Not only is the list published by whistleblower website Wikileaks over the weekend “definitely” the ACMA blacklist of banned internet content, it’s also “rubbish”, according to an industry source.

Senator Stephen Conroy finally admitted that the Wikileaked material “seemed to be close” to ACMA’s current blacklist of banned internet content. Given the evidence Crikey presented yesterday, that was obvious. What’s so hard about saying “Yes”, Minister?

ACMA’s blacklist is compiled from complaints received from the public. Manufacturers of internet filters pay $15,000 for the list, which must be included in their products to be eligible to participate in the government’s current field tests of ISP-level internet filtering.

Our contact in the internet filtering industry is highly critical of the ACMA blacklist’s quality.

“I’ve had a look at the list and it’s rubbish,” they told Crikey this morning.

“I wouldn’t pay $100 for it, let alone $15,000. That list would make my filtering look really bad,” they said.

The leaked ACMA blacklist dated 18 March 2009 contains 1168 URLs (distinct web addresses), of which roughly half relate to child p-rnography or child-abuse material. The rest is material Refused Classification (RC) for other reasons, or is rated MA15+ or higher without an age-verification mechanism in place. Or “potentially” so on the secret say-so of an unaccountable ACMA staffer.

Our source says around two-thirds of the URLs in the ACMA blacklist don’t go anywhere or are otherwise out of date. By comparison, their own company’s list contains around quarter of a million URLs covering child-related activity alone, checked every three months to remove out of date or inactive entries.

In other words, ACMA’s blacklist of stumbled-upon material reported by the public represents maybe 0.2% of the child-abuse material on the public web, let alone what might be traded secretly.

Meanwhile, German police have raided the homes of a Wikileaks volunteer, Theodor Reppe, in Dresden and Jena. Wikileaks says that according to police documentation, the search was for “distribution of p-rnographic material” and “discovery of evidence”. Reppe is the registrant the German internet domain Wikileaks.de.

“The raid appears to be related to a recent German social hysteria around child p-rnography and the controversial battle for a national censorship system by the German family minister Ursula von der Leyen,” Wikileaks writes.

There’s wild speculation on Twitter and in the blogosphere that the raid was related to the leak of the Australian blacklist. However Wikileaks has also published the internet censorship blacklists of Denmark, Norway and Thailand.

Some media reports have claimed Reppe “owns” Wikileaks. Wikileaks in fact operates from Sweden, and Reppe merely sponsored the registration of their German domain name. Neither does Reppe “own” Tor, the network of proxy servers used to help preserve anonymity on the internet. He merely runs one popular German node on this global network.

The German police “search protocol” document shows that Reppe was not informed of his rights. Reppe also claims that he did not agree to “not having a witness” present, and has refused to counter-sign the documentation. Obviously this has the potential to invalidate any evidence gathered.

Footnote: Senator Conroy is a panellist on ABC TV’s Q&A tonight, responding live to questions from the public. ABC Radio reported this morning that they’d received more than a thousand questions specifically about the government’s internet filtering plans. Fun for all the family.

Peter Fray

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