Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

Ce n’est pas une image

Posted by Dave Bath on 2008-10-27

Conroy‘s plan for internet censorship is technically silly, as blacklists are bypassable and content filtering is expensive, and bypassable.

This is not an image or attached file….. it’s just plain ASCII


Here’s how to send an image electronically that will get through almost ANY filtering package.  With a bit of tweaking, providing the viewer has java script, you can even get movies through any filter.

This is just to show how silly federal ALP proposals are for internet censorship… technically there is always a way.   (Yes I know it ain’t Renoir, but it IS proof of concept, especially as WP filters out a whole lot of HTML constructs.  I can’t be bothered doing any more work on it than a couple of minutes.)

Basic approach: Use HTML tables, with VERY tiny cell sizes and fonts, set the colors of fonts/backgrounds to the color you want.  Voila.  No attachments, plainish text.  Hell, if you set the font size small enough, you could even have the filter thinking you were transmitting a chapter of the bible, while the picture looked something even less savory.

The advanced approach is to use javascript to color in the cells by addressing them as DOM elements.  If you had nothing better to do, you could just about do an animation.

And what is the internet content filtering going to see?  An attachment or pointer to an image or video?  Nope.

If free-hosted WP allowed javascript, I’d almost be bothered writing an animation of someone raising the finger to Conroy.

And if you think doing this was tiresome, I could just run an image or animation through the ascii-art filters of gimp/mplayer et al to do the grunt work.

See Also/Notes:

Actually, there are many more serious criticisms I could make of the plan, including the nasty probability that I could get a commercial competitor into the "blacklist", but I’ll give you the following for starters:

4 Responses to “Ce n’est pas une image”

  1. Guy said

    Senator Conroy still seems dead keen on the whole thing despite all the technical pitfalls many people who would know have pointed out. With any luck the live testing they have planned will consign the thing to the dust-bin.

  2. Dave Bath said

    I hope you will be contacting Conroy’s office Guy. Let’s hope his staff, unlike Conroy’s brain, is not out to lunch 24/7.

  3. […] […]

  4. I agree with you

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