If this report about Senator Stephen Conroy’s comments this morning is right, then he’s either completely out of touch with what actually happens in an ISP, or thoroughly disingenuous.
In what was at times a heated morning at the CommsDay Summit in Sydney, Conroy told an overflowing room that the idea that iiNet “have no idea if any customers are illegally downloading music” on their network is a “stunning defence”.
“The capacity to be able to ignore what your customers are doing on your network is being fought out in the Courts but I thought the defence of ‘we have no idea what anyone is downloading over our network’ was a classic,” Conroy said.
Is Senator Conroy aware that it’s completely unethical — if not downright illegal — to monitor or otherwise intercept the contents of someone else’s communications?
As a “common carrier”, iiNet or any other ISP does not and indeed can not monitor the content of communications flowing through their network any more than Telstra or another telco can listen in to our telephone conversations, or Australia Post can open our mail and read it. At least not without a warrant or other due legal process.
Anyway, how can an ISP tell whether a particular data stream is an “illegal” copy or not? A music file looks just the same whether it’s being used legally under the terms of its license or under fair dealing, or not. Does Senator Conroy imagine illegally-made copies are stamped “pirate” or something?
It looks like the report is true, because ZDNet just posted their version.