Australia to test blocking all P2P and Bit Torrent traffic

Australia has been known to have high levels of censorship. It should come as no surprise to those in the land down under that the government is planning to filter P2P and Bit Torrent traffic in live pilot tests.

Senator Conroy went on the record saying "technology that filters peer-to-peer and Bit Torrent traffic does exist and it is anticipated that the effectiveness of this will be tested in the live pilot trial".

It is a drastic step to filter out all P2P and Bit Torrent traffic as it assumes that those channels are only used for piracy. One example of legitimate use is the popular online game World of Warcraft. This game uses a Bit Torrent system of distrubution for its updates. Like any technology it can be used for both good and evil and choosing to block all on the account that it is only used for piracy is taking censorship to new levels.

Unsurprisingly the idea has fueled a serious debate in Australia; "I'm aware that this proposal has attracted significant debate and criticism ? on this blog and at other places in the blogosphere," Senator Conroy said. Many of the complaints stem around the idea that Senator Conroy is acting as a big brother.

If the Senator has his way and the filter is kept in place how far will the government be allowed to intervene? Simply blocking a technology for the potential illegal use is a preposterous idea as nearly all software can be used for malicious activities; it's the user who makes the decision.

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This will NOT take effect Austalia wide. There have been protests, by civilians, in every capital city and most ISPs have given the government a piece of their mind. This will never pass as legislation, because the government would have a crisis on its hands. After the trials, this will all drift away... and if it doesn't, all hell will break loose, and I will play a part in that along with most of my friends, family and clients.

Labor have lost my vote. We have enough censorship on radio and television as it is.

iiNet are taking part I think just so they can show how much of a fail it will be.


p.s. Filtering != blocking all. Sensationalist headlines ftl.

kizzaaa said,
This article is incorrect!

See source: http://www.pcauthority.com.au/News/131665,...bittorrent.aspx

"It is understood that technology exists to filter peer-to-peer networks. If such technology is proposed as part of the Pilot by an ISP it will be considered."

This seems to indicate the test will only impact ISPs who have chosen to proceed with the trial.


They don't run pilots for fun.

Just like in the UK, some ISP's were running Phorm trials - suddenly they are rolled out ... etc

I regret voting and supporting the Australian Labour government, this filter is a ridiculous waste of taxpayers money. I will NEVER vote for Labour again.

Australia has been known to have high levels of censorship. It should come as no surprise to those in the land down under that the government is planning to filter P2P and Bit Torrent traffic in live pilot tests.

What the hell are you on? Hi levels? No Surprise.

Where is this other Australia you speak of?


This is unexpected, and Labor can suck me. They are as good as gone at the next election, Kevin Rudd is a god damned ********.

This is so wrong...
Don't these people have something like a tech guy to explain to them that bit torrent is just a protocol?
What are these people going to do next, block the HTTP protocol? Oh wait... They are already "filtering" it.

It's surprising to me that a neowin staff would raise such a question of freedom of speech when Neowin rules basically are anti-freedom of speech.

it amazes me that anyone ever votes in labour parties to power.

they always screw everything up. in the UK its exactly the same.

I object to the comment "Australia has been known to have high levels of censorship"; Australian's foolishly elected a communist as Prime Minister a year ago as they didn't realise what a great government they'd had in office for the last decade and now they are about to feel the pain!

Why not just cut off the internet while your at it, ehh? Bittorrent makes up around 75% of all internet traffic as I recall. You got rid of 3/4, why not just cut off access completely? That'll be sure to stop the damn pirates. Rofl.

I truely hope there will be a big riot or something like what happened in Tibet. You take away the interwebz, you take away life.

Ha ha ha, no bias in this article at all. "Simply blocking a technology for the potential illegal use is a preposterous idea". We're not taking about "potential" here, we're talking real use. Well over 90% of it is illegal plain and simple.

The idea's not perfect but at least they're doing something. It's amazing to hear how many criminals are whining and crying because they won't be able to do illegal downloads in Australia. Oh dear, however can they illegally acquire music, movies, and software now?

C_Guy said,
Ha ha ha, no bias in this article at all. "Simply blocking a technology for the potential illegal use is a preposterous idea". We're not taking about "potential" here, we're talking real use. Well over 90% of it is illegal plain and simple.

The idea's not perfect but at least they're doing something. It's amazing to hear how many criminals are whining and crying because they won't be able to do illegal downloads in Australia. Oh dear, however can they illegally acquire music, movies, and software now?

I just logged in to say that you are an idiot.

And oh, usenet? Ever heard of it? Or maybe block that too? How about IRC back in the days with lots of public ftps? Maybe kill the FTP protocol as well? hmm?

Idiot.

nonick said,

I just logged in to say that you are an idiot.

And oh, usenet? Ever heard of it? Or maybe block that too? How about IRC back in the days with lots of public ftps? Maybe kill the FTP protocol as well? hmm?

Idiot.

Also : close tv channels because of violent material in movies :
close telephone lines because of fishing ansd scamming by phone ;
close magazine business because of "object women" portrayed in such medias ;
Ban bars because of drunk drivers ;
Stop selling beds because people having sex in them ;
etc., etc.

Where will this end ?

C_Guy said,
Ha ha ha, no bias in this article at all. "Simply blocking a technology for the potential illegal use is a preposterous idea". We're not taking about "potential" here, we're talking real use. Well over 90% of it is illegal plain and simple.

I'm not sure where you pulled your "fact" from, but I use torrents exclusively for Linux. Not one bit of song or other software. It is a shame that such a great technology for distributed bandwidth file sharing is being blocked wholesale to get the obnoxious punks who warez. They are throwing the baby out with the bath water.

The government issuing a decree like this? I'm not surprised that it is so short-sighted.

Ah yes...C-Guy. The gentleman that couldn't figure out how to lock his Mac that somehow found his way to a tech-related website. Thank you again for sharing your "wisdom" into yet another area you have no friggin' clue about.

Lets shut down the internet - it's the carrier for "piracy" bittorrent traffic, and child porn, and .. and .... or perhaps we should kill every human using the internet, perhaps that will stop the piracy..

Those are far more logical solutions to the problem don't you think? Who's with me

Yes, killing every person is a great solution. Why don't you write in a letter about your brilliant idea and see what kind of response you get? Better yet, take on the task yourself and be a hero.

They, the governement, are as corrupt as the day is long. Anything the government does in the name of "the people" is only being done because some corporation paid for it to happen; it's all about making money somewhere and with polotics, that's all it's ever about.

I look forward to the day when the law represents the interests of the people it is supposed to serve... call it a hunch but surely if there are more people using these systems than people who want to get rid of them... surely the very nature of government should be to embrace it? THis goes for all western democracies not just the aussie land...

I may be asking for trouble and flames but.... with all the web-based social tools out there to share files and WOWC updates, are P2P sites and apps even necessary? We can't ignore the majority of users using P2P for illegal media sharing. I feel social networking tools can limit the number of illegal transactions. I know to most of you control by any company of any internet technology seems prophetic as some type of new world order, but there's a real problem that needs to be addressed. Ultimately, if individual sites like Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo, etc were held accountable for the activity of social groups sharing media, the problem would be reduced greatly.

seebaran said,
I may be asking for trouble and flames but.... with all the web-based social tools out there to share files and WOWC updates, are P2P sites and apps even necessary? We can't ignore the majority of users using P2P for illegal media sharing.

Stop talking sense and start getting outraged. Yeah, so P2P is 99.99% illegal stuff. But who will think of the Linux ISOs and WoW patches?!?! This has nothing to do with getting free **** off the internet, it's all about censorship don't you know? Pffftt.....

I think the Internet will be shut down one day by the powers that started it, because too many "bad" things happen on the internet. Internet will die in Australia first..... probably..... then everyone will ask Australia to give them the technology to shut down the internet, and presto. The internet is shut down.

Back to snail mail for Google search perhaps after that? What will happen to Google and the internet companies?

kljs said,
I think the Internet will be shut down one day by the powers that started it, because too many "bad" things happen on the internet. Internet will die in Australia first..... probably..... then everyone will ask Australia to give them the technology to shut down the internet, and presto. The internet is shut down...


What are you talking about?
There are a number of reasons why the internet will never be and cannot be 'shut down'

1) All business traffic goes through the internet (except for some financial giants who have their own dedicated lines between offices in different countries). My company has offices in many countries around the world and we get SecureId VPN access into the company. The world is basically a global economy. When one country suffers, other countries feel that pain. Countries cannot afford to be isolated.

2) In the UK (and I am sure that it applies in other countries), the internet infrastructure is owned by a private company (BT for ADSL, Virgin for cable). Even if all other countries shut down the internet, if BT and Virgin left their infrastructure turned on, then the UK could still surf the web for UK sites.

iPlayer uses P2P technology to deliver the tv shows, without it ISPs such as BT and Virgin will have even higher costs.

Good old Australia, dancing to the "New World Order". They can try what they like, but people will find a way around, even if it means posting 30 cents CD's or DVD via snail mail (do you remember that network?).

If this thing starts to happen, next will go free speech on the web. IP's of the "alternative news" web sites, such as Rense.com and WhatReallyhappened.com etc. will soon be on the list. If this comes to the UK, I'll be ending my ADSL account, and going back to dial up.

They powers that be, who have also decide that we all need to pay "carbon credits" will never control private dial up bullet-in boards. In the early days of modems, these were great fun, and felt pioneering (before the Internet or AOL /Compuserve.) I will not miss the demise of the Internet, any more than I've seen TV's decline.

People of Australia, talk to your ISP's, threaten to terminate contracts, if they persist down this route. Now is the time to get angry.

Yup. The good senator is on the right path. In order to stop P2P, there is only one way. The path towards total "Shutting down the internet forever". The most simple yet effective way to combat P2P. And Australia is on the right track. Awesome.

Wouldn't enabling packet encryption in whatever torrent application you use prevent your ISP from knowing what's what?

Back pre-PS3, my old ISP (Virgin Media) implemented "traffic shaping", and made a complete hash of it. They'd failed to take into account non-P2P traffic that actually used P2P like methods to propagate - i.e. online gaming traffic (specifically in my case, PS2 online). And effectively killed all online gaming for 3mths.

As Steve Irwin would have said - Crikey!

wow, thats BS. sucks to be in Australia. some companys depend on bit torrent for distributing their content. blizzard is just one of many.

This is the first step.

Then once the system is in place, it takes no more than a few clicks to start blocking materials they don't want people to see. The same thing happens in China, as the spotlight is no longer on China until World Expo in 2010, they will pretty much do what they always did. Block all websites that criticizes the administration, all websites that depicts the cultural revolution, and any websites that considers Taiwan as a separate country.

Nowadays I can't even browse the web properly over here without using Tor/Freegate.

NOOOOOOooooooooooooooo actually wouldn't surprise me with all this censorship they are planning to do.

I understand the filtering of sites that have access to child porn, god knows anyone who access's that filth should be locked up, and im all for having ISP's block sites that have that stuff, but to filter bittorrent, which is used for legal purposes (WoW updates and other things) I think is just silly.

Aussies should have known what to expect when they vote in the ALP.

Kinda glad, I don't live there anymore, but I will still go back and visit, I love the land of OZ.
There are way to circumvent this filtering by using a VPN to other countries.

This is just attempted communism and it will fail like all other internet filtering and "protection" schemes have failed in the past because the people who use the internet are too smart.

The excuse of removing "unsavoury content" is just a reason to get their foot in the door, if the scheme is a success it won't be long before other things are also filtered.

It's doomed to failure but I am still angry about this obvious attack on freedom of speech (not that we actually have that right in Australia). Some consultancy firm is making millions at the expense of the public for a futile project.

Well done Rudd.

You can never get rid of P2P, it'll revert back to FTP/HTTP or something superior.
Would P2P be considered a file transfer over MSN? Or using LiveMesh and private folders for your close friends.
My point proven, this is just a waste of taxpayers money!

Something superior... try blocking a fully encrypted p2p application such as "Perfect Dark"... measures such as proposed by Australia's authoritarian regime will only grow the user base of the more sophisticated p2p applications. These applications currently have smaller user bases due to bandwidth throughput limitations imposed by the technology used in the encryption and interleaving of requested and unrequested data to obscure what is actually being downloaded. However, political actions such as these almost guarantee the adoption and popularization of alternative p2p sources.

Budious said,
Something superior... try blocking a fully encrypted p2p application such as "Perfect Dark"... measures such as proposed by Australia's authoritarian regime will only grow the user base of the more sophisticated p2p applications. These applications currently have smaller user bases due to bandwidth throughput limitations imposed by the technology used in the encryption and interleaving of requested and unrequested data to obscure what is actually being downloaded. However, political actions such as these almost guarantee the adoption and popularization of alternative p2p sources.

Which is bad for the general public. Once the government realizes these measures are not stopping the real criminals, they will step up the measures, further restricting the general public, to stop these people. Look at the mess we are currently in with DRM? every time someone finds away around it, the companies make the protection more intrusive!

What I'm interested is the side effects on legitimate services these measures will have (like WoW for example) will these companies just abandon the Australian people or will they try and fight this? (I suspect they'd just pull out - still even doing so it will create more angry citizens, perhaps when most of the country goes into riot the Gov might realize they screwed up??)

Xerxes said,
Which is bad for the general public. Once the government realizes these measures are not stopping the real criminals, they will step up the measures, further restricting the general public, to stop these people. Look at the mess we are currently in with DRM? every time someone finds away around it, the companies make the protection more intrusive!
But they can't keep following that minority because eventually the other 99% of users get frustrated, throw up their arms and they have a big issue on their hands all of a sudden. Using your DRM one as an example the huge outlash when it came to Spore on the likes of Amazon ect shows that alot of users will eventually catch on and get frustrated. Even if they don't understand the full debate, many will side with friends or whatever who are technically inclined before they begin to side with the company's in question.

The government can't keep chasing because eventually they will just be blocking all internet traffic and no one will stand for it.

those guys are really living up their dream of becoming an offshoot of mainland China...only this time with a twist, cause let me tell you BT's not an issue for the central government up mainland way!

excalpius said,
shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! The first rule of Usenet is...

Exactly. Keep that to yourself good sir, less you ruin it for everyone.

What happened to our freedom of speech? You shouldn't limit the internet to what it can do, BitTorrent does have other purposes than illegal matters

What freedom of speech? Australians aren't granted an unequivocal right to free speech, only a limited free speech right in relation to political speech.

For the record, this Internet filtering is absurd, but what annoys me the most is the complete back flip from pre-election policies. The government went from an opt-out internet filter pre-election, to a mandatory filter blocking whatever content they deem to be worth blocking, including P2P technologies (which aren't inherently illegal). Furthermore, this is no the only policy that has mysteriously appeared post-election without any warning. I have no idea whom I'm going to vote for in the next federal election, but I know it won't be for the Australian Labor Party.

kl33per said,
I have no idea whom I'm going to vote for in the next federal election, but I know it won't be for the Australian Labor Party.

I'm voting for the greens. They're the only party that stands up to this nonsense. We also have to push out Family First.. they're the ones behind all this.

kl33per said,
For the record, this Internet filtering is absurd, but what annoys me the most is the complete back flip from pre-election policies.

They are polititians, did it surprise you?

Vezineth said,
HEH , ever went to the middle east ? Even Wiki articles are blocked in abundance.

what nonsense are you spreading ???????

i live in middle east and nothing is censored/blocked ! especially not wiki

I went to Dubai/Abu Dhabi and I was having tons of problems. On alot of sites images wouldn''t even load' just the text.. thats if it wasn't blocked for some random reason.

My friends step dad was on cam to his mum, and his step dad (in Abu Dhabi) took his top off and instantly the connection was dropped.. Its crazy there, but the idea is becoming more popular

No it's not, Australia and China are best buddies! and this is only the beginning, I bet in less then 50 years Australia will be completely cutoff from the internet and the reason for it will be "to protect our children" ....it makes me sick (I'm Australian :P)

I don't mean to suggest that Bittorrent is only used for piracy but 99% of content is illegal so should ISPs really give it the benefit of the doubt? I oppose censorship but few people use Bittorrent for anything other than illegal content.

theyarecomingforyou said,
I don't mean to suggest that Bittorrent is only used for piracy but 99% of content is illegal so should ISPs really give it the benefit of the doubt? I oppose censorship but few people use Bittorrent for anything other than illegal content.

The article itself points out a very substantial legitimate use of the protocol - World of Warcraft updates (and I wouldn't be surprised if more programs use it). Linux LiveCDs/DVDs are best got via torrent as well, as the torrent program MD5 checksums each chunk of data, rather than you downloading 600Mb-4Gb of data only to discover the entire lot is useless because of a few Kb. Then there is loads of scientific data that can be got via torrent - high resolution photos from NASA. Plenty of things right there that are legitimate and that's just off the top of my head.

Fourjays said,
The article itself points out a very substantial legitimate use of the protocol - World of Warcraft updates (and I wouldn't be surprised if more programs use it). Linux LiveCDs/DVDs are best got via torrent as well...

Except, I have heard teachers say that Linux is illegal.

theyarecomingforyou said,
....but 99% of content is illegal....

Just as 94.728% of statistics are made up and plucked out of thin air.

markjensen said,
Except, I have heard teachers say that Linux is illegal. ;)

Are you being serious? Because, that's ****ing hilarious if true.

Fourjays said,
The article itself points out a very substantial legitimate use of the protocol - World of Warcraft updates

So one game using Bittorrent to distribute updates means you have to tolerate the other 99% of data that is illegal? I understand what you're saying, and I agree, but really it would be better for the minority using the technology legitimately to move on to something that restricts piracy. It's like guns... they can be used recreationally but their primary purpose is to be used against people / animals.

My point is: where do you draw the line? If 6 billion people use P2P for piracy and 1 person uses it for legitimate content does that mean it should be allowed to continue?

This article is not accurate.

Not all Australian ISPs are affected, it's only the ISPs who are participating in the trials!

Its no different than when other ISP's try to block P2P/Torrent traffic. Just use encryption and switch ports. Its annoying when ISP's throttle your torrents. Bell Sympatico does it between 5PM-2AM everyday here in Ontario.