Portions of Wikileaks, Wikipedia blocked in Australia

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Friday, March 20, 2009

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Portions of Wikileaks.org, the "uncensorable Wikipedia for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis", has been blocked in Australia. Wikinews has also learned that three URL links to Wikipedia, a free, online encyclopedia anyone can edit, have also been blocked. Portions of the video sharing website YouTube have also been blocked.

The websites are among thousands of others that the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), a government owned entity, block access to when using their blocking software. The alleged three lists, from 2008 and 2009, were leaked to Wikileaks who published the documents. Most of the blocked websites are ones hosting hardcore pornography. According to their website, the ACMA's role in regards to the internet is to "address community concerns about offensive and illegal material online and, in particular, to protect children from exposure to material that is unsuitable for them."

Screen shot showing the blocked URLs of Wikipedia.
Image: Sunshine Press.org.

Despite the alleged leak, Stephen Conroy, the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy in Australia, much of the listed websites were never an issue with the ACMA, but that some of the websites are. He also goes on to say that anyone publishing the content of the ACMA's list will face criminal prosecution.

"I am aware of reports that a list of URLs has been placed on a website. This is not the ACMA blacklist. ACMA is investigating this matter and is considering a range of possible actions it may take including referral to the Australian Federal Police. Any Australian involved in making this content publicly available would be at serious risk of criminal prosecution," said Conroy in a statement to the press. Wikileaks insists the list is real and that publishing the three of them reflects what ones were added in the past, then removed or vice versa.

"Between the 11th and yesterday, the company did an enormous cleanup of the list. No doubt as a result of the list appearing on Wikileaks. Where the list previously contained over 2000 URLs, and Conroy and the ACMA claimed 'See! Our 'current list' never contained that many URLs', this new list is about the size the ACMA claimed it to be," said Wikileaks in a statement posted on their website.

Wikileaks recently leaked documents that revealed the ACMA's alleged list of 2,395 blocked websites, portions of Wikileaks being among them. Of the three lists, the final one shows that the ACMA "cleaned up" their list, according to Wikileaks. The ACMA warns websites that link to blocked websites. One of the blacklisted URLs to Wikileaks includes a leaked list of blocked websites in Denmark. Not included on the list is the leaked list of blocked websites in Thailand.

"This week saw Australia joining China and the United Arab Emirates as the only countries censoring Wikileaks. We were not notified by ACMA. Australian democracy must not be permitted to sleep with this loaded gun. If Australia's 'Senator for Censorship', Steven Conroy, has his way, Australia will be the first Western country to have a mandatory Internet censorship regime," said Wikileaks in another statement on their website. "The first rule of censorship is that you cannot talk about censorship".

The audition studio for aspiring adult film actors at Lucas Entertainment's offices in New York City. This image is the first image uploaded in a series of at least three, before the deleted image which is on the ACMA's list.
Image: David Shankbone.

Portions of Wikipedia blocked include a photo taken by Wikinews contributor David Shankbone titled The making of an adult film by David Shankbone. The URL was added to the ACMA's list on July 28, 2008. However, Wikinews has learned that the file was deleted from Wikimedia Commons on January 21, by Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales by "user request: Courtesy delete per request of uploader". It was deleted more than one year after the ACMA added the URL to its list. Other portions of Wikipedia that are blocked are pages belonging to users Cyde and Ewlyahoocom. Wikinews contacted the ACMA for a statement, but as of this report, there was no response. Wikinews also contacted Mr. Wales who confirmed the file was deleted because he was asked to do so.

"The deletion log says it all. Courtesy delete per request of uploader. This had nothing to do with Australia," said Wales to Wikinews. Wales did not say whether he was aware of the specific file linked to Wikipedia was being blocked. The Wikipedia URLs appear on all three lists leaked by Wikileaks. Another image, in the same photo set was also deleted by Mr. Wales on the same day, but that URL does not appear on the alleged ACMA list. It underwent a request for deletion in 2008, which was later deleted despite it being discussed as 'keep'. An anonymous source told Wikinews that the images were sexually explicit and featured three men, pornography star Michael Lucas, Rodrigo diCarli and Kurt Wild, having anal intercourse. Shankbone told Wikinews that he has "no comment for this story."

Websites caught linking to or promoting websites on the ACMA's block list could face a fine of AU$11,000 per day if they don't remove the content in question within 24 hours of receiving a notice from the ACMA. The same standard can be enforced on an international level. Fines can be imposed on websites outside Australia that link to material on its list.


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