Banned hyperlinks could cost you $11,000 a day – Technology –

The Sydney Morning Herald reported, concerning Stephen Conroy’s really dumb Internet censorship scheme concerning linking your website or blog to a banned site, in Banned hyperlinks could cost you $11,000 a day – Technology – that, well, as the headline said, link to a banned site and you could cope cop an $11,000 fine.

This whole Internet censorship things reeks of a politician pushing some public servants to do something that most of them do not want to do, and that the politician himself seems not to understand anyway. The usual counter-arguments of “well, if you are against Internet censorship of some sites, you are promoting child pornography” just don’t wash at all.

Leaving aside technical issues, there are simple matters of procedure to work out. For example, if I link to a banned site, I’m fined $11,000. What happens, though, if I link to a site that is not banned, but that in itself links to a banned site? How many degrees of separation will we consider here before we stop persecuting people.

At the end of the day, I have to ask as well, if the prime reason for this is the protection of children and the prevention of the exploitation of them on websites, surely this censorship is not going to work. I would imagine now that most child pornographers would be using secure and encrypted connections with no way of determining what they are hooked up to – or are we going to ban encrypted connections as well?

I find the exploitation of children, especially the sexual exploitation of them, abhorrent and something that should be removed from society quickly and efficiently. I have travelled the world and I have seen children held for sexual exploitation and even now it brings tears to my eyes.

But I do not believe attempting to censor the Internet is going to make one iota of difference to this problem. I fear that politicians may in the future attempt to use these powers to prevent the free passage of information for their own nefarious ends.

If Stephen Conroy wants to do something to protect the children of Australia (and surely they need protection from ‘net predators and exposure to inappropriate material), then rather than censoring the Internet, better to teach the children and their parents how to recognise this stuff and deal with it inside the family. That has the effect of protecting the children at the same time as giving them a very valuable life skill.

Wake up Mr Conroy ((I wonder if I’ll end up on a banned list for having the gall to criticise Stephen Conroy?)) and deal with the real problem properly.

Censorship in Dubai (United Arab Emirates)

Back in November last year I wrote about censorship in Saudi Arabia. Well, today I am sitting in the very modern and very commercial city of Dubai – in the airport to be exact. I picked up a new PC in Bangkok last week – yes, a new Widget but more about that in a later post.

Whilst sitting here and enjoying a coffee and a 10 hour lay-over, I went about configuring software for Widget-Major. I had just installed the Gimp so that I can make myself look younger and prettier (OK, so I can’t be any more pretty) and had just installed Skype and was about to check the IE addon Skype Settings and such from Skype when the following message was returned to me on a page noting that it was a blocked site:

We apologize the site you are attempting to visit has been blocked due to its content being inconsistent with the religious, cultural, political and moral values of the United Arab Emirates.

This was posted by Etisalat, the only mobile phone network service provider in town
and the ISP I am using at the moment for the Internet connection. Interestingly, Skype is not banned in Saudi Arabia for religious, cultural, political or moral values but then again, in Saudi Arabia, a more strict environment, they at least have competition in the telecommunications industry.

So Etisalat, don’t lie on your web pages and try an blame someone else. Be honest and say:

We apologize the site you are attempting to visit has been blocked due to its content being inconsistent with the commercial aims of our organisation as a monopolistic provider of services within the United Arab Emirates and our fear that to allow you access to this site will result in us making less filthy lucre than we already do.

At least this way, Etisalat, you will earn some respect for honesty.

Myth or Busted?

Front Cover of The Next Bite Gar published an entry on Lost Nomad entitled Myth or Busted? You Decide…

I was going to comment directly there but when I click on the “0 comments” link no comment form opens so, I’ll comment here in Thomo’s Hole.

The gist of the article is that this guy is reeling in a 10 lb (4.5 kg) fish when a bigger fish comes along and nabs it – so he reels in the bigger fish (it weighed 44 lbs or 20 kgs). This means the total landed weight of both fish is around 25 kgs (54 lbs).

Now, if Gar had put this up yesterday then I would not have bothered checking … unless Gar is currently in the States of course. 🙂

However, checking as best I can my trusty Myth Determiner, Snopes, I note that there is a piece about this in Snopes. Unfortunately, I cannot check further as the Saudi Arabian censors have censored the Snopes site and I can’t be arsed at the moment spending the time to find a proxy server that the censors have not found yet. However, click the link here for the Snopes message board for some details.

You can also have a look at The Next Bite – a fishing magazine – where the issue illustrated here has the same fisherman and fish on its front cover.

Make up your own minds folks … but someone let me know what Snopes said (Thomo grumbles to himself about Saudi Arabian censors). 😦

Saudi Censors

OK – I posted an entry to the blog here called A Test Post – Can I Post a Picture and posted it. I included a picture of two models of the Russian warship Poltava. It appears as though the post went through correctly and the upload of the picture worked as the link to the picture is, whenever I click on what should be the image in the post I get a wonderful message from the Saudi Arabian Censors saying (in Arabic as well as English):

Access to the requested URL is not allowed!

Please, fill out the form below if you believe the requested page should not be blocked:

Form for URL unblocking request

Please, send other sites you feel should be blocked using the following form:

Blocking Request Form

Of course, I could list any sites that annoyed me and I am sure they would be blocked without checking.I am not certain that I want to try the unblocking request yet – perhaps when it is closer to my time to leave.

Of course, I could list any sites that annoyed me and I am sure they would be blocked without checking.I am not certain that I want to try the unblocking request yet – perhaps when it is closer to my time to leave.More importantly, the Censors are blocking pictures posted to Blogger beta here … but permitting access to pictures elsewhere, on other blogs hosted by other organisations. Seems that Google’s influence in the Kingdom here is not as great as other American Organisations.