Govt can't scorn blackout given filter: EFA

Govt can't scorn blackout given filter: EFA

Summary: Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) chair Colin Jacobs has accused Communications Minister Stephen Conroy of tying himself in knots over Australia's free speech while at the same time advocating for mandatory internet filtering.


Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) chair Colin Jacobs has accused Communications Minister Stephen Conroy of tying himself in knots over Australia's free speech while at the same time advocating for mandatory internet filtering.

In a blog post yesterday, Jacobs said that internet freedom "is doing a roaring trade these days", highlighting Wikileaks and its testing of free speech in nations across the globe. He said the protests in Egypt highlighted the important role of Twitter, Facebook and other internet tools played in democracy.

"They have proven more effective than a container load of AK-47s could ever be, because they allow and promote an undeniable expression of the will of the people that robs the violence of repression of any legitimacy," he said.

However, Jacobs took umbrage at remarks made by Conroy yesterday where he dismissed the possibility of Australians being cut off from their internet in a similar scenario to what took place in Egypt because "Australia's a vibrant democracy, where the government doesn't control the internet".

"Barring a superhuman capacity for doublethink, it's impossible to reconcile this statement with the government's stated policy of internet censorship. A system that involves a secret, government-controlled blacklist of websites, even well intentioned, definitely amounts to 'government control of the internet'," Jacobs said.

"If the government wishes to place Australia on the wrong side of history by going down the path of internet censorship, then have the courage to say so," he added. "Trying to do so while paying lip service to the ideals of free speech that censorship — by definition — contradicts, well, it's not fooling anybody."

While the EFA continues to fight for an open internet, one group is calling for content restrictions. In its submission (PDF) to a Joint Senate Select Committee on cyber-safety, which got underway yesterday, Christian lobby group FamilyVoice Australia has called for the Federal Government to consider expanding the reach of its planned internet service provider (ISP) level filter from blocking just refused classification content to only allowing "family-friendly" material to be accessible by default.

"Consideration should be given to future enhancements of the scheme to make the default-filtered ISP service family-friendly, by filtering all MA15+, R18+ and X18+ material. MA15+ and R18+ should be available on an opt-in basis with appropriate age verification," FamilyVoice said.

Topics: Censorship, Government, Government AU


Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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  • Scorn is the exact word to use, when describing Minister Conroy's attitude towards the Australian public. And (IMHO) he is getting worse, as time goes by. Anything thrown back at him in protest or concern to some of his highly controversial proposals or decisions, he dismisses scornfully, and with scant regard to what anyone else thinks. The minute anyone challenges his logic, he immediately activates a smokescreen, and refuses to budge. (Heaven help us, while this guy remains at the helm of his portfolio)
  • "Australia's a vibrant democracy, where the government doesn't control the internet".

    That quote when affixed with Minister Conroy, becomes an absolute gold mine.

    Love your work Steve, keep the giggles coming.
  • RS seriously, he does gather scorn from those other than perpetual Liberal voting TLS puppets. As I've said previously, whilst his dogginess at breaking up Telstra is a good thing, his attitude when it comes to basic liberties does leave a lot to be desired. This article isn't focused on the NBN.
  • Well it seems to be the same few (here anyway) who always bag (and I agree he needs bagging for the filter) but who refuse to give him any credit at all, for smashing the gorilla and building the!

    Seriously, when we had Coonan and Co, everyone bagged her (except the same people, LOL) for doing SFA. Now we have a Comms Minister who is doing something proactive (only spoilt by this stupid filter), so at least some credit is deserved, imo...!

    Put ***t on him all you like, but would you prefer, Alston, Minchin, Coonan or whatshisname ... umm, Smith? And seeing Turnbull in action, although a big improvement on any of these, he's still having to (as both sides of politics do) tow tha party line, regardless of his own (possible) opinions!
  • Nevermind Alston, Minchin, Coonan, Smith, or Turnbull. I'd prefer Cancer to Conjob anyday.

    The guy is a joke.
  • Wow, cancer and no NBN and a non-split Telstra!
  • I'll reserve my opinions on the NBN and Telstra, my point being more that Conjob has continually tarnished his character. Whether or not his policies are good or bad is one argument, whether or not he has a grain of integrity left, is another. I think that's clear from what he's been caught dribbling, detailed in the article above.

    Wouldn't you agree RS? I mean from him crying about the dangers of free speech on the internet, and then doing the preverbial backflip to the sanctity of freedom of speech shows he's a little bit confused with the basics of how communication in this country should work. Great guy to have associated with our national broadband network.

    You speak alot about "FUD," unfortunately Conjob is full of it.
  • Oh I have never said Conroy is great (in fact read above where I criticise his filter ideas) ... But what I have said is, just give him credit for doing what previous ministers of both sides of politics have not had the balls to do...

    Interestingly the two things he has done which sets him apart from the others, are the two things you conveniently "reserve your judgement on".

    It's easy to say someone's inept, when you disregard anything they do which is positive and only judge them on the negatives...

    So, whether you agree the NBN is needed or not, I'm sure we all (generally) agree Australia's comms needs updating, for a number of reasons...

    And whether you like it or not... accept it or not... Conroy is the one who is doing it, where others have not even dared...!
  • If Conroy doesn't see the filter as a form of control, what else is he missing? It is no surprise that the Christians want more filtering, just surprising they haven't been jumping up and down about it a lot more.
  • The Libs opposed the filter prior to the last election and good on them...

    But as Malcolm (like Costello before him, I believe) is a Republican, in contrast to his party's policy, I wonder what Tony personally, truly thinks about the filter...?
  • I would give the credit to the government that told its minister to take on Telstra. Ministers just do what they're told.
  • Oh, so it's not Conroy's fault about the filter then...