EFA parries Conroy attack

EFA parries Conroy attack

Summary: Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) has defended claims by Communications Minister Stephen Conroy that it "misled" the public on the Federal Government's plan to block refused classification material at the internet service provider level.


Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) has defended claims by Communications Minister Stephen Conroy that it "misled" the public on the Federal Government's plan to block refused classification material at the internet service provider level.

Stephen Conroy (Credit: Suzanne Tindal/ZDNet.com.au)

Senator Conroy had today attacked the EFA and its vice-chair Colin Jacobs, saying that the organisation had been spreading misinformation, by repeating claims made by Reporters Without Borders as to what the filter would block, but also by saying that the filter would slow the internet.

"They have argued there is no child abuse material traded on the open internet, yet the latest count there were 355 child abuse URLs on the ACMA blacklist and therefore the open internet. They have argued that filtering will slow the internet and will result in over-blocking despite the independent live pilot trial showing that internet filtering can be done..." he said.

Electronic Frontiers Australia did not believe it had been misleading on scope or otherwise.

"The original policy document said [the government] would be filtering the current ACMA blacklist," said EFA vice chair Colin Jacobs. "Only much later into the debate — after the ACMA blacklist was leaked — did the language [Conroy] use start to change."

Jacobs said that the minister had previously used the broad term "almost exclusively refused classification", which did not draw a definite line at what would be blocked. The minister had now appeared to cease using that term, Jacobs said.

The vice chair said it was unfair for the minister to say that the EFA had "misled" the Australian public when it was only using the current information available to it from the minister. "The policy has changed since it was first announced," he said. "We based our information on what was available to us at the time."

"If we have erred in any particular instance, then we welcome a correction. That said, we have carefully considered the legalities and technical issues surrounding the policy and unreservedly stand by our assessment. It will achieve nothing for parents and police, it will cost enormous amounts of money, and presents a real threat to our freedom of speech."

The saga had begun after Conroy accused the EFA of supplying material cited in Reporters without Borders' Enemies of the Internet report, released last Friday. It found Australia should be kept "under surveillance" for signs that internet freedom may soon be curbed.

"While one could possibly excuse Reporters Without Borders for being ignorant of the government's policy, the same cannot be said of the locally run EFA who through Colin Jacobs, chairmen Nic Suzor, and board member Geordie Guy who have run a campaign to deliberately mislead the Australian public," he said.

Today the EFA said in a statement that it had not fed Reporters without Borders information leading to Australia's listing.

"It should go without saying that [Reporters without Borders] have not been coached by us or approached us for comment on this particular issue; they have come to that conclusion on their own."

Topics: Censorship, Government AU

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Chicken

    Hiding behind parliamentary privilege in order to make false accusations and lie about his filter.

    Say those things in a forum where you can get your a*se sued Conroy.
  • lol

    Conroy keeps saying people are 'misleading' others on this policy, yet never cites ANY examples.

    We realise its not a silver bullet. That's plainly obvious. Then what exactly is it? Conroy still hasn't made that clear (I would say its nothing more then an expensive and distracting blank).

    His verbal garbage is nothing more then a man under severe pressure, now that he finally has to table something to be voted on. Good luck working out how you can exempt high traffic sites from the blacklist without looking like a fool. Oh, and that 'paradox' about the secret blacklist no one can know about, yet being completely accountable and transparent!
  • Conroy the Bully and Coward

    This behaviour is reprehensible - Conroy's I mean. When people disagree he calls them names. When people point out his own lies he hides behind parliamentary privelage. He is an utter disgrace to the Westminster system. The fact that he is still there is a shameful indictment on the Rudd Government after the PM's laughable recent attempt on how to deal with bullies.
  • Same ol' same ol'

    If nothing else Conjob is predictable...

    Go on the offensive Rambo style...

    Same schtick he tried to pull when he attempted to silence Mark Newton. When someone accurately destroys your weak ass position, use every tool (including going through someone's employer) to try and shut them up.

    He's about 60 years out of his time, the 3rd Reich has been and gone...
  • Pot Calling the Kettle Black?

    Conroy is the one that's trying to mislead the general public on the filtering issue, conveniently only pointing out that Child Pornography sites will be blocked and avoiding the facts that countless legal to view websites would be blocked.
  • Conboy's cunning conundrum

    Despite what Conboy claims, reputedly most pedophile material does not go near defined websites but uses p2p channels etc. So his pet filter will do very little to stop that traffic, but will do less than nothing to help catch pedophiles because they will now go further underground.

    The more Conboy ducks and weaves, the clearer it becomes that this is a grubby exercise in vote catching from a few of the uninformed, plus the start of a process imposing secret political censorship on a lot more things than just "saving the children".
  • What kind of a fool does he take the Australian people for, he never gets to the point and constantly spins. Yet when he is pressed or derided, he simply comes back accusing others of his very issue. Can we have a vote of no confidence in our Communications minister as I can't communicate with him in power.