[clug] Cleanfeed. Other Comsequences.

Paul Wayper paulway at mabula.net
Tue Oct 28 12:46:03 GMT 2008

Hash: SHA1

Craig Small wrote:
| On Tue, Oct 28, 2008 at 10:13:47AM +1100, Daniel Pittman wrote:
|> The problem is that you are assuming the "false positive" rate is
|> completely randomly distributed; in practice it means that a proportion
|> of sites are completely unavailable despite being innocent, so 3 percent
|> of *websites*, not three percent of *content of all websites*.
| It is unlikely that mainstream, such as the age or amazon, would get
| blocked. It really depends on where the list comes from.  That's the key
| with a lot of the filters, who decides what is in and what is out.

What about if it sells books on Euthanasia?  That's illegal in Australia, and
Stephen Conroy has said in questioning by aforementioned Scott Ludlam that the
filters would block such content.

I would also disagree with Daniel's assessment that the "false positive" rate
is only for certain sites (e.g. all of Facebook being blocked because one
article discusses assisted suicide).  The letter by Mark Newton (IIRC) said
that there was still a level of page requests failing when they should not
have been blocked, but whether that was because the filter software made a
'false positive' guess or whether it just adgered itself in serving the
request, we don't know.

| I know perfectly fine sites that are blocked by Trend Micro, for
| example, not because of any R or X rating, but because they consider
| them "dangerous" because they discuss some of the filters and filtering
| and are critical of them.

The real problem as I see it is that the whole thing is still very vague, and
Conroy is being very close-lipped about it.  When they say 'overblocking', was
the 3% level given based on requests, sites, or (e.g.) packets?  What types of
'illegal' pages are they filtering for?  What are the 'success' parameters for
the trial?  When does the decision get made?  Who gets to see the filter
lists?  Who controls the black boxes?  Is there going to be a phone number to
ring up the Government to complain about it or are they going to let the ISPs
cop the flack?

We're left making assumptions about how it works, what it's going to block,
and what control we the public will have over it.  For Senator Conroy to then
turn around and make accusations about people asking questions - people
speculating about it are accused of making "wild and excessive" guesses,
people questioning what will be blocked are accused of "supporting child
pornography" - makes me very suspicious.  The important thing, as always, is
to not give in to speculating about the details we don't know because Conroy
has shown he's more than willing to sideline that opinion as 'not having the
true facts'.

One view that I've read (in
is that Senator Conroy is actually surreptitiously trying to dump the whole
thing in the bin.  He hasn't said it's a success or that it's going ahead,
just that the trials are complete and he "welcomed" and "was encouraged" by
the report.  The Australian reported it a success, so you can guess whose side
they're on.  Given that the Labor party has had to pander to Family First's
Senator Steve Fielding and Independent Nick Xenophon, the Labor party might be
preparing to dump it in preparation for getting the Greens on-side.

Personally I think that's pretty charitable, especially as Senator Conroy is
not only defending the process in public but privately attacking anyone
notable (like Mark Newton) who speaks out about it.  This is not the actions
of a person who wants to see the proposal swept under the carpet.

Still, one can hope that Stilgherrian is right...

Have fun,

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