from seeing them. But you have to enter the four digit code on TV devices to bypass the filter, and kids are s

      • by Toonol (1057698)
        You're right, people will quickly learn all the obvious techniques for getting around the filters. My guess is that the government will create hugely disproportionate fines for doing so... it will be like downloading a movie. Everybody does it, 99.99% of them never get caught, and 0.01% get huge, life-ruining fees when they happen to get caught. It's exactly the opposite of justice, but it seems to be the way things are trending.

        Slow Down, Cowboy! It's been 4 minutes since you last successfully poste
    • by Techman83 (949264)
      Main problem being there is no R18+ for games. There have been many attempts to get it, but it remains stuck at M15+. So too much blood or boobs will get the game given an RC classification. What's worse is mechanical gore, they just don't know how to classify it, so it automatically gets an RC. Go figure... Stupid idiots in charge of this country! (RC = Refused Classification)
  • by DnemoniX (31461) on Thursday June 25, 2009 @02:12PM (#28470363)

    I will say this slowly for you politicians. The Internet sees censorship as damage, it will route around you.

    • by pilgrim23 (716938) on Thursday June 25, 2009 @02:25PM (#28470557)
      Does this mean my updates for Duke Nukem Forever may be delayed?
    • by ByOhTek (1181381)

      their thoughts?

      w00t, less of our money spent on facilitating the transport of other peoples data.

      Don't encourage the greedy bastards please.

    • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Thursday June 25, 2009 @02:47PM (#28470831)

      The Internet sees censorship as damage, it will route around you.

      The internet for some users yes. But not for everyone and not for every game. Is this scheme going to be applied to Xbox live for example? Because I can tell you from personal experience that XBLA sees any censorship and damage (and, well, normal functions if I'm being honest) as a signal to give up completely. And commit console suicide probably as well.

      Some slashdotters will scoff at those people sure, but I trust a lot of you recognize that not being very computer literate and using consoles shouldn't mean the government should get to tell you what videogames you can and can't play in your freetime.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Hatta (162192)

        Because I can tell you from personal experience that XBLA sees any censorship and damage (and, well, normal functions if I'm being honest) as a signal to give up completely. And commit console suicide probably as well.

        To be fair, the Xbox 360 sees Tuesday as a reason to commit console suicide.

        • To be fair, the Xbox 360 sees Tuesday (Tuesday here is defined as every day of the week) as a reason to commit console suicide.

          Fixed that for you. Although I think I covered that with my "and, well, normal functions if I'm being honest) as a signal to give up completely."

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DoofusOfDeath (636671)

      I will say this slowly for you politicians. The Internet sees censorship as damage, it will route around you.

      There's nothing very unique about the Internet in this regard.

      Anything that the population might want: internet packets, illegal drugs, tax-free cigarettes, Bibles, Prohibition-era gin, unlicensed DVDs, etc. will get routed around the government's attempts to block it.

      Maybe all that really changes is how many people get hurt in the process.

      • What changes is that these guys get to go back to their navel-gazing core constituencies and say "See, I made those intertubes safer!", and those constituencies will vote for them, apparently believing that some stupid filter can stop anyone with even a passing knowledge of proxies and the like. Hell, if the Butchers of Qom couldn't stop all the images from getting out of Iran, then how the hell do these guys think what apparently is a pretty shitty filter can do it?

        I wrote a letter to my own representativ

    • by steelfood (895457)

      The internet is an abstract idea that only exists as when the sum of all of the networks is greater than the individual parts. Networks can and is meant to be scaled up or down. A country-wide firewall is not damage. Filtering, which you can think of is a firewall that looks at content rather than connection, is not damage. Damage is when one node disappears off the network. You can still route around that. But there's no "around" when a country-wide firewall disallows connections to be made with servers ou

    • Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Repeating this mantra is not going to make the growing censorship of the internet go away. back in the days when the internet was solely the province of the technically minded, this may have been true. But in the days of a global, universal internet, this mantra is slowly but surely becoming hollow.

      Governments of the world are not, NOT, going to put up with a medium in which anyone whatsoever can read or publish anything they wish, at any time, on a global scale, without any government control. More importantly, the public is not going to put up with it. This simply isn't the way human societies work. People want censorship.

      If you doubt this, poll your friends and neighbors. Ask the plain question; "Do you think their should be government supervision of the internet?". The overwhelming majority of people will answer, "Yes". And they will not mean supervision over "extreme" material like child pornography and snuff sites. They will mean supervision over anorexia boards, neo-nazi sites, "obscene materials", fringe persons and political groups, atheists/creationists, and in general censorship of anyone that they do not like.

      This increasing government interest in internet censorship is not coming out of nowhere. It's a natural progression of the general will of human society; to repress views they disagree with. If you can find enough people who dislike a thing, you can get it banned. That's what's happening to the internet, and that's why its getting so much support.

      In the future, the current internet era (or more appropriately the one ten years ago), will be looked back on as we now look back on the late nineteenth century drug era, in which cocaine, cannabis and even heroin could be bought, sold and taken quite legally. People had rights to drugs in those days, but, slowly but surely, disapproval of those liberties lead to their restriction. The same thing is going to happen to the internet.

      Eventually, you will need a license to publish material on the web, or at least to host a site, and all sites will be fully regulated by vast, probably international, government offices created for the purpose. This is coming and there is going to be no way to route around such a mortal wound to the free web.

      • by Sabriel (134364)
        A truly "global, universal internet" is something we haven't reached yet. Not even close.
      • by Cimexus (1355033)

        Can I just say this is a fantastic post and I bet you will be proved to be right. If you think about it, the Internet is truly a unique thing in today's world. The only communications medium that has essentially no controls over its use (unless you live in China etc).

        I'm Australian and while we don't have any filtering at this time, this proposed filter does worry me. I'm fairly certain it's unpopular (and technicall unfeasible) enough to not pass through Parliament in its current form. But give it another

  • Ban games? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Wowsers (1151731) on Thursday June 25, 2009 @02:12PM (#28470365) Journal

    I guess that means no more updates for BZflag and Tux Racer.

    • by Kozz (7764)

      I guess that means no more updates for BZflag and Tux Racer.

      Bwaah-haa-ha! Updates for Tux Racer? It looks as if the project died in 2001. The latest incarnation isn't too active, either.

  • Precedent (Score:5, Insightful)

    by parlancex (1322105) on Thursday June 25, 2009 @02:12PM (#28470367)
    It's genuinely disappointing to see happening in other free countries because I guarantee one of the first arguments that will be made for implementing a similar scheme in Canada will start with "This system is already in place in many other countries such as Australia, etc.", then again I suppose it's equally disappointing that our country is so easily influenced by some of the precedents set by US et al.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      At least in the US, if a politician tries to censor our internet from violent media, we still can buy guns to shoot them with.
    • Re:Precedent (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Jason Levine (196982) on Thursday June 25, 2009 @02:28PM (#28470609)

      That's when you go back to the old Mom question of "If all the other countries were jumping off a bridge, would you jump too?"

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by steelfood (895457)

        It's a perfectly legitimate excuse if your ultimate goal is to commit suicide.

      • That's when you go back to the old Mom question of "If all the other countries were jumping off a bridge, would you jump too?"

        (puts on senator hat)

        Two questions:
        1. Can I in some way say it's for the children, morality, economy, or national security?
        2. What's the fastest way to the nearest bridge?

    • by Mashiki (184564)

      "Every Canadian has the following fundamental freedoms..."
      (2)(b)
      freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication

      Unless:
      (1)The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.

      So unless the government can prove that such a system is required, within the bounds of a free and democrat

  • by CopaceticOpus (965603) on Thursday June 25, 2009 @02:15PM (#28470427)

    Will they be blocking violent movies too? What about violent books and song lyrics?

    I don't doubt this will have an effect. Instead of 15-20 year olds playing violent games occasionally, they will now find them incredibly cool, and go to great lengths to play them. They won't have much trouble unless Australia figures out how to block torrents and eBay too. Even that wouldn't stop anyone.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Darkness404 (1287218)
      Exactly, this is like when the filter at work started blocking legitimate (if not time wasting) sites (Facebook, YouTube, etc) so what did people do? They got proxies, however unlike Facebook and YouTube one of these proxies that someone used wasn't exactly virus-free so their system got a virus because of the blocking.
      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        The solution to that is to fire the person who used the proxy. I am sure it was against company policy, right?

        • Sure, but the point was that when restricted, people will go from legitimate means to more shady means to get what they want. Unlike what the lawmakers think which is just that people will give up and be content. You can see that with drug laws, strict gun laws, etc.
    • I was wondering about all the OTHER stuff as well.

      Once all this starts piling up, I wonder if Australia is going to experience what I call the "Lynden" syndrome.

      Near where I live there is a small town called Lynden that has pretty much made everything illegal. You get a ticket if you don't mow your lawn once a week. I'm not kidding.

      The end result is all the kids that grow up there are eagerly awaiting the day of emancipation--the day they move the fuck out of town.

      Because of this, there are no younger peopl

    • by z0idberg (888892)

      And how about blocking all the fairfax media sites (theage.com.au, smh.com.au etc.) as well due to the screenshot at the top of the article showing a guy getting his head blown off.

      They seriously cannot see the irony in this??

    • by maglor_83 (856254)

      Will they be blocking violent movies too? What about violent books and song lyrics?

      I wouldn't put it past them, no.

  • The door is open (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anarchduke (1551707) on Thursday June 25, 2009 @02:23PM (#28470511)
    The sad truth in all this is that once you say that it is all right to censor anything, you have already lost the war. Now each item that the Australian government (not the public, but those in control) finds objectionable will come under review and may be censored. This is the slippery slope we all scream about until we are hoarse.

    Each step down this path will have the same excuse, "It's for the children".

    I wonder how long it will be until the Australian government censors news articles for the "fear effect" such uncensored information might have on the children.

    I will say it again, once you accept that censorship is acceptable, then it is only a matter of how much will be censored.
    • by mibus (26291)

      Now each item that the Australian government (not the public, but those in control) finds objectionable will come under review and may be censored.

      Keep in mind please that no filter has yet come to pass... if you're in Australia, write to your MP. If not... wish us luck :)

      (Note: I work at an ISP, but I speak for myself, not my employer)

  • Can You Hear Me Now? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Greyfox (87712) on Thursday June 25, 2009 @02:23PM (#28470515) Homepage Journal
    I'm just a bit curious here, can someone in-the-know highlight the internet policy differences between Iran, China and Australia? I'd think a side-by-side comparison of policy features would be really neat.
    • by viking099 (70446)

      That sounds like a grand idea! I look forward to your in-depth blog about it in the near future. :-)

    • by dbIII (701233)
      The internet policy of Australia is effectively - "we don't have one but we're thinking about one that will keep fundamentalists happy".
    • by mjwx (966435)

      I'm just a bit curious here, can someone in-the-know highlight the internet policy differences between Iran, China and Australia?

      Australia can make its own filtering software. The others had to outsource, to Australia.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Cimexus (1355033)

      Sure:

      China: Comprehensive, active and ongoing censorship of many non-Chinese websites. Filter able to be changed rapidly in response to current events.

      Iran: As above, but not as comprehensive or as sophisticated as China.

      Australia: No internet censorship at the moment.

      What Slashdot always fails to mention in these fear-mongering articles is that this filter is simply something that is being PROPOSED by a minority of politicians, mostly to appease promises they made during the last election to various conser

  • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Thursday June 25, 2009 @02:25PM (#28470541)
    This is an attempt by the government to increase the numbers and improve the skills of hackers in Australia. "You want to play those cool games, you have to hack your way past our Internet filters." People here on Slashdot are so paranoid. This is an attempt by the Australian government to provide a training environment for those computer skills that are needed in the 21st Century.
    • From what I can gather about these filters, an eight year old could hack around. The only thing Australian politicians are more of than liberty-hating is just plain retarded. What a collosal pack of uneducated, possibly uneducatable half-wits. I have no doubt that the Australian government will be taken for millions over the list. And the Australians deserve it, because what they should be doing is showing up at their rep's office and threatening to feed them to the sharks if they don't immediately go t

  • by stokessd (89903) on Thursday June 25, 2009 @02:28PM (#28470603) Homepage

    Gnometris isn't rated, I'll never be able to update it...

    Sheldon

    • by Aladrin (926209)

      You got modded 'funny', but you've hit a very good point: Free and Open Source games are -never- rated and would thus be banned altogether.

      Just think about that for a while to let it really sink in.

    • by maglor_83 (856254)

      Not that I agree with the filter in any way whatsoever, but there is a difference between an unrated game and a game that has been refused classification.

  • This is just fucking ridiculous.

    I'm glad I'm leaving Australia.

    Supposedly this means WoW will be banned, too.

  • Someone needs to make a source mod where the objective is to go around violently killing alien monsters that censor the internet.

    • Someone needs to make a source mod where the objective is to go around violently killing politicians that censor the internet.

      There, fixed that for ya.

  • Soon, only content specifically authorized by the AU government will be allowed to be viewed.

    It's not so bad, think of all the virii and malware you won't have to contend with!

  • Steam ? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by moon3 (1530265) on Thursday June 25, 2009 @02:55PM (#28470987)
    Does this somehow extend to Steam games? Steam uses some different TCP/IP port to funnel its content, I believe, so the old trusty Aussie web filter censoring software might not be able to catch those. (haha)
  • ...blocking encrypted downloads. Lol. Even a ROT128 would circumvent that.

    • Two possibilites:
      a) They might decide that the number of people able to deal with encryption is too small to matter.
      b) They may decide to block encrypted downloads.

  • So...... when are we starting the bonfires and begin throwing books?

  • Flood them. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jaysyn (203771) <jaysyn+slashdot@NoSPAm.gmail.com> on Thursday June 25, 2009 @03:26PM (#28471571) Homepage Journal

    We need to submit to them *every single* game on the internet whether it be OSS, Flash, MMOG, Steam / Impulse, Forum based (MySpace & Facebook games) or play by email. Everything. Let them choke on their own stupidity.

    • Why would they choke? They'd just take their time (moving products of major companies to the head of the line, of course).

  • In response, STEAM announced that users can opt-in to SSL for their protocols for an extra $1 per 10GB (to cover buying a few SSL accelerator cards). Australia briefly responded by blocking port 443 until the outcry of a million Aussies unable to get their email, buy porn or surf ebay.au with pitchforks made them "reconsider" the idea.

  • Last I heard the Great Firewall of Australia was being dumped by the biggest ISP and they were backing away from it.

    • by mjwx (966435)

      Last I heard the Great Firewall of Australia was being dumped by the biggest ISP and they were backing away from it.

      Yep, All of the major ISP's are against it, iinet, Telstra, Optus, and Internode. Most of the Australian public ignored this as without the industry it would go nowhere, now if push came to shove, the ISP industry has more advertising clout then the Aus government and Heavy Kevvy (Our esteemed Prime Minister, the (dis)honourable Kevin Rudd) cant afford more bad publicity.

  • by danny (2658) on Thursday June 25, 2009 @06:14PM (#28474275) Homepage
    Australia's game classification system has no "adult" category, so many games sold without any controls at all elsewhere in the world are flat out banned ("Refused Classification") here.

    So if what Conroy has announced here goes ahead, a whole pile of product pages at Amazon [amazon.com] (among others) are going to have to go on the blacklist. (Leisure Suit Larry is among the games banned in Australia [classification.gov.au].

    The problem is that many of the proposed filtering solutions work by routing traffic to IP addresses that host prohibited pages to a proxy server. As we saw with the Internet Watch/BT/Wikipedia debacle, this approach is likely to cause problems with high traffic sites (and may well overload the proxy server).

    Danny.

    • by sc0ob5 (836562)
      It really makes me sick that we live in this country and we are not free to play and view what we want. It's the bloody attorney general of SA that is holding back the R18+ rating for games. I'd like to know if there is anything we can do about this apart from wait for the wanker to loose the next election. I don't see how it's not a majority vote..

      Still the government can try all they like but they are not going to stop people from downloading "illegal" material, it's like trying to stop people from smokin

      • by Cimexus (1355033)

        Yes it's rather stupid isn't it. We have an R rating for movies, music, books etc...why not computer games? Surely you'd think it would be EASIER, if anything, to just have one consistent set of ratings across all media types, rather than try and deal with each type separately. I'm pretty sure that's the way they do it in Europe (and possibly the US?).

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