Conroy explains his magic filter


In today’s Twisted Wire, we put the screws on Communications Minister Stephen Conroy about his controversial internet filter policy.

Among other things, Conroy says the filter was always intended to stop people inadvertently encountering internet nasties, and that there was never an intention to use the Australian Communication and Media Authority’s full blacklist.

That sensitive list, Conroy says, will only ever have a few thousand sites on it, updated regularly, and the government is open to discussion about how it will be implemented.

Conroy is copping a lot of flak for the policy but is intent on it as one of a range of approaches to try and limit access to child pornography and other nasty material. For most of us it shouldn’t matter, so why are people getting so hot under the collar about it?

Well, there are three reasons. The first is the question of speed. If we believe the trials, both the Enex TestLab trial and a separate one conducted by Telstra, and if we’re only talking about blocking a few thousand URLs then there will be a negligible impact on the performance of the internet. No big deal!

The second reason is the fear of precisely what it is we are blocking. Professor Catherine Lumby from the University of NSW joins the discussion, suggesting if the filter is to proceed we need to look at how we classify material. For more, read the report she co-authored, Untangling the Net: the scope of content caught by mandatory internet filtering.Tech Budgets 2019: A CXO’s GuideLearn where business leaders will spend their tech budgets in 2019 and what their top priorities are. Also get valuable advice for putting your IT dollars to good use.Sponsored by Google Cloud Platform 

The third reason is “everything else”. As Peter Corenous, chief executive of the Internet Industry Association explains, there could be many inadvertent issues that need to be examined. The cost burden of applying the filter could be one of them, particularly for smaller ISPs.

Ravi Bhatia, CEO of Primus, is another industry supporter. I ask him if he can see any problems with the approach, or is Senator Conroy right to push ahead regardless of the vocal opposition from the anti-censorship brigade.

What do you think? Whatever your views on the subject, don’t let it ruin your Christmas! And yes, we’ll squeeze in one more Twisted Wire before then. You can also read the consultation paper on measures to increase accountability and transparency for Refused Classification material.

First published on ZDNet

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