The argument is simple, Senator Conroy

Photograph of Senator Stephen Conroy labelled Cnut of the Week

For the second week in a row, the Stilgherrian Live audience voted Senator Stephen Conroy our “Cnut of the Week” for his persistence with and behaviour over the Australian government’s Internet censorship “plans”. The program is now online for your viewing pleasure.

OK, that’s a biased sample, sure. But as I wrote in Crikey yesterday, Conroy is thoroughly tangled in his own Rabbit-Proof Firewall. I’ll try to sneak that article out from behind the paywall later. However in summary Conroy is blustering, maligning his critics with the McCarthyist tactic of bullying and calling them child pornographers and generally ignoring the rational questions being put to him.

He’s also back-pedalling fast. On ABC Radio National’s The Media Report yesterday, he was even denying the policy was about censoring legal material at all, despite clear evidence for exactly the opposite.

Not good enough, Senator Conroy.

If the government wants to persist with comprehensive, centralised, secretive, unaccountable Internet censorship — let’s not use the spin-words “filtering” and “clean feed” because that just reinforces their moral-panic frame of the Internet being “dirty” — then they need to deploy this evidence-based policy-making they used to talk about and actually address the evidence.

Mark Newton, the network engineer Conroy’s office tried to bully into silence, has only become more vocal in his criticism. And at Online Opinion yesterday he puts his case more clearly than ever.

I can’t argue with Newton’s logic. Can you, Senator Conroy?

The online community’s argument is a simple one:

  • there’s no problem to solve because actual illegal material on the Internet is so rare that nobody ever finds it;
  • even if there was a problem to solve, there’s no serious public demand to solve it;
  • even if there was a public demand to solve it, none of the solutions proposed by the ALP will be effective, and the Government has handily provided original research to decimate their own case;
  • even if they were effective, they’ll slow down Internet access and reduce Internet reliability, as shown by the same original research released by the Minister on July 22;
  • even if the proposed solutions had perfect performance and reliability, none of them are affordable;
  • even if they were affordable, they’ll be implemented terribly by the same underclass of bureaucrat that deemed Mohammad Haneef a terrorist, or Bill Henson a pornographer. The salivating of hangers-on like Family First and Nick Xenophon, lobbying to have the blacklist expanded before it’s even in force, demonstrate perfectly how open the system will be to political manipulation and lobbying;
  • even if they were implemented perfectly by perfect administrators, the blacklists will inevitably leak, be published on the Internet, whereupon they’ll fall into the hands of nefarious individuals and consequently enable child abuse all over the world, with the direct assistance of the Commonwealth of Australia; and
  • there’s no possibility that the blacklists won’t leak. Finland’s list has already leaked, CyberPatrol’s encrypted blacklist is cracked every six months or so. It’s delusional to believe that Australia will be any better at securing its officially sanctioned list of Child Porn and Terrorism sites than anyone else. It might take a month, a year, five years, ten years, or two hours. But it will leak, secrets always do. Pressing it into service will be like setting a ticking time bomb, and when it explodes there’ll be a thronging multitude of critics pointing at Senator Conroy and saying, “I told you so, you were warned, but you did it anyway”.

This isn’t a complicated argument. To justify the ALP’s policy, cogent, successful arguments against each and every one of those independent points will need to be mounted.

So, Senator Conroy, would you care to respond? Would anyone in government? Because if all you can do is slag off those wanting to debate the issue, your plans clearly don’t stand on their merits, do they?

12 Replies to “The argument is simple, Senator Conroy”

  1. Anyone who cares to email the editors of Australian Women Online with criticism over that howler of an article supporting internet censorship can expect to receive this howler of a response, that they’re obviously copy-&-pasting to keep up with the sheer volume of criticism:

    You guys are so stupid – you want to deal with us effectively than ignore us because you are giving us way too much power in this debate. Why do you care so much about what we have to say on this issue anyway?

    We think it is rather amusing that you flock to our website in your thousands, hanging on our every word and action. Don’t deny it – whenever we write something on ISP filtering it’s linked to within the hour – you guys are faster than Google for Christ sakes!

    If you’re so smart why can’t you work it out for yourselves – ignore us and we have no power, no influence and no voice on this debate. All you’re doing here is directing lots of attention our way and diverting it from yourselves. Duh!

    Deborah Robinson
    Editor, Australian Women Online

    So there you have it, folks. The real issue for AWO here is POWER; internet censorship is just a ruse. And frankly, I take being called “faster than Google, for Christ sakes!” to be a very high compliment. Don’t you?

  2. Thus was my response:

    So the real issue for you here is POWER; internet censorship is just a ruse. You really are a fraud.
    The reason everyone’s linking to your article is because it’s not that often the world gets to see such a magnificent specimen of ignorant, hypocritical nonsense – untainted by ANY understanding of the rising mountain of critical evidence (that’s readily available if you ever bother to READ IT).
    Yes, it’s all helping attract more hits to your web site – but only so people can laugh at your thoroughly un-researched excuse for an argument.
    Small world, white-picket fence mentalities like yours only highlight the very IRRATIONAL dumbing-down of this debate, by proponents of comprehensive internet censorship, which helps build the case against it.
    So if you think any publicity is good publicity, then you’re hopelessly deluded.
    And frankly, I take being called “faster than Google, for Christ sakes!” to be a very high compliment.
    So thank you.

    And if you don’t mind, I’d appreciate it if you didn’t just copy-&-paste me the same reply you’re obviously sending to everyone else who’s taking you to task over this.
    It just makes you look lazy, if not overwhelmed with criticism.


  3. Such an amusing reaction by Australian Women Online.

    How could we ignore her/their argument?

    I also linked to AWO’s post. We index the misguided too.

    Highlight irrational arguments. Then share, discuss (have a laugh in the process), educate, protest.

    Why? Because, unfortunately, there’s others out there like AWO, and it’s not us that we’re trying to reach.

  4. My email to the AWO… we’ll see what response I elicit.

    Let me see if I got this straight. You say the debate about internet filtering is separate to the debate about the legality of pornography? Yet, before the debate about the legality of pornography is held you want to censor it?

    You claim to be about being a “voice” for “ordinary” Australians, yet you censor debate on your unsupportable and outrageous claims by disabling comments?

    You say that you have been inundated by emails from the “minority” declaiming the proposed internet filtering. What is the ratio of emails supporting your views to those indicating opposition to those views? How do you substantiate your claim to speak for any sort of majority? Who and where are your constituents? Are they the 0 people who have signed your online widget saying no to violence against women (and why just women? Why not just say no to violence against anyone, irrespective of race, gender, sexual preference etc?).

  5. Wow. The Australian Women Online piece and subsequent boilerplate response by them has certainly generated interest! The one word which immediately comes to mind is “loopy”.

  6. This is Stevie; I am not going to respond to you or anyone.
    I am not even going to give you my contact Details.

    This as well as all Truth Sites will be shut down as soon as it Becomes Law.
    REPEAT:I will shut down this site, and all others that tell issues with no agenda.

    DON’T even try to get the media on your side there isn’t any Discussion allowed.

    I have already silenced a few Individuals, and I’m not talking with Money either.

  7. And thank you for you and all readers here for Voting me the:
    “CeNsorship hero of the centUry who is the most loved by all aussie neT users” of the week two times running so far!

    (CNUT of the week)

    I thank you again and as a result for this lovely Compliment I will not Silence any members here 🙂

  8. The standard of political satire seriously needs to rise in this country, folks. No one’s really been up to the standard of John Clarke since, well, John Clarke. But even then, he’s a Kiwi. And he’s not going to be gracing our screens and pages forever. Must get sharper.

  9. Anyway … a week and a half later and you’d never know Australian Women Online ever existed, from their lack of response. Presumably these are the same school mums whose sage advice to their kids is to “just ignore” anyone else who starts giving them grief in the schoolyard. (I remember receiving that advice myself as a lad. And it Doesn’t. Fucking. Work.)

    I’m not defending bullies. But I AM attacking closed-minded ignorance. ESPECIALLY when the guilty are on-record as wanting to engage in some sort of “rational debate” about the topic. But here’s a taste of their latest update:

    “We are not in a position to provide a forum for this debate on our website.”
    (We want a debate, we have an opinion, but we don’t want to be questioned about it.)

    “We do not have the available manpower to handle the high volume of comments.”
    (Comments were closed from the get-go. Just because we call for a rational debate, doesn’t mean we actually want to have one.)

    “It is not our role nor is it our responsibility, to address the concerns of every single individual who is opposed to ISP filtering.”
    (We were expecting a lot more support than this.)

    “Please note we will not reply to any further individual correspondence on this issue.”
    (Just fuck off.)


  10. Quoting Stephen Stockwell:

    a week and a half later and you’d never know Australian Women Online ever existed

    “Australian Women Offline”?

    – mark

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