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  • News, Telecommunications - Written by on Monday, March 12, 2012 12:08 - 56 Comments

    Interpol filter causes sharp drop in offensive requests

    news The implementation of a limited Internet filter at Telstra has caused a dramatic and rapid drop in the numbers of attempts by the telco’s customers to access child abuse materials online, statistics released by the Australian Federal Police have shown.

    In July last year, the telco, along with Optus and one other smaller ISP, CyberOne, implemented a filtering system which blocks their customers from accessing a list of sites which contain “worst of the worst” child pornography, as defined by international policing agency Interpol. Developed as a collaboration between the telcos, the Internet Industry Association and the Australian Federal Police, the project was seen as a more limited industry response to rival the Federal Government’s controversial mandatory Internet filtering scheme, which covers a much wider range of content.

    It has previously been reported (in October last year) that Telstra had, in the period from 1 July, when the filter was implemented, until 15 October last year, blocked 84,000 attempts to access sites on the blacklist. However, what has not yet been reported is that those requests were not made uniformly over that period.

    Information released under Freedom of Information laws late last year show that in fact, as time went on, less and less requests were made to access child abuse material on the list — presumably, as Telstra customers attempting to access the offensive material became aware that the telco had implemented a filtering system to block the requests.

    For the first five weeks it operated, from 1 July through to 7 August last year, Telstra’s filter blocked a total of 52,013 requests to access child abuse materials online, with 10,402 average requestsper week. Average requests per day were 1,405, with the highest day recorded seeing 2,443 requests blocked and the lowest seeing 915 blocked.

    However, over the succeeding weeks through to mid-October last year, fewer and fewer requests were made. In the week commencing 13 August, 8,649 requests were made, but by September the figure was down to between 1,193 and 3,452 requests per week, and in the week beginning 15 October, just 989 requests were made — which had previously been close to the lowest requests received in one day, in the filter’s first month of operation.

    In the period from mid-September to mid-October, the lowest day saw just 99 requests made by Telstra customers to access the blocked material. To access the complete statistics contained in the document released under FoI, click the image to the right.

    Data is not yet available for the period following October, and Telstra is the only ISP so far to have been tracking the filter requests being made — with neither Optus or CyberOne having released any statistics about how many of their customers are trying to access the offensive material.

    The documents released by the AFP form part of a briefing package which Neil Gaughan, the national manager of the Australian Federal Police’s High-Tech Crime Operations Centre, used at a Senate Estimates hearing in October to answer questions from Senators regarding the Interpol filtering scheme, which is voluntary for ISPs to participate in, but not voluntary for their customers.

    In the briefing document, one talking point to be used by Gaughan referred to the statistics for the first five weeks of the filter’s operation. “The statistics generated by the Telstra network for the first five weeks of operation are notable,” the document states, “and support the need for and desirability to continue the trial.”

    In the Senate Estimates session, Gaughan did reveal the headline statistics that 84,000 requests for offensive material had been blocked by Telstra in the period. However, he did not reveal the additional granularity around the fact that the requests by Telstra customers decreased markedly following the first month of the filter implementation.

    opinion/analysis
    Firstly, let me apologise as a journalist for not releasing this information earlier. It was part of a FoI pack of briefing documents which I received from the Australian Federal Police late last year. At the time, I chose to focus on other aspects of the documents, and the release of this statistical information went onto the backburner early in 2012 as the filter debate died down.

    In the past few weeks, however, the filter debate has ramped up dramatically again, with Communications Minister Stephen Conroy making a number of statements (some of them misleading) about the Government’s mandatory ISP program and the voluntary ISP program. In addition, Gaughan himself has been back in the press discussing the issue publicly.

    The “84,000″ figure is being bandied around constantly at the moment, and what I wanted to accomplish with this article was to demonstrate that it’s the wrong figure to be using. The situation with regard to blocking of child abuse materials online is a great deal more nuanced than the current debate would have us believe.

    Personally, I’m not sure what it means that less and less Telstra customers are seeking to access child abuse materials online, following the implementation of the filter. On the one hand, it could mean that they have simply started seeking to access those materials through other, commonly cited means — such as through peer to peer technologies or private forums — after they were blocked via the web and saw Interpol’s warning page. On the other hand, it could also mean that these individuals could have stopped trying to access these kinds of materials at all — which would be a great outcome if true.

    What I do think the release of this information demonstrates is that the AFP is not being as open and transparent with respect to this important issue as it could be. Gaughan could have provided this detail at the Senate Estimates hearing in October, but chose instead to focus on the ‘headline’ figure of 84,000 attempts to access offensive materials.

    Telstra, also, could have provided this information in the public domain to help fuel an open and honest debate about its voluntary filtering scheme. And, of course, Optus and CyberOne could be providing similar statistics, but are choosing not to.

    It is universally agreed in Australia that child abuse materials are offensive, and most people agree that people should be prevented somehow from accessing such content, whether that be through an Internet blacklist or simply stopping the material at the source. That’s not the issue. The issue is how we do so, and as I have previously written, if Australia is to agree to block such material, it needs to do so in a transparent and open fashion — subject to civilian oversight — so that the nation can be confident that associated filtering schemes are not themselves abused. Let’s have an open and honest debate about this one, people — in the open air of democracy.

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    56 Comments

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    1. Cameron Watt
      Posted 12/03/2012 at 12:27 pm | Permalink |

      Here’s a thought, maybe there were some people running automated probes of the censorship system?

      Do you have any information of the number of unique sources of the requests?

      • Ron
        Posted 12/03/2012 at 12:33 pm | Permalink |

        That was my first thought too: can they distinguish between bots and individual ‘real’ people?

        • Posted 12/03/2012 at 12:57 pm | Permalink |

          “That was my first thought too: can they distinguish between bots and individual ‘real’ people?”

          I’m not sure; it would help if Telstra would talk about it.

          Renai

      • Posted 12/03/2012 at 12:53 pm | Permalink |

        It could even be search engines crawling the web and then excluding links because they get redirected to the block page.

        Without context the numbers mean nothing.

        I like this quote from Brownbear over on Whirlpool

        ‘Finally one word of advice for our Federal Police. Try being open and honest with the people of Australia. You will find that they actually will support you and help you if they trust you.’

        • Posted 12/03/2012 at 1:34 pm | Permalink |

          “Without context the numbers mean nothing.”

          +1

          • Josh
            Posted 12/03/2012 at 8:03 pm | Permalink |

            +2

            I would also guess that this is such a small portion of total DNS traffic for telstra even if you did have access to any and all possible statistics on telstra DNS context would be exceedingly difficult if not impossible. I would think Telstra DNS servers must handle millions of requests a day, is less than 2500 requests a day even getting towards what would be considered statistically significant? (it’s too long since I did statistics at uni now.)

      • Posted 12/03/2012 at 12:55 pm | Permalink |

        “Do you have any information of the number of unique sources of the requests?”

        No, unfortunately, I don’t.

      • Freddy
        Posted 12/03/2012 at 2:54 pm | Permalink |

        I’d say so, there was talk of people going to do this and I’d say some did do it. Guessing they started with leaked ACMA list and others from around the world.

        Everyone must note that this is a DNS filter, as the InterPol list is a domain based filter.

        Also it needs to be noted that even if only a (small) number of hacked pages on a site contain CP material the whole domain is blocked, so any number of that 84,000 figure could be people trying to access completely legal URLs. What if one is a domain set up for content management and URL pages on the company’s main domain access the CMS doamin, that is 2 different domain names for one site, then one URL access could result in 100′s of hits on the content management domain. Maybe then the 84,000 is really 840 accesses for legit material.

        Search engine bots stop following links to inactive (blocked) domains after a period of time. And it would seem that it is 4 weeks from the stats provided in the article.

        It is possible that the whole 84,000 hits were for legit material and none for illegal material. 84,000 hits is mighty small in the age of dynamic content. All those .css, .js, .jpg, .png files being accessed from one URL request. Whole domains being blocked even if only a portion of domain hacked with illegal material (school cafeteria, dentist on ACMA list for instance).

        And to top it off all that needs to be done is change the DNS server to an o/s one and the filter is ignored by the user. (ie bypassed)

    2. @Matt_Phipps
      Posted 12/03/2012 at 12:30 pm | Permalink |

      With these figures available I expect the Conroy to be jumping up and down yelling ‘filtering works’. Waiting for the opportune moment perhaps?

    3. Emmisfor
      Posted 12/03/2012 at 12:45 pm | Permalink |

      Cameron, there are over 200 billion URLs on the Net, how is this auto-prober finding them?

      That’s like replicating what Google has done…

      Crikey mate, do you think it is Google doing the probing? That would be a hit! They would need about 4-5 years to get them I guess, and pick out the evil pages from all the other denied or unavailable pages.

      Interesting theory.

      Perhaps it is just whackos trying to access the pages they know of, and getting denied, and not going back again?

      Nah, the 200 billion webpage search and probe is far more probable.

      • Cameron Watt
        Posted 12/03/2012 at 1:11 pm | Permalink |

        I assume you are aware that various blacklists from around the world have leaked previously, and one UK researcher has proposed a number of methods for reverse engineering blacklists right?

        Also not sure what the 200 billion URLs has to do with anything (btw, there are well over 1 trillion unique URLs not 200 million) , the censorship system works at the DNS level.

        All of a sudden the problem of reverse engineering, or at least probing, the censorship systems looks a lot more manageable.

        Why would anyone do that? Imagine a non-transparent government sponsored/mandated communications monitoring system… what could the general public possibly have an interest in that for?

        • M.
          Posted 13/03/2012 at 3:36 pm | Permalink |

          The researcher is Richard Clayton, his blacklist reverse engineering scanner does not completely connect to the website (TCP packets with low TTL, if they are ACKed then the responding machine ie. the blacklist proxy must be on a nearer network like your ISP than the website) allowing massive performance gains compared to something like google:

          “Experiments showed that scans could be conducted at rates of up to 98 addresses per second using a simple dial-up connection. With this level of performance (and a broadband user could scan far faster) it would take 500 days to examine the entire 2 address space – or, more realistically, 160 days to scan the 32% of the address space currently routable.

          To scan just Russian IP addresses (and the IWF claim that 25% of all the websites they know of are located in Russia) then this is approximately 8.3 million addresses, which would take just under 24 hours.”

    4. Gav
      Posted 12/03/2012 at 1:00 pm | Permalink |

      If the filter started blocking URLs that people were trying to access, isn’t it clear that they would give up after a few attempts when they see the big ‘this page is blocked’ notice? I doubt the data can say that there were fewer attempts to access such material; rather, people went to other sources. It would be exactly the same as when a torrent search engine gets taken down.

      The good side of the filter is that it stops people stumbling across these URLs, but just blocking URLs won’t stop the distribution of this material via the Internet. If the government thinks this is the case then they’re foolishly wasting our money. As always, money should be targeted at the source of the problem. Those who produce the material in the first place should of course receive the harshest punishment, but those attempting to access the material should at least be offered ‘treatment’… whatever that means.

      • rendall
        Posted 12/03/2012 at 1:26 pm | Permalink |

        But the ISPs have implemented this at their own cost (not expensive as I understand) as has been the case in most other civilised western countries where ISP level filtering of this sort of material has been introduced.

        Agree though that this should be part of a package of things (including treamtemt) to deal with the problem that there will always be people who want to access this sort of material.

      • Freddy
        Posted 12/03/2012 at 2:40 pm | Permalink |

        Its not a URL filter, but rather a DNS filter.

        The whole site (every URL on that site) is filtered for every entry on the InterPol list.

        Search engines use links to search the net for their search engines. Once a blocked Domain is found then the bot ignores any link for that domain. Thus after the 1st 4 weeks the search engine bots have ignored any links to those domains. Thus a massive drop off after 4 weeks (maybe their time period to say it is now useless to access those domains) and the bots occasionally “test” the domains for the domain being made live again. Obviously this only applies for the australian bots for the australian version of say Google.

    5. Woolfe
      Posted 12/03/2012 at 1:40 pm | Permalink |

      I would love to see someone do a proper analysis of this. I reckon a portion of the drop would be people routing around the blockage, as they discovered the problem. I would guess the sort of groups involved in this sort of activity would be somewhat trusting of each other, so any bypass solutions would spread pretty quick.

    6. nicoli
      Posted 12/03/2012 at 1:41 pm | Permalink |

      wait, what?

      Why are they blocking access to websites full of child porn? While websites hosting perfectly legal torrent files get their domain names taken, servers confiscated and the admins put all over the news.

      Why aren’t people constantly raising the question as to why we are spending money on restricting access to child porn, instead of taking it off the web?

      My bizarre radar is tingling…. What else are these guys logging?

      • Freddy
        Posted 12/03/2012 at 3:04 pm | Permalink |

        money. By blocking they can ask for more staff and funding in addition to the current budget for tracking down the crims.

        InterPol want to be relevant and this is one initiative that success in that.

        I agree “don’t block but arrest the crims”. This material (interpol’s list, not conroy’s) is now illegal world wide and police will arrest the crims. The hosting companies will remove the material within a day of being notified of it being there, as one german researcher determined. So why block, just contact the hosting companies and get it removed and get the details of those owning the site and those IP address that uploaded material to those sites. Problem solved the material is gone before the list can even be given to the ISPs for blocking.

      • Sean
        Posted 12/03/2012 at 11:11 pm | Permalink |

        The difference between people targetting child porn vs copyright infringers: different people targetting the infringers.

        For child pornography, it’s the police. For copyright infringement, it’s (say) the entertainment industry representative bodies. These have differences in
        * Resources (money, people) and resourcing ability
        * Political power (ability to lobby politicians)
        * Processes/requirements of proof (e.g., police need higher standards of proof for criminal investigations, more interactions with courts before they can do anything)
        * What they can/do say in public – both in terms of amount, and how accurate/biased it is (e.g., copywrite infringement is making the musicians lose hundreds of gazillions of dollars. Look!)

        • nicoli
          Posted 13/03/2012 at 10:05 am | Permalink |

          So essentially what your saying is because the entertainment industry has more money, they can force the police to arrest people more efficiently according to the entertainment industries needs.

          You don’t see anything wrong with this system?

    7. rene
      Posted 12/03/2012 at 2:38 pm | Permalink |

      Let’s not forget that the Interpol list contains/blocks entire domains (web sites) not URLs of a web page or image, and that the Interpol site states that a domain will be added to the block list when there is only one “worst of” page or image on the domain. This means that the “hit” numbers that Telstra reports could be people attempting to access entirely innocuous material on a domain that is blocked because e.g. a web page on it has been hacked (remember the dentist, the school canteen and the “Russian mob”).

      Hence, it’s not inconceivable that in July/August last year, some, possibly many, Telstra customers were trying to access legal material on one or more blocked domains and subsequently the illegal material was deleted from those domains and the domains removed from the block list.

      I also note that while the “hit” numbers were decreasing until early September, then they jumped up again, although not to the July/Aug height. Perhaps at that time more domain/s containing innocuous material were added.

      As others have said, the stats are meaningless without context and detail. The above is just one more feasible explanation for the variances.

    8. Bob.H
      Posted 12/03/2012 at 5:09 pm | Permalink |

      “if Australia is to agree to block such material, it needs to do so in a transparent and open fashion — subject to civilian oversight — so that the nation can be confident that associated filtering schemes are not themselves abused. Let’s have an open and honest debate about this one, people — in the open air of democracy.”

      The problem I have with this whole debate so far is that there has been no honesty or openness from those proposing the filtering.

      The voluntary Interpol filter has so far been supported by the set of figures quoted here which to be kind are really meaningless.

      Now isn’t it time to start getting answers to the basic questions about this Interpol filter?

      Why was the voluntary Interpol filter introduced by only three of our ISPs?

      Why have the Federal Police only issued requests to filter to those three ISPs and not to all of them?

      How many real requests to access blocked domains have been made by real human beings?

      How many children have been prevented from suffering abuse by this filter?

      How much has it cost the ISPs and the Federal Police to implement this filter?

      When did this stop gap filter that was supposedly only to be used until the mandatory filter was introduced become a “trial”?

      Why aren’t the majority of ISPs prepared to participate in the voluntary filtering scheme?

      Yes we need more open and honest debate but until the implementers and proponents of the filtering schemes start answering the real questions that are being asked there is little hope of such a debate occurring.

    9. Glenn
      Posted 12/03/2012 at 9:17 pm | Permalink |

      Method of asserting authority

      1. Puts up a filter to block (foo).
      2. Measure number of times filter blocks (foo), dont count times filter is bypassed.
      3. Proclaim success in the war on (foo)
      4. Request money to expand (foo) blocking services to also block (bar), return to step 1.

      Unless they measure a drop in ACCESS to the site then this is just meaningless propaganda.

      • WhatsNew
        Posted 12/03/2012 at 11:57 pm | Permalink |

        “Unless they measure a drop in ACCESS to the site then this is just meaningless propaganda.”

        That’s a pretty good point, Renai. How were these stats compiled, because if they are based on the number of redirects that the filter performed then it wouldn’t tell the story of those who figured out that all they needed to do to bypass the block was to change dns server. No wonder they haven’t bothered to go into detail about these stats as they probably know that they won’t hold up to much scrutiny.

        • Posted 13/03/2012 at 12:27 am | Permalink |

          “Unless they measure a drop in ACCESS to the site then this is just meaningless propaganda.”

          +1 to this. The stats above simply measure redirects. And yes, I agree we need more information on the stats and the ecosystem in order to accurately measure the success of the technology.

          However, this info isn’t easy to get. Bear in mind that the AFP did not release the stats I have published above voluntarily — I only obtained them through filing a Freedom of Information request on Neil Gaughan’s email. It may be time to file another FoI along these lines. I do have a few other ones outstanding with various Federal Govt departments ;)

          • Hugh Mann
            Posted 13/03/2012 at 8:46 am | Permalink |

            >However, this info isn’t easy to get. Bear in mind that the AFP did not release the stats I have published >above voluntarily — I only obtained them through filing a Freedom of Information request

            That tells you all you need to know about internet censorship.

            It is and always will be shrouded in secrecy. The authorities will do everything they can to avoid public scrutiny. It is just too dangerous.

            • Freddy
              Posted 14/03/2012 at 3:40 pm | Permalink |

              +1

              First rule of censorship is to not talk about it.

              Second rule is if you have to talk about it then don’t say anything definite or meaningful.

    10. Tim B
      Posted 12/03/2012 at 10:34 pm | Permalink |

      OK, so the way I read the stats is this: When the filter first went up, people were not aware of it. Over time, they worked out how to bypass it.

      The trouble I have with this system is that blocking things means people who really want it will work out how to get it via less detectable means – thus making it far harder for the police to track them down and put a stop to it.

    11. Hugh Mann
      Posted 13/03/2012 at 8:56 am | Permalink |

      >”On the one hand, it could mean that they have simply started seeking to access those materials through other, commonly cited means — such as through peer to peer technologies or private forums — after they were blocked via the web and saw Interpol’s warning page. On the other hand, it could also mean that these individuals could have stopped trying to access these kinds of materials at all — which would be a great outcome if true.”

      That’s the big question.

      It could be that some customers changed DNS server.

      It could be that some customers put the necessary IP addresses in their hosts file.

      It could be that some customers utilised more sophisticated bypass methods like proxy or VPN.

      It could be that some customers accessed via methods that are independent of DNS e.g. P2P.

      It could be that some customers changed to a different ISP.

      It could be that some customers really did get scared off. (They would be more casual / less hard-core CP users, I would guess.)

      In reality all of these could be true for _some_ customers.

      It’s also possible that some of the recorded accesses were people just messing with the statistics, who later got bored with doing so and moved on. (Hence, without more detailed information, all 84,000 hits could have been just one person messing with Telstra.)

      • Hugh Mann
        Posted 13/03/2012 at 9:07 am | Permalink |

        PS It’s also possible that some of the content itself has moved elsewhere. Due to lack of public scrutiny, the old domain is probably still on the blacklist (that’s what we saw with the ACMA blacklist) but the new domain hasn’t yet been identified by the authorities. So as users move from the old domain to the new domain, the number of hits decreases.

        If anyone sees that a domain is blocked, that is a tip-off that the domain has been busted – so it becomes less desirable for anyone to continue using it.

    12. PeterA
      Posted 13/03/2012 at 11:53 am | Permalink |

      Want to remove X from the internet? Do you:
      A) Cover your eyes, plug your ears and hum. (filter)
      B) Ask the people hosting it to take it down. (police)

      Protip: It isn’t A.

      Should I sell my services to the government to explain this? Don’t spend 40 million dollars trialing “Covering your eyes” spend 40 million dollars on the AFP to send their officers into “Email Training School” so they can email those hosting content saying: “Hey dude, you have CP on your server, take it down cause its not cool, PS who put it there?”.

      It isn’t that hard!

      • rendall
        Posted 13/03/2012 at 1:13 pm | Permalink |

        where does it say they’ve spent $40 million on this? As I understand, it’s been a industry funded initiative, that has been relatively cheap to implement.

        i’m not sure what line of work you’re in, but what would you say to a policeman with absolutely no training in your area of expertise, but just a load of anecdotal knowledge, told you how to do your job?

        • Hugh Mann
          Posted 13/03/2012 at 2:07 pm | Permalink |

          Perhaps PeterA was extrapolating beyond the current limited “trial” to a full-blown internet censorship regime. It seems very likely that, in the absence of resistance, the government will move in that direction.

        • PeterA
          Posted 14/03/2012 at 1:41 pm | Permalink |

          i’m not sure what line of work you’re in, but what would you say to a policeman with absolutely no training in your area of expertise, but just a load of anecdotal knowledge, told you how to do your job?

          OK, I’ll bite. Here’s an example.

          Someone comes to me and says: “In order to stop the spread of child porn and save our children from its ills! PeterA please filter the internet to meet this objective!”
          My answer would be: Save your money, spend it increasing the budget of the police force to catch the perverts – you know – damaging our children.

          I’d just like to point out, my stance is not me telling the police how to do their job. (obviously, my words aren’t perfect) I am telling the government not to spend money on me the IT guy, I am telling the government to spend the money on the police, since with more money, they could expand their current efforts.

          The money spent on the IT guy (me) is a waste. I do not want a job if it is funded to perform a task I cannot complete. If my task as IT is to save children from becoming victims of paedophilia, I will fail.
          If my task as IT is to make it look like children are safer from paedophilia, hell thats easy. But be clear what you are paying for. The illusion of safer children. If you want actually safer children give the police more money.

          The 44 million dollars was the funding the government allocated – over 4 years – on the filtering program. I suspect they didn’t spent it all (any?). I can’t find any references now, but I thought they spent about 25 million on the limited trial. But I have no references and can’t find that information now.

          PS. “Industry funded” That means its free right? Geez, give me a break. Now we are spending other peoples money building an illusion of safer children. (ooh its just people that use the internet paying I hear you say, at which point I ignore your statement just as you ignore the secondary effects).

          • rendall
            Posted 14/03/2012 at 1:51 pm | Permalink |

            ok- so what you’re saying is, the money ISPs are spending on implementing blocking of the interpol list is money that ISPs should be given to the police.

            Why didn’t you just say that?

    13. Noddy
      Posted 13/03/2012 at 2:10 pm | Permalink |

      You could title write. “More than 90% of people have already worked out how to bypass the filter”
      It could be all those deliberately trying to get to these site already have and the remaining figures are just those who have randomly tried to connect, links from other sites, search engines, etc.

    14. David
      Posted 13/03/2012 at 5:29 pm | Permalink |

      Enemy of the internet: Australia under surveillance for violating online freedoms
      news com au tech section makes for interesting reading

      • Bob.H
        Posted 13/03/2012 at 5:38 pm | Permalink |

        Old news.really. I think we have been on the Reporters Without Borders “watch” list for at least a couple of years because of the proposed mandatory filter..

    15. Posted 13/03/2012 at 9:28 pm | Permalink |

      Hey Renai,
      Have you seen this?
      http://www.scribd.com/doc/85148829/Telstra-Disclosure-Log

      • Posted 13/03/2012 at 11:06 pm | Permalink |

        That would appear to be the documents already released under FOI. After someone has requested them, after a certain period, they are released publicly. I obtained very similar docs from the AFP through my FOI.

        In short, this has been public info for a while.

    16. Nobody
      Posted 13/03/2012 at 11:52 pm | Permalink |

      So it was a dns blocker?
      anyone wondered if the sickos just used a different dns server?

    17. Douglas
      Posted 14/03/2012 at 11:29 am | Permalink |

      If someone somehow took graphic images of my child and put them on the web, would I be OK with an Interpol filter that blocked even just one single person viewing that image while they simultaneously chased down the perps (which they have always said they will continue to do)? Or even if it just made it that tiny bit harder?

      Heck YES! What if it was your child? Would you continue to be concerned about blocking access to some torrent inadvertently?

      There seems to be a number of confused people on this forum saying they need to take it down rather than block it (which I agree with, it needs to be taken down). Quote from Interpol themselves:

      “As with all preventive measures, access blocking must be used in combination with traditional police methods, such as investigations into and the removal of child abuse material hosted on the Internet, undercover operations, arrests, searches, and so on. Blocking child sexual abuse material should never be used instead of the above methods, it should be used in addition to these – in a holistic approach to combat child sexual exploitation.”

      http://www.interpol.int/Crime-areas/Crimes-against-children/Access-blocking/The-INTERPOL-%22Worst-of%22-list

      I don’t really see how any fair minded member of society could disagree with the above statement?

      • Maria
        Posted 09/11/2012 at 4:32 pm | Permalink |

        In answer to your question, yes, if it were my child I would be fine with it. My child would also be fine with it. She’s a smart kid.

    18. Bob.H
      Posted 14/03/2012 at 3:21 pm | Permalink |

      “I don’t really see how any fair minded member of society could disagree with the above statement?”

      If a child exploitation photo has been taken and placed on the web then it is on the web and accessible. The only way that you can stop anyone seeing that photo is to remove it from the internet entirely.. Most people believe that this is almost impossible but to even have half a chance you need to take it down and catch and prosecute the perpetrators so they can’t do it again.

      The Interpol filter system only looks at HTTP traffic on the internet and redirects listed domains to their stop page. It is dependent on the DNS having the filter incorporated for it to work. To get around the Interpol filter all you have to do is use a DNS that isn’t filtered. This can be done in about one minute. Even after all this effort that photo is still on the internet and is able to be transferred by email, P2P etc. without the Interpol filter stopping it.

      Now what do you really want to happen do you want that graphic image of your child taken down from the internet and the responsible people caught and stopped from doing the same to some other child or do you want a blanket that most people can easily see around or over placed in front of the picture so you can pretend that the picture is blocked from view.

      I want to see the money being wasted on this Interpol filter, which hasn’t helped one child victim of sexual abuse, being used to arrest and prosecute the offenders so that another child isn’t going to be a victim.

      I may not be fair minded but I care about kids and I want to see real efforts to protect them not pretense.

      • Douglas
        Posted 14/03/2012 at 3:36 pm | Permalink |

        Hi Bob,

        Did you read the interpol link I provided? I’ll quote it for you one more time:

        “…access blocking must be used in COMBINATION with traditional police methods, such as investigations into and the removal of child abuse material hosted on the Internet…”

        So I really cannot for the life of me see why anyone would object to some form of (however rudimentary) blocking in conjunction with ongoing policing.

        Yes I agree that the blocking implemented is not particularly advanced, but can you please tell me, if the police are investigating (as recommended be done by INTERPOL), and that blocking manages to stop one single solitary user who doesn’t know what DNS stands for from viewing a pornographic image of someone’s child, then what is the harm in doing it?

        Seriously, who is it hurting?

        Regards,
        Douglas.

        • Freddy
          Posted 14/03/2012 at 3:53 pm | Permalink |

          It has been proven by a German researcher that it is quicker and more permanent to email the hosting company informing them of the CP images and the images are removed within 24 hours. No hosting company refused!

          Now compare that with InterPol’s method, make a list, check it twice, send it to the AFP, the AFP check it, the AFP send it to the ISPs, the ISPs load the list up. Please note that just the checking it twice and making the list is not a 1 day job. But emailing the hosting company is less than one hour to find the email address and sending off the email.

          Oh and the image is only blocked for Australian’s, what about the other few billion people in the world.

          You have to ask why InterPol is even putting resources into making a list that will take days if they are really quick to get loaded into the ISP DNS servers. I think i read that updates are weekly or longer. Taking the image down immediately (less than 24 hours) is much better and does not require WASTING time making up a list.

          So why waste resources on making the List????

        • Freddy
          Posted 14/03/2012 at 3:55 pm | Permalink |

          “Seriously, who is it hurting?”

          It is dividing the available resources that InterPol and the AFP have to arrest these criminals.

          That is LESS criminals are investigated and caught.

    19. Bob.H
      Posted 14/03/2012 at 4:49 pm | Permalink |

      Douglas

      Yes I have read the Interpol web site about their blocking system. In fact I read every word of it when the voluntary filter was first implemented by Telstra.

      I consider that there are two different things that tend to be joined together in this debate which are really two separate issues and need to be considered individually.

      The first is child sexual abuse. I know of no one who thinks that society should tolerate the abuse of children. Accordingly I think we can say with almost no fear of contradiction that everyone wants to see child sexual abusers stopped and punished. There is also a large number, including me, who think society should be providing the necessary assistance for the child so they can overcome the consequences of the abuse.

      The second is the viewing of images of a child being abused. The images are a record of the first problem mentioned above. I understand that they a repugnant to almost everyone and a probable source of embarrassment to the child and the parents. The question is what harm is done if the picture is viewed and to what extent does pretending to hide the pictures help the victim. An interesting article on this is here (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/06/30/smut_freakonomics/) and in particular I would draw your attention to the last four paragraphs and in particular the bit in bold.

      Now the question in my mind is, how does the filter help the victims of child sexual abuse? The real problem is that if the conclusions in the work referred to in that article are correct then the filter could in fact be causing harm by increasing the number of victims.

      I would love to see some hard scientific evidence from Interpol that blocking is actually beneficial to the victims and prevents more children being abused.

      I have yet to see a problem that has been fixed by ignoring it and hoping it will go away or hiding it from people so people don’t see the problem. This is what the filter seems to be doing in my opinion.

      You ask who it is hurting and my reply is probably the victims.

      Best wishes
      Bob

      • rendall
        Posted 14/03/2012 at 5:01 pm | Permalink |

        Bob H said “[child abuse images are a] probable source of embarrassment to the child and the parents”

        Wow – that’s extremely insensitive and horribly naive. Moreover, that statement amounts to a hideous belittling of the crime that occurs at first instance as well as the crime being carried out each and every time a person accesses those images (not to mention the revicitmisation of the child that occurs each time such images are accessed).

        But, that view, explains the basis of your position on this issue.

    20. Brendan
      Posted 15/03/2012 at 4:35 pm | Permalink |

      The statistics won’t reflect people working around the filter.

      Folks using VPN, TOR, public wifi or any number of other services will not be reflected; which means any notion the filter statistics mean the filter is “working” should be tempered by the likelihood that a potentially statistically relevant number of requests are simply using alternate means.

      Of course, this will be touted as “success”, none-the-less.

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