16 April 2010

Issues of ISP-level filtering

Simple illustration of the flaws with ISP-level filtering. Call me old-fashioned, but I believe it’s better to tackle the problem at the source. Internet users aren't the only victims of child pornography.

Issues of ISP-level filtering

14 April 2010

Conroy spun the filter trial, and out came a report fluffier than a Himalayan cat that's been through a clothes drier

Senator Conroy has had more than enough time to provide clarity, substance and certainty on his planned mandatory Internet censorship regime. With each day that passes that their calls for reason, common sense and clarity on this issue are ignored, Australians with legitimate concerns about this policy grow ever more cynical about the ability of their politicians to understand and represent their views on issues relevant to ordinary Australians. In this age many Australians consider the Internet to be fundamental to their every day personal communications, just like the analogue telephone which is being replaced by VOIP, where voice telephony is delivered via the Internet. Many Australians consider this a serious issue that warrants robust and informed debate involving all stakeholders, and for it to be based on fact.

The Enex TestLab report is misleading and has Senator Conroy’s fingerprints all over it. Take for example the feedback from customers on page 28:

Participants were asked if access was blocked to sites that they thought they should have access to (e.g. to identify perceptions of over-blocking). Only a couple of respondents indicated that they were frequently blocked access to sites they should have had access to, while most respondents reported that they were blocked “possibly once or twice”. A number of users reported they were “unsure” as to whether they had been blocked unnecessarily and some customers commented on the benefit of seeing some “output” of the filters action.

Proponents of the government’s policy might think that this is just collateral damage in the war on child pornography because it appears in the section of the report titled Customer Feedback — Additional Content Filtering, which covers the impact of the optional “family” filter on customers’ experience. We don’t know whether reports of over-blocking and other negative feedback can be attributed to the mandatory filter which was used at the same time for customers who participated in the trial of the filter for optional additional categories. They did not seek feedback from customers who participated in the trial of the mandatory filter alone.

Conroy boasts that the AMCA filter is 100% accurate. It’s just like throwing a net into the ocean, pulling out a few fish and saying “See these fish I’ve caught? It’s 100% accurate at catching these fish.”

You don’t have to embrace libertarianism to see the insanity. The end does not justify the means, especially when evidence that the end will be achieved does not exist. Will it block 5% of child pornography on the Internet? Will it even block 1%? Nobody knows. It’s hard for experts to provide clear answers when they are not provided with clearly defined aims. Also, it’s hard to disprove something that was never proven in the first place. The government has failed to demonstrate that the technology it intends to impose on each and every Australian will be effective in protecting children from child pornography.

10 April 2010

How does Senator Conroy plan to filter the web traffic of mobile phones?

Below is the page that is displayed when I browse to www.iplocationtools.com from my BlackBerry in Australia. It displays the IP address and location of the host connecting to the website, which in this case is a proxy located in Canada, the country in which RIM, the maker of BlackBerry smart phones, is based. How does the Rudd Labor government intend to censor the Internet when it accessed through the BlackBerry web browser or any other application that uses a proxy located offshore?

www.iplocationtools.com from a BlackBerry in Australia

6 April 2010

Noble's amusing response to an unsolicited takeover bid for Macarthur Coal by American miner Peabody Energy


5 April 2010, Hong Kong

The board of Directors of the Noble Group have noted with interest the recent developments regarding an unsolicited offer by the United States based Peabody Coal for Macarthur. The board of Macarthur reacted to their bid with the same enthusiasm as a lost and hungry hiker who stumbles across a road kill Roo that had been in the sun too long, and not surprisingly said "no thanks".

We at Noble noted that this unsolicited offer had, as one of its many conditions, a requirement that the merger between Gloucester and Macarthur not proceed. This merger had already been carefully considered over a substantial period of time by the boards of both companies and had been unanimously supported and recommended to Macarthur's shareholders at a vote to take place on April 12, 2010. Without putting too fine a point on it, everyone at board level thought it was a great deal for their respective shareholders.

The entire concept behind the Gloucester-Macarthur merger was to build a truly outstanding multi mine and port Australian-based coal group with unique access to key markets. It was also crafted to give all shareholders who had patiently held the various shares involved the right to ride along and enjoy any potential upside.

Life was great until a few days ago when, instead of jumping on their horses, the Americans charged into town on a Gulfstream jet for the afternoon and plunked a bid down that was a great deal for them, and not, in our view, anywhere near what was already on the table. Hats off to them for being opportunistic and crafty; it ruined our Easter weekend.

So, now, instead of looking for eggs with our kids, we have to draft this release and inform the market that the Noble Group will have to give long hard thought as to whether we will try to chase these chaps out of town by, among other things, exercising, if certain events occur, our option to increase our share of Middlemount mine to 50 percent, where we would have the right to sell 100 percent of the output for the life of the mine. It goes without saying the Middlemount mine would then have to be operated as a separate 50-50 joint-venture company. We will also have to give thought to other ways in which we would make the interlopers from St. Louis leave us alone. Our quiver is far from empty. What will they do if we also review our rights under the Monto project and act to protect our investment? For them, this transaction would make a Porcupine seem well-shaven.

What we would really like is for the Americans to go back home. We busted our tail to put together a good fair deal that will build a great company. All they are doing is trying to throw a wrench in a well though-out deal with a check book and try and turn people's heads with a short-term payoff.

All of this reminds us of the wonderful story about the late great Kerry Packer. The story goes that he was trying to play a little blackjack and an American kept bugging him to get into the game. Finally Kerry got exasperated, looked up at the hapless guy and said, "what are you worth?". Mr. Texas puffed up and said "One hundred million"; Kerry replied "flip you for it". We consider that we have earned our stripes by building well run, publicly held businesses over time ..... and by not underestimating the grit of the country. Even in the face of Americans with checkbooks.


About Noble Group

Noble Group (SGX: N21) is a market leader in managing the global supply chain of agricultural, energy, metals and mining resources. The Group operates from over 150 offices and plants in 38 countries, employing approximately 70 nationalities and serving more than 4000 customers. Noble manages a diversified portfolio of essential raw materials, integrating the sourcing, marketing, processing, financing and transportation. With 2009 annual revenues exceeding US$31 billion, Noble owns and manages an array of strategic assets, sourcing from low cost producers such as Brazil, Argentina, Australia and Indonesia and supplying to high growth demand markets including China, India and the Middle East. Today, Noble has interests in grain crushing facilities, coal and iron ore mines, fuel terminals and storage facilities, sugar and ethanol plants, vessels, ports and other infrastructure to ensure high quality products are delivered in the most efficient and timely manner to its customers.

In late 2009, Noble Group was honored at the DHL SCMP Hong Kong Business Awards by winning the coveted International Award. During the year, Noble ranked #218 on the Fortune Global 500 and achieved "Investment Grade" ratings (Baa3) from Moody's Investors Service and (BBB-) from Standard & Poor's, complementing its initial "Investment Grade" rating (BBB-) from Fitch the previous year. In addition, Noble appears on the Forbes Global 2000 and Forbes Fab 50 lists of leading companies. Noble Group is among the 30 securities listed on the Straits Times Index.

For further details please contact:

Mr. Stephen Brown
Noble Group Limited
Tel: +852 2250 2060
Fax: +852 2861 0018
Email: stephenbrown@thisisnoble.com

Mr. Brad Smolar
Smolar Limited
Tel: +852 6339 3396
Fax: +852 2573 2473
Email: reputation@smolar.com