Stephen Conroy reviews the internet; offers Sophie’s Choice

Moving on from his scathing review of Google, Minister for Telling Us What’s What on the Internet Stephen Conroy gives Facebook a well-deserved thrashing in the hope that he can make his filter look decent by comparison:

”What would you prefer,” Senator Conroy said, ”a corporate giant who is answerable to no one and motivated solely by profit making the rules on the internet, or a democratically elected government with all the checks and balances in place?”

If the latter is meant to refer to you, Stephen – neither.

You might be “democratically elected”, but only in a system which is greatly stacked against anyone but the two incumbent old parties. Remember, unless because of this one issue all progressive Australians suddenly abandon a century’s habit of voting for the big old parties and start voting for the Greens, your replacements are likely to be the conservatives – who are just as hostile to civil liberties as you are. Hardly a “check” when both of you are pandering to the same people, and the only party that stands against you on this has to fight its way through a single-member electorate system designed to make it almost impossible for them to win. (Fortunately we can vote for them without helping the conservatives, but it’s realistically a limited “check” until there’s electoral reform.)

And you’re proposing a filter in which the banned list is hidden. How are these “checks and balances” supposed to work?

Your filters block not just “refused classification” content, but material that is lawful in Australia that either hasn’t been and won’t be offered for classification here by people overseas, or that has been wrongly caught in the filter. You’ve never solved the problem of the filter either having a huge number of false positives or picking up hardly anything. You’re now conceding that leaving the dodgy sites up “for a short time” is better for law enforcement to catch the child abusers than just blocking them – but your expensive compromise is still no better than the status quo.

Seriously, Stephen, just because we don’t like Facebook doesn’t mean we’re going to like you. There’s a reason the only people enthusiastically backing you on this are Fundies First.

PS: If Conroy is concerned about privacy protections on Facebook, that is something his government can effectively regulate and enforce. We do have a Privacy Act – if he’s concerned that it doesn’t adequately restrain “corporate giants” then that’s what he should be tackling.

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11 responses to “Stephen Conroy reviews the internet; offers Sophie’s Choice

  1. “Filtering by computer fails on judgment”

    Interesting article by George Williams Anthony Mason Professor of Law at the University of NSW.

    “The plan to filter the internet for material refused classification under Australian law is legally flawed. Australia’s classification law is not compatible with the Rudd government’s proposal, and in fact has its own problems that make it unsuitable as a basis for any internet ”clean feed”.”

    http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/filtering-by-computer-fails-on-judgment-20100524-w7w1.html

  2. Splatterbottom

    This issue is enough to justify voting Green.

  3. confessions

    Do the Liberals in fact support the fundie filter? I haven’t seen any policy statements from them on this (or anything else ftm, but that’s another issue). I had hoped when i read the filter had been delayed that that was code for dropped. How dismayment that Conroy’s still persisting with this ridiculous crusade of his.

    And what’s wrong with Facebook?

  4. agreed, PLUS the budget for the AFP internet pedo unit has been CUT – in part to pay for the filter.

    how is this smart? The cops are actually effective!

    ahhhh – maybe thats why the fundies want the filter. they don’t want to be caught, thankyouverymuch!!

    On the PS: Facebook will change its privacy (and is now doing so) in the face of competition offering a better service. All Conroy has to compete with are the Liberal party,as Jeremy says.

    Now I wonder what solutions people might have for all that…

  5. Splatterbottom

    From the Liberal Party Website:

    QUESTION: Can I ask you about a couple of issues that have been… raised prominence in the last couple of days? Firstly, the internet filtering system. As a man of the digital revolution yourself, do you think that the proposed internet filter system is desirable or feasible or both?
    TONY ABBOTT: Annabel, I am not really familiar with the technicalities of this proposal. I think that it makes sense to try to ensure that the homes of Australia aren’t invaded with pornography via the internet. On the other hand I don’t want to see wider censorship and I don’t want to see the internet destroyed as a tool for people’s education or as a tool for people’s businesses. So it is question of whether this is technically feasible and I just don’t know enough about it at this stage to have an opinion on that.
    QUESTION: Does the Coalition have a position on internet filtering?
    TONY ABBOTT: We are open to proposals provided they achieve their objective without unfortunate side effects.

    Doesn’t look good.

    Facebook has turned feral on privacy. Some info previously allowed to be private is required to be public, and the default settings get reset to public with new updates. The defaults should be for privacy requiring a decision to make them public.

  6. Every time this goon opens his mouth another bucketload of votes Labor can ill afford to lose goes out the door.

    Is the party so tone deaf they can’t see the damage he causes every time he opens his mouth?

  7. “I think that it makes sense to try to ensure that the homes of Australia aren’t invaded with pornography via the internet. ”

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha! According to Tony, pron is waiting just outside your modem, waiting to rush in at the first opportunity!

  8. I have heard Joe Hockey speak out against the filter and net censorship on a couple of occasions.

    He’s against an R rating for video games tho.

    So he is soft headed as well as being soft.

  9. BTW Facebook was a datamine from day one.

    That should have been obvious to everybody.

  10. confessions

    This is what pisses me off about the anti-filter campaign: it is seemingly driven by rank amateurs, and/or juvenile pranksters whose message utterly fails to engage the mainstream on the issue.

    “Even mums”? You’ve got to be fracking kidding me.

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