Wikileaks spills ACMA blacklist

Wikileaks spills ACMA blacklist

Summary: Whistle-blower web repository Wikileaks has published what appears to be the Australian Communications and Media Authority's blacklist of banned websites.


Whistle-blower web repository Wikileaks has published what appears to be the Australian Communications and Media Authority's blacklist of banned websites.

Many of the sites clearly contain only run-of-the-mill adult material, poker tips or nothing controversial at all.

EFA vice-chair Colin Jacobs

The anonymous posters have justified the release of the list as a protest against ACMA's threat to fine people $11,000 a day for linking to sites that have been included on its secret list.

Last week The Australian had reported that ACMA had issued an "interim link-deletion notice" to online telecommunications industry forum Whirlpool's host, Bulletproof Networks, after a member of the forum had posted a link which was on its blacklist. The notice gave Bulletproof Networks 24 hours to respond with a threat that non-compliance would result in hefty fines.

"While Wikileaks is used to exposing secret government censorship in developing countries, we now find Australia acting like a democratic backwater," the group states on the ACMA blacklist page that was posted on Wikileaks.

"This week saw Australia joining China and the United Arab Emirates as the only countries censoring Wikileaks. We were not notified by ACMA," the group wrote, referring to a claimed decision by the Federal Government to ban access to Wikileaks.

The list that has been posted contains 2,395 web pages derived from ACMA's list of banned URLs, which are used by government-endorsed filter makers, which are installed on a voluntary basis by parents.

The list, however, has also been planned as a key element of the government's mandatory ISP-filtering scheme, which would see all ISPs blocking attempts to access pages on the list if current trials are deemed successful.

While some arguments for the mandatory filtering scheme have been based on the premise that child sex offenders should be stopped from accessing child porn from within Australia, the group which posted the list on Wikileaks has argued such blacklists are "dangerous to 'above ground' activities such as political discourse, [but] they have little effect on the production of child pornography". They have also provided a link to an alleged insider's account on the subject of censorship and the crime.

Internet freedom group Electronic Frontiers Australia immediately hailed the leak as "a wake-up call for Australians concerned about secret censorship".

"The leaking of the list has confirmed some of our worst fears," said EFA vice-chair Colin Jacobs. "This was bound to happen, especially as mandatory filtering would require the list to be distributed to ISPs all around the country. The government is now in the unenviable business of compiling and distributing a list which includes salacious and illegal material and publicising those very sites to the world."

EFA said the list contained surprising additions such as YouTube videos, a MySpace profile, online poker parlours and a site containing poison information, as well as harmless sites such as that of a tour operator.

"Now that we have seen the list, it is clearly not the perfect weapon against child abuse it has been made out to be," said Jacobs. "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?"

Topics: Censorship, Government, Government AU

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Catch 22

    You can be fined $11,000 a day for linking to a web site that is on a list you are not allowed to see. According to the SMH, you can even get 10 years in the slammer for surfing to one of the web sites on this list you are not allowed to see.

    "ACMA said Australians caught distributing the list or accessing child pornography sites on the list could face criminal charges and up to 10 years in prison."

    So, how do you know they host child pornographY? Do they all have URLs like

    Can anyone think of a better definition for the word "stupid"?
  • At least...

    It takes 'ignorance of the law is no excuse' to a whole new level. If you are barred from knowing what you aren't allowed to do then how can you consciously obey the law?
  • Wikileaks edit?

    How do we know that wikileaks is really blacklisted, and this just wasn't an edit on the wikileaks page?
  • This is looking very bad for us Australians...

    For me, the last sentence of this article really spells out the trouble:

    "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?"

    This process is so clearly either not thought through (best case - which says really great things about our gov) or such a complete transgression of what we might commonly call 'democratic values' that it can't possibly be accepted by the Australian public...

    Can it?
  • Kafkaesque

    Somebody at ACMA must have read The Trial recently.
  • What Else to Ban?

    Guaranteed that bittorrent sites like pirate bay, ISO Hunt, mininova, etc…. will make the black list once it gets fully implemented. Gov always wants to play nice with big media.
  • All part of the plan

    Next step. To protect you from accessing the blacklisted sites the Gov'munt will require us all to access the Net through a single proxy server housed in a leaky basement in the bottom of the NSW police dept. It will require you to install a totally harmless piece of software "roodkcab.exe" so that you can ..... ummm.. be authenticated.
  • Wikileaks

    As of 2:00 on Thursday the Wikileaks site cannot be accessed. Has it been blocked for all Australians already?
  • They need to learn a lesson

    Given the number of people who submit tax returns over the Internet, what if the Tax Office IP address got on the blocked list just before tax time? The governement may discover that the inadvertent blocking of web sites can be more than just a mild inconvenience.
  • and Conroy is unrepentant

    No comment at all from Senator Censor about the perfectly legal sites on the list.

    Just a heads up, is a little busy right now.
  • Welcome to communist China, I mean Australia

    What the hell is happening to his country? There are over 100 government departments that "Freedom of Information" laws do not apply to.
    The Child Support Agency can sell everything a defaulting parents owns, throw the person (family and all) on the street and the Media is not allowed to report this occurring by law!
    The Anti-Terrorism laws mean anybody can be locked up without legal representation for 2 weeks, no calls, nothing. Their children can be interrogated and their friends as well. If the friends talk about it, they are locked up for 5 years!
    Now they want to secretly block sites with no right of appeal? God I hope someone hacks (with porn) the ALP sites and gets them blacklisted too!
  • How not to do it

    Hopefully this will show that this scheme is of no use at all and not effective.

    There are many better ways of censoring, and I hope they will be taken into consideration now.

    On a plus side many ISPs ended up with some very nice equipment courtesy of the Government and our tax money.
  • The ISPs had to buy the equipment themselves

    This why Telstra and other ISPs were not included in the trials, as they wanted the equipment for free.
    Obviously, we will pay for the equipment either way, through taxes or higher Internet Access plans.
    When people start changing their accounts down to 500meg (from say, 20gig) as they can only email and web surf, the ISPs will have to raise the charges on these tiny plans to cover costs.
    Therefore we will soon paying $60-$80 for a piddly 500meg plan.
    Australia is going to be a IT backwater due to these restrictions and have no reason to innovate with things like streaming TV, as the P2P technology these systems use, will be blocked.
  • Just sad..

    Its fast approaching the time for serious civil disobedience in this country. Aside from the never ending state based corruption and total loss of infrstructural services, they now want to control what we think, what we see and what information we access.

    Well stuff these christian fundamentalist control freaks. This is a declaration of war on the people of Australia by our politicians! Time for Australians to fight back before its too late.
  • 504 gateway timeout for wikileaks...

    Gateway Timeout

    The following error occurred:
    [code=GATEWAY_TIMEOUT] A gateway timeout occurred. The server is unreachable. Retry the request.
    Please contact the administrator
  • I couldn't agree more...

    The French government cares a lot more for what people think due their previous "revolution". We need something similar here to show the government who is actually their boss and BS promises just don't cut it anymore.

    Australians had better work fast if they are going to stop our dumb Senator from banning anything he or ACMA don't like.

    Wikileaks has been blocked!

    and Conroy hasn't even had the censorship laws passed by parliament!

    ...What next ?

    This government is as bad or worse than the last.



    Voltaire got it right way back in the 18th Century..

    "It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong" - Voltaire (1694- 1778)
  • wtf

    They have even censored the list of sites they're censoring. Only in Australia would the gov't self-parody so spectacularly.
  • All part of the plan

    Well if that is the best you can come up with, I guess they will use it.... lol
  • 504 gateway timeout for wikileaks...

    Quick, use a workaround! Connect via VPN! Better still P2P to the site...!
    Easy, anyone can do it.... Google it and get an anon proxy up and running....
    Hohoho, no-one will stop us from accessing any site we want...