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Nov 10, 2012

Conroy’s censorship worse than proposed net filter

Image: Communications Minister Stephen Conroy communicating.

In the previous post on Conroy backing down on the Internet filter it was stated:
"This move is very much out of character for Conroy, a rather curious little zealot with an odd obsession with controlling all of the written word, the broadcast word, the published word, and as far as possible the spoken word.  While it’s possible that he has simply come to some understanding that the idea is impractical, impracticality is not something that usually deters Labor.
It is probably worth keeping an eye on just how he proposes to not do it." 
It now seems that suspicion was the correct response according to the Institute of Public affairs (IPA) in the light of their examination of the statement.  The use of the term, ‘worst of’ list of Interpol, means that control is actually worse than would have been the case under the original scheme: 
"The Gillard government is handing over control for the list of banned websites to the international police agency, Interpol, and is using an existing law in a way that was never intended," said Mr Breheny. 
Senator Conroy plans to use section 313 of the Telecommunications Act 1997 to force Australian internet service providers to block websites that appear on Interpol's "worst of" list. The list is compiled with the assistance of 190 member countries. 
"The use of an obscure provision of the legislation raises serious legal issues - it is highly doubtful whether the law can be used to compel ISPs to block websites at the Minister's behest. If the Minister always had the power to impose an internet filter without the need for new legislation section 313 would have been used from the beginning," said Mr Breheny. 
"Using the Interpol list means foreign countries, including Iran, Cuba and Zimbabwe, will now dictate what Australians can and cannot access online. 
"Many of these countries have tyrannical governments that do not share our liberal democratic values. There is no guarantee that the list will not eventually include websites with political content.
The idea that Conroy would have a sudden change of heart and become a champion of liberty was a little much to hope for.  Moving from control freak to libertarian could not be achieved even on the road to Damascus. 

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