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Australian Government Blocks 250,000 Web Sites

Posted by Michael Bloch in online world (Sunday June 9, 2013 )

What is it about the concept of shared IP’s that government agencies do not understand?The US feds have been guilty of this in the past and it seems the Australian government haven’t learned from their mistake.

Recently, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) fessed up to inadvertently blocking access to more than 1,000 legitimate sites.

However, it turned out to be only the tip of the iceberg.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, ASIC owned up to blocking around an additional 250,000 innocuous websites.

How was such an error made?

ASIC asked Aussie internet service providers (ISPs) to block alleged fraud sites by IP address rather than by domain name.

One of the most common forms of web hosting is shared web hosting. It’s called “shared” as a single server may host hundreds, perhaps thousands of accounts. They may also share an IP address. Worse still, if the IP address is of the nameserver itself, then potentially hundreds of thousands of web sites can be blocked in one fell swoop.

I appreciate that ASIC are trying to protect Aussies who aren’t savvy enough to know when they are being defrauded or who fall victim to malware, but these types of incidents don’t require a high level of tech knowledge to avoid.

ASIC can claim “minimal” damage was caused all they like, but they really don’t know that and it only takes a minute of downtime to lose sales. What I find disturbing is that people without the appropriate level of knowledge have this much power.

It’s a power that has been used more than once. According to ASIC, it has used section 313 of the Telecommunications Act on 10 occasions in the past year to request blocking.

I’m all for blocking – but blocking done right; there does not have to be collateral damage.


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