What is claimed to be a copy of the Australian Communications and Media Authority’s (ACMA) secret blacklist of prohibited websites has been leaked on the whistle-blower website WikiLeaks.
I can confirm the list includes a range of legal websites, including that of a political group supporting euthanasia and a popular Australian owned adult website to name only two.
The list is currently only distributed to approved filter vendors, but if mandatory ISP level filtering is introduced as planned this would be the list of websites that all Australian’s would be restricted from viewing. In other words, the blacklist which cannot be opt out of.
ACMA’s annual reports and Senator Stephen Conroy’s answers to questions from Senator Scott Ludlam already confirmed that only around half of the sites on the list included content relating to child abuse material. This is the first time we’ve been able to identify the remaining legal content.
Electronic Frontiers Australia notes that a site containing poison information is present on the list, as well as many other harmless sites such as that of a tour operator.
EFA’s Vice-Chair Colin Jacobs says ‘Now that we have seen the list, it is clearly not the perfect weapon against child-abuse it has been made out to be.’
‘Many of the sites clearly contain only run-of-the-mill adult material, poker tips, or nothing controversial at all. Even if some of these sites may have been defaced at the time they were added to the list, how would the operators get their sites removed if the list is secret and no appeal is possible?’
However, Senator Stephen Conroy told SMH the leak and publication of the ACMA blacklist would be ‘grossly irresponsible’ and undermine efforts to improve cyber safety. Asher Moses at SMH writes:
He said ACMA was investigating the matter and considering a range of possible actions including referral to the Australian Federal Police. Australians involved in making the content available would be at “serious risk of criminal prosecution”.
Moses also notes:
The leaked list, understood to have been obtained from an internet filtering software maker, contains 2395 sites. ACMA said its blacklist, as at November last year, contained 1370 sites.
Assange [of WikiLeaks] said the disparity in the reported figure is most likely due to the fact that the list contains several duplicates and variations of the same URL that stem from a single complaint. Alternatively, some sites may have been added to the list by the filter software maker.
Latest related STotC coverage:
- Legal adult websites blacklisted: AbbyWinters and The Hun banned
- Amateur adult site xTube.com makes Aussie ban list
- Poker, betting websites hit by Australian blacklist
- Conroy says it’s not the ACMA blacklist