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".
Stephen Conroy at the ATUG Awards
(Credit: Suzanne Tindal/ZDNet.com.au)
"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.