Telstra Having Second Thoughts Over Censorship Plan; Fears Reprisals From Hactivists

from the having an impact dept

Well, this is getting interesting. While I still don’t approve of the tactics of vigilante hacker groups, it’s hard to deny that they’re having some impact. After reports came out that Autralian telco giant Telstra was going to start censoring the internet by blocking a bunch of sites the government says are evil, the company has now indicated that it’s wavering on its support of the plan, in large part due to fear of hacker reprisal attacks. In the stilted English of The Australian:


It is understood Telstra was last night still grappling with the decision as to whether to commit to the voluntary filter because of fears of reprisals from the internet vigilantes behind a spate of recent cyber attacks.

It is understood the unstructured collective of hackers that identifies itself as Lulz Security, which has an agenda to wreak havoc on corporate and government cyber assets, claiming this is to expose security flaws, is one of Telstra main concerns.

While I don’t think the filters are a good idea, and am surprised and impressed by the “effectiveness” of LulzSec’s efforts in getting Telstra to be aware that people don’t like these filters and that there could be consequences, I do still wonder if this is really the best way to go about these things. Lots of folks will cheer this on because they agree with the end result (no censorship), but what if LulzSec (or a similar group, now that LulzSec says it’s going away) makes a unilateral decision on something you disagree with? One of the problems of the censorship plan in Australia is that there’s no oversight, and no way to appeal. But isn’t that the same thing with those targeted by hactivists? Even if we agree with their general outlook, there’s still a very real risk of collateral damage in a different way.

Of course, it’s not just Telstra rethinking its position on censoring the internet. Apparently some of the other ISPs who had agreed to take part in this “voluntary” censorship are suddenly saying that it’s not definite yet as to whether they’ll take part. It sounds like many of these ISPs hoped they could just start censoring the internet without anyone noticing.

Filed Under: , , , , ,
Companies: telstra

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Telstra Having Second Thoughts Over Censorship Plan; Fears Reprisals From Hactivists”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
41 Comments
That Anonymous Cowardsays:

“It is understood the unstructured collective of hackers that identifies itself as Lulz Security, which has an agenda to wreak havoc on corporate and government cyber assets, claiming this is to expose security flaws, is one of Telstra main concerns.”

They were afraid of reprisal or more afraid their systems are not as secure as they would like everyone to believe?

While there could have been collateral damage from Lulzsec doing something about this, Lulzsec would have said sorry if they were in the wrong, rather than hide behind the “its for the children” or other silly claims used to encourage people to accept censorship with no oversight. Nothing Lulzsec could have done would have been as permanent as this filter going live.

And with all of the renewed coverage of this government censorship, the issue will need to be discussed further and they will, hopefully, consider that maybe the Government is not the right thing to pick what should be filtered.

American West and the guys with guns and ropes

At some point, if history is any indicator, people begin to take serious offense to the actions of those who would abuse whatever system might be in place. In the history of the West we first had vigilantism then moved to a brief period of hired gun slingers then to something vaguely resembling modern police practice. Perhaps what we are seeing here is a contemporary version. I’m fairly sure that it is what is needed, warts and all…

LyleDsays:

This is some scheme cooked up by that Government prat Conroy… He’s wrangled it into the NBN agreement after his ‘official’ righteous Christian plans were scuppered last year..

As an Aussie, I wouldn’t mind them offering (i.e. opt-in, really voluntary) a plan like the UK’s BT Clean-feed system.. As long as it’s 110% got nothing whatsoever to do with those idiots in power..

But then again.. even that plan’s now up in the air with the Mafiaa trying to usurp it;

http://torrentfreak.com/hollywood-force-isp-to-use-child-abuse-filter-against-file-sharing-site-110627/

Squirrel Brainssays:

Collusion only works if everyone agrees...

Of course, it’s not just Telstra rethinking its position on censoring the internet. Apparently some of the other ISPs who had agreed to take part in this “voluntary” censorship are suddenly saying that it’s not definite yet as to whether they’ll take part. It sounds like many of these ISPs hoped they could just start censoring the internet without anyone noticing.

The only way voluntary filtering like this would work in the market is if all the major players got together and agreed to it. If one decides not to filter, then there is a lot less incentive for the rest to go along with the plan because consumers will gravitate towards the uncensored provider.

weneedhelpsays:

Re: Re:

terrorists!! Ohhh. Be careful, one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist. Sad when “terrorists” in your opinion are fighting against government censorship. Lemme guess, you would suggest a hand holding Kum ba yah fest of a gathering? Where? Oh yeah, in one of those free speech zones 20 miles away from anything.

“and a company starts making choices out of fear.” No difference, between “terrorists” fear, and fear of repercussions from one’s own government? How are they different? Rhetorical no need to answer. So terror from a government is accepted, but when it is a group of citizens they are terrorists?

Psssst! Boooo! Terrorists!!!! Gimme a break.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re:

“It is a sad commentary when “hactivists” become terrorists, and a company starts making choices out of fear. Those people who support (or cheer on) the actions of the hactivists should really start to wonder about their own morals.”

My morals are fine. It’s the governments morals I’m worried about.

PrometheeFeusays:

As much as I tend to be against “hacktivism” as shortsighted and a violation of rights, I can also see an upside. The Australian government has been having its fun coercing and bullying the ISPs into implementing censorship. Ideally, we would like the government and private companies to listen to reason and do the right thing because it’s the right thing. But here, what some “hacktivists” are doing is saying: “Look, you want to do what the government is saying because otherwise you’ll get beat up by their thugs. It turns out if you do what they say, we’ll send our thugs and beat you up. So forget about not being beat up, it’s going to happen either way. So now, you’re free of pressure, you can just do the right thing.” It makes me uncomfortable, but not that much. After all, if the government lets up, such groups will probably mostly fade away.

Hulsersays:

claiming this is to expose security flaws

Hmmm, maybe I just haven’t been following this story closely enough, but I thought the goal of Lulsec was retribution for company’s that do stupid shit like install rootkits and that poor security was just the means by which this “higher” goal was achieved. But regardless of what their stated goals may be, based on their targets, I’d say it’s obvious that their real goal is retribution.

out_of_the_bluesays:

Hackers rule! -- OR NOT.

Again, when you see a TINY group appearing to have an effect, suspect it. For instance, I’d bet that /most/ if not all of this ISP’s customers would like to see lower rates, but somehow an obviously desirable /actual/ popular effect never comes about.

This, along with many similar /stunts, may be sheer propaganda to think that ordinary people have power and /can/ effect change — they DO, but not by on-line stunts; in practice corporate officers like all of The Ruling Class throughout history would have to be dragged out into the street and hung from the nearest tree before they change.

THEATER can be used against you too. Just because you root for the valiant “hackers” here, don’t be blind that it may be sheerly THEATER for the purpose of lulling people to sleep. My bet is that the “voluntary” censorship goes in right on schedule.

It comes down to money

A company like Telstra has investors, and if it doesn’t, it has clients who have investors. By agreeing to censorship and potentially opening themselves up to retribution, they risk the stock prices of their investors should the hacking have an impact.

So while their backpedalling may seem like they are scared of hackers, it’s as close as they are going to get to saving face in the light of the possibility that a decision based on PR could affect them in the pocketbook.

Anonymoussays:

This is the best case scenario for these hacking groups. Their hacking raises the costs of business that are doing something wrong ( in this case censorship). The ISP is a business and most likely does a cost / benefit analysis before making decisions like this. The hacking groups raise the cost of censorship since the ISP has to spend more to defend against targeted hacking as a results of their decisions.
This provides additional incentives for companies to do the right thing for the customer.

“Remember, Australia’s government is by the people, 99% voter turnout, open elections. “

According to a friend of mine who happens to live in Australia, that “99%” voter turnout is required. You have to either vote or pay for not having voted. A kind of a super poll tax.
Sure-vote all you want-doesn’t make a bit of difference because the private companies aren’t elected officials.

Niallsays:

Re: Re:

Funny how in most democracies the voter turnout is way lower. It is only in dictatorships that they normally ‘require’ people to vote in order to pretend that they have a semblance of legitimacy.

For all you know, 50% of those votes could have been chosen at random and therefore not represent anyone’s will.

“Remember, Australia’s government is by the people, 99% voter turnout, open elections. “

According to a friend of mine who happens to live in Australia, that “99%” voter turnout is required. You have to either vote or pay for not having voted. A kind of a super poll tax.
Sure-vote all you want-doesn’t make a bit of difference because the private companies aren’t elected officials.

Mike?

“…but what if LulzSec (or a similar group, now that LulzSec says it’s going away) makes a unilateral decision on something you disagree with?…”

You want to get in the grit of it Mike? A great man once said you cannot have freedom without civil disobedience. Next time the hypothetical comes to mind such as if = dislike of something first ask the end result. Was it intended? Is this what this group set out to do?

If you so dam worried about when the results are finished what happens to this group of skills. How about government (or those sponsoring it) fearing the people as any freedom based culture requires.

Lulzsec, in my opinion, is needed in this day and age. Need an example? Ever realize you’ve writ cognitive dissonance more this past month then I care to recall in 8 odd years.

Paulsays:

What Alternative????

If LulzSec isn’t the answer to authoritarian government (like a mandatory national internet filter) then what is?

LulzSec represent ‘the people’ and in general are on the side of ‘common sense’ and ‘common good’. They aren’t out with heavy arms shooting people in the streets and just taking peoples freedoms by force, they are fight AGAINST such dictatorships and thank goodness are proving to be effective.

2011 will go down in political history as the year the internet facilitated global people power. The clock can’t be turned back by authoritarian governments who want to sensor political opposition (amongst them, the Australian government!)

LulzSec are the cutting edge of on-line activism, and the thin end of the wedge. This version of people power can only grow from here!

Lukesays:

Corporations Need To Be Taken Down A Peg

I agree with what you are saying here, that it may not be the best approach but when all other approaches fail against these multi-billion dollar corps, there’s not much else left. Telstra have been squeezing the Australian public ever since it was privatised.. nothing’s going to change unless they are afraid. It really is the only way with these bigger corps.

Richardsays:

I actually read another article on this story last night (was on ITNews.com.au, don’t have a link) where they were saying that the filter was not going to be using the ACMA blacklist, but rather the Interpol list. I actually have a better time accepting that list, as my impression (without research) is that it is maintained by international law enforcement, rather then governments. It has it’s flaws (for example, definition of “underage” has been done “by comittee” and so is therefore 13, not the 18 it commonly is in Australia and other countries) but I see it as being a kind of neutral 3rd party, rather then something controlled and run by our government, who definitely have a vested interested in what the people see in the media.
I am a little concerned that Telstra might decide to start filtering the internet for their wholesale customers as well, thus ISPs who actually don’t wish to enforce this filter on their customers will end up doing so simply because they use Telstras hardware. Although I’m not entirely sure that’s how it can work, so feel free to point out my error any techs out there.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Report this ad??|??Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Loading...
Older Stuff
12:25 Australian Privacy Commissioner Says 7-Eleven Broke Privacy Laws By Scanning Customers' Faces At Survey Kiosks (6)
10:50 Missouri Governor Doubles Down On 'View Source' Hacking Claim; PAC Now Fundraising Over This Bizarrely Stupid Claim (45)
10:45 Daily Deal: The All-in-One Microsoft, Cybersecurity, And Python Exam Prep Training Bundle (0)
09:43 Want To Understand Why U.S. Broadband Sucks? Look At Frontier Communications In Wisconsin, West Virginia (8)
05:36 Massachusetts College Decides Criticizing The Chinese Government Is Hate Speech, Suspends Conservative Student Group (71)
19:57 Le Tigre Sues Barry Mann To Stop Copyright Threats Over Song, Lights Barry Mann On Fire As Well (21)
16:07 Court Says City Of Baltimore's 'Heckler's Veto' Of An Anti-Catholic Rally Violates The First Amendment (15)
13:37 Two Years Later, Judge Finally Realizes That A CDN Provider Is Not Liable For Copyright Infringement On Websites (21)
12:19 Chicago Court Gets Its Prior Restraint On, Tells Police Union Head To STFU About City's Vaccine Mandate (158)
10:55 Verizon 'Visible' Wireless Accounts Hacked, Exploited To Buy New iPhones (8)
10:50 Daily Deal: The MacOS 11 Course (0)
07:55 Suing Social Media Sites Over Acts Of Terrorism Continues To Be A Losing Bet, As 11th Circuit Dumps Another Flawed Lawsuit (11)
02:51 Trump Announces His Own Social Network, 'Truth Social,' Which Says It Can Kick Off Users For Any Reason (And Already Is) (100)
19:51 Facebook AI Moderation Continues To Suck Because Moderation At Scale Is Impossible (26)
16:12 Content Moderation Case Studies: Snapchat Disables GIPHY Integration After Racist 'Sticker' Is Discovered (2018) (11)
13:54 Arlo Makes Live Customer Service A Luxury Option (8)
12:05 Delta Proudly Announces Its Participation In The DHS's Expanded Biometric Collection Program (5)
11:03 LinkedIn (Mostly) Exits China, Citing Escalating Demands For Censorship (14)
10:57 Daily Deal: The Python, Git, And YAML Bundle (0)
09:37 British Telecom Wants Netflix To Pay A Tax Simply Because Squid Game Is Popular (32)
06:41 Report: Client-Side Scanning Is An Insecure Nightmare Just Waiting To Be Exploited By Governments (35)
20:38 MLB In Talks To Offer Streaming For All Teams' Home Games In-Market Even Without A Cable Subscription (10)
15:55 Appeals Court Says Couple's Lawsuit Over Bogus Vehicle Forfeiture Can Continue (15)
13:30 Techdirt Podcast Episode 301: Scarcity, Abundance & NFTs (0)
12:03 Hollywood Is Betting On Filtering Mandates, But Working Copyright Algorithms Simply Don't Exist (66)
10:45 Introducing The Techdirt Insider Discord (4)
10:40 Daily Deal: The Dynamic 2021 DevOps Training Bundle (0)
09:29 Criminalizing Teens' Google Searches Is Just How The UK's Anti-Cybercrime Programs Roll (19)
06:29 Canon Sued For Disabling Printer Scanners When Devices Run Out Of Ink (41)
20:51 Copyright Law Discriminating Against The Blind Finally Struck Down By Court In South Africa (7)
More arrow