domain-owner's house raided over publication of secret government censorship lists

The home of Theodor Reppe, who owns the domain, was raided by German police in retaliation for Wikileaks' publication of the secret government blocklists from around the world, like the Australian list of forbidden sites. The "ACMA" list is supposed to be a list of child porn and other illegal sites, and it is the backbone of a proposal to censor the entire Australian Internet. Publication of the ACMA list showed that the bureaucrats charged with secretly building a list of forbidden material had shoved in enormous amounts of legitimate stuff that they just happened to disagree with -- straight-ahead porn sites, gambling sites, and other material. Unsurprisingly, people who are given absolute power over their neighbors' intellectual curiosity without any accountability end up misbehaving.
A statement on Wikileaks's website claims police were investigating the "distribution of pornographic material" and "discovery of evidence".

Wikileaks claims Mr Reppe is not involved in the website other than "sponsoring the German domain name and mirroring a collection of Wikileaks US Congressional Research Service reports"...

"The raid is over the censorship lists, but which particular list, we can not be certain, although the Australian lists are the most recent and the most prominent due to their non-voluntary status."

In the past week, Wikileaks published three lists all purporting to be the Australian Communications and Media Authority's (ACMA's) blacklist of websites.

While ACMA and Communications Minister Stephen Conroy last week denied the list belonged to ACMA, they both warned that the Australian Federal Police (AFP) would investigate its distribution.

The lists contained apparent links to child pornography websites, gambling sites, as well as relatively innocuous sites including those of a dentist and canteen manager.

Police raid domain owner Theodor Reppe's home over 'censorship lists' (Thanks, Tom!)


  1. While ACMA and Communications Minister Stephen Conroy last week denied the list belonged to ACMA, they both warned that the Australian Federal Police (AFP) would investigate its distribution.

    Why would the police would be asked to investigate the “leaking” of a fake list?

    Obviously they wouldn’t, so it must be the real list (at least partially).

  2. Um, was this done “in retaliation” as you say, or because German and/or international law was violated?

  3. The raid came on the evening before the German government was supposed to decide on a web censoring / filtering regime. Coincidence?

  4. Freshyill, can you be more specific about the German and/or international laws you feel were violated?

  5. Is it just me, or are the Fascists out in full form this year? Maybe they thought the recession was a great opportunity to start oppressing. People would be too worried about their jobs to care if a few rights are violated across the globe.


    So where’s the evidence that international law was violated?

  6. Possession of information is a crime….oh i mean information which = child porn….IMHO there is a very great problem with making the MERE possession of ANY type or class of information whatsoever illegal: this story reveals some of the “legal” mischief such a misguided “Law” leads to.

  7. i’m no expert but i’d say he was being arrested for running a domain that distributed lists of child porn sites.

    he doesn’t run it but he did register the domain. I’d say that whilst there are free speech issues involved it is for a court to decide not the police.

  8. But.. the government ALWAYS has our best interests in mind! Obviously that dentist was sneaking child porn into his website! I mean, did he have any pictures of children? Obviously pics of kids can be used to fap as readily as naked kids!

    And diseased gums always got ME off. Don’t know about the rest of you.

    Anyway, all this idiotic attempted oppression is enough to make you want to bomb a governemtn building. maybe that’s the idea, to make us hate our governments so much that we become terrorists, thereby proving them right.

  9. i’m no expert but i’d say he was being arrested for running a domain that distributed lists of child porn sites.

    Not an expert? You can’t even read.

  10. Hey, I don’t know what laws may have been violated, but I do know that Cory’s reporting on this is far from impartial. Maybe this guy was breaking a law, or maybe this is some sort of conspiracy. I don’t know. I highly doubt we know the whole story.

    I also love how the drones jump on me as if I agree with this, just because I’m willing to question Saint Cory.

    Now, here’s the countdown to where Boing Boing’s irony-proof moderator comes in and censors me.

    1. freshyill,

      Nice try, buddy. You make a comment, other commenters disagree with you and suddenly you’re being oppressed by The Man. Anyone who doesn’t agree with you is a drone. You live in terror of censorship by the evil moderator.

      Here’s an idea: why don’t you just take responsibility for your comment and the reactions that it elicits instead of making up a fairy tale in which you get to be the victim?

  11. @#14 FRESHYILL

    There’s nothing in your post that suggests that you were stating an opinion and we drones wanted clarification on something you state as a fact. If you don’t have evidence for this, state it as an opinion.


  12. Oh man, every time I post something on BB I fear the consequences.

    But, I have to say that the question mark at the end of freshyill’s sentence above may have been sufficient to indicate that this wasn’t a statement of fact.

    It was a question.

    And a fair one at that, no matter what side you’re on. I’m all for setting the gestapo on fire, but let’s not lose our critical thinking skills.

  13. I believe this stuff is going to happen everywhere as nowadays country borders mean nothing compared to the level of power multinational corporations reached.

  14. I thought I was being very polite in asking:
    “Freshyill, can you be more specific about the German and/or international laws you feel were violated?”

    Sorry if I offended you.

  15. I never stated that laws were violated, I just questioned whether this guy had done no wrong, as Cory had strongly implied.

    For all anybody here knows, I support this guy, whether his actions were legal or not. People are reading a lot into what I said before. I asked an honest question.

    Here’s the truth: I really don’t give a rat’s ass about the guy or the story. My only gripe from the start was with how Cory presented it.

  16. People interested in whether the Australian ACMA list is the real one or not might be interested to read


    It is interesting that someone hosting the German domain has been raided. Wikileaks responded to Conroy’s threats of legal action with a counter-threat to have him extradited to Sweden to face charges under Sweden’s laws that protect the anonymity of a press source. Choosing a country other than Sweden bypasses this (if this raid is part of a retaliation, which we may never know).

    Re two of the legal sites on the list “Websites_ACMA.txt”, the dentist got on it because a Russian porn site captured his computer a few years ago and used it to serve its content. Even though the dentist had cleaned all that up and changed internet providers, his website remained on the list until the list was leaked. If the list hadn’t leaked, his site would still be on it. He would have had no recourse to having it changed.

    The tour operator apparently got on the list because of a complaint that some of their buses stopped outside a sex shop. Sex shops are legal in Australia. In Brisbane, I know of at least one council bus stop next to a sex shop (that is the Windsor Road stop, no 16, on Kelvin Grove Road, adjacent to Frisky adult store). Even though I am not a customer of these stores, I find this one particularly disconcerting. The site was put on the blacklist for something that is not illegal, that is commonplace, and which took place offline.

    The politics of this blacklist are potentially very dark. Darker still is the dynamic (algorithm-based) filtering that is also being trialled in Australia now. That can be easily adapted to encompass political speech.

    We need wikileaks, for democracy. Worldwide.

  17. So linking to sites on the blacklist is illegal.
    Linking to the blacklist is illegal.

    Is is legal to write the URL of the blacklist, without making it a link?
    Is it legal to say the URL out loud?
    Is it legal to describe how to find the blacklist by using google?
    Is it legal to mention that it is possible to find the blacklist using google?

    My point is that once you outlaw certain forms of information it is very hard to know where to stop.

    Conroy needs to go.

    “It says that they raided his home in search of child pornography.”

    Acting on a tip from the Australian Federal Police?

    This is beyond ridiculous and well into scary.

  18. And I’m sure the Bundespolizei will be mightily pleased with the AFP when they discover that their ‘paedophile’ is a harmless geek.

    Credibility? No thanks, we’re Australians.

  19. Spazzm,

    Last I looked (a few days ago) there was nothing in the Act that said linking to the page wikileaks has is illegal. However, as you know, Conroy made threats of legal action for linking to it (even while claiming it is not the real list).

    Some people have linked to it, and are waiting for the black helicopters to come and take them away. One linked to a link which linked to a link which linked to a link which linked to a page with the download links for all three versions of the list.

    According to advice I heard, either there is nothing they can be charged with because there is nothing in the Act, or they can be charged under John Howard’s infamous sedition laws, which the Rudd government hasn’t got around to repealing. And yes, even linking very indirectly won’t help, because it would be argued that the final destination chould reasonably have been known.

    There goes the whole world wide web.

  20. I believe that the best course of action for ALL OF US, in both our long term interests, and in this that you must obtain the lists, and visit each legitimate site named. This way, sites that were incorrectly placed on the list not only get hits, but the act of placing them on the list is turned against those who placed them on the list.

    However, that only applies if these lists are true and no sites have been added. Only trust those who have earned it!

  21. The types of urls on the list are quite interesting.

    Yes, most seem to be pr0n, but from the names alone most could not be presumed to be k1dpr0n (several specify 18+).

    Some are top level domain names.
    Many are only single specific posts or galleries (presumably meaning the rest of the site is acceptable).
    One that I spotted seemed to be erotic art (fantasy cartoons, aka thoughtcrime).
    There are several youtube videos included.

    I really wonder how this list was put together. Is this really a manual effort, trawling the entire web for nasty content? Can anyone estimate how many man-hours it would take to view all online content (at a given time)?

    Given the absurdities in trying to make a system like this work, I can only hope that it is being set up to fail.

  22. Hey Freshy:

    Would you prefer that Cory be impartial? I don’t. He’s not working for MSM, he’s sounding off in a way that supports his free speech agenda. That’s what having your own printing press is for you know. Go ahead and present your opposing position but don’t bust on Cory for his method.

  23. I work for a company that makes web filtering appliances, and we use lots of open-source site lists for filtering access to websites (and weighted keyword filtering, which works much better). It was great these lists leaked because now we can include them in the service. We haven’t yet, because we’re curious how this is going to play out, and whether the ‘owners’ of the lists are going to make intellectual property claims, or prosecute for publishing child porn lists. The latter is disturbing, because all our website lists are accessible, and that might be a bad thing if publishing these lists becomes a crime.

  24. *blood boiling*

    Did any Australian’s watch Q&A last night? I haven’t had the chance to watch it yet but I’ve heard Stephen Conroy actually argued his case quite well. However given that he doesn’t have a clue of what he’s talking about I can only conclude that people that bought it also don’t have any idea of what they’re talking about either.

    Also, the shit is getting more fucking fucked every fucking day. When will this damn filtering scheme just die?

  25. I really wonder how this list was put together. Is this really a manual effort, trawling the entire web for nasty content? Can anyone estimate how many man-hours it would take to view all online content (at a given time)?

    The list was put together after complaints from the public. Australian residents can lodge a complaint here:

    ACMA and Conroy have been extremely reticent about details on how the technical aspect of the Big Firewall of Australia will work, but it’s doubtful that it will be based on hand-checking the entire web.

    This is why:
    There are about 4,200,000,000 unique IP addresses on the ‘net.
    If the the 5257 members of the Australian Federal Police work 8 hours per day, 5 days per week, on checking websites, and checking each IP address takes just 1 minute on average (remember that one IP address can contain a practically unlimited amount of images), it would take them a little over 7 years to complete one sweep. Assuming 4 weeks vacation per year and no other holidays, of course.

    But even that is ridiculously low: In reality you can’t scan and block based on IP numbers because there’s not a one-to-one mapping between web sites (i.e. domain names) and IP addresses. A large website (e.g. Google) can occupy several websites, while smaller sites may share one IP address. There’s no real limit to how many domain names can be handled by one IP address.
    There’s no official list of all the existing domain names, so there’s no way to say how many there really are. In 2007 one estimate was over 108 million sites, and more recent esimates go as high as 224 million domains.

    This sounds more reasonable – the hard-working members of the AFP could trawl through that in a mere 8 to 17 weeks.

    But hold on – things aren’t quite so simple. While the number of IP addresses is finite and fixed (at least until IPv6 is rolled out), the number of domains are not. Anyone with 5 minutes and 10 dollars to spare can create a new domain.
    In fact, in an average day about 260,000 domains are created and 123,000 are deleted. This means that the AFP has to spend nearly an hour every day just checking the websites that sprung up since yesterday. Then they can get on with checking the already existing websites. That way, the 8 to 17 weeks estimate has to be adjusted upwards to 9 to 19 weeks.
    But even that is overly optimistic.
    If someone is hell-bent on using HTTP to send kiddie porn to Australians, all they have to do is follow these steps:
    1. Register a domain.
    2. Put something innocent on the website, like pictures of kittens or squirrels.
    3. Wait until the AFP’s IP address show up in your logs, meaning that the AFP has checked your website and seen that it is ‘safe’.
    4. Remove the innocent content and put up kiddie porn.
    5. Wait until the site shows up on ACMA’s blocklist (9 to 19 weeks) then repeat the process. Note that while it’s hard to get hold of the ACMA blocklist, it’s easy to know if one specific site is on the list – one just tries to access it from within Australia.

    As mentioned earlier, registering a domain takes a few minutes and even less dollars, so the AFP will be fighting a losing battle in keeping up with even the publicly accessible http content of the internet. Add to that the fact that a lot of porn is only available on pay-sites or over P2P networks, and it’s even worse.

    Additionally, the one-minut-per site estimate is extremely low – for most sites a quick glance will suffice, but some sites can contain thousands or millions of individual pages, each one of which must be checked before the site can be deemed ‘safe’. Estimating the number of pages on the internet is even harder than estimating the number of sites – one estimate is 29.7 billion pages in 2007. If we take that at face value and take a low estimate of 10 seconds to load a page and determine whether it’s kiddie porn or not, we arrive at over 8 years for the AFP to do one sweep.

    Add to that the fact that the AFP also have to deal with lesser crimes such as murder, rape and robbery, and you see what a hopeless proposition this is.

    To have a realistic filter, then, leaves us with two options:
    1. Letting an automated “kiddie porn” detector look at sites. Since it’s automated it could do it much quicker than a human, and sweep the entire net in a matter of days.
    2. Having on-demand human-based filtering: Every time an Australian requests a website from abroad, an AFP officer checks it before allowing or denying access.

    Option 2 is to expensive and slow to even consider, so that leaves robotic porn scanners.

    The problem is that not even two humans can determine where the line goes between art and pornography, or exactly how old any given porn actor/actress is. Imagine how difficult it would be to write a computer program to determine this – research in computer vision is, at best, years away from achieving this goal.

    To sum it up:
    Any internet filter will be incomplete, expensive and easy to circumvent. The only reason anyone would think it is feasible is because of a massive failure to grasp the sheer size and fluid nature of the internet.

  26. Filters don’t work efficiently because they attempt to catch the positives (the things you want to block). #85, DR80085, don’t hope too much. Even if it were true it was being set up to fail, it does not necessarily follow that they will simply give up.

    When this fails, the next logical step is licensing. Every domain owner applies for a license from their own government, and pay a small annual fee (to cover the cost of the censorship system). You screw up (as in allow stuff they don’t like on your site), and they fine you, or pull your license.

    This system has the virtue of being self policing. The censors do not need to spend much time looking through millions of websites. In fact, they need to do very little. Set up a website to receive complaints. When a site gets more than “x” complaints, look at it, and issue a fine or pull their publishing license. Self censorship are also more effective because they tend to over compensate, and the individual sites will get blamed for this. Not the central authority.

    If there are governments that are too liberal with their licenses, your national firewall blocks the entire country. If there are sites within those countries that’s beneficial, though their government refuses to police them, a whitelist will take care of that. This could also be used together with conventional filtering tech for sites from certain designated countries. It will be flexible. It could be rolled in in stages, gradually.

    This will be awful for civil liberties, but the way things are going in those countries that won the cold war, I don’t think many people would complain. It’s like when the Monggols conquered China, or when the Romans conquered the Greeks. The defeated did a sort of reverse takeover and culturally took over the supposed victors. The first 15 years after the fall of the Berlin wall, nothing much happened. But we have really progressed by leaps and bounds these last 5 years. Five more years, and London wouldn’t look much different from the east Berlin of 1985.

  27. I can’t believe it! These sites were identified mainly because they were sent in to the Australian Communications and Media Authority by members of the public! Crazy.

    It does however present an alibi should one want to access restricted (but not blocked) material. Make a few random submissions, and then if queried about accessing such material, just claim to be hard at work for the ACMA and the good of the Australian public.

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