Great Aussie firewall claims first victim
Forum threatened with fine for link to banned site
By John Oates
Posted in Government, 17th March 2009 09:30 GMT
The great Australian Firewall might be struggling to make political progress, but regulators are already using its blacklist to threaten local websites with fines.
Broadband discussion forum Whirlpool was threatened with an A$11,000 ( £5,148) a day fine by the Australian Communications and Media Authority because a commenter posted a link to an anti-abortion website which appeared on the regulator’s list of websites banned in Australia.
The takedown notice was sent to Whirlpool’s hosting service Bulletproof Networks. Bulletproof contacted Whirlpool which agreed to remove the web link.
But the story gets murkier – ACMA added the website to its secret blacklist after receiving a complaint about one page on the site from someone in Melbourne with the user name Foad.
Foad’s intention was to highlight the stupidity of the blacklist idea by getting a site which had nothing to do with child sexual abuse added to the list. Foad succeeded.
The blacklist is meant to be a well-guarded secret but complainants are free to make public the result of their complaints. So the URL which Foad complained about was published in forums to highlight the lunacy of ACMA’s actions.