[LINK] Conroy's net filter still alive and kicking

Bernard Robertson-Dunn brd at iimetro.com.au
Fri Sep 10 15:01:45 EST 2010

He still doesn't get it.
It's not the problem people disagree with, it's his solution.

Conroy's net filter still alive and kicking
Asher Moses
September 10, 2010 - 11:32AM

The Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy, is ploughing ahead with his 
internet filter policy despite there being virtually no chance any 
enabling legislation will pass either house of Parliament.

Independent MP Rob Oakeshott, the Opposition and the Greens have all 
come out against the policy, leaving it effectively dead in the water.

The Greens communications spokesman, Scott Ludlam, has called on the 
government to end the facade and drop the internet censorship scheme 
once and for all, as it was wasting time and taxpayers' money.

University of Sydney Associate Professor Bjorn Landfeldt said, given the 
catastrophic election result after only one term in government, it was 
"remarkable" the government was "pushing the very issues that undermined 
their credibility, rather than focusing their energy on important 
societal issues".

"One may wonder exactly what underlies this relentless pursuit of a 
mirage, given that there is just about zero support outside the 
cabinet," said Landfeldt.

"Surely it is no longer a matter of believing that the policy would 
benefit the general public."

The government is preparing to introduce legislation forcing ISPs to 
block a blacklist of websites that have been "refused classification" 
(RC) by government bureaucrats.

After intense criticism of the policy, including that "refused 
classification" included innocuous and politically sensitive material, 
Senator Conroy announced just before the election that his policy would 
be delayed until a review of RC classification guidelines could be 
conducted by state and territory censorship ministers.

This effectively means any internet filtering legislation will be 
delayed until next year, by which time the Greens will hold the balance 
of power in the Senate. The Greens have already said they would oppose 
the legislation, as has the Opposition.

But before it gets to the Senate the legislation would need to pass the 
House of Representatives, meaning Labor would need the support of Greens 
MP Adam Bandt and the independents Andrew Wilkie, Rob Oakeshott, Tony 
Windsor and Bob Katter.

Wilkie, Windsor and Katter could not be reached for comment but a 
spokesman for Oakeshott said he was against the filter.

In fact, last year Oakeshott helped a teenage campaigner in his 
electorate with a petition arguing the filter should be scrapped.

"It is not the government's role to be a net nanny. It is the role of 
every single household," Oakeshott told the Port Macquarie News at the time.

Senator Ludlam said in a phone interview that he wanted the review of RC 
guidelines to still go ahead but the government should drop the internet 
filtering policy altogether.

"It [the RC review] was quite transparently a political stalling tactic 
but that didn't make it a bad idea," he said.

"[The filter] is just a complete waste of chamber time. It's a waste of 
public servants' time who for the next 10 months are going to be 
progressing a mandatory filter proposal that has no chance of passing 
either house of parliament now."

Senator Ludlam said Senator Conroy should "get past this fixation" with 
the filter and turn his attention to other looming issues such as net 
neutrality and the Attorney-General's data retention proposal. The data 
retention proposal is being pushed by the Australian Federal Police and 
could see all web browsing history of Australian internet users logged 
for law enforcement to access.

A wide range of experts on the internet and child protection have long 
argued that a mandatory filter would be ineffective as it was easy to 
bypass, would not capture even a small percentage of the nasty content 
on the web and would give parents a false sense of security.

The big ISPs, including Optus, Telstra and iPrimus, have already pledged 
to block child-abuse websites voluntarily. This narrower, voluntary 
approach has long been advocated by internet experts and brings 
Australia into line with other countries such as Britain.

The Opposition pledged to bring back free voluntary PC-based internet 
filters for families, which existed under the Howard government but were 
scrapped by Senator Conroy to make way for his mandatory ISP-level filter.

"Recent OECD reports tell us the investment and quality of our higher 
education system is falling behind other developed countries; with the 
ludicrous house prices Australians can no longer move out of home, etc," 
said Landfeldt.

"There is no shortage of important issues and challenges for the 
government to focus on."

Despite the intense opposition, Senator Conroy is pushing ahead with the 
filter and has revealed "a suite of transparency measures to accompany 
the policy and ensure people can have faith in the RC content list", a 
spokeswoman said.

"The government does not support Refused Classification material being 
available on the internet. This material includes child sexual abuse 
imagery, bestiality, sexual violence and detailed instruction in crime," 
she said.



Bernard Robertson-Dunn
Canberra Australia
email:	 brd at iimetro.com.au
website: www.drbrd.com

More information about the Link mailing list