Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?

The Great Firewall of Canada 399

engtech writes "Canadian carriers Bell Aliant, Bell Canada, MTS Allstream, Rogers, SaskTel, Shaw, TELUS, and Videotron have all opted in to a blacklist, dubbed Project Cleanfeed Canada, provided by, the Canadian tip-line against child exploitation. The idea of having a national blacklist sends shivers down my spine. I'm a pessimist, I believe that any form of censorship will eventually be abused despite it's good intentions." Besides engtech's post on the subject, Dr. Michael Geist has some considered comments about this issue. From that post: "Critics are quick to draw parallels to Internet censorship in countries such as China. However, those countries involve state-based content blocking, with no transparency or legal recourse. In fact, several democracies — most notably Australia — have established limited blocking rules, while British Telecom, the UK's largest ISP, voluntarily blocks child pornography as part of its CleanFeed program. Even with various legal safeguards, many Canadians would undoubtedly find the blocking of any content distasteful. Yet to do nothing is to leave in place an equally unpalatable outcome that silences those would speak out against unlawful hate speech for fear of personal harm."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

The Great Firewall of Canada

Comments Filter:
  • Um, come again? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by freeweed ( 309734 ) on Friday November 24, 2006 @01:46AM (#16970900)
    many Canadians would undoubtedly find the blocking of any content distasteful. Yet to do nothing is to leave in place an equally unpalatable outcome that silences those would speak out against unlawful hate speech for fear of personal harm

    No, to do nothing is to allow free speech on both sides. Blacklists, or lack thereof aren't going to help OR stop people from speaking out against hate speech. All they'll do is prevent speech of some sort.

    This Canadian doesn't follow the logic here at all.
  • by thedarknite ( 1031380 ) on Friday November 24, 2006 @01:48AM (#16970914) Homepage
    From the description of what the ISPs have opted into, I don't see too many problems with it. However, there should be some way of being able to review who is on the blacklist and why, so there is some recourse for sites that are listed without actually violating any laws.
  • by A beautiful mind ( 821714 ) on Friday November 24, 2006 @01:49AM (#16970916)
    How does a process tell the difference between two images, nonetheless two nude people, one 16 and the other 18?
  • by alshithead ( 981606 ) * on Friday November 24, 2006 @01:52AM (#16970930)
    Here's the obvious problem first. What about sites that are blacklisted where it may not be justified? As an example how about a site that describes and depicts physical differences in human anatomy for educational purposes. I've seen pictures in medical texts that could be considered child pornography just because they showed full frontal nudity of subjects at different ages to compare physical development as humans age.

    The other issue I see is that an ISP can block whatever they want. It is their choice as business. If the customer is not happy with their policies or practices then they can choose not to be a customer any longer.

    Here in the US the government does censor at times despite the first amendment to the Constitution. But, I think the Supreme Court has historically done a decent job of ruling in favor of free speech.
  • Personal Freedom? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by C0R1D4N ( 970153 ) on Friday November 24, 2006 @01:57AM (#16970960)
    What happened to personal freedom? There's nanny-bots for people who want it, do we really need the ISPs/Governments deciding what's best for everyone? The really bad stuff will find ways around it and all that will be truly blocked is that which probably shouldn't be.
  • How and why? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by delirium of disorder ( 701392 ) on Friday November 24, 2006 @02:29AM (#16971142) Homepage Journal
    How do they plan on blocking any particular content? How can anyone who doesn't have an account on my machine know what is hosted and perhaps available to thousands of other people (who do have accounts) over ssh? How can anyone tell the origin of a IP packet sent over tor? How can an ISP block offending anonymous remailers or freenet sites? THEY CAN'T. Censoring the Internet is not possible without destroying the Internet.

    Perhaps they want to censor the web, but most of the Internet would still be free. The dissidents will still get their message out and the porn lovers will still download whatever kink they desire. Attempts to censor the web will just make it hard for corporations to make money because the web is the user-friendly commercial face of the Internet and people will start using other services if they can't find the content that they want over http.

    On a different note, what is so wrong about sharing "child" porn? People sexually mature several years before the legal age of consent, and during that "gap" they tend to have sex. Often they take pictures of these activities. Why should we throw innocent teenagers in jail just because they want to practice free love and share images of themselves doing thing that they enjoy? What if they want to share some of these images with a legal adult, what is wrong with that?

    Certainly raping a young person is wrong, just as raping any person is wrong. But owning a picture of rape should not be illegal, just as owning a picture of any other crime (even murder or genocide) should not be illegal. If pictures were taken under conditions of coercion, it is the coercion that is wrong and illegal, not the pictures! If pictures of underage humans were taken under consensual conditions, no crime was even committed in the act of taking them. Why should these images be illegal?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 24, 2006 @03:49AM (#16971550)
    That a lot of people in the first world, much like a drug addict, refuse to recognise a situation when it applies to them...for instance

    There is one other country in the world that has passed laws comparable with America's regarding detention without trial...which one was it...well Apartheid South Africa..."Oh" I hear the masses cry..."but thats ok, we're not like those racist bigots so that makes it ok...we're not going to use it for ill, only to that makes it fine" .

    What damn well happened to the first world? From the peoples that set out to end the third reich to basically "we'll let you do anything you want so long as you keep us safe"...

    well folks this rant is all rather cliched and tired...but damnit it the point needs to be made....

    1. in the 1920's, Weimar germany, a bunch of people basically let a man do what ever he wanted as long as they could be kept safe. Of one particular ethnic group, many refused to believe that that man would abuse his power, and failed to leave the country.
    2. From 1948 to 1994 , a particular ethnic group in south africa gave up much of its freedom and responsibility, and placed it in the hands of n arrogant minority who pretty much did whatever they liked and ruled by fear. That, basically, is how 60 years of misguided thinking gets indoctrinated into a populace...most white people in S.A. pre 1990 were convinced by their government and believed wholeheartedly that ANC 'terrorists' were out to kill them all and handed over all their power in exchange for 'safety'...result...endless bloodshed, racism, violence and strife between ethnic groups

    But well, it's ok, because we're canadian, we're british, we're american, it could never happen to us, let them pass that law, what the hell

  • Re:Um, come again? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) on Friday November 24, 2006 @05:34AM (#16972146) Journal
    "We Canadians don't tend to get so worked up about individual freedoms when the common good is at stake."

    We Aussies have a similar attitude, but I contend that the "common good" is served by a "free speech" as idealised in the US constitution and elwehere. I have no objections to blacklists for adults, provided the adult has a transparent choice. As for the wide availability of child porn and other "evils" on the net, if you find it report it to the cops (or your MP) as evidence of a possible crime.

    I firmly belive (ie: I only have anecdotes), that the internet has done more to catch "rock spiders" than it has to encourage them (re: Denmark/Interpol/90's). The most horrifying example of "evil exposed by free speech" I have seen recently has nothing to do with the net or child porn, it was from Bob Geldof's "the four horsemen". ( Part of this fascinating BBC series [] ).

    He warns the squimish and kids to leave the room then tells the story of an African "rebel leader" who steals pre-pubecent children and trains them as a personal child army. Every evening all the towns and villages around the "rebel leader's" mountain camp see an exodous of children. They are headed in all directions five or so miles into the desert where they can sleep on open ground in relative safety.

    When the unlucky ones are first kiddnapped, escape routes are made obvious so their tormentors can catch the first few to swallow the bait and try to escape. Those that are caught are taken back to the hut they "escaped" from, the other "fresh recruits" in the hut are then forced to kill the escapee by biting them to death! Those that fail to have meat in their mouth after taking a bite are themselves bitten or killed by their captors, self preservation rapidly ensures the order is followed. Those that survive the "army trainning" are understandably loyal fanatics who perpetuate the "system".

    Free speech brings the human coackroaches out in the open and allows us to collectively step on them. Geldof made a dircet plea on the show when he said "I would like someone to go into the mountains, find the warlord, and kill him". Some would say Geldof is guilty of hate speech, inciting violence or that he exploited the ( visibly anxious ) children he filmed and interviewed simply to make a cheap political point. I'm not one of them, I think it should be required viewing in high school media classes and UN meetings.
  • by elgaard ( 81259 ) <elgaard AT agol DOT dk> on Friday November 24, 2006 @06:08AM (#16972362) Homepage
    Well, we have seen the slippery slope in other countries.

    Here in Denmark we have had such a system for more than a year.
    The police get secret blacklists from the "Save The Children" organization. The polices have signed contracts with all Danish ISP's.
    There are government reports talking about blocking hate speech, racism, and threats of violence.
    Last month a danish ISP was ordered to block by a court ruling, referring to the these filters. []

    In Italy they are blocking foreign gambling sites.

    Having a system where the police are supplieng list of sites for ISP's to block is not a good thing.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 24, 2006 @07:56AM (#16972972)
    Some time ago I was the System Administrator at a fairly small law firm in Australia. Fairly free access to apps and the internet, by request- the partners just have to have their freedom, but I was pretty strict on client-level security.

    Anyway one day I happened to discover, while doing some routine maintenance after hours, a collection of images on a partner's PC which was certainly "child porn". Nothing terrible really, none of this rape stuff, seemed like old nudist magazines from the 70s mostly, when it was all still perfectly legal (and here's an obscure fact for you - only one child has ever died from her involvement in child pornography, she died of a heart attack, allegedly because her mother was encouraging her to work too much). Also there were images which I happen to know to be perfectly legal in somewhere like Japan, but illegal in Australia.

    I believe pretty strongly in free speech, with basically no exceptions. The whole concept of an "illegal image" is totally insane to me, and so there was no way I was going to ruin this guy's life by making a big scene of it. I decided the best way was to quietly delete what I found, and take steps so he couldn't get any more. So I started discretely surveilling his behaviour with the view of blocking the vector by which the material had made it onto his PC. Breach of ethics? Maybe. But it's a tricky situation and I just wanted to "make it stop" without any unnecessary damage to anyone.

    Anyway, after a couple of weeks of this, I knew precisely from where this material was sourced. It was all from common P2P such as eDonkey and BT. The BT trackers included Pirate Bay, believe it or not, and even some US web sites, but most of it in China.

    To cut a long story short I blocked his access to P2P applications and wrote an email telling him that they were unsafe, dropping a few hints about legality - dressed it up as "you could be violating copyright using these kind of programs" but as an intelligent guy he got the message. He deleted his own "downloads" folder, uninstalled the apps, and didn't do it again, on any of my PCs anyway.

    I cannot believe the guy is a criminal - he's mid forties, big fat and red in the face, with a big smile and ready laugh. No kids. Balding, always ready with a joke. One of my favourite clients! Who knows why he wanted to look at what he did, and who fricking cares. I'm sick of the climate of fear around "child porn" and there was no way I was going to do the most assholish thing of my life and absolutely screw this nice guy's whole life just to make some kind of self-righteous point about how much I'm "thinking of the children" - give me a fucking break!

    Anyway, don't really know why I typed all this but hope someone found it interesting.
  • Re:Chilling effect (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bogado ( 25959 ) <> on Friday November 24, 2006 @08:06AM (#16973008) Homepage Journal
    Some people define sex with a child as sexual abuse, so for those people it already work as you said.

    The main problem is that many people overreact to mundane things and see sexual behavior where there is none. this seem particularly true in very conservative communities, see for instance all the noise around a parents magazine that were doing a pro-breast-feeding campaign and putted a mother feeding her baby in the cover. Or how many people were shocked by the desperate attempt of getting some attention of a singer that flashed her naked breast in a national event in the US.

    In my opinion the more you forbid, the more something is prohibited, more people will search those things and usually in a more deviant fashion. So, yes I believe that all this paranoia around pedophilia is creating a new kind of pedophiles that are dirtier and dangerous. But please don't read this as "green light" for child abuse or sex with children, I don't think it is right. But the over reaction in common situations can have a bad effect, there is somewhere in the line from "not allowing children to sit on Santa's lap in the mall" and "allowing child porn" where there is a good equilibrium.
  • Re:Um, come again? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Shelled ( 81123 ) on Friday November 24, 2006 @11:51AM (#16974852)
    "We Canadians don't tend to get so worked up about individual freedoms when the common good is at stake."

    What? Since you're so in favour of it, please exercise a little self-censorship here or at the very least make it clear you speak only for yourself and not Canada. I know no other Canadians who are pro-corporate run censorship. The irony is I found this a particularly American approach, using outside government entities to apply remedies outside the government's powers. Make no mistake, the major ISPs like Rogers , Bell and Chorus all have large broadcast media wings heavily reliant on the CRTC's favourable rulings for survival. The CRTC will use this to force ISPs into become their contract censors. You may be the only of we Canadians who think this is grand.
    My guess: old regime Ottawa Liberal?
  • by Xenographic ( 557057 ) on Friday November 24, 2006 @01:47PM (#16976200) Journal
    What boggles me is why they need a blacklist? Surely it would be far more effective to simply shut down the site and put the operator(s) in jail?

    I mean, why would you allow a site with child pornography (which is illegal almost everywhere) to remain up when you could contact the relevant authorities. Well, unless you really wanted a blacklist for unrelated things that aren't illegal... :-/

Nothing is finished until the paperwork is done.