Australian internet law could take the site offline


A software engineer tries to take the hateful far-right Kiwi Farms website offline using Australia’s new internet powers, thanks to the online forum’s little-known connections to the country.

Liz Fong-Jones, who is trans, is a former Google engineer who has been targeted and stalked by Kiwi Farms users in the past.

The nearly decade-old US website is known to host hateful content – ​​including images of the Christchurch mass murderer and other terrorist manifestos – and coordinate harassment, harassment and the disclosure of private information on of people (known as “doxxing”).

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Kiwi Farms members have relentlessly intimidated people who have expressed suicidal thoughts, often targeting marginalized groups. Several suicides have been linked to the forum.

Last month, a prominent Canadian Twitch trans streamer called Keffals (real name Clara Sorrenti) campaigned to take Kiwi Farms offline after someone used his contact details disclosed on the forum to send a fake threatening email. mass violence. Keffals was later arrested and detained before being cleared.

Since then, Keffals has led a #DropKiwiFarms campaign against Cloudflare, an internet infrastructure company whose services protect Kiwi Farms from Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks.

Cloudflare’s continued support has been instrumental in keeping Kiwi Farms online. Earlier this week, the company suggested in a corporate blog that he would not withdraw his services in response to public pressure.

Kiwi Farms Australian Connections

Fong-Jones has called on Australia’s internet censor, the Electronic Safety Commissioner, to take action against Kiwi Farms, which is possible due to its previously unknown ties to Australia.

Earlier this week, Fong-Jones submitted a Complaint to the Office of the Electronic Security Commissioner which claimed that Kiwi Farms hosted terrorist and cyberabusive content.

Under recently adopted Online Safety Act, the e-Safety Commissioner can ask companies to block abhorrent violent conduct material (such as depictions of terrorist acts) and remove adult cyber abuse material – failure to do so can result in fines of 550,000 $.

This would generally not be a problem for a US hosted website outside of Australian jurisdiction. However, Fong-Jones says Kiwi Farms operates using an IP address leased from an Australian front company by the regional Internet address registry, the Asia Pacific Network Information Center (APNIC). Kiwi Farms is operated by the American company 1776 Solutions LLC. This company uses IP space assigned by the Australian company Flow Chemical Pty Ltd, which does not appear to use its address delegation for anything else.

Additionally, Cloudflare is also subject to Australian jurisdiction due to its physical presence in the country. Not only does Cloudflare have an arm in Australia, but it also has physical servers here as well.

Simply put, Cloudflare’s DDoS protection works by maintaining local copies of customers’ server information on servers around the world. This means that it actually hosts the same content as Kiwi Farm self-hosting and may be subject to the Online Safety Act arrangements too.

Cloudflare and a director of Flow Chemical Pty Ltd have been contacted for comment.

Fong-Jones asked the eSafety Commissioner to ask APNIC to remove hosting for 1776 Solutions, take Kiwi Farms offline worldwide, and order CloudFlare to stop caching Kiwi Farms – or face enforcement action. Both companies have Australian directors who could be subject to these fines.

Fong Jones said Crikey that she had received a receipt for her complaint from the office. A spokesperson for the Office of the Electronic Security Commissioner neither confirmed nor denied receiving a complaint. They said Crikey that they do not discuss the details of an investigation.

Fong-Jones said she chose to take action when she saw what was happening to Keffals.

“Australia has some of the strictest online expression restrictions in the world. I wanted to know why we couldn’t use these tools wisely to prevent violence and harassment and all the things they said their powers could be used for,” she told me in an interview. .

“This is a litmus test for these laws.”

Fong-Jones and Keffals are also staging a protest outside Cloudflare’s Connect conference in Sydney next week.

“It’s time to show Cloudflare executives that this isn’t going away. It’s time to stand up against hate,” she said.

Update: The article originally incorrectly stated that the Office of the Electronic Security Commissioner had confirmed that it had received a complaint.

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Pierre Fray

Pierre Fray
Chief Editor

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