Conroy announces filter-trial ISPs and clams shut

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I’m in Crikey today, looking at Senator Conroy’s announcement from last week of the first six ISPs to be taking part in the Internet “filtering” trials: Primus Telecommunications (iPrimus), Tech 2U, Webshield, OMNIconnect, Highway 1 and Netforce.

One of the questions I ask is: Why is there further mission creep?

Labor’s pre-election policy said: “A Rudd Labor Government will require ISPs to offer a ‘clean feed’ internet service to all homes, schools and public internet points accessible by children, such as public libraries.” Apart from pointing out again that “offer” isn’t the same as “require everyone to use”, the policy doesn’t mention business premises. Yet three of the ISPs (Highway 1, OMNIconnect and Netforce) are business-only ISPs.

As network engineer Mark Newton says, “If the Government is scope-creeping its plan to include business, I think it has some explaining to do.”

The article isn’t behind the paywall so it’s free to read.

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6 comments

  1. Sweet Sister Morphine’s avatar

    Interesting, both for the “mission creep” and for the effect that using business-only ISPs seems likely to have on results.

  2. Stilgherrian’s avatar

    @Sweet Sister Morphine: Indeed. And another point is that since participation is voluntary, those who do participate are unlikely to be a representative of ISPs’ customers.

    Do we know enough about the different browsing patterns of different kinds of customers to be able to use the trial’s results as a basis for extrapolation? I doubt it.

    Can we do some research to make that possible? Not for a total trials budget of $300,000 across all the participating ISPs we can’t.

  3. Fitzroyalty’s avatar

    Why is the opposition not making more of the governement’s failings on this issue? Malcolm, promise me ongoing access to porn and I’ll vote for you!!! LOLs. Hmmm, that is probably not a big vote winner in retard suburbia land where people believe the fear campaigns and can’t think for themselves. Sigh…

  4. Stilgherrian’s avatar

    @Fitzroyalty: The Opposition has actually been attacking reasonably well, through Senator Nick Minchin — at least when they haven’t been too busy imploding into disorganisation. However I suspect they can’t play it too hard because some of their own members are in the “protect the children” vanguard.

  5. Verity Pravda’s avatar

    Hi there. Remember me? I don’t quite know what the accusation that Conroy “ran away and hid” is supposed to mean. As to all the other criticisms of the trial, let’s let the trial happen.

    Here I see a criticism of whether the trial can be conducted for $300,000 but on whirlpool the criticism is the total $125M for safer internet versus $10M for the bushfires. So the Government is in trouble for spending too little and too much.

    Hopefully the good folk at Crikey will post my full response.

  6. Stilgherrian’s avatar

    @Verity Pravda: Hi. Yes, I remember you. It’s only been a couple weeks and my memory loss hasn’t gotten quite that bad yet.

    The “Conroy hiding” thing in Crikey today (behind the paywall, alas) is a description of Conroy’s current media process. His office has stopped answering even straightforward questions, and his own response to nearly every question is to ignore the substance of the question and just repeat his prepared statements. That’s not a debate, that’s a parrot.

    As one journalist put it to me, it’s pointless interviewing him because all he does is read out the media release.

    Hardly the transparent and open government promised by Chairman Rudd, wouldn’t you say?

    You seem so very keen to start the trials, Verity. What’s the rush? I’m still confused about what the trials are meant to be testing. Where is the policy which the filters are meant to implement? I mean a properly-developed policy, not a one-liner about blacklists and “bad things”. Where the are the criteria by which we decide whether the trials have been a success or not? All the things which a “proper” technical trial would require seem to be missing. Why is that?

    As for the dollar arguments, I don’t see any problem with those two complaints co-existing. My point is that you don’t get much of a valid technical trial across multiple participants for $300k. Would you agree? (That I don’t think the trials should be happening at all is a separate issue.) Simultaneously, some people over on Whirlpool would rather see all the money allocated to the Cyber-Safety Program instead going to bushfire relief. I have no opinion one way or the other on that, because I haven’t been looking at the fires’ impact — however $10M does seem a rather tiny contribution.

    What the government is in trouble for is spending the money on the wrong things. Pretty much everyone except a few sex-obsessed cranks and folk with a vested interest in selling Internet filters agree — and I repeat — that the child abusers are best caught by funding the AFP’s OCSET team, and that children are best protected from inappropriate material through a combination of education, supervision and, perhaps, some filtering applied at the end-point where their parents can help determine what’s appropriate for their circumstances.

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