Due to the move of the blog to Wordpress posts from Jan 2012 onward will have commenting disabled (when I remember to do it)
Cheers - AE

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Senator Stephen Conroy, the fucknuts Minister for Restriction of Communications and Internet Censorship, is so on the ball when it comes to the interwebs that he never secured the URL for his own name.
He wants to censor the internet but what will Communications Minister Stephen Conroy do about a spoof website that uses his own name to protest against the Government's internet filtering policy?

A net prankster has taken advantage of Conroy's failure to reserve his own domain name by registering and turning it into an anti-censorship protest site
(link now goes nowhere, see below - AE).

Under the banner "Stephen Conroy: Minister for Fascism", the site includes a disparaging cartoon strip, a nasty online poll, links to news stories regarding Conroy's internet filtering plan and links to web pages where people can complain about the policy.


Conroy's spokesman has not responded to questions asking about possible measures to seize control of the domain name.

Well, it looks like something is going on because now goes nowhere. But Conroy's lack of internet savvy extends to search engines too, so it didn't take me very long to find, the new home for the arguably offensive - if you're Stephen Conroy - content formerly at the location. At the very top of the page they have this to say (my emphasis):

auDA, the .au Domain Administrator is trying to take us offline. Earlier today they issued a notice giving us 3 hours to provide evidence of our eligibility to hold the '' and related domain names. Normally registrants are provided with approximately one week to provide this information on request. We asked for reasonable time to prepare and submit representations on our eligibility but auDA refused to grant this. Accordingly we've moved the site to '' - please update your bookmarks. Conroy's office must have been busy this afternoon!

The page on auDA linked to has the email exchange, and an interesting read it is too. Worth quoting en bloc:
As per the note on our front page auDA, the .au Domain Administrator suspended registration of our '' and related domain names. At the time of writing they have failed to provide us with a detailed explanation as to why and have refused to provide us with adequate time to reply to their allegation.

Following receipt of this notice we called auDA today to get an explanation and were asked to state our position in writing and so we did. See the email chain below.

It is out
(sic) opinion that as we are providing content which is of direct relevance to the '' domain name we are eligible to hold it. It is not auDA's place to form an opinion regarding how agreeable the content is, but in this instance to judge it's relevance to the domain name.

We feel that auDA has acted POLITICALLY to CENSOR our website and to intentionally limit our ability to distribute dissenting information about the Australian Government. We intend to fight this fight to the end and do everything in our power to get our domains back. We are currently in the process of obtaining legal advice, but at present consider our case to be strong and intend to update this page with further information as it becomes available...

Hi Jo,

Further to our telephone conversation:

I have been informed that Sapia has been issued with a notice requesting that we furnish further details of our eligibility to hold the '' domain name. We understand that the deadline set for reply to this notice is 1700AEDT Today.

We feel that we are able to successfully prove compliance with the criteria, however, feel that the deadline in which we have been requested to do so is manifestly inadequate. In order to give us time to adequately prepare a brief of supporting information and to obtain appropriate legal advice we request this deadline be extended to COB Wednesday 23 December.

We understand the requirement for enforcing this criteria and endeavor to do everything possible to make this process as fluid as possible. We look forward to your reply, and should you have any further questions or comments please feel free to contact me on any of the below numbers.
Their reply:

We have considered the response below which does not provide us with any explanation as to eligibility for the names. On that basis it is our current position that the registration of, stephen-conroy,,,,, breach the Domain Name Eligibility and Allocation Policy Rules for Open 2LDs (2008-05) at

We note that you have requested an extension of time to provide an explanation. We would have expected that an explanation could be provided immediately given that on registration of the names you warranted that you were eligible. On that basis we are not prepared to grant an extension of time past 5 pm today.

Accordingly, unless a satisfactory explanation is provided prior to 5pm today, the domain names will be placed into policy delete.

However, it is important to note that the domain names will remain registered to Sapia for the 14 day pending delete period and that we will review our decision if you provide us with information to demonstrate your compliance with the policy rules. Obviously you will need to provide this before the end of the pending delete period.

CEO - auDA
au Domain Administration Ltd
We then sent the following reply and await auDA's response:

We feel strongly that auDA has acted in a particularly heavy-handed manner which is inconsistent with other arbitration instances we've become aware of. We feel that we requested fair and reasonable time to make representations regarding our eligibility and that you have policy-deleted the domains without fair right of reply.

We can not locate anything in the document you've referenced indicating that our registration was in any way invalid. Can you please point us to the exact section you feel we have breached. Also please provide us with detailed information regarding what you feel we need to provide to remediate the issues.

It is our opinion that were the domain in question something like '' auDA's response would have been in no way as severe. We feel that auDA has acted politically due to the nature of our site.

We look forwards to your written reply.

Make of that what you will, but personally I find it potentially worrying. It's not unusual for the great and the good to have sense of humour failures. Nor is it unheard of for them to try and stifle opposition or criticism. But the fact is that this guy and his boss want to bring in legislation to give them much broad censorship powers while promising that legitimate dissent and criticism of the government will not be affected, and before the filter laws are even in place this happens. If that indicates the thinking and attitude of those behind the big push for censorship I'm not exactly optimistic.

Meanwhile the so called Clean Feed is coming under fire from a former High Court Judge who notes that this may be the thin end of a nasty wedge.
Former High Court judge Michael Kirby has criticised the Federal Government's internet censorship agenda, saying it could stop the "Berlin Walls of the future" from being knocked down.


In an interview with Fairfax Radio this morning, Kirby said some circles feared the controversial policy would be "the thin end of the wedge of the Government moving in to regulating the actual internet itself".

"Once you start doing that you get into the situation of Burma and Iran where the Government is taking control of what people hear and what information they get," he said, adding that Australia's approach hadn't been attempted anywhere else in the world.


Google has also entered the debate, saying yesterday the scope of the content to be filtered went too far beyond child pornography and that the "heavy handed" approach would restrict freedom of expression.

"Refused Classification (or RC) is a broad category of content that includes not just child sexual abuse material but also socially and politically controversial material - for example, educational content on safer drug use - as well as the grey realms of material instructing in any crime, including politically controversial crimes such as euthanasia," Google Australia's head of policy, Iarla Flynn, said.

"This type of content may be unpleasant and unpalatable but we believe that government should not have the right to block information which can inform debate of controversial issues."


"It was through 'public complaints mechanisms' like the one Conroy is proposing, that classic literature such as The Catcher in the Rye, Ulysses and The Story of the Kelly Gang were once banned in Australia," GetUp said.

Conversely, the Australian Christian Lobby has said it wants the filters broadened to cover all X- and R-rated content on the internet, with people having to opt-in to receive this material.

At this special time of year it seems only appropriate to say 'fucking god botherers'.


microdave said...

""Once you start doing that you get into the situation of Burma and Iran where the Government is taking control of what people hear and what information they get"

25 years ago I was a regular shortwave radio listener. Radio Australia was my favourite, and lead to me visiting the country twice. At that time the Russians and other Soviet Bloc countries used to jam Western transmissions. But thanks to the unpredictable nature of radio the truth usually got through.

It seems as if things are now heading the opposite way....

I don't think my Icom is going to be disposed of just yet!

Alex said...

Well, I was trying to show the domain name to some friends but saw that it was shut down. A simple google search pointed me to this site.

Upon reading your email correspondence it seems pretty clear that Conroy's team have been working hard in light of the SMH article. Talk about cowardess and knee-jerk reactions from the Conroy camp...pretty pathetic in my eyes.

Keep up the good work. You have obviously hit a nerve and the reaction from Conroy was exactly the kind of thing the majority of people would love to use as ammunition against his ridiculous censorship vendetta.

Angry Exile said...

Upon reading your email correspondence it seems pretty clear that Conroy's team have been working hard in light of the SMH article...

Keep up the good work. You have obviously hit a nerve...

Not my work, Alex. I'm just an ex-pat Pom who finds the way Australians are treated like kids by their own government pretty depressing and Conroy's (I suspect) religiously driven desires to censor everything he doesn't like an abuse of his position. I'm all up for supporting those responsible for and telling anyone who wanders over for a look at my blog about it and what looks like Conroy's attempts to censor that too, but the credit for what's on that site is all theirs.

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