Electronic Frontiers Australia spokesman receives death threat for opposing the Great Firewall of Australia

Ed James sez, "A News.com.au article describing how a vocal critic of the Australian Government's plan ISP-level internet filtering was threatened by telephone and warned to stay silent. For me and all right-minded Australian, this is a new low in this absurdist plot. We are so busy laughing at George Bush's America, we didn't notice we are fast becoming the laughing stock of the free world."

I guess if you're the kind of person willing to suppress the intellectual liberty of an entire nation in a half-baked scheme to fight the child-porn bogeyman, it's not a huge stretch to suppressing the intellectual liberty of your opponents with intimidation.

"I got home from work and found a message on my answering machine telling me to keep my name out of the paper," he said.

"It said to 'cut the libertarian bullsh–' or I'd be sorry."

Under the Government's controversial plan all Australians will be served a "clean feed" by internet service providers, with websites on a secret blacklist blocked.

Death threats are rattling, no matter how trivial they may seem. Though the American guy who was calling my UK mobile number at 4AM last spring was so incompetent and fumbletongued in his voicemails that I worried more that he'd choke on his own slobber than make it across the pond to me.

Electronic Frontiers Australia member Geordie Guy receives death threat over web filter plan

(Thanks, Ed!)


  1. Unfortunately, the Australian bicameral system means that conservative religious groups have a political influence that is disproportionate relative to its support in the population.

    Which is why we have book censorship, comics censorship, film censorship, games censorship and now, soon, internet censorship.

  2. Anyone know what’s going to happen to little New Zealand’s internet if Oz implements this? Our network access is dependent on the Southern Cross cable which loops from Oz -> NZ -> US Mainland -> Hawaii -> Oz. Will we be “cleaned” if our data is routed via Big Brother next door?

  3. Not to burst your bubble, but “you’ll be sorry” isn’t a death threat – unless the person saying it is waving a weapon in your face or something at the time.

  4. Takuan asks why doesn’t NZ rule Australia?

    Because they are all too busy gently caressing sheep. (c;


    I don’t think this has anything to do with our political system. As relieved as I am to have a Labor government in, Rudd is a morally conservative devout Catholic, and the Government is keen to see this legislation through.

    Its crap, it won’t work, and it will slow down our network infrastructure.

    Advocacy group Get Up have a great fact sheet here:

    And an online petition here:

    Save the interweb!

  5. @ Takuan: NZ just introduced mandatory “3 accusations of infringing copyright = disconnection” for their intarwebs. Not much better over there :(

  6. @AEON, No SX also has a direct path to Hawaii from New Zealand and even if it didn’t it affects only ISPs in Australia.

  7. @ Robulus @ 8:
    Rudd, though raised a Roman Catholic, has been attending Anglican churches since the 1980s. Also, while he believes that religious groups should be welcome to participate in debate he believes policies and laws should be secular.

    To deny the role our political system plays is naive. Much of the censorship and many of the socially conservative laws that restrict our freedoms in Australia were used to buy off the notorious paleo-conservative Senator Brian Harradine. Harradine held the balance of power in the Senate for many years and used this to gain significant concessions from the Howard Government. Senators Steve Fielding and Nick Xenophon are now using this position to further their own agendas; religious conservatism for Fielding, and anti-poker machine legislation for Xenophon.

    Many in the government are opposed to the Firewall for reasons of free speech and because of the impact it will have on our infrastructure.

    A number of observers believe the firewall will not happen and that the proposed trial is being set up to fail. It is a misguided attempt to buy the support of Fielding and Xenophon – to say “we tried, but it is impossible” – in order to gain votes on other issues.

  8. @ #6

    ‘you’ll be sorry’ isn’t the full text of the threat. The police are taking the threat seriously, and they wouldn’t if that was all there is to it.

  9. G’day guys, Geordie Guy here (yeah, that one).

    A lot of comments on various news outlets about the story today, including ones questioning whether the threat was a “death threat” – these are valid questions. What I have (still) on my answering machine at the moment is;

    “Cut the libertarian bullshit Geordie. We want an authoritarian regime… you need to cut the libertarian bullshit…. and if I EVER catch you in the media in the same vein as I’ve seen? You’ll be VERY fucking sorry buddy.”

    Your call. I personally don’t understand how I could be posthumously sorry, I imagine in death I’d be ambivalent about this and everything. But your call. Was I terrified by the message? Yeah. Absolutely. If you are surprised by my candour you should hear the guy’s tone of voice, he’s angry; in a way I’ve never been angry.

    It’s NEVER ok to oppose anything by threats of any sort, including death threats or threats of violence. If everyone keeps civil throughout this, maybe we can get a great result.


  10. this is all rather moot now isn’t it? Australia will be uninhabitable in another decade from drought.

  11. “We are so busy laughing at George Bush’s America, we didn’t notice we are fast becoming the laughing stock of the free world.”

    See also: ‘Great’ Britain.

  12. I’d honestly never heard of someone getting a death threat for being too libertarian. Too conservative, liberal, leftist, black, white, religious, atheist, loud, whatever. But too libertarian? Although my sympathies are certainly libertarian, isn’t that like sending a death threat to a Mennonite or something? Stop living your life without bugging anyone… or ELSE!

  13. I just can’t believe that threat came from anyone official, or even doing their dirty work. It’s just a nutjob that got his hands on Guy’s home phone number.

    Proponents of “authoritarian regimes” tend not to refer to themselves or their party as such. They call themselves things like “the people’s government”, “freedom fighters”, “liberators”, and their opponents “regimes”.

  14. @15 Takuan

    You’d think that, but check this article.

    Army fights floods, flames.

    So whilst at least 108 people have died in Victoria due to the worst bushfires the country has ever seen, people have drowned in flood waters in Queensland.

    Also I’ve already said a lot on the Australian Internet filtering issue so all I’ll say is it disgusts me that anyone receives these sorts of threats over a political debate.

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