04 Apr 10

Australian Censorship Has Poker Sites on Most Dangerous

Poker domains such as Poker Stars and Full tilt and partner websites that bare their names have been put on a list of dangerous websites in Australia as the government seeks to secretly censor over 2000 websites.

LawWhen the anonymous tipoff website wikileaks.com received a list of websites that the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) had targeted for censorship, a whirlpool of anger swelled up in the Oceanic continent, resulting in the Communications Minister Stephen Conroy now apologizing for errors in his internet censorship policy. A policy that had poker sites such as PokerStars and Full Tilt  Poker blacklisted.

More than 2,000 blacklisted sites were on the list, compiled by the ACMA as part of a trial program that would, when finished, allow Australia’s ISP’s to block the sites completely. These websites were scheduled to be secretly blocked, adding to the furore.

The list was originally generated to block dangerous websites where material that could harm children was present; child porn, rape, how-to-make weapons and an assortment of degrading, violent and perverted host sites were rightly scheduled for blockage and or deletion in Australia. Unfortunately the complexity of such a task makes such filtering so stringently near on impossible and as a result many other websites found themselves on the list.

"It's the most ill-conceived pile of stupidity by the biggest bunch of cretins that I've ever seen in my life," says Ross Wheeler, CEO of Albury.net.au, a regional ISP. "Every ISP that I know of has either publicly or privately said it's technically and practically impossible.” The leak and subsequent outrage has resulted in many of the biggest ISP’s pulling the trial software and urging the government to drop the idea completely.
stephen conroy has generated massive waves
On March 26th Mr. Conroy appeared on ABC’s ‘Q&A’ to answer questions on the controversial plans. Before his appearance wikileaks.com crashed due to too much traffic and over 2000 videos from disgruntled members of public were posted on the ABC website. “We’ve never seen anything like the avalanche Stephen Conroy has generated.

Although admitting that it was unfortunate that some sites had ended up on the list, he defended the project and stated on the unfortunate release of the list to the media.

Poker is booming in Australia, home to the Aussie Millions, one of the biggest tournaments in the world, not to mention the blossoming online arena and a certain world champion to its credit. With Joe Hachem a celebrity down under, the actual secret censorship of sites like PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker thankfully seems a long way off.