EFA mulls publishing filter bypass instruction guide

EFA mulls publishing filter bypass instruction guide

No technical skills required to circumvent proposed Internet filter and it’s perfectly legal, according to the civil rights lobby group.


Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) will consider publishing instructions on how to bypass Australia’s Internet filter if the Federal Government’s proposed legislation goes ahead.

On April 1, euthanasia advocacy group, Exit International, held its first ‘hacker master class’ to clue seniors in on how to get around the Internet clean-feed plan. The action was prompted by one of the group’s associate websites appearing on the ACMA blacklist which was leaked last year.

Exit International enlisted the help of David Campbell from Newcastle-based computer services company, Clear Computers.

EFA chair, Nicolas Suzor, said he supported educating citizens with ways to protect themselves from governments that independently decided to block access to certain material.

“Octogenarian people with varying degrees of computer literacy can get around it quite simply," he said. "It just makes you wonder why the Government is spending so much money and effort on such a flawed system."

The EFA is contemplating publishing information - possibly on its website - on how to circumvent the looming filter.

Although there are no solid plans at the moment, Suzor said it would not have to enlist a technical expert to supply the information.

“Instructions are quite simple so we would probably highlight a few different ways people can – if they chose to - circumvent any filter imposed,” he said. “It is really quite easy.”

One example Suzor gave related to using a Web annonymiser technology service based in the US.

“These are essentially servers, which are used to protect people’s privacy and get around restrictions imposed by territorial governments,” he said. “These are commonly used by school children, people in oppressive regimes like in China and Iran, and by those who don’t want to reveal their location when browsing the Web.”

Techniques and technology to bypass filters are unlikely to be criminalised as they have legitimate applications.

Suzor claimed only a small percentage of the websites on the blacklist were illegal, such as pages depicting child pornography.

“Two-thirds of the content listed on the blacklist is perfectly legal to view and access so we would expect people with a valid interest in accessing the material would have technical skills to bypass a filter,” he said.

The EFA expects more filter circumvention classes, similar to the ones held by Exit International, to become increasingly popular as the proposed filter edges closer to reality.

“We still hope the legislation will be voted down,” he said.

Last month, an independent software vendor (ISV) claimed an Australian Internet filter is a threat to national security.

Ey3 said the filter will force more people to circumvention technology which will make it harder for government intelligence agencies to monitoring Internet traffic.

The filter has also been criticised by the likes of Google and Yahoo!.

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Tags Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA)Exit International

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