Completely inappropriate, Senator Conroy

Photograph of Senator Stephen Conroy labelled Cnut of the Week

Last night‘s Stilgherrian Live viewers voted Senator Stephen Conroy (pictured) “Cnut of the Week” by the clearest margin ever. But the actions of his office reported this morning really take the biscuit.

As Australia’s Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Conroy has been spokesman for the ALP’s policy of ISP-level filtering of the Internet. I’ve written about this before, but it’s back in the news this week because it was discussed in Senate Estimates, as Michael Meloni reports.

Conroy, as in December, was accusing critics of the policy like Greens Senator Scott Ludlam of supporting child pornography — a cheap rhetorical trick at the best of times.

This morning, though, news broke that Conroy’s office had tried bullying other critics.

Internode’s Mark Newton was highly critical of the filtering plan and Conroy’s evidence, but he was speaking as a private citizen. It was totally inappropriate for Conroy’s policy advisor Belinda Dennett to attempt to pressure him via Internet Industry Association board members and his employer.

Last year, Senator Conroy agreed with his Coalition predecessor, Senator Helen Coonan, when she said you get into trouble when politicians start picking technologies. Problem is, the ALP’s “cyber-safety” policy specifies “ISP filters that block prohibited content”. Conroy’s stuck with it. But the filters clearly don’t work. And he can’t be seen to back away from Internet filtering — in a trial program which, ironically, was scheduled by his predecessor — because the ALP needs the votes of Family First Senator Steve Fielding and independent Senator Nick Xenophon for other things.

Poor bloke. What is he to do?

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11 comments

  1. Wolf’s avatar

    What if Conroy is playing good cop bad cop. He comes in saying he is going to do all this stuff…. which we all know wont work… then he turns around and gives us some crappy filter that is easy to get around but everyone says “yes fine, that is much better than what you were offering” and it gets up with little or no fuss.

    Then he goes back to Steve Fielding and Nick Xenophon and says… “hey I did something, now can you please pass our budget bills”….

    Either that or I am over thinking it and Conroy is a f*(king idiot.

  2. Michael Meloni’s avatar

    Quick way to sum up people’s comments that I’m reading on forums and news articles today: UNIVERSALLY PISSED

    I’ve never seen so many people all agree that a particular policy is a bad idea. I’m starting to forget who even supports it besides Conroy and the AFA.

  3. Connor Moran’s avatar

    Why don’t you all take a deeper breath and think harder. Our business clients ask us to provide internet filtering to their staff each and everyday. It works. They provide the internet service to those desks, they control/monitor it. Users can’t get around it without an extreme amount of effort and/or detection.

    Bit-shift that a bit to the left and think of the ISP providing a filtered service offering, and an optional unfiltered offering. As an example; as a parent, I choose filtered. I expect my ISP to provide their best endeavours in software/live-monitoring to exclude defined content. As a parent I DON’T allow my children administrative control of our family computer, or their friends to install downloaders/proxies etc.

    Those like Stilgherrian who start out by claiming that you “can’t control the internet” are dunces.

    If we applied some of the available software today, viruses and malware wouldn’t be travelling untouched through ISP routers right now.

  4. Stilgherrian’s avatar

    @Connor Moran: OK, you’ve gone the ad hominem route (i.e. attacking the person and not the argument) with “those like Stilgherrian” and “dunces” and “think harder” etc etc… and the straw-man of claiming I’m saying you “can’t control the Internet” — which is not my position.

    My quick responses:

    • Saying that filtering “works” depends what you mean by a working filter. A 1% false-positive rate might be acceptable in a small business where the problem can be fixed quickly. I doubt that it scales up well. Imagine a business which makes, oh, breast-feeding accessories trying to use Telstra BigPond support to get themselves unblocked!
    • I have no problem with a business choosing to restrict Internet access for its employees, or a family restricting their own Internet access. I think they’re wrong — I’ll explain why another time — but it’s their choice. This is a mandatory system — where the policy of what will and won’t be blocked isn’t even defined yet! This is poor policy-making!
    • Can a centralised filter can provide the nuanced access to information which I suspect, as a non-parent myself, good parenting requires? Can managing a curious, intelligent child’s access to information really be reduced to a few pre-defined levels of filtering chosen from a list? I doubt it.
    • I simply do not like the idea of a government installing a mechanism for suppressing communication — especially when the rules are not clear and transparent, and when critics of the plan are accused of promoting child pornography. If people do not see the potential danger here, then they need to take a deep breath and think harder.

    @Michael Meloni: Comments on Internet forums and news sites will mostly be from Internet-savvy people. I suspect that the calls for the Internet to be filtered come from people who don’t use it themselves and are too lazy to learn about it — so they want “the guv’mint” to do their parenting for them.

    @Wolf: Yes, the continuation of the Coonan filtering plan could be Conroy’s trojan horse for something else. But my Crikey piece outlines what I think are the real politics here.

  5. Free’s avatar

    Senator Stephen Conroy is a fucking nazi puppet for the NWO, screw him and his brownshirt style.

    One thing these puppets fear is exposure. So as long as we all talk about them and what they are attempting to do, they FEAR that.

    So from the bottom of my arse Conjob, suck a fat one you tool.

    Love to everyone else 🙂

    free

  6. Stephen Conroy’s avatar

    Please do not be so critical of me guys. I work hard to provide the best for our kids. And it’s our kids that are important, because they are our future, after all. I mean, I am not a wowser, I am just a man that cares about the future of our great country.

    Get the real facts about the Content Filtering Scheme from my new web site, http://www.stephenconroy.org, and stop propagating this prejudiced information.

    Thank You

  7. Stilgherrian’s avatar

    @Stephen Conroy: Oh poor Senator Conroy, your site has been teh filtererized!

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