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Curiouser and curiouser: Aussie gov censors the censorship news

Now we're not allowed to know who is responsible

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Debate over internet filtering in Australia is rapidly descending from high comedy into total farce, as Communications Minister Stephen Conroy ploughs on with his interesting approach of never committing just one gaffe when he can so easily commit two.

The issue, yet again, is focused on a script on the home page of the Communications Ministry which very cleverly displays a tag cloud containing containing search terms related to government policy, but - as El Reg reported last week - even more cleverly excludes the term "internet filtering" from its search.

This time, it’s the origin of the script that is under the microscope, as sharp-eyed techies noticed last week that the code contained a reference both to the original author of the script - a blogger and web developer named Aleks Bochniak – and the name of the individual who modified it.

Bochniak is reported as saying: "No, I didn’t write it for their website. They must have taken a version of my ‘tag cloud’ Javascript off one of my website tutorials. Their code is basically a modified version of mine."

However techies could, at least last week, have discovered the identity of the person whose code was "borrowed" by government. Not any more, however, as not only has Bochniak’s name been removed – but also the name of the person who amended it, allegedly "at the request of family members".

Curiouser and curiouser.

Meanwhile, what about the exclusion of that pesky search term?

In answer to questions about why the department has done this, officials have claimed it is merely to cut down on overlapping terms. According to one spokesperson: "The word wall on the minister’s website is a visual representation of communication from the minister via media releases. ISP-level filtering is part of the Government’s cyber safety policy and cyber safety is represented on the word wall."

As explanations go, this is something of a fail, since the tag cloud continues to highlight multiple references to subjects like Digital TV and broadcasting.

The plot thickens, as questions about the Minister’s conduct on this issue continue to pile up, and the explanations – as well as the response – grow ever more bizarre. ®

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