Get Down and Wikirap!

Couldn’t resist borrowing this O’Really factor from the esteemed Antony Loewenstein blog. Watch it all for best effect.

2010-12-04: NSW Supreme Court solicitor: Letter to Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard

by Peter Kemp, Solicitor of the Supreme Court of NSW, on 2010-12-04

Dear Prime Minister
From the Sydney Morning Herald I note you made a comment of “illegal” on the matter of Mr Assange in relation to the ongoing leaks of US diplomatic cables.

Previously your colleague and Attorney General the Honourable McClelland announced an investigation of possible criminality by Mr Assange.

As a lawyer and citizen I find this most disturbing, particularly so when a brief perusal of the Commonwealth Criminal Code shows that liability arises under the Espionage provisions, for example, only when it is the Commonwealth’s “secrets” that are disclosed and that there must be intent to damage the Commonwealth.

Likewise under Treason law, there must be an intent to assist an enemy. Clearly, and reinforced by publicly available material such as Professor Saul’s excellent article:

Julian Assange has almost certainly committed no crime under Australian law in relation to his involvement in Wikileaks.

…. More

Contact the Australian Prime Minister here: and let her know what you think.

Some Links for Today

Debunked: “Julian Assange is a Traitor (U.S.)”
WikiLeaks cables show surrender is only option offered to Taliban blocked, but mirror sites proliferating
The Wikileaks Manifesto, by Julian Assange
WikiLeaks’ Assange to fight any extradition: lawyer
The Ottoman Empire, 1798-1923
Are You Targeted?
The price of the Treasury’s Policy – how Netanyahu’s fiscal cuts slashed into the Israeli firefighting budget
Ali Abunimah and Ilan Pappe at the Palestine Solidarity Conference in Stuttgart, Nov 27 2010
WikiLeaks cables: Conservatives promised to run ‘pro-American regime’ Leaked dispatch reveals how US diplomats are amused by Britain’s ‘paranoid’ fears about so-called special relationship
No job if you link to WikiLeaks, warns Columbia
Universities Warn Students: Reading/Discussing Wikileaks Could Cost You a Future Government Job
WikiLeaks on the run
Wikileaks on Facebook
Saving Ergenekon through WikiLeaks
Is the Crackdown on Wikileaks and Threats of Julian Assange’s Arrest Exactly What He Was Planning?
Global Gaza, Global Ummah
The Shameful Attacks on Julian Assange
Wikileaks hounded? – Reporters Without Borders
Burden of Proof – for those who need an obvious tool to deal with the all-pervasive conspiracy theorists.
Nepali Maoists on Wikileaks: American “Press Freedom” is Illusion
Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg calls for boycott of
International campaign targets WikiLeaks web site
Wikileaks: Numerous Reasons to Dismiss US Claims that “Ghost Prisoner” Aafia Siddiqui Was Not Held in Bagram
Is WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange a Hero? Glenn Greenwald Debates Steven Aftergood of Secrecy News
Alliance Online says attacks on Assange & Manning point to ‘dangerous atmosphere of intolerance & persecution’
Personal message from Julian Assange
Julian Assange under investigation by police in Australia
Evading a shutdown, WikiLeaks mobilizes Twitter supporters
Jeremy Scahill: WikiLeaks Cables Confirm Secret U.S. War Ops in Pakistan
IFJ Condemns United States “Desperate and Dangerous” Backlash over WikiLeaks
Shame on Australia: Australia Should be Behind Wikileaks Founder
Australia shows true colours over Wikileaks (and the look is bad)

A Question to Julian Assange on the Guardian

Any chance you can clarify your remarks about Netanyahu’s consistency between public and private utterances? is consistent lying in public and private to be applauded? Are you aware that ‘peace’ for Israel is code for ‘stalling while we steal more Palestinian land’?

Hoping there’s cable which comes to light illustrating that Barak communicated his (documented) private intention for the Gaza massacre to the US even before he entered with malice aforethought into the duplicitous truce with Hamas.

Julian answers other questions

Day 2 – Facebook Privacy and Responsibility

Inside Story features social media doyen and writer, Jillian C York who offers sensible analysis of the ramifications of Facebook’s recent privacy changes. Is the age of privacy, as Mark Zuckerberg Facebook creator says, over? The procedure to protect one’s privacy has become far more obtuse since the recent changes.

Coincidentally, Facebook is coming under scrutiny for leaking its users’ information to third parties without their consent. Some of the beneficiaries don’t even know they had or could use the data – loose hooks are trolling for bites.

Conroy screwed as Xenophon sees the light

In the SMH, Asher Moses reports that Opposition Senator Minchin has obtained legal advice that the conservative Labor government will almost certainly have to pass legislation to enable net censorship filters to be installed at ISP level.

With Senator Xenophon changing sides on the issue, net censorship legislation would be comfortably blocked in the Senate.

Senator Nick Xenophon previously indicated he may support a filter that blocks online gambling websites but in a phone interview today he withdrew all support, saying “the more evidence that’s come out, the more questions there are on this”.

Xenophon said instead of implementing a blanket mandatory censorship regime the Government should instead put the money towards educating parents on how to supervise their kids online and tackling “pedophiles through cracking open those peer-to-peer groups”.

Technical experts have said the filters proposed by the Government would do nothing to block child porn being transferred on encrypted peer-to-peer networks.

“I’m very skeptical that the Government is going down the best path on this,” said Xenophon.

“I commend their intentions but I think the implementation of this could almost be counter-productive and I think the money could be better spent.”

Of course, Rudd, Conroy and Co. might produce some juicy carrot to entice Xenophon back into the faith-based net totalitarian camp. Yet with recent polls showing immense public disagreement with the government’s censorship proposals along with overwhelming criticism from technical experts, the prudish Pixie mob will face an uphill battle to implement their ludicrous, unworkable filters.

This week, a national telephone poll of 1100 people, conducted by Galaxy and commissioned by online activist group GetUp, found that only 5 per cent of Australians want ISPs to be responsible for protecting children online and only 4 per cent want Government to have this responsibility.

A recent survey by Netspace of 10,000 of the ISP’s customers found 61 per cent strongly opposed mandatory internet filtering with only 6.3 per cent strongly agreeing with the policy.

Conroy’s Stupid Filter Trials – You Gotta Laugh

Once a jolly swagman plugged into the internets,
Under the shade of a coolibah tree,
And he sang as he watched and waited as he torrented
“Don’t go deploying your filters on me”.

“Deploying your filters, deploying your filters
Don’t go deploying your filters on me”
And he sang as he watched and waited as he torrented,
“Don’t go deploying your filters on me”.

Down came the content speeding through the internets,
Up jumped the swagman and viewed it with glee,
And he sang as he shoved that content on his backup disk,
“You’ll be a-wasting your filters on me”.

“Wasting your filters, wasting your filters
Don’t go a-wasting your filters on me”
And he sang as he shoved that content on his backup disk,
“Don’t go a-wasting your filters on me”.

Up rode the Conroy, mounted on his ISP,
Down came the troopers, one, two, three,
“Where’s that jolly content you downloaded so illicitly?
You’ve been evading the filters from me.”

“Evading the filters, evading the filters
You’ve been evading the filters from me.”
“Where’s that jolly content you downloaded so illicitly?
You’ve been evading the filters from me.”

Up jumped the swagman and handed them his backup disk,
“You’ll never crack my encryption”, said he,
And his packets are tunneled and proxied through the internets,
“You’ll never get your bloody filters on me”.

“Your bloody filters, your bloody filters
You’ll never get your bloody filters on me”.
And his packets are tunneled and proxied through the internets,
“You’ll never get your bloody filters on me”.

from mudshark on Slashdot.

The Financial Cost of Internet Censorship

The positive economic benefits of next generation broadband could be as high as $90b. However, the conservative Labor Party proposed filters could sabotage these gains significantly.

Duncan Riley provides an excellent appraisal of what the costs might be if Conroy’s net censorship schemes are implemented.

The first test paper released by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) found that under trial conditions (so not a full black list), filtering reduced speeds between 2% and “in excess of” 75%, with three of the 6 products tested coming in at between 20-30%. Since that report it has been suggested that the filters with the lowest success rate are the quickest, so a proper implementation of a censorship regime would likely, at best cause a 20% drop in internet speeds, but likely significantly higher again.

Direct cost

Australian ISP’s have already stated that they are likely to pass on the cost of filtering data directly to users (ref). Further, a broad scale filter proposed by the Government may also drive up related costs, such as data center staff needed to deal with an increase in customer complaints when they can’t access sites.(ref).

No hard figure has been proposed by the industry, but even a small increase in internet charges would create a negative impact on the Australian economy.

At the end of June 2008, there were 7.23 million internet subscribers in Australia (ABS). An increase in costs of only $10 per month would immediately cost Australian internet users $867.6 million a year in additional direct costs. A $25 increase in internet access would result in an additional $2.169 billion in direct costs.

Indirect costs

Australia already has some of the slowest internet speeds in the developed world. A 2008 study (link) found that average internet speeds in Australia was 1.7 mbps, up from 1 mpbs in 2006, when Australia was ranked 26th out of 27 developed countries (ref).

The amount of the indirect cost will depend very much on the amount speeds drop. A 75% cut would bring the average speed down to 425kbps, where as a 25% cut to 1.275mpbs.

The cuts in speed would punish small businesses and the less well off more deeply than large businesses and those who can already afford high speed access. The June 2008 figures from the ABS found that only 43% of Australians have speeds higher that 1.5mpbs, and 21.7% of “broadband” subscribers only have speeds between 256kbps and 512kbps. A 75% cut on a 256kbps account would result in a 64kbps connection, basically dialup.

Remarkably, some 2 million Australians are still using dialup, with a maximum speed of 56kbps.

Slower speeds mean quite simply that it takes longer to do business, and that has a negative effect on productivity.

South Australian Liberal Senator, Cory Bernardi, adds more weight to the argument against internet filtering.

I identify myself as a social and fiscal conservative and most people who know me would agree with that assessment. As such, one could reasonably expect me to support ISP filtering as a means of ensuring inappropriate content remains unavailable via the internet.

Yet I have grave reservations about the Labor Party proposal on mandatory ISP filtering which is described as a ‘clean feed’ – words that just sugar-coat compulsory censorship of whatever the government deems you are not allowed to see.

While I strongly believe that anything we can do to prevent access to illegal material is a lawful and moral obligation, there is a world of difference between illegal and inappropriate. The latter being a personal assessment in which I also recognise that my own standards and beliefs are not shared by all in our community.

Further, the nature of the internet means that we can’t really classify content for availability only at a certain time or for certain ages like we can with television, movies or some printed content. This is a concern where young people may be exposed to inappropriate content inadvertently.

There are also broader philosophical reservations about allowing government to be the ultimate judge of what people should and should not have access to. I believe in small government – not big brother where personal responsibility is subservient to the State.

There are already many PC-based filters available that will prevent access to ‘blacklisted’ sites and allow PC end users to tailor the filters to meet the particular requirements of their households. Critics of these filters claim that they are easily disabled, but as I wrote earlier, prohibited material will always be available to those willing to break the rules.

Among the many advocates for ISP filtering that I have spoken with, including Minister Stephen Conroy, no one has been able to explain to me exactly how it will work and what content will (or should be) filtered.

In some cases, advocates believe content bans should be extended to all nudity and even stories featuring consensual relations between adults. (I had to describe it like that because the word ‘sex’ might prevent you from being able to access this page!)

It has been suggested that there should be a rating system for internet content similar to how ACMA rates media content.

When I have asked how this could work, no one that I have spoken to has any clear idea, yet they all maintain that ‘it needs to be done’.

That may be so, but at what cost?

There is no stronger supporter of families than myself. My political life is a commitment to strengthening families and changing our nation through the development of our children. However, I also believe that in most circumstances, families know better than government what is best for their children.

Parental responsibility cannot and should not be abrogated to government – if it is, our society will only become weaker.

Yes, illegal content should be banned from the web. It is illegal after all, but it is wrong to give the government a blank cheque to determine what is appropriate for us to view on the internet. That is a job for families, working with government.