Conroy slams iiNet court defence

Conroy slams iiNet court defence

Summary: Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has slammed iiNet, calling the ISP's defence in the Federal Court case brought against it by the Australian Federation against Copyright Theft something which "belongs in a Yes Minister episode".


Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has slammed iiNet, calling its defence in the Federal Court case brought against it by the Australian Federation against Copyright Theft something which "belongs in a Yes Minister episode".

Steven Conroy

Stephen Conroy at the ATUG Awards
(Credit: Suzanne Tindal/

"I saw iiNet's defence in court under oath ... they have no idea if their customers are downloading illegally music or movies," he said today at the Commsday summit in Sydney. "Stunning defence, stunning defence," he continued in what appeared to be a sarcastic comment.

I thought a defence in terms of 'we had no idea' ... belongs in a Yes Minister episode.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy

"I thought a defence in terms of 'we had no idea' ... belongs in a Yes Minister episode."

Shadow Communications Minister Nick Minchin, speaking afterwards, said he believed Conroy's jibe was outrageous and only served to get back at iiNet for its exit from the government's ISP filtering trial. "I have to say his handling of his promise [the National Broadband Network] is much more typical of what you would see on Yes Minister," Minchin said.

Conroy believed the iiNet case would become further reaching than just on copyright matters, also touching on providers who allowed their networks to be used for services such as mobile premium offerings which were operating in an unfair manner towards consumers.

"The capacity to ignore what the customers are doing and claim no responsibility is being tested in court right now," he said. "It could be a ground-breaking case."

The theme of consumer protection was the focus of his speech, with the minister echoing the disgust ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel had expressed at an ATUG conference early this month about the level of consumer dissatisfaction with the telecommunications industry.

He talked about ways of improving the industry's reputation, including announcing a new review that would look into improving the process of creating industry codes, which Conroy believed took far too long, meaning the industry did not act quickly enough on emerging technologies. He also touched on giving industry bodies such as ACMA the powers to be able to tackle problem points.

"The government has determined to take a clear role in this," he said.

Topics: Legal, Government, Government AU, Telcos

Suzanne Tindal

About Suzanne Tindal

Suzanne Tindal cut her teeth at as the site's telecommunications reporter, a role that saw her break some of the biggest stories associated with the National Broadband Network process. She then turned her attention to all matters in government and corporate ICT circles. Now she's taking on the whole gamut as news editor for the site.

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  • 'Yes Minister' Conroy

    Have to agree with Nick Minchin on this one. Conrory, you are straight out of Yes Minister with your pathetically useless internet filtering plan. So many industry experts are telling you it will not work, but like a good little Minister, you're going to go ahead with it because you say so.

    Get a clue Conroy.
  • Then Telstra ought to monitor phone calls

    If ISPs should know what their customers are doing on the net, then the SAME telecommunications laws would require Telstra/optus/etc to KNOW what people are saying/planning on the phones too.

    Phone calls are also used for illegal purposes, yet the minister is not calling for them to be monitored. Of course he is not, then he would have ALL of the citizens against him.
  • Pity Conroy does not know of the PRIVACY laws.

    Conroy needs to learn basic privacy and then learn about Australia's privacy Laws.

    Yes Minister title belongs to you Senator Conroy.

    And if ISPs were to keep tabs on their customers, who is going to pay for all the hush-hush spy equipment and the staff to review customers activities to determine if the content was a copyrighted song, or the musings of a 15 year old who named his song the same as one of the million or so copyrighted songs.

    Conroy get a brain.
  • how exactly would they know?

    And how, minister, would you expect them to know if their users are downloading illegal content? While we are on the topic, why is their responsiblity anyway? If you support these ridiculous claims by AFACT, I would be expecting a good many allegations of illegal file sharing on your own ip address before too long. Doesnt matter whether or not you did it, right? Allegations is enough, byebye internet.
  • Consumer protection???

    iiNet are *TRYING* to protect their consumers RIGHT NOW!

    But surprise, surprise, The Minister for Bulldust, Censorship and Delusions of Ethicality is siding with the Media Cartels and their self-appointed fences like the Australian League of Internet Extortionists.

    Yeah, the Rudd Labor Government's Internet Censorship Scheme was *REALLY* all about protecting children, wasn't it, Senator Conroy? And I'll bet when all the Big Media Cartels start asking to have "websites promoting intellectual property theft" added to the ACMA blacklist, you'll have NOO problem whatsoever, will you?

  • why stop with telstra?

    While we are at it, lets force Australia Post to inspect every letter that gets sent through its network, AND be liable for anything illegal that someone posts.

    And lets make mainroads liable for anyone who is speeding on their roads. How can they possibly claim that they dont know/arent responsible for people breaking the law on their infrastructure?
  • Yes Minister

    I agree. Senaror Conroy is being *courageous* with his *novel* plans and is not behaving like someone who is *sound*.
  • Spot on

    It is called the "Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979" and to quote Electronic Frontiers Australia's description of it, "This Act prohibits the interception of communications passing over a telecommunications system and prohibits access to stored communications (i.e. email, SMS and voice mail messages stored on a carrier's equipment) except where authorised in specified circumstances". I understand it applies to ISPs as much as it applies to telcos.

    If iiNet had said they knew their customers were dealing in copyrighted material, it could only be because they had broken the law and looked. They best they could do is parrot the allegations from AFACT.

    I would also question AFACT's members' ability to legitimately identify copyright material in the first place based on the difficulties Viacom seems to be having in the US. They are taking Google/YouTube to court over similar copyright breaches and have been found issuing 'take down' notices for material posted by their own subsiduaries. Apparently, Nickelodeon posted some Spongebob Squarepants promotional material on YouTube (Nickelodeon own the character) and Viacom, who own Nickelodeon sent letters to YouTube threatening them to remove it or else.

    It is not beyond the realm of possibility for a similar thing to happen here where someone downloads legitimately posted promotional material put up by the left hand of a company, and its right hand declares it a breach of copyright and has the downloader cut off as punishment.
  • What a load

    Well, I've seen it all...

    The Vic law system can call for Underbelly to be banned so as to not unduly influence a legal proceeding or prejudice it, but a minister can stand up and decry a defense that essentially says "If our customers are breaking the law, use legal remedies rather than getting us to police them for you".

    What a joke.

    I'd ask when Rudd is going to flush this turd of a minister but I suspect he is just a glove puppet of his Führer...
  • What an unpleasant man

    Perhaps he should keep to stuttering and mumbling trying to explain basic questions on his internet censorship plan - before he gets knee deep in very complex copyright and technological discussions about p2p. Because only someone this clueless could show his face in public again after the totally stupid remarks he has made.
  • Conroy FUD

    Wow. It amazing that a communications minister can become so disliked by the industry.

    How can Conroy believe his ineptitude will not be ridiculed, the public is not yet banned from broadcasting their continually increasing dislike and distrust of a minister.

    "I thought a defence in terms of 'we had no idea' ... belongs in a Yes Minister episode." - Stephen Conroy

    To Conroy
    I believe you should be an Yes Minister series character.
    From a not-so-incompetent-user
  • Permission to spread FUD.

    With no noise coming from the PM, the public must assume Conroy has full permission to rant about subjects; that he clearly does not understand.
  • Bye Bye Conroy

    Conroy's statements just keeps getting better and better... not content with trying to breach the separation of church and state by imposing his religious "morality" on the entire population, now he's trying to breach the separation of powers. If that's not a good enough excuse for Kevin Rudd to replace him ASAP, I don't know what is.
  • Its not just US

    Look at what is happening in the US with Obama, Bidden and the RIAA (google: obama bidden riaa). Recent announcements re iinets trial coincide with our pet lambs trip to the US (as well as recent stupid statements on Afghanistan and reserve currencies)
  • Speaking of Yes Minister

    From Yes Minister itself:

    "Two kinds of government chair correspond with the two kinds of minister: one sort folds up instantly and the other sort goes round and round in circles."

    Guess which one Conroy is?
  • ISpyP's?

    So ISP's should be spying on their customers, doing the job of the authorities?
    Will ISpyP's get a budget allocation from the public purse for these activities?
    Wouldn't that be a breach of the privacy act in any case?
  • Why Stop at all.

    Let us make everyone else but the person or people that commit any crimes. Kid ducks into the movie theatre without paying. The movie industry sues the cinema, The bus company he rode on to get there, the state governement for the roads, the cops for not doing there job, Kmart for supplying his clothes, and you never know he might of bought a camera to handycam the film, so sue all the handycam makers (except sony cause they want to do the suing not be sued themselves).

    *Also conroy said Iinet's comments are like Yes Minister.... he does realise that none of the directors or employees of iiNet work for the Aus Government? Maybe he doesn't.
  • OMG Who is feeding this bozo his lines?

    There must be a real party going on in the ministerial office as they think up new gaffs to feed this bozo. Reminds me of the "welease woger" skit from Monthy Python. Senator Conwoy doesnt have a basic underestanding of the how the Internet works or more disturbingly Australian law.
  • Yes it is.

    If this case does proceed We can as iiNet customers get ourselves excluded from any monitoring that breaches privacy.
  • Nah He can be that bad!

    Most politicians are not that stupid. Well At least their minders arent. I just wonder what they are trying to distract us from..