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Australia Censorship Games

AU Internet Censorship Spells Bad News For Gamers 152

Posted by Soulskill
from the no-hope-for-call-of-duty-kangaroo-wars dept.
eldavojohn writes "Kotaku is running an investigative piece examining what internet censorship means for games in Australia. Australia has some of the most draconian video game attitudes in the world, and the phrase 'refused classification' should strike fear in game developers and publishers looking to market games there. Internet censorship may expand this phrase to mean that anybody hosting anything about the game may suffer censorship in AU. Kotaku notes, 'This means that if a game is refused classification (RC) in Australia — like, say, NFL Blitz, or Getting Up — content related to these games would be added to the ISP filter. [This would bring up] a range of questions, foremost of those being: what happens when an otherwise harmless website ... hosts material from those games (screenshots, trailers, etc) that is totally fine in the US or Japan or Europe, but that has been refused classification in Australia?' Kotaku received a comment from the Australian Department of Broadband Communication promising that the whole website won't be blocked, just the material related to the game (videos, images, etc). Imagine maintaining that blacklist!"
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AU Internet Censorship Spells Bad News For Gamers

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  • by Bananatree3 (872975) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @02:15AM (#31256106)
    Once the flood gates of ISP level censorship are pushed open, it's simply going to keep cascading until our Mate's internet connection is "sanitized" to death, where sanitized is on a sliding scale depending on whoever is in power at the time.
  • The silver lining (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Barny (103770) <bakadamage-slashdot@yahoo.com> on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @02:23AM (#31256144) Homepage Journal

    The upshot of this whole thing is of course that our jobless rate is going to evaporate as we are going to need that chunk of the the population to surf the net and flag possible bad content.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Barny (103770)

      Hate replying to myself, particularly when I wanted to just make it funny, but FUCK this is going to be a growth industry in Australia.

      Lets just work on youtube, 20 hours of vid uploaded per min (quick google search gave me this number), thats 1200 people required to be constantly watching new youtube vids for potentially bad content.

      People can't work 24/7 :)

      So, in 8hr shifts, we have 3600 people... wait, holidays...

      Lets just make it a round 4000 people employed just for keeping up with the current youtube

      • by jaronc (68205)

        Under the current system, which I believe is intended to continue, they don't actually search the internet for RC'd material. Instead they only act on pages to which someone has submitted a complaint about. Only then do they go and check to see if it would be RC'd. If yes, they add to the secret black list.

        • by Sabriel (134364) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @04:12AM (#31256702)

          As of June 2009, 1.67 billion people worldwide use the Internet. http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm [internetworldstats.com]

          Even just legitimate submitted complaints (assuming folks bothered) would bury the scheme. Now imagine a small shell script...

          • Now imagine a small shell script...

            submit($blacklistURL, "Michael Atkinson");

            Oh I like that idea. But I bet they won't let you submit anything to do with their secret "whitelist" that complements the semi-public blacklist.

          • Oh god, that could be glorious.
            A firefox extension which submits every page you can find to be blocked!
            Either bury them in 15 miles of paperwork or blackout the internet for them.

            • by Barny (103770)

              Yeah, a DDoS would work, also you could try strategic poisoning of their database, try and get some government information pages blocked, catholic church pages, etc.

          • by deniable (76198)
            I hope they let you submit complaints by email. A publicly available email address. And then we make an FOI claim asking why they haven't addressed all the complaints.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Calinous (985536)

        There are 40 work hours a week (and a total of 168 hours), and the free time is about 3 weeks a year. Add one week for other issues (medical leave, ...) and you end up working about 48 weeks a year, or some 1920 hours a year.
          20 hours of content a minute, 525000 minutes a year makes 10 million hours of content a year, against 2000 hours work a year makes 5,000 employees.
          Now, what about all the pictures updated to all the picture sites?

      • No problems, mate, you could outsource to China, they've got a nice headstart on that blacklist there. Oh, you'd need to skip the parts about Tibet and Taiwan and Tiamin Square and Democracy (not sure about this last one) but the porn & games section would probably suit you fine!

      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The upshot of this whole thing is of course that our jobless rate is going to evaporate as we are going to need that chunk of the the population to surf the net and flag possible bad content.

        ...

        So, in 8hr shifts, we have 3600 people... wait, holidays...

        More likely Australia is going to be funding the outsourcing industries in India and China. Wishful thinking on your part, but not very realistic. There are no silver linings here.

        And yeah, I heard prices for Internet service is already sky-high in Australia; expect pricing to get worse while you need to pay for even more exorbitant services which deny you services. It's as sensible as politics gets.

    • by Xest (935314) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @05:59AM (#31257234)

      Which would be quite amusing, because it'd basically mean you had half the population looking for content the government doesn't want them to see.

      • by Barny (103770)

        Well, as someone else pointed out, this will mainly work on a submission system, so they are essentially crowd-sourcing it.

        Now, as we all know, such systems can be easily dealt with either by DDoS (as pointed out, a firefox plugin that will submit every page you view to their department) or you could start strategically poisoning it, find parts of some of the catholic church pages that are infringing, and seeing if you can get them to ban whole domains :)

        • by Xest (935314)

          It's really the public sector way, I worked in public sector in the UK for a while, in local government, but I've seen it reaching to the top of British government, and even seen the same pattern from top to bottom in foreign governments.

          It never ceases to amaze me how public sector beauracrats consistently manage to come up with schemes that achieve completely the opposite effect to what was intend, but that are also so obviously flawed that even the average layman in the street can tell you why said schem

  • Political action (Score:4, Interesting)

    by H0D_G (894033) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @02:25AM (#31256152)

    I encourage every member of Slashdot to donate to Gamers 4 Croydon. Gamers for Croydon is a political party running against atkinson in his home seat in an attempt to raise awareness about the R18+ restriction on games and to oppose mandatory internet filtering. Seriously, go donate and spread the word

    http://www.gamers4croydon.org/ [gamers4croydon.org]

    • by some_guy_88 (1306769) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @02:52AM (#31256288) Homepage

      Sounds like they have similar goals to the Australian Pirate Party. (also worth joining)

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Cinnaman (954100)

        An interview with the president of the Pirate Party here http://www.truthnews.com.au/radio/wordpress/?p=868 [truthnews.com.au]

      • "Gamers 4 Croydon"
        "Australian Pirate Party"

        Why pick names which have connotations of either juvenile behaviour or stealing from copyright musicians and Hollywood?

        I know they're not, but Joe Sixpack doesn't, will glaze over at the first mention of "P2P" "Bittorrent" or "deep packet inspection" and come away with the idea that some bum kids want to watch free porn at the expense of his paycheque.

        FFS, get a clue about politics. Image means a hell of a lot, and "Gamers 4 ..." or "... Pirate Party" are not na
        • by deniable (76198) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @08:16AM (#31257938)
          You can hold the Liberty Advocates Party Dance as a fund-raiser. I know I'd pay for that.
        • Why pick names which have connotations of either juvenile behaviour or stealing from copyright musicians and Hollywood?

          Because it’s a parody on stupid people like you (or people who buy into old-world bullshit like you) who don’t get it.

          “Pirate” is obviously a fake word, since it stealing shit on the high seas has nothing to do with downloading. We use it as a joke.

          And only old people still thing of games an “juvenile”. Hell, our grandparents play Wii, our parents play Gameboy since the early 90s. 50 year old people play online shooters.

          The very point about those names, is to NOT play tha

    • Re:Political action (Score:4, Informative)

      by Joakal (1317443) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @03:14AM (#31256392)
      There's a list of what parties support the Internet Filtering Scheme(s): http://shockseat.com/communications/internet-filtering-scheme [shockseat.com]

      /disclaimer, I maintain the website.

      I'm recently doing a survey which will include game classification, there's no R and X classification for games. And not just internet filtering, but copyright, patent, whether they support other means to restrict content ownership and more. You can view a sample of the survey that was sent to parties here: http://shockseat.com/survey [shockseat.com] Although it's pretty amaterurish, it's already making it much easier to add more issues to my website.

      Bonus: If my site takes off, I will get or at least present vague notions of what the parties plan to do so it would be up to the 'crowd' to demand clarity.

      Some more information about the website here: http://shockseat.com/about [shockseat.com]
    • Instinctively, I want to do just that to try to stop such idiotic laws. However, it's their own damn fault for allowing their government to have such control that they're reaching this point. Seeing as how we constantly have articles about people all over the world in developed countries losing their rights to oppressive governments, I say let it happen and maybe the masses of asses will finally start to realize just why it's a bad thing to have government running every aspect of your life. Any time peop
  • wow. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Joelfabulous (1045392) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @02:26AM (#31256158)

    death by bureaucracy... department of broadband communication. are you fucking kidding me?

    this is the kind of idiocy that was generally historically corrected by violent revolution... sigh.

    gg Australia, way to self-immolate in the present tense. it was nice knowing you, I guess. thanks for all the fish, or whatever condolences I'm supposed to offer.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mjwx (966435)

      way to self-immolate in the present tense.

      You do know that self-immolation refers to suicide by fire, more specifically to a form of extreme protest by Buddhist monks. Monks who have taken vows not to harm other creatures set themselves on fire, it was commonplace in south Vietnam as protest against the war and corrupt South Vietnamese government and is occasionally done in China in protest over China's occupation of Tibet.

      Deffo used the wrong word there mate.

      • way to self-immolate in the present tense.

        You do know that self-immolation refers to suicide by fire, more specifically to a form of extreme protest by Buddhist monks. Monks who have taken vows not to harm other creatures set themselves on fire, it was commonplace in south Vietnam as protest against the war and corrupt South Vietnamese government and is occasionally done in China in protest over China's occupation of Tibet. Deffo used the wrong word there mate.

        I don't know. If you give him a bit of poetic license, the idea of them dying in a self-induced fire due to intentions not to hurt others isn't too far out there.

    • by timmarhy (659436)
      this is what the moron's wanted when they voted for the labor party. government answers to everything.

      gg indeed....

      • You clearly have forgotten Alston, the World's Biggest Luddite.

        But hey, if you believe only ALP pollies can be bad, go nuts. The saner people on /. will just ignore your ranting.

        • by deniable (76198)
          Conroy is making me want Alston back. Alston was stupid/useless not stupid/dangerous.
  • by precariousgray (1663153) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @02:27AM (#31256160)
    Why can't we simply accept that this is the 21st century, and nothing should be censored? Ever. Don't want to see the content within a particular video game? Great, don't look at it. That's your right. It is also mine to masturbate to bloody, mutilated appendages if I so choose. Please replace "video game" above with any applicable form of media.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by wizardforce (1005805)

      Why can't we simply accept that this is the 21st century, and nothing should be censored? Ever.

      Politicians never got that upgrade. The bug in their code that compels them to control various aspects of peoples' lives for whatever reason has not been patched nor is there any real sign that it ever will be.

    • by jonwil (467024)

      The problem with your idea is that there are a LOT of people out there (many of whom believe in some kind of non-existent god) who think its their god-given right to dictate what other people can and cannot do.

    • But that's just what the terrorists want us to think...

  • by assemblerex (1275164) * on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @02:41AM (#31256232)
    And now...Slashdot is no longer viewable to Australians.
  • by mjwx (966435) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @02:41AM (#31256234)
    again.

    Australia's parliament voted against internet censorship in 2008 and there was a lot less organisation against it then. This close to an election many pollies are thinking of their chances of being re-elected. The Greens still hold the balance of power in parliament and they are dead against the censorship scheme, most of the independents are offside now as well, the Opposition will vote no simply because Labor is voting yes.
    • I'll go one further than $50, I will bet my left testicle it never happens.

      "the Opposition will vote no simply because Labor is voting yes"

      Yep and when the Liberals were last in power Labor voted no to madatory filtering.

      "most of the independents are offside now as well"

      That was the whole point, Mr 2% lost interest pretty fast when his own anti-abortion sponsers *somehow* made it onto the proposed list. This shit has been going on for at least a decade, the two major parties take turns at being g
      • Those in power are for, those not in power are against governmental influence on public information. Duh.

        Independent of their alleged political goals, ambitions or other tidbits, they're all the same.

        • If politics was that simple we could just tune into Fox and find out everything we need to know.
      • by Lunzo (1065904)
        Legislation is coming in the next few months. It's not just Conroy in favour of the filter, but a majority of cabinet.
        • by Lunzo (1065904)

          Bugger, screwed up the html for the link on the previous post. Here's a better post anyway, with the links fixed.

          The trials have already been completed. Legislation is coming in the next few months. [smh.com.au] It's not just Conroy in favour of the filter, but a majority of cabinet. The Liberal party are in favour of censorship of the web in principle, however they disagree with some of the technical points of Conroy's proposal.

          Conroy has said repeatedly he supports a mandatory filter. He is cabinet's salesman for it,

          • Those quotes are the closest I've seen but still no cigar. As I said Conroy knows the legislation will not pass the senate.
    • by QuantumG (50515) *

      Australians vote the way the television and talk radio stations tell them to vote.. the week before election day, no matter what the polls say, the party with the most media coverage wins.

      Politicians in this country can do anything they like and the sheeple will vote them back into power, so long as they put enough ads on in that last week.

      • by deniable (76198)
        No, we don't. We usually vote the way our parents voted.
    • It's not quite a done deal, but has a smooth ride through Parliament. Party discipline in Australia is absolute, and any Labor member who votes against party lines (except during a declared "conscience vote") will be deselected automatically. Kevin Rudd, a self-defined social conservative, supports it. Meanwhile, the Coalition are headed by Tony Abbott, a hardline religious authoritarian culture-warrior often nicknamed the "Mad Monk"; for it to not get through, he would have to not only oppose it but exerci

    • by dlanod (979538)

      I was inclined to agree until Tony Abbott rolled Malcolm Turnbull. There's no way Abbott would be saying no to an internet filter given his love for all things Catholic and his inability to separate that with his day-to-day job. Kate Lundy is the person to back now - campaigning for making it opt out (not ideal but more sane than no option) from within the Labor Party.

      • by mjwx (966435)

        There's no way Abbott would be saying no to an internet filter given his love for all things Catholic

        His hate for all things Labor is stronger then his love for all things Catholic. I doubt this will pass due to that fact alone. Labor will vote yes, Coalition will vote no, Greens and independents will decide it.

        Abbott is a polly, his desire for any kind of power is stronger then any religious commitment, for Abbott this means opposing Labor at any opportunity. If he reverses the oppositions position hi

  • Join the pirates. (Score:5, Informative)

    by hool5400 (257022) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @02:44AM (#31256252)
  • This is especially worrying when you realise how corrupt the government in Australia is, I recently came to realised this when I found out that the Department of Education in NSW block access to ALL search engines accept google for students at public primary and high schools. (apart from yahoo which you can get one page of results from if you go to search.yahoo.com)
    • I really don't see a problem with that. Students can go home and search to their hearts content and to my knowledge teachers and administrators act as if their control ends at the school boundary. My son is a grade two student at an Australian primary school. Students have internet access so they can run online educational applications. At home I supervise his internet access. I accept that teachers can't to that every second of the day at school.

    • by deniable (76198)
      Bah, wait until you hear that government departments aren't going to be filtered. The logic makes as much sense as the rest of the plan, but it means public servants have to get their porn at work.
  • by Wizarth (785742) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @02:54AM (#31256298) Homepage

    Imagine maintaining that blacklist!

    Imagine is exactly right, because the blacklist will be secret. The explanation being that having a list of RC material available will encourage people to view it... except they won't be able to...

    Incidentally, for the people who think this filter is about blocking child porn, consider this: Child porn is illegal, and is the jurisdiction of the federal police. The blacklist will not be maintained by the police, and any ILLEGAL content is to be submitted to the police. The RC filter list is only for UNDESIRABLE content, content that is NOT illegal.

    • Senator Conroy has been hugely inconsistent about the content of the blacklist. First it was "child porn", then he added "unwanted content" without clarifying what that actually meant and then he changed tack to "Refused Classification", which he then proceeded to repeatedly mention in conjunction with "child porn" in order to fool the public into thinking that the two were synonymous.

      Also worth considering is the security of the blacklist. The Australian Communications & Media Authority's blacklist (up

  • Subject (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ihmhi (1206036) <i_have_mental_health_issues@yahoo.com> on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @02:56AM (#31256308)

    So first Britain treats 1984 like an instruction manual, and now Australia is treating Equilibrium [wikipedia.org] like a How-To film?

    This game has been rated EC-10.

  • What really strikes me here is that all this "Refused Classification" stuff has been in the media circus for a really long time now, and there's been an instant backlash from those who get it - IT guys, gen Y, etc. But Aussie politicians just don't seem to get it at all - their attitude toward the whole thing, their reactions and replies to all the backlash so far can all be explained with the following assumption:

    They think the internet is some sort of extension of traditional media like newspapers and ra

  • Hey we Aussies stop playing games shortly after turning 15! So what's the big deal with wanting to protect our children from these nasty video games aimed at corrupting our youth?

    And as far as I have been told by our overlords.. sorry government. Is that child porn is rampant online and you stumble across it far too often, if the solution is as easy as blocking a website why not let them do it to protect us? While they're at it they can protect us from websites that are pro-abortion, that help teenagers d
  • (points at the Aussies faces)
    ah-ha!

  • by thasmudyan (460603) <udo DOT schroeter AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @05:26AM (#31257074) Homepage

    Of course, ideologues like the limitless possibilities censorship offers when it comes to shaping the thoughts of the population by making inconvenient material unavailable. It also helps them get re-elected. But in this case, censorship has a very clear business aspect: it means that if you as a publisher don't pay up, they have the power to make your product disappear. Not only will your website disappear from view, the censorship filter makes it impossible for people to even talk about your product. So this is about corruption, clear and simple.

  • It seems australia is "opt-out" of the new technology know has Internet.

    I myself would not stop posting comments about any game, even indie games that will never be "validated" by these people. You can't adapt internet to your laws, australia, you must addapt your laws to internet, since Internet is a global thing, and can't be modified by the will a single ( and maybe all ) countrys.

  • China called. They'd like to compare notes on internet filtering.

    • Actually, I think our government missed the lecture on Internet 101 and copied China's notes. Our PM can speak Mandarin after all.

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