My thoughts on the Safer Internet Group statement

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010 @ 4:25PM

Yesterday Yahoo, Google, the Australian Librarian and Information Association (ALIA) and Inspire Foundation came together under the banner of the Safer Internet Group to make a public statement about the proposed mandatory Internet filtering policy.

The paper calls for two things:

  1. That the scope of filtering be reduced from RC content to child pornographic material
  2. That adults can choose whether they have Internet filtering or not

The choice of an opt-out in the Safer Internet Group forms the substance of the proposal, however the paper focussed on the reducing the filter from RC rather than on the case for opting out.  I have heard the arguments that limiting the scope of a mandatory filter to child pornographic material and understand that for many, this change would remediate their concerns about a RC filter, but in effect, the ability to opt out resolves this core complaint anyway.

The bottom line is that for many people a (generally silently applied) mandatory filter with a secret blacklist would always be concerning regardless of the filter scope.  It still wouldn’t engage or educate all Internet subscribers in better online safety practices, it wouldn’t deal with business concerns and it wouldn’t deal with concerns around a secret blacklist: only the direct engagement of Internet subscribers and the ability to legitimately opt out resolves these fundamental objections.

With this in mind the approach I am taking takes the opportunity to educate subscribers about better internet safety that empowers them to make an imformed choice and addresses the fundamental objections through:

  1. the introduction of a Mandatory Option for all Internet subscribers that requires an active choice on the level of filtering  for that household, with the government RC filter as the default service if they fail to make a choice within a reasonable period of time, whilst making other information about cyber safety best practices and support available, and
  2. a requirement of ISPs to provide an Open Internet service as one of the Mandatory Options to Internet subscribers, creating the ability to opt out.  I think mandating the provision of an Open Internet service in legislation for all ISPs also protects the civil libertarian principles of freedom of information and speech whilst not diminishing the ability of the authorities to tackle illegal content such as child pornography where is found.

Yesterday there was a very interesting opinion piece in the Sydney Morning Herald that dealt directly with the issue of Australia and the open Internet by Chris Zappone. I agree with these concerns, and I think that legislating to protect the presence and availability of an open Internet service would clearly solve several of the public concerns whilst also showing the world that Australia takes freedom of speech and association very seriously.

Some other relevant articles from the last week are below:

UPDATE: Please note the Senator has three other posting on this topic:

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    166 Comments to "My thoughts on the Safer Internet Group statement" add comment
    Josh Stewart
    February 16, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    A great piece Kate, very sensible ideas regarding the implementation of a mandatory option system.

    I assume, given your comments here advocating a better solution, that you will therefore not be voting in favour of the mandatory filter?

    Chris Quirk
    February 16, 2010 at 5:29 pm

    @Josh Stewart

    Pretty sure Kate has to vote in favor of the legislation regardless of her opinion as per Labor guidelines.

    Josh Stewart
    February 16, 2010 at 7:56 pm

    Kate is able to vote however she wishes, no one is stopping her from crossing the floor. As much as I approve of her comments, they amount to exactly nothing if she still votes for the proposed mandatory filter. Its saying one thing yet doing the opposite.

    Yes of course I understand the difficult nature of voting against party lines, but when you break it down, it is a question of whether you do what you and your constiuents want or whether you do what is best for your career.

    Bob Mellows
    March 1, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    Unless Labor says otherwise Labor members must vote for whatever Labor Policy is being put forward. Or risk the wrath of the caucus, to put it dramatically.

    March 25, 2010 at 11:02 am

    ALP should just rename themselves the Australian Communist Party. It’s how they run their party internally. If members can’t vote in a manner that represents their constituents then they aren’t representing the people at all, which is what their JOB is supposed to be.

    February 16, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    Remember that a mandatory choice or opt-out system will only reduce the opposition to the policy by a negligible margin. With both of these options, they will require all ISPs to install censorship systems in the networks. This will in turn allow any future (or current) government to merely introduce a legislative amendment to cancel out any options that the voting electorate has.

    While we appreciate you being up-front about your intentions and views, we are not as ignorant to believe that a mandatory choice or opt-out system will be much better in the long-term.

    February 16, 2010 at 5:55 pm

    I’m sorry Kate – but your party appears to be deaf. What part about “We do not want a MANDATORY censorship scheme of any sort” do they not understand?
    We do not want OPT-OUT we want OPT-IN if the Labor parter must have censorship of the Internet.
    I think you will find the concerns of the greater than 11000 people that have signed the EFA petition will be greatly alleviated if the mandatory opt-out option is scrapped.
    This issue will not go away while Senator Conroy is pushing his censorship scheme as described.
    Oh and while I am taking the time to write this – Why is Senator Conroy approaching Google to censor You-Tube, I thought this was all about accidental exposure to “Child Pornography, Bestiality and ‘the worst of the worst'”, not much of that kicking around on You-tube.

    February 16, 2010 at 11:15 pm

    We’re still waiting to hear what it’s actually about. So far nothing but silence on that front.

    February 20, 2010 at 10:10 am

    I totally agree with Mark’s comment. We are all saying NO, NO and NO to this whole thing especially the MANDATORY part. Conroy knows this will fail as a child protection policy, he is not stupid, so why persit?. This policy to me, rings very loud Orwellian alarm bells.
    If a government wants to block known child pornography sites then most people have no problem with this.
    The SCOPE is just too broad and it gets a little broader each time Conroy opens his trap.
    I for one will NOT vote for any party EVER, that proposes something as draconian as this. Malaysia had the good sense to back down from a filter late last year based on the loss of investment in IT alone. Conroy seems prepared to sacrifice jobs and investment in technology for this obsession of his. He has got to be the most undemocratic and politically deaf politician since Howard.
    Labor needs to realize just how close this year’s election will be and if they are prepared to become the first Australian government to be voted out after just one term.
    There are a lot of people out there saying they will not vote for Labor because of the filter and the sentiment is spreading like a grass fire in a drought.

    February 16, 2010 at 5:59 pm

    No legislated filter of any kind please, regardless if it’s optional. It leaves a “voluntary today, mandatory tomorrow” trigger in place.

    There should be no legislated filter, period. No matter how you try to portray the policy, it’s a stinker. And thanks to Conroy’s disgraceful behaviour and the undemocratic nature of the policy it’s no wonder the policy has almost no support.

    The German government have decided not to proceed with a mandatory filter. Why can’t the ALP do the same?

    Ken McMaster
    February 16, 2010 at 6:23 pm

    How can you have a mandatory option (“active choice”) and a default if the choice is not made?

    It seems to me that if we want to mandate users to chose, we can’t allow them to proceed with their service until such a choice is made.

    February 16, 2010 at 6:25 pm

    ‘Mandatory option’ will not reduce the cost to ISPs, and therefore end user residential, mobile and business internet costs (the Great Australian Internet Surcharge), as an ISP will have to provision the censorware system capable of scaling to all customers as this is the default.

    ‘Mandatory option’ will not prevent a future government from removing the ‘option’ part.

    ‘Mandatory option’ will still introduce the same vulnerabilities into Australia’s Internet infrastructure.

    The Enex ‘trial’ showed that adding high traffic sites to the censor system will overload it and introduce significant slowdowns.
    Senator Conroy said that he would not proceed with the filter if it was going to introduce slowdowns.
    Senator Conroy’s solution to high traffic sites was that sites like Youtube would self-censor at the Australian Government’s request “because they do it for China”.
    Google has now stated that they will not censor RC material on Youtube.
    Senator Conroy cannot force Youtube compliance through legislation as Youtube content is hosted outside Australia and therefore not subject to Australian legislation (or ACMA takedown notices).

    – the filter will either introduce significant slowdowns to Australian Internet access, contrary to Senator Conroy’s statement (although the Senator has contradicts himself almost every time he opens his mouth, so another instance would not be a surprise), or

    – the Australian Government will whitelist high traffic sites containing RC material (like Youtube) resulting in a filter that only filters sites that no one goes to anyway, or

    – the Australian Government will finally realise that all the industry experts were right when they told the Government the filter will not be in any way effective, and will drop this ridiculous policy as a result.

    Senator Conroy will eventually learn that he will have to live in the real world, no matter how hard he wishes that the world behaved otherwise.

    February 16, 2010 at 6:29 pm

    Thanks again for your great work on this important issue, Kate. Good uck in the Party Room!

    And Ben – I’m not sure there is anything legislative that could be done in this context to satisfy your concern about what any future (or current) government could do. Even an absolute legislative ban on filtering of any kind could be over-ridden, legally or illegally, by a future regime.

    Mark Newton
    February 16, 2010 at 6:51 pm

    Maybe it could, but I’m pretty sure that it won’t be. The degree of opprobrium that this proposal has created has, in my opinion, served to make the issue radioactive. Once it’s gone through the parliament I expect we’ll have to live with whatever we end up with for a very, very long time, because our political masters are going to be so disinclined to pick at the sore by revisiting the issue.

    My preference is that if Conroy ever manages to introduce legislation it’ll be vapourized by the Greens and Coalition in the Senate. We may even see the unlikely prospect of the Coalition dragging the ALP kicking and screaming into the 21st century, which would definitely be something to tell the grandkids about :-)

    If that doesn’t happen, though, and legislation actually passes, the proposal that Sen. Lundy has been staking out is starting to look like a safe landing.

    I think it still needs some fleshing out (e.g., what minimum standards would an ISP need to take to service a customer who asked for a censored feed? Could an ISP respond by saying, “Thanks for indicating your preference, now I’m afraid I can’t service you, but I can recommend Webshield”? Could an ISP respond by providing the customer with a free license for an ACMA-approved PC filtering package with perpetual installation/configuration support provided by the ISP’s helpdesk?)

    They’re important questions because one thing Sen. Lundy’s proposal doesn’t address is the fact that the Govt’s current policy sees censorware installed in every ISP in the country, that could later be utilized by… less ethical Governments to scope-creep their way past the limits Conroy has (variously) suggested.

    We see that all the time, even now: The scope of RC is significantly different now from what it was ten years ago. Successive Governments have scope-creeped it by adding or deleting innocuous looking words like, “extreme,” or, “profound,” which by themselves look harmless enough but which alter the definitions in extreme and profound ways.

    I, for one, have zero confidence that future Governments won’t do more of that. Indeed, I actually have zero confidence that this Government would be able to avoid it, given the moralizing prudishness of Mr. Rudd, and his unhealthy association with the ACL’s orcs.

    So while I know that this isn’t an appropriate time to get details of Sen. Lundy’s proposals, I look forward to seeing them in due course. The direction she’s heading may well be worthy of consideration, especially if it opens the way for compliance with the law without requiring every ISP in the country to install censorware.

    One more link that Pia may like to include if/when this post is updated:,130061791,339301140,00.htm
    Contrasts the inept and hapless way the Australian Government has gone about this issue with the way the NZ Government has. NZ may be about to end up with an optional-for-ISPs, optional-for-end-users scheme targeted specifically at child abuse material, with demonstrably less public ire than the ALP has earned for itself in Australia.

    It isn’t all roses, of course: The process they’ve gone through is borderline corrupt and not at all like the gov2.0 stuff that Sen. Lundy is trying to make happen. And the system they’ve chosen to do the work happens to be the one system that is more susceptible than any other to blacklist reverse-engineering, so I don’t expect their list to remain confidential for very long.

    But it forms an interesting counterpoint, doesn’t it? In some ways the New Zealanders are way smarter than us about this stuff, and seem to have avoided the traps that the Australian Government has navigated itself into with GPS-like precision.

    – mark

    February 24, 2010 at 9:26 am


    Can you please elaborate on what you mean by ‘mandatory option’?

    I assume this would not be a once-off option as you seem to be suggesting? The customer/user group that accesses a particular internet connection can change by the day – when I lease out a property I do not want to have to disconnect the internet service every time a new tenant (or me) moves in just so that they can make the choice again!

    Obviously there has to be a way to opt-out (or in) at ANY time – not just when signing up in the first instance.

    I am sure you are well aware of this.

    Best regards,

    Ashul Shah
    February 16, 2010 at 6:48 pm

    Kate – a step in the right direction and quite honestly refreshing coming form a labor senator.

    My personal preference is that we should not even be discussing this and instead talking about educating the general public on Internet safety.

    But Senator Conroy and the labor party do not seem to care about what we labor voters think at least from my perspective.

    Sad part is that I don’t think your opinion will make a difference in the party room and for you to cross the floor on this issue would be political suicide.

    My hope is that common sense will prevail. And thank you for your openness.

    Arved von Brasch
    February 16, 2010 at 7:10 pm

    I still disagree with a mandatory for ISP filter requirement. If we must have a government filter to satisfy whoever is pushing for it, then it must also be optional for ISPs.

    Ultimately, an ISP filter is not a good solution to the problem of age-inappropriate material or unwanted content on the Internet. Age-inappropriate material cannot be blocked because there is no way to tell the age of the user. Unwanted content requires self control, and even then, the prevalence of email spam demonstrates that it will never be completely conquered.

    While we’re at it though, how about a productive change to Labor policy. How about moving that we abolish the Refused Classification category once and for all?

    February 16, 2010 at 7:11 pm

    @ Aubrey

    “And Ben – I’m not sure there is anything legislative that could be done in this context to satisfy your concern about what any future (or current) government could do. Even an absolute legislative ban on filtering of any kind could be over-ridden, legally or illegally, by a future regime.”

    Which is why there should be no legislation pertaining to filtering of any kind. Filtering should always remain an option for consumers, as it is now – they can sign up to Webshield right now should they so choose. With filtering remaining optional as is the current situation, scope creep is a non-issue.

    February 16, 2010 at 7:18 pm

    While I am 100% against this filter, I think those who make claims about it being unpopular, unmandated or a form of political suicide are deluding themselves.

    Every poll I have seen on this subject (aside from those on geek web sites) suggests that the general public are between 70% and 80% in favour of Senator Conroy’s original mandatory and universal filter policy. Despite the outcry and the protests that figure seems to be fairly solid.

    I therefore really hope that people like Kate Lundy can come up with alternative proposals that meet the main concerns – with the possibility that a future government could remove it entirely. My main concern is that the original Conroy policy gets to the Senate for a vote. Labor Senators are compelled to support it and the Greens will, I assume oppose it. That would leave the future of internet freedom in the hands of the a couple of independents and a conservative opposition. I hold out no hope of it being defeated.

    February 16, 2010 at 10:35 pm

    Aubrey, I’ve only seen one perhaps two polls which have shown overwhelming support for any filtering policy. The first is the Flood-Hamilton poll, which claimed 93% of parents want an optional filter (not a mandatory one as claimed by the ACL), and the second one is the Hungry Beast poll, which asked if the respondents would want child porn and rape porn blocked.

    None of those polls accurately represent the government’s current policy and are deliberately misleading when made into headlines, and should be ignored when considering the support for the government’s policy.

    I could point to dozens of polls which show significant opposition to the policy. Sadly it doesn’t mean that everyone knows about the policy, but those who are asked overwhelmingly disagree with Internet censorship.

    Tim F
    February 16, 2010 at 11:22 pm


    2 things..
    Can you please point us to the majority of polls showing 70-80% approval of a filter .. apart from the badly worded poll as used on the hungry beast last week.

    At time of the last election, the filter was only mandatory to any computer a child had access to .. this point was mentioned heavily in comments of Kates orignal thoughts on the filter a few weeks back


    February 17, 2010 at 12:04 am

    actually, no, its more like an average of 90% against the policy.

    Sunrise ran a phone-in poll (80% against)

    SMH ran an online poll (96% against, with 18632 voters)
    and in december (96% against again with 24378 votes)
    (not sure if thats the same poll or a new one though.)

    courier mail 91% against with 6090 total votes,23815,5036556-953-2,00.html

    speaking personally, when i explain the issue properly, and explain what will *actually* be blocked, people are against it. Senator Conroy’s continuing bulls**t about “worst of the worst”, and specifically his failure to adequately define the full breadth of RC *every* *time* he says what will be blocked, is the only reason there hasn’t been a bigger backlash from the general public. The hallmark of a bad policy is if you have to tell half-truthes and lies by omission to get it accepted. And no, any legislation *at* *all* mandating the filter in any way isn’t good enough. what we have now is ok, what we had under the libs was (somewhat) better. Education is the key. but remember when you talk about education, according to ACMA’s own research,(iirc) 20% of families with school-age kids at some point installed a free filter, less than 2% kept using it.

    February 17, 2010 at 8:54 am


    Online polls, with 98% of the responses coming from Whirlpool members flooding the poll with multiple votes: massive opposition.

    Genuine , regulated polls from polling agencies with one person one vote responses: majority support for the filtering proposal.

    hmmmm, let’s think about that one for a moment…

    Online polls have the veracity of a Robert Mugabe election result. Quoting them as evidence is a desperate ploy to try and claim some credibility, and a pretty shonky tactic.

    The other great tactic is the continual “only the ignorant would support this filter”, or the “any poll showing support MUST be badly worded” statements. That is not claiming the high ground of morals, that is claiming the high ground of arrogance. Well up into your trees guys and enjoy looking down on us ignorant plebs, us ignorant and voting plebs.

    Mark Newton
    February 17, 2010 at 9:54 am

    There has been one genuine, regulated poll from a reputable agency on this issue, namely the Hungry Beast poll conducted by McNair Ingenuity Research.

    (the Hamilton/Flood poll has been widely discredited elsewhere, I’ll not repeat those efforts here)

    The Hungry Beast poll showed support for the principle of blocking RC when respondents are presented with an incomplete (and somewhat hysterical) definition of what RC actually is.

    The poll also showed that only half of respondents were in favour of “a Government appointed body determining whether a website is appropriate for you to visit,” and more than 9 out of ten people in favour of “the community being advised which websites have been Refused Classification and the reason why they have been refused classification.”

    The latest statements from Conroy indicate that the Government is in favour of “a Government appointed body determining whether a website is appropriate for you to visit,” and that it’s also against “the community being advised…” — i.e., the Government’s current policy position is not the same as the one which Hungry Beast poll respondents said they’d support.

    The Hungry Beast poll is a bit like the Enex Testlab report that was released in December: Launched with much fanfare about how great it is for the pro-censorship side of the argument, but on further analysis it says exactly the opposite. I’m more than happy to cite the Hungry Beast poll as a reputable indication of opposition to the Government’s position. I expect they’ll be somewhat less inclined to try to quote it as supportive of their views.

    Conroy has gone on the record as saying that he’s invested a lot of careful thought into whether or not the blacklist should be public, and has come down against it. This places him fairly, squarely and verifiably against 91% of the Australian population, if the Hungry Beast poll is to be believed.

    It also paints him as a delusional pillock: As I said in my submission to his “Accountability and Transparency” consultation, no amount of woolly-headed wishful thinking on the Minister’s part is going to succeed in keeping the blacklist secret, it’s going to leak whether he likes it or not. His choice is to have it released to the public under a process which is under his control, or have it released to the public as a total surprise each and every time it repeatedly happens. The 91% of people who wish for openness and transparency are going to be satisfied one way or the other, whether Minister Conroy likes it or not, and his insistence on secrecy merely demonstrates that there’s yet another aspect of his plan which he doesn’t understand.

    – mark

    February 17, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    I wonder if it would be possible to commission a proper, genuine, explains-what-RC-actually-is poll run properly by one of the phone-poll companies? how much do such polls cost to run? maybe the EFA or someone can set it up.

    It’s about time.

    Dazed and Confused
    February 24, 2010 at 8:41 pm

    Hi George, perhaps I’m mistaken but you seem to be at least a bit in favour of the Conroy filter. If so, can you tell me what you think it might achieve? I’m finding it hard to imagine how anybody could be in favour of it, so any non-politician’s view of how it might be useful would be helpful to me. Thanks!

    Dazed and Confused
    March 21, 2010 at 11:17 pm

    Hmm. Seems like George isn’t going to reply. But then, I’ve not seen anyone reply to an invitation to explain what they think the filter will give them.

    After some time online fishing for a proper discussion, as opposed to the occasional “Ha, ha, you lefties have lost!” which I get from time to time, I’ve given up on finding any informed person who can argue in favour of the filter.

    I think it’s pretty clear that those who understand the matter are firmly opposed to it. The rest don’t reveal their motivation, and I assume it’s plain garden variety ignorance that powers the majority of them.

    Politicians make no progress by being right. They get ahead by collecting votes. The votes of ignorant, scared people are just as good as the votes of calm, well informed people.

    The only way to get Conroy to back down is to cut his votes from under him. The easy way to do that is to inform people. I have met no one who is in favour of Conroy’s censorship proposal once they have heard an explanation. But while the ignorant are in the majority, we are vulnerable.

    The EFA have explanatory notes on the filter in the event that your own description may be somewhat inflammatory. (Not everybody understands how bad censorship already is in this country, nor how bad it can get, and the consequences that flow from that.) So, just explain the Conroy filter as the EFA does, to enough people, and we are done.

    February 17, 2010 at 8:51 am

    The original policy was a requirement for ISP’s to OFFER a filtered service with opt in for the customers. Please don’t say the original policy was Mandatory.

    February 16, 2010 at 7:25 pm

    Why put any filter in place that’s trivial to bypass? It would be optional if it was ‘mandatory’ or not anyway.

    This is just 1 serious problem with this policy that needs to be addressed, Stephen Conroy has failed in every regard to actually address problems with this proposal, instead he just ducks and dives around them. Changing the goal posts to suit his next argument trying to justify this ongoing farce.

    His declaration that there would be no performance impacts on Internet services was laughable when he proclaimed it. Let alone now finally admitting that it would in-fact cause such performance problems if high traffic URLs were added to the list. News to Conroy Youtube is not the only high-traffic website on the internet.

    Let’s give it another 2months before he comes out scratching his head when he realizes filtering + NBN won’t work or IPv6.

    These are extremely serious problems and can’t be met with the old “its not a silver-bullet” line. Just when will this Government realize if your in a hole stop digging?

    February 16, 2010 at 7:41 pm

    It’s just a trainwreck of fail, really, isn’t it?

    February 16, 2010 at 9:05 pm

    This is light years ahead of the current Labor policy of a mandatory secret blacklist, but it’s rather a moot point at this stage. If Stephen Conroy was open to a responsible and informed position on this, it would have been abandoned more than a year ago. Unfortunately, it looks like we’re stuck with it unless the Liberals oppose it in the Senate.

    February 16, 2010 at 9:08 pm

    It is a pleasant surprise that you are at least taking an interest in what people say. Unfortunately what I see is you only taking baby steps away from the Labor Party (K.Rudd and S.Conroy) want in censorship of the internet, and stepping towards a true open internet scheme.

    Lets have another education lesson here. Open Internet means that the ISPs do not interfere with the transfer of information through their equipment. This means they remain neutral in priority of routes and no filtering. For the internet to be open it has to be the choice of the subscriber to optionally install simple, and easy to use PC filters on their own computers. As ACMA have reported only a small number of people did not feel confident in installing a PC filter and contrary to S.Conroy’s claim. For those who wish for the ISP to filter then there are already a number of ISPs who will provide a “crippled” internet service that prevents access to various lists of sites/pages including the current ACMA blacklist.

    The Government have not demonstrated a need for a mandatory filter to be installed at the ISP. So why are they still trying?

    For the Government to force ISPs to install censorship filters and require people to ask for it to be “turned off” still leaves the way open for a future government to make censorship of a ban list mandatory for everyone. After all the equipment is already installed and operational, just a stoke of the legislation pen and flick of the electronic switch and censorship for all. Conroy could even do it in his next term as comms minister. One of his claims for the ISP censorship filter was the low take up of the free filters of netalert. So why wouldn’t he just make it mandatory for everyone claiming that too many people have opted out in the previous year.

    I’m sorry to say that until filtering is optional for the ISP to install and optional for the customer to opt into (not out of), people will oppose this regression to the blueprint of Mr Wells.

    Nik Mennega
    February 16, 2010 at 11:09 pm

    The problem with censoring Refused Classification content is that you’re* trying to prevent Australian citizens from viewing LEGAL material.

    The problem with creating a blacklist of “child pornography” is that you’re* still condoning the existence of the child pornography at the location you’ve* blacklisted. It’s still up there, all you’ve* done is put up a little sign saying “Please don’t look here.”

    Most reasonable people would prefer to have such material DELETED, and the publishers tracked down and thrown in gaol. And of course, once it’s deleted, there’s no reason to blacklist it, now is there? So why persist with a blacklist?

    The ALP needs to drop the whole ISP-level censorship farce, reinstate NetAlert, and back slowly away from the Internet with its hands where we can see them: it’s demonstrated quite clearly that it can’t be trusted.

    * By “you,” of course, I’m referring to every single parliamentarian that votes in favour of such a proposal.

    February 17, 2010 at 8:24 am

    So what progress has been made on convincing other Labor members to vote against this and/or put pressure on Conroy to end this madness, which is costing the country so much time and money to fight? Or is the party line determined by Conroy?

    February 17, 2010 at 8:44 am

    I think you’ll find that the party line is determined by Mr Rudd, he doesn’t openly show this as the policy is just toxic. If Rudd didn’t want it, it’d be long gone. It’s about time people started realising this.

    Peter Kelley
    February 17, 2010 at 9:06 am

    I think that this sort of sensible policy making should be encouraged and supported. I think we need more politicians who have this level of dedication and knowledge influencing the direction that the government takes so that good technology policy can result.

    I’m in South Australia so I can’t vote for Kate but I’m hoping we can elect some people equally as good here so that some of the ridiculous policies being proposed (like the currently proposed clean feed) can be knocked on the head before they get out of the draft stage.

    February 17, 2010 at 10:33 am

    Kate Lundy, I’d like to start by saying that I respect how much you have spoken out against the filter policy as it stands. I’m sure that it can’t be easy.

    If you are truly against the current policy as it stands then please, cross the floor when the time comes. I’m sure the greens, the dems, the libs or any other party would pick you up within a split second should Labor choose to sack you. It’ll draw massive media attention and maybe enforce reform in Labor where politicians haven’t been able to vote for their own ideals and REPRESENT THEIR CONSTITUENTS RATHER THAN THEIR PARTY in decades for fear of being sacked.

    As an elected member your constituents should come first and the party second. Labor has been a dictatorship for at least the last 40 years with it’s tow-the-line policy and it needs to stop! We’re supposed to be a democratic society, how can we be if our major political parties are dictatorships?!?

    Stuart Anderson
    February 17, 2010 at 11:21 am

    As others have stated, the need for this censorship hasn’t been demonstrated. Kate’s position is effectively optional silly hats vs. mandatory silly hats – when we don’t need either.

    February 17, 2010 at 11:25 am

    Hi Kate

    Congratulations on persisting with your engagement in this debate.

    Your efforts to try and provide a workable solution to the Labor Party policy are appreciated.

    The release by the Safer Internet Group that you referred to pointed out that the two most important things that are needed are education on safe internet use and the policing of illegal activities. Their third point about the filter was on the basis of if you really must then…. Labor has already acknowledged the importance of the first two points made by the Safer Internet Group.

    One problem I have with your suggestion is that with an opt out filter you create the possibility of a list of people who could rightly or wrongly be labeled as “porn lovers”. Your suggestion doesn’t address the problem that the proposed filter is largely ineffective, easily circumvented and could lead to a false sense of security for parents.

    Achieving your goal of engagement with internet users can be done simply by requiring all people registered or registering with an ISP to acknowledge they have read the appropriate documentation on internet safety and answer some questions that verify that they have in fact read and understood it. My feeling is that this approach would receive universal support from ISPs and the community as it would significantly reduce the problems caused by people who are not aware of internet safety.

    I am still waiting to find out what the identified problem is that the Labor Party policy is intended to fix. After 20 years of internet use in Australia I am yet to see any evidence that there is any problem within the virtual (internet) world that doesn’t exist in the physical world. If the Labor Party has identified such a problem then it has a moral duty to inform the community of its existence.

    The implementation of any sort of filter, or I should say censorship, merely hides things from the general population that the government doesn’t want them to see. Why does the Labor Part want to hide these things from the community? Is it because they don’t want to be forced to take action?

    There are bad things happening out in the world and the community need to know about them so they can take, or pressure the Government in to taking, action to remove or prevent these bad things from happening.

    Hiding the bad things that happen can easily be construed as the Government keeping the community in ignorance so the Government doesn’t have to take any action. It certainly makes things easier and it is cheaper for now but it will make things more difficult in the future and end up being more costly to fix.

    That there are things that it is inappropriate for children of various age levels to be exposed to is generally accepted, it is why we have a classification system, but a mandatory filter doesn’t address this issue. PC based filtering does.

    The one size fits all solution, to what ever the unidentified problem is, is not an appropriate solution in this case regardless of whether it is an opt in or mandatory filter.

    My very best wishes


    Stuart Anderson
    February 17, 2010 at 11:51 am

    I find the ‘list of shame’ argument to be quite odd.

    Such lists already exist (ie. credit card statements, importation documentation, etc. If you do buy/consume this material, then there is no shortage of ways that you leave tracks back to yourself) and are already covered under the privacy legislation. How is this any different?

    Also, given the massive false positives of the filter, it would be trivial to explain away an unfiltered net on the grounds that one needs it for work (or any of a thousand other ‘legitimate’ reasons). Unless you deliberately disclose the fact, or a person attempts to visit banned content on your machine, then how is anyone ever going to know it unfiltered anyway?

    It’s like people think there’s some mythical religious police running about branding your screen with a scarlet letter if they don’t feel you are sufficiently sexually repressed.

    I don’t find pornography, or it’s usage to be in any way shameful, abnormal or wrong. I don’t care who knows that I’ve been watching porn – and I don’t mix with anyone who would either. Whilst puritans clearly exist, so too do people like myself, for whom pornography is entirely normalised. I think it likely that there are more like me than not.

    I think that I would be more likely to judge a person for having a filtered feed than for not. When I think of Webshield’s clients I’m thinking ill educated fundies that are desperately trying to block out ideas they don’t agree with – rightly or wrongly, that’s what I think. Seriously, who looks at Webshield and thinks ‘normal people’? Not me.

    Dave H
    February 17, 2010 at 4:17 pm


    While it is nice to see that you have found an agreeable stance to filtering. My question is regard to what is the opinion of the remained of the Labor Caucus, where do they stand?

    Given Senator Conroy’s statements towards Google – “They have experience in blocking material in other countries at the behest of governments, including China, Thailand and a number of other countries” – and the fact that this draws DIRECT comparisons between the Australian and Chinese governments on the Censorship front where does the Labor Caucus stand?

    This is now alarming. While we are glad for your open stance and engagement with a community that is outraged and lacking clear understanding we do not know the position of your colleagues.

    Finally, a closing question. Given the now growing levels of disapproval for what Senator Conroy is doing in this, an election year. Is the Labor party not worried?

    Traditionally, Labor has been the more ‘liberal’ of the two major parties, with the actual Liberal party favoring a conservative ideology. If Labor is continuing down this path of conservatism where does this leave the hordes of young people who voted in the Labor government based on the forward thinking promises you made before?

    Warwick Davenport
    February 17, 2010 at 6:39 pm

    Hi Kate and Pia

    Can you check out this story

    It implies that the video of death of 26-year-old Neda Agha-Soltan has been banned by ACMA. Surely the Australian government does not support the Iranian government?


    February 17, 2010 at 7:09 pm

    its not RC, but rather R18+ so it wouldn’t be blocked under the filter – it is, however, illegal to publish on an australian website, and also illegal to link to from an australian website on pain of an $11,000 a day fine.

    I absolutely agree that this is entirely wrong that the video be illegal to publish in australia without a restricted access system, and also illegal to link to, but it won’t be on the blacklist as currently proposed (unless they screw up again)

    Mark Newton
    February 17, 2010 at 7:27 pm

    it is, however, illegal to publish on an australian website, and also illegal to link to from an australian website on pain of an $11,000 a day fine.

    We need to get our terms correct here, otherwise we’re no better than Senator Conroy.

    It is not, and never has been, illegal to publish on an Australian website.

    It is not, and never has been, illegal to link from an Australian website.

    What is illegal is for the operator of the website to ignore a takedown notice or link deletion notice issued by ACMA.

    If this blog was hosted in Australia, there’d be no reason why I couldn’t have posted the youtube link to the Neda Solton video. However, it’d be rude of me to do so, because it’d expose the operator of the site to the risk of receiving a link deletion notice if someone complained about the presence of the link.

    The link deletion notice would cite this web page’s URL, and require that the youtube link be removed. There would be no reason why the same link couldn’t be hosted at another URL on the same site, however, as long as that other URL isn’t also listed in the link deletion notice. Technically Kate/Pia could comply with the link deletion notice by changing the URL of this page.

    You, as an end user, will never get threatened with a fine from ACMA.

    However, by your actions you can cause operators of Australian websites to get threatened with fines from ACMA.

    How’s that for natural justice?

    – mark

    February 18, 2010 at 11:15 am

    You’re right of course Mark. That’s the technicality of the matter, but the reality is that the media and others are self-censoring because they don’t want to risk receiving the takedown notice. I’m sure there’s a term for this particular phenomenon but it escapes me at the moment.

    Mark Newton
    February 18, 2010 at 11:33 am

    “Chilling effect.”

    – mark

    Stuart Anderson
    February 17, 2010 at 7:55 pm

    This is a perfect example of why certain content that can be objectively described as obscene should also be freely available for Australian adults to see. It is in the public interest for people to see what is actually happening in Iran, not regardless of, but exactly because of how distasteful it is.

    I also think this is a perfect example of how ACMA suppresses political speech. 11K a day is a pretty big disincentive to journalists and their employers (and has been demonstrated many times, if the journalists don’t comply with ACMA rulings, ACMA will go straight to their hosting companies and threaten them with 11K a day fines – no prizes for guessing what happens to the offending sites and accounts then. It is unconscionable that they can do that). I don’t see how muzzling journalists and free speech in this instance is in the public good. ACMA is clearly preventing open political discussion domestically, and whether they intend it or not, that is directly supportive of the situation in and Government of Iran.

    This is what they are doing today, imagine what they’ll do when they’ve got a censorship system with global scope, a mandate from the Government to extinguish open discussion and no real oversight. The only news you’ll ever see is news that is good for the Party (no wonder Conroy is lumping us in with China, that’s who we’ll be most like).

    warwick davenport
    February 18, 2010 at 9:22 am

    So in summary we already have highly repressive internet laws where important events can be censored at will, so we may as well accept the filter.
    I wonder what would have happened if they had censored the Vietnam news footage of the young girl running away with her cloths burnt off from napalm, or the vietnamese general shooting the viet cong prisoner in the head. Would we still be fighting the vietnam war?
    It seems that the 1970/80 were much more liberal and open than today.


    Mark Newton
    February 18, 2010 at 9:52 am

    I can weigh in here.

    ACMA decided that a Youtube video depicting the death of Neda Solton in the Tehran protests last June was Prohibited Content under Schedule 7 to the Broadcasting Services Act 1992.

    The decision was made under ACMA reference number 2009000919/ACMA-780248254 delivered on 8 July 2009. You can find the film by searching Youtube for Neda Solton’s name, mature content warnings apply.

    The clip concerned has just won a George Polk Award for journalistic videography.

    Due to ACMA’s decision, the film clip cannot be hosted on Australian webservers, and Australian sites cannot link to it either (again — this blog isn’t Australian, so linkage/hosting is ok… although this article could undoubtably end up on the ACMA blacklist if anyone chooses to complain about the presence of the link above)

    So if your journalistic web server is inside Australia, you cannot meaningfully report on the George Polk Journalism awards. That’s under existing law.

    Where David Heath (iTWire) got the story wrong is that the film isn’t Refused Classification, it’s rated R18+. That’s a restricted category, so even though the film has been shown in TV news services you’re technically not allowed to let minors watch it on the Internet (yes, pants-on-head insane, I know).

    So under the Government’s current plan, the video wouldn’t be included on Conroys List or blocked by his Rabbit Proof Firewall.


    In this instance, for this video, the difference between whether it was classified “RC” or “R18+” came down to a relatively simple question: Is the impact on the viewer from this film “High,” or is it “Very High”?
    In the Classification Board’s subjective judgement, the impact was “High,” which meant the film fit the R18+ guidelines ( Scroll down to the R18+ section)

    I’m obviously not on the classification board, but in my view the decision was a coin-toss, and the impact could have just as easily been subjectively judged to be “very high.”

    If the CB had decided it in that way, the film would have been Refused Classification, and hence included on Conroy’s List.

    Now, you can bet your soul that a great number of people will be tweaking the nose of the Classification Board in precisely this way if the Rabbit Proof Firewall goes into effect.

    It’s beyond the limits of incredulity to believe that legitimate, serious, important content will escape ACMA’s clutches. Appropriately hand-crafted complaints have already forced them to declare that a George Polk Award winning film is prohibited in Australia, and that V for Vendetta cannot be given away as a gift on iTunes, and that imagery which was carried around on placards by anti-abortion protesters in Melbourne can’t be linked out of Australian discussion forums; to say nothing of the dentists, tuck shop operators and boarding kennels.

    ACMA is, not to put too fine a point on it, utterly hopeless at media content regulation. We’re not just talking about the same department of wrist-slapping tut-tutters that Jonathan Holmes regularly excoriates on Media Watch, we’re talking about the exact same section within ACMA.

    There was a brief window of time when it almost looked like Conroy would require CB review for all Internet blacklisting decisions, but the CB is run by the Home Affairs Minister so Conroy would lose control over the process — So he’s backed away from that and now it looks like he wants ACMA to be involved again.

    So no matter how perfect the rest of the system can ever be made to be, the weakest link is going to be the involvement of ACMA. The same guys who were so totally out of touch that they somehow managed to miss the furore over Bill Henson and blacklist his site despite national front-page news about the CB having already said his photos were “PG” — The very same guys! — will be in charge of determining whether films like the George Polk Award winning depiction of Neda Solton’s death is “impact: high, R18+” or “impact: very high, RC,” and consequently deciding whether or not you’re allowed to see them.

    Do you think they’re qualified? ‘cos I don’t.

    – mark

    July 29, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    Interesting, I sent the same video which was posted on and still is accessible. However they said that it was NOT prohibited content and when I queried the earlier determination they said it didn’t exist!


    February 18, 2010 at 2:55 am

    I’m with SHG: ‘…a train wreck of fail’, indeed! :)

    We know it’s not going to do what it’s supposed to – stop the availability of child porn. We know, for anyone who wishes to do so, that the filter will be easily circumvented. Now we have reports that some of the big players will not censor stuff coming from their portals (is that the correct term?) into Australian homes.

    Really, it’s all a bit of a mess – and laughably so – except for the fact that the implementation of this dog’s breakfast is a serious issue.

    I hope it fails miserably, and gets shot down in the Senate. And that the government goes back to focussing on policing, with increased funding for the task.

    February 18, 2010 at 11:07 am

    Well, we don’t actually know that this is “problem” that the proposed “solution” is meant to be fixing. We’ve had nothing but silence on that front.

    The question has been asked many times on this blog and other places, “What problem is it that the government is actually trying to solve?”. There’s been nothing but silence in response. I can only assume that they don’t actually know what problem they’re attempting to solve, so much for “evidenced based policy”.

    February 18, 2010 at 10:19 am

    As an ACT local, I sent off an email to Kate and the other 2 Labor House of Reps members about this issue. Pia just rang me up about this and I thank her and Kate for trying to make the Labor party see the stupidity that they are engaging in.

    As many have pointed out, the bad guys – the kiddie porn merchants and their sick viewers – already have their P2P networks set up and these bypass ISPs. Therefore, what is it that Conroy & Rudd are censoring? To me it appears that they are ultimately trying to suppress political comment of a type they don’t like, just as the Thais and the Chinese are already doing and which whom Conroy holds to be such paragons of virtue.

    I’ve got to ask, just where does the ALP get such anti-democratic thugs like Conroy from? Is it, with the exception of people like Kate, full of control freaks who don’t trust their own citizenry and feel that we must be controlled for our own good?

    As I said to Pia and many here have also said it, let the AFP and the other law enforcement agencies have more resources, both electronic and human to combat kiddie porn and may the courts have greater powers to truly stamp on this horror, but do not tamper with our right to know.

    Grant Mckinney
    February 18, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    Mandatory opt out still unfairly and punitively effects ISP’s (and ergo end users) and is open to abuse by this government and others. Once you have the machines in place, it’s not terribly difficult to turn them on.

    And while I appreciate that there is some sensibility here from Sen. Lundy, I don’t trust Labor (or Libs for that matter) to not turn them on. Labor has gone from ideologically opposed to censorship to almost all in favour. Liberals don’t seem particularly stable when it comes to policy either, and has a past history of proposing just this sort of system. I suspect the Libs are objecting/fencesitting because they are waiting for the public to show strongly one way or another and then they’ll join the flow and proclaim how they were always for or against the idea…

    So the two major power brokers both have/had aspirations of censoring the internet. And we’re supposed to trust either of them???

    February 18, 2010 at 9:40 pm

    Kate, it is great to see you engaging with the online community, something that Senator Conroy could learn from.

    I don’t like the idea of all ISP’s having to provision an ISP based filter for all their customers. This will still have a lot of the same problems that Conroy’s plan does (cost, false sense of security, point of failure for ISP’s ect).

    I don’t mind the idea of an ISP being forced to supply security information to new and existing customers. Perhaps your idea would work if the ISP was only forced to offer an accredited PC based filter at a minimum, but could offer an ISP based filter if they wished. Some ISP’s could use this filter as part of their business model and to seperate themselves from other ISP’s. Surely if there is demand there, the market will sort itself out.

    Stuart Anderson
    February 19, 2010 at 10:43 am

    “Surely if there is demand there, the market will sort itself out.”

    The problem is that there isn’t a demand from the market, the minuscule user bases of the Government’s previous PC based solution and of the censoring ISP Webshield demonstrate that clearly.

    Personally, I am wondering what the best way of making a business that is based on filter circumvention would be, there’s certainly a market for that. If you look at the entire electorate’s wishes, it is clear that there are a significant number of people who aren’t stakeholders but are voters – that’s who the Government is pitching this rubbish to. From the perspective of a business opportunity however, you need only to look at the people who actually use the net – and they are invariably against this idea. Offer a private browsing ISP with end to end encryption and VPN/proxies to endpoints outside the country, and then make good cash from all the clients who are sick of being spied on and muzzled. I think that’s the real opportunity here.

    February 19, 2010 at 10:12 am


    Do you think you can ask Senator Conroy why he thinks the Australian public are not “stakeholders”? It’s incredibly arrogant to think that the people you are supposed to represent are not stakeholders in an issue which affects them.

    So what does it take for Rudd to get rid of this fool? Lies in Senate, lies in the press, refuses to engage on areas in his own portfolio, refuses to engage with the people, bungles pretty much everything he touches, attempts to strongarm opposition through their employers…the list goes on…


    Stuart Anderson
    February 19, 2010 at 11:02 am

    As others have stated, this isn’t Conroy’s idea, it is ALP policy. Rudd fully supports this proposal and it simply wouldn’t be pushed if he didn’t. He’s the leader of the party, that means he reflects the views of the party, so it is reasonable to assume that the majority of the ALP are in favour of this policy too.

    Given all of that, plus the nature of internal party politics, not only is Conroy not going to be censured or fired, he is going to be rewarded for his loyalty and staying the course under difficult circumstances (ie. people expecting a democracy). Conroy is a rising star in the party (as appalling as that idea seems to those of us outside of it).

    The ecosystem that is politics rewards the best politicians and the most politically savvy – it doesn’t automatically promote the best interests of the country. You’d think the existence of Barnaby Joyce would be evidence enough of that principle – if you are well positioned politically you can do as you please, regardless of how stupid or ill advised your acts are.

    warwick davenport
    February 19, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    Interesting you say that. Fuelwatch and Grocerychoice were also Labor party policy. Both were killed off as soon as any opposition was voiced. In the case of Fuelwatch it was dead even before it got to the Senate with the Government mounting a very weak defence of the proposal. It looks like they were always meant to fail, but allowed the Governemnt to tick another election pledge delvered box.
    I am hoping “P0rnWatch” is being handled so badly, for the same reasons.


    Stuart Anderson
    February 19, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    (sometimes the threading on this site gets a bit wacky. I’m replying to this:

    Cleanfeed has some support amongst the electorate from people who don’t use the internet, but do vote. That is primarily why the Government is still supporting it, it is a way for them to capture conservative voters who would normally pick the Liberals. The Liberals cannot be less conservative without alienating their core voters, and they are going to have a hard time being more conservative than the ALP whilst Conroy loudly trumpets the virtues of being as suppressive of freedom as China. This negates the Liberals primary strategy as a party – conservative values.

    The Government (any government) is not going to actively support any policy that is going to cost them the election. It is safe to say that there is a sharp divide in opinion in the electorate on this issue, there are plenty of people that this won’t affect (or that believe that this won’t affect them) – these people vote. Is it any surprise when Granny votes the way she does when the Government says “You don’t support paedophiles, do you?” – it doesn’t matter that Granny never uses the web, or thinks about the likely impacts outside of her own existence, she can put a pencil tick on the ALP box – and that is all they give a damn about.

    That’s my take on it anyway.

    February 19, 2010 at 4:20 pm

    I have no illusions that getting rid of Conroy will get rid of the filter. It’s Rudd’s baby, I’ve said this before, Conroy is just the pit bull delivering it. I have a problem with the contempt he shows to the parliament, the country, and the people. He is a thug, and brings not just the Labor party, but the Parliament, and Australia in to disrepute.

    I’m not sure that the majority of the Labor party even support it, they will outside the party room, but who knows what happens inside. All it takes is for a few powerful members in particular factions to support it and suddenly it’s policy. I suspect that some support it, and other’s simply don’t care. They vote as a block, so I guess it’s irrelevant anyway (how democratic).

    I respect the fact that Kate is engaging on this, I don’t agree with her proposal unless by some miracle Mark’s suggestions are taken up, it still means the hardware is there and I don’t trust this or another government to not extend the scope and suddenly make it really mandatory. I don’t know that she even totally agrees with it, just thinks it’s what she’s most likely to be able to get caucus to agree to.

    Despite this, what it really comes down to is her vote, and she has indicated she will vote for this rubbish, if that’s what caucus decide (or should I say Rudd decides). In the end people don’t remember your stance, they remember your voting record, that’s what goes down in history. I hope she decides to go with her conscience, she may find people will respect that more and perhaps she would still make it in as an independant if there are any reprecussions. If she truly believes this legislation is wrong then by voting for it she is simply selling out both herself and the people who voted for her. She DOES have a choice, not an easy one, but she does have one.


    Arved von Brasch
    February 19, 2010 at 11:09 am

    There are two hypothetical situations the ACMA will need an answer to, that demonstrate why this can never work in practice. I have just written a letter to Senator Conroy asking how the ACMA would respond to these two scenarios.

    First, assume we have a United States citizen who is intent on causing mischief. (We assume he is a US citizen to avoid the possible problems of an Australian ‘making available’ RC content). This US citizen has an image that would absolutely be classified Refused Classification in Australia but is legal in the United States. He also has access to a US based hosting company.

    Scenario 1:
    He puts up a website with an index page that praises how wonderful the Labor party is in Australia. This index page is clearly political content and has no material that would cause it to appear on any conceivable blacklist.

    He then creates 10,000 copies of his RC image and puts them on his website (but not on or linked from the index page). i.e. The index page has the form:
    and the image copies are available on
    He then arranges to have all 10000 links submitted to the ACMA for consideration. As each image has a unique address each must be individually added to the blacklist. As the image would be rated RC by the Classification Board, the ACMA would be compelled to add each image to the blacklist.

    However, the government’s own reports, and Senator Conroy both admit that the list will break down with over 10,000 URLs. The ACMA cannot add the entire domain to the blacklist because it contains at least one page that is clearly political content. What does the ACMA do?

    Scenario 2:
    He creates a second website, but this time is a little more clever. He first gathers a comprehensive sample of the IP address ranges that the ACMA has on the computers it uses to investigate complaints. (He can get this from looking at his logs from the 10,000 images he submitted, or simply by knowing the IP range assigned to the ACMA from its ISP).

    He then configures his website to return his Refused Classification image if the requesting IP comes from the ACMA, and his essay on how wonderful the Labor Party is if any other IP makes a request. If the URL is added to the blacklist, all he has to do is alert the media that political content is being blocked for a story.

    This second scenario also works in reverse, where the RC content could be made available to anyone who isn’t the ACMA. What does the ACMA do?

    Stuart Anderson
    February 19, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    I would be more interested in the Government’s stance on things like Tor, Freenet, etc. Real world applications and services that exist today, serve webpages and are likely to be highly resistant to URL based filtering systems.

    But if I were to expand on your ideas, I wouldn’t have 10K RC images, I would have one or more images as the target for a unique URL generator, and then I’d use it on multiple domains to submit millions of URLs per domain for classification. Remember, the URL is the operating unit of the system, it is no more granular than that. You could serve the image from a script to salt the data and screw up any automated tools they might be using to help them classify images. Then you just hand out the script freely and watch the mayhem.

    Terrence Pihlgren
    February 19, 2010 at 11:25 am

    I have been a labor voter for most of my life (I am 65). I am disgusted with the Labor party’s actions in this. I think one of the worst things about the filter is that it will be complaints driven. You know like a tv program where a handful of people who are offended write in complaining. The other 99.9999% who aren’t offended don’t bother to write in, that they are fine with the program.

    Here is my idea for a strategy come election time ( this could also be used with that goose the SA attorney General).

    Firstly don’t bother standing opposing candidates, the impact would be miniscule.

    My suggestion is that a full page add be published prior to the election with information about how to vote for the Senate putting Conroy last, by elevating another Labor Senate candidate. This way if the backlash against Conroy is sufficient the ALP might start to get the message.

    If this policy goes ahead. Labor will never get my first preference again. This might seem futile but this would have an effect on the party, as it would forfeit dollars currently provided under electoral law.

    I regret having to post in this way, but this isn’t the Labor Party, I have supported over the years.

    Paul Danyluk
    March 17, 2010 at 11:27 pm

    Terrence, I agree. Senator Conroy is, as was mentioned elsewhere, Rudd’s pit bull. Come election time, lets remind Rudd that setting a dog on the Australian public may not have been such a smart move.

    Do not vote Labor! Put a leash on Conroy!

    Cameron Watt
    February 21, 2010 at 12:03 am

    So the current policy of the Labor government is to:
    1/ Remove access to the free PC filter program
    2/ Force ISPs to implement a mandatory system that blocks a couple hundred URLs
    3/ Drive up the cost of Internet connections for all users
    4/ Ask anyone wanting internet filtering to pay extra for it, on top of increased plan cost when most people didn’t use it when it was free.
    5/ Sell that to the Australian public with a straight face.

    I have one piece of advice for the government, leave it to the people that know what they are doing. That isn’t ACMA and it isn’t DBCDE.

    February 22, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    Hi Pia,

    So has Senator Conroy got back to you with an answer to what problem his “solution” is attempting to solve? (along with answers to the other outstanding questions) It’s been a few weeks now.

    Perhaps Kate should take up golf. Sorry, couldn’t resist :)


    Graham Thomas
    February 24, 2010 at 9:38 am

    Oh Kate, why aren’t you our Minister for Communications? It would be nice to have someone in the job who understands the current world of ICT. Besides yourself and Lindsay Tanner, I’m not sure there are any others in the government..

    It’s time for Herr Conroy to go. Reshuffle time please KRudd..

    Scott Barnes
    February 24, 2010 at 9:52 am

    I often worry when child pornography is the main focal point for this solution. It plays to the hearts/minds of parents but in a way that encourages more ignorance about the situation beyond what the scope of the ask is. Media is always producing out of context stories on the situation and all that is likely to occur is govt fumbling the ball.

    As someone who worked at Microsoft Corp and now back home, I can honestly say that with the advancement in content production online, you’re effectively skating up hill with this approach. As more and more rich media becomes portable and not domain locked in, you’re essentially not solving the issue but simply shifting the boundaries to the left a little. If anything you’d also likely force the underbelly of online practices such as child pornography into hiding, as at least today they are stupid enough to conduct such practices out in the open – thus we all collectively stand a greater chance at catching these criminals in the act.

    As someone who has worked on the portability of content for Microsoft I can simply say that tomorrow’s content isn’t a jpg/movie housed inside a website. It’s portable and offline and more to the point it can be synchronized into the cloud (internet) from a variety of sources – thus to reduce bandwidth costs for any one given provider and secondly to circumvent govts around the world from enforcing a strict policy on how content should be viewed.

    Good luck with the proposition, but really all you’re doing is effectively driving the crazys into a darker place and increasing friction for evolving Australia’s internet story beyond what it is today.

    Pricing for Broadband is the wost I’ve ever encountered world wide.

    Scott Barnes
    Former Rich Platforms Product Manager
    Microsoft Corp.

    Raoul Machal
    February 24, 2010 at 11:36 am

    Good to see at least some Fabians are beginning to think the issue through. But to have an OPT-OUT approach is no solution. Next we know ASIO has a database of everyone who opted out of being censored by the little Stalins in Canberra. What we need is a OPT-IN solution, so families with children, public internet terminals, libraries and other sensitive user groups can set the content filter to a level THEY deem appropriate, while the rest of adult Australia is not faced with seeing Orwellian nightmare scenarios come true in this country.

    February 24, 2010 at 11:51 am

    I support any move to make the filter less draconian, but still feel that any filter at all should be opt-IN, not opt-OUT. Those who want the filter should ask for it. Those who have learned to deal with the big scary real world can keep on living as they are now.

    The opt-OUT option treats citizens like criminals, the implication will be “oh you want to access horrible things, well at least we have your name on a list”.

    Meanwhile the filter places technically uneducated parents at greater risk through a false sense of security. At least if it was opt-IN they could be treated appropriately – concerned parents seeking help and advice. It’s a more appropriate scenario.

    Opt-IN would also reduce the load on ISPs and mitigate the speed issues predicted by various experts.

    February 24, 2010 at 12:10 pm


    I still dont see an option that will not increase the cost of my internet subscription due to every ISP still having to purchase this equipment to offer the service.

    Where is the opt-out option for ISP’s so they dont have to waste their time on a service that many will not take up??

    A filter box is in the realms of $150,000 per box and large ISP’s will need quite a few of them to scale out the solution. The purchase and ongoing maintenance of these over the years will be quite significant, and unless the government pays for it all, the ISP’s will ALL have to increase the price of their services because of a very small minority of people (read ACL and labor party) want a filter.

    Just like the NBN, where is the cost benifit analisys of this? Is the implementation cost and ongoing cost to all australians worth it for something that will do NOTHING to stop the worst of the worst on the internet.

    February 24, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    Thankyou for finally showing somebody in the Labour party is taking the advice of all sectors in at least providing and openly discussing options available. Senator Conroy has alienated so many people in the technological sector. If the party continues to show some common sense in this policy so many of us may not be forced to look at different options during the coming election.

    2 tanners
    February 24, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    Senator Lundy,

    It has been alleged that the filter will slow down the internet. If I read it correctly, your proposal will not actually assist that, even if the majority of users opt in.

    Is that correct? It concerns me as that is my major objection – I don’t need porn to slow my computer and infect it with viruses, I want fast internet.

    Mind you, I don’t want others telling me what I can and can’t watch when it crosses the line out of porn and violence and into societal issues.

    I tend to vote Labor, but have been known to swing when sufficiently irked.

    Jonathan Potter
    February 24, 2010 at 1:19 pm

    Kate more power for your stand. I was involved in the Internet at a senior level until I retired. I dont know who is driving Senator Conray but every experet I know fells his approach is exspensive, will slow the net andwill be ineffective for people who have any level of expertise.

    What I do fear is the power that it would givc to some future government to control what people see and hear. This could become directly plitical and we already have Rupert Murdock for that sort of thing

    February 24, 2010 at 1:33 pm

    The simple approach I am taking with regard to mandatory internet filtering in Australia is: If the government introduces it in it’s present guise then I will vote Liberal for the first time in my life.

    Jonathan Paxman
    February 24, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    At last, a voice of reason from within the Government.

    Please speak loudly on this issue, Kate. It seems to me that Conroy and Labor in general is attempting to push it through in the face of much opposition from traditional Labor supporters in order to squeeze some votes out of marginal electorates with a populist line.

    The Brown Hornet
    February 24, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    Kate, I am very gratified to see some common sense starting to prevail among members of the government on these issues. As a parent, but also an IT professional and regular citizen of Australia, I am appalled by the proposed legislation put forward by Senator Conroy. It will do nothing to halt the spread of child pornography or other disagreeable material, but it will have a chilling effect on speech in this country (which is already inadequately protected in my opinion) as well as reduce the performance of Internet access for all Australians.

    Part of the great value of living in a modern liberal democracy is that we enjoy freedom in what we read, hear, see and comment on. Any attempt to abridge these freedoms is in my opinion an affront to our individual liberties. Allowing people to have the choice to filter (or not) their Internet connection is vastly preferable to having any government (of any partisan flavour) decide it for us.

    February 24, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    Dear Senator Lundy,

    As an expatriate Australian working at a United States Supercomputing Facility, I have some expertise surrounding computers and the internet. I was horrified when I read of the plan to filter Australia’s internet in the way that has been proposed by Senator Conroy. This plan is Orwellian and would group Australia with a narrow class of countries that are infamous for internet filtering, including China and Iran.

    I am a father and like most others would be happy to not have the possibility of pornography streaming into my home. However, the internet is fast becoming our main media, a place where we get the nightly news, publish our thoughts and work, interact with friends and colleagues, create and help political movements, expose truths some do not want exposed and conduct all of our financial interactions. Moreover, the internet possesses possibilities that neither you nor I can imagine just now. This month I am reading stories to my two-year old daughter via Skype while she is visiting Australia with my wife. Who could have imagined this type of cheap teleconferencing being available to us just ten years ago? It is important not to be so short sighted so that our current understanding of what the internet is, and what it can provide, is not written into a law that cannot anticipate what the internet will become. Future governments must not be handed a law that has any potential whatsoever of being manipulated to limit information technologies that are politically damaging to them, but are nonetheless in the interests of the Australian people.

    Your government has promoted the possibility of a Bill of Rights for Australia. But it is a complete contradiction to, on the one hand, be talking about the right to freedom of speech, while on the other hand be implementing legislation that would in fact be unconstitutional in many countries who have that right already in their constitution. By all means, provide a facility that allows people to limit internet content, but this government, nor any other, should have the facility to tell us what we can and cannot do without our immediate and direct say so, providing it is of no harm to others.

    I, for one, would use an optional government filter if I were living in Australia with my family, but I will resist until eternity one that is imposed on me by a government. For that reason I support your proposed changes to the internet filter planned for Australia.

    Dr. Andrew Roberts

    February 24, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    Just read the following article:

    You should be pushing for opt-in, not opt-out. Better yet, you should be pushing for the whole policy to be dropped. It’s been an embarassment since day one.

    February 24, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    Why not get the Government to publish a list of IP addresses where kiddy porn has been identified, and instruct all Tier 1 providers to deny these IPs at their edge routers?

    No need for expensive URL filtering, no real additional processing overhead, no need for extra gear to be purchased.

    If there are any Australian IPs in the list, refer the matter to the AFP.

    That way, Senator Conroy’s political agenda is fulfilled (and he can stop bleating “what about the children?” and get on with it) and the rest of the Internet’s legitimate content, RC or not, is available for consumption.

    February 24, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    Good on you, Kate! Finally some sense can be brought to this issue. Like many others, I think it’s a very slippery slope to have a mandatory Government-controlled internet filtering system in place. As a father, of course I want my child to be protected from the “bad stuff” that can be found out there, and content such as child pornography without a doubt should be blocked in any way shape or form possible. But I also want the *choice* of how to best protect myself and my family, and people really need to educate themselves and take responsibility over what they or their children might be downloading. Conroy’s blanket filter will not convince voters that the system is being maintained with *our* best interests in mind. This is Australia, not communist China.

    Mark Newton
    February 24, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    When thinking about slippery slopes, bear in mind that Kate’s proposal still requires “a mandatory Government-controlled internet filtering system in place” at every ISP in the country — It just leaves the question of whether or not to use it up to you.

    I can guarantee that Jim Wallace and his mates will spend the next five or ten years lobbying both sides of politics to have the “option” removed later. It’s what they do.

    I wrote some words upthread about solving that problem, by leveraging the IIA or Netalert schemes to enable ISPs to satisfy any requirement to filter by providing filtering software, installation support and helpdesk services for free to customers who want them. An Internet connection that’s filtered on a PC or a modem is indistinguishable from an Internet connection that’s filtered in the ISP’s core network (except that the core network alternative is easier to circumvent, and the PC version offers more customization options!), so how it’s implemented shouldn’t make any practical difference to public policy, and I can’t think of any reason why that modification shouldn’t fly.

    If Kate can work that into the plan, then I think we’re done here, right?

    If she can’t, we’re going to keep having this debate until the heat death of the universe… only during its next iteration we won’t be saying, “Is this a good idea?” instead we’ll have the ACL saying, “It’s already being done on an optional basis, now we want it mandatory.”

    And I think we all know that at some distant day in the future, somebody in Government will take them seriously enough to try it on. That’s exactly what got the ALP into this mess in the first place, after all, and I’m yet to see any evidence that they’ve learned anything from it.

    – mark

    February 24, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    Good to see that you are taking a stand on this one Kate.

    Even if I could manage to look past the blatent use of the “child pornography” banner in the name of taking away freedom and allowing greater government censorship and control… which I cant. I still beleive that, given the stress on our current telecommunications network to move forward and become world class, a law like this would cripple us for quite some time. The margins for ISPs are not particulalry high and imposing something like this on them would not help matters at all. If it really is nessacary to protect people from themselves, maybe try educating them better.

    Keep up the good fight.

    Shaun C

    Colin Jacobs
    February 24, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    It’s great to see Senator Lundy working “from the inside” to mitigate this awful policy. Keep up the good work.

    Unfortunately I’m not overly impressed with the compromise, which seems to be aimed more at face-saving than an actual useful outcome. Anybody who is well across this issue knows that the RC filter, whether mandatory or opt-out, is completely ineffective as a child-protection mechanism and useless for adults as well. Making it opt-out lessens the free speech issues somewhat, but think of all the time and money that will be wasted putting this thing into place. On top of that, when we’re done, it won’t take much for a future government to remove the option to switch off.

    The first steps in crafting a better policy would be to clearly enumerate the policy goals, look at the evidence, and approach the subject well informed on the reality of the Internet and a practical mindset. The entire censorship debate needs a rethink in the network age, and there are no easy answers. Sadly for us, lawmakers trying to tick boxes before the next election cycle rarely have the luxury of following this process.

    Colin Jacobs
    Electronic Frontiers Australia

    Richard B
    February 24, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    Hi Kate,
    I applaud your stance. Ultimately what we need is better awareness about Internet security and safety.

    Unfortunately there is really no need for any legislative change. There are already ISPs that provide filtered service and there are many filters available as per the IIA Family Friendly programme. In fact, almost all ISPs have Internet safety services available to subscribers.

    The problem is awareness. Families do not know where to go or what to do. The ALP policy worsens this by building a false sense of security. Those parents that already have low awareness will be led to believe that the RC filter will make the Internet safe for their children. This is completely false.

    From an industry perspective the “opt” (in or out) mechanism just makes the whole filter more difficult to implement. ISPs will need to purchase filtering systems and then provide business systems and processes to manage the opt-in/out selection. Unfortunately the RC filter will only block a very small number of websites and will have minimal effect on overall safety of the Internet.

    It appears unlikely that the government will be funding the filter for ISPs hence ISPs will likely have to purchase, install, manage and maintain this new equipment. Herein lies a burden for, especially small, ISPs. They will be up for hundreds of thousands of dollars of equipment and upgrades to implement a filter that most Australians don’t want and the majority of the remainder don’t understand.

    Coming back to the essence of your position … awareness is the key. The government could help to promote Internet safety and encourage Australians to take advantage of the safety programmes that ISPs already offer (family friendly). This would provide a true and meaningful benefit to Australian citizens, in particular children.

    In contrast, the policy as it stands is largely an impost on ISPs with minimal benefit to Australian citizens. And, of more concern, those that have low awareness will be deceived that the RC filter has made the Internet “safe”.

    February 24, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    To further expand on my previous post, Kate should be pushing for the abolishment of the policy because, as I’ve said in previous posts, a legislatively mandated one leaves a “voluntary today, mandatory tomorrow” trigger in place. This is why I won’t support any legislatively-based optional filtering policy.

    The cynic in me says that Lundy’s pushing for an opt-out is an attempt by the ALP to quell criticism and opposition to the policy so they (ALP) can attempt to quietly alter the policy to mandatory at a later stage.

    February 24, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    I agree with previous posts that this is still bad policy. It still requires the filtering infrastructure to be put in place. If every person in the country opts out, the infrastructure will still be there and the costs of it will be passed on by ISPs to users. A formal opt-anything process just adds another layer of bureaucracy, takes time and people to implement and there will inevitably be mistakes.

    Tech-savvy users will effectively opt-out anyway because an ISP level filter is trivial to bypass. No filter able to monitor the content of secure sockets, assuming SSL/TLS has not been tampered with. A filter CANNOT distinguish between using an transparent proxy to bypass the filter and legitimate access to a secure online shopping or banking.

    Why not just promote the use of home filtering software? You can get home filters/parental control software for FREE, it ACTUALLY WORKS, it does’t need a layer of bureaucracy and it does’t impede network speeds.

    February 24, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    Hi Kate, (Hi Pia)

    I was just pointed to your blog from the OpenInternet site. I’d like to thank you for taking a reasonable approach and being an advocate for sanity within the caucus. While I, like many people here, would prefer the currently implemented scheme where filtering is optional and sits on the end-user’s PC, I much prefer an opt-out scheme to a mandatory one (regardless of whether stating a preference is mandatory or not).

    I would like to ask one question that I’ve missed in your Q and A, and that is *why* the government wants to blacklist to be secret. The standard line I hear is that the government doesn’t want to be distributing links to ‘bad’ sites. But this seems irrelevant – those sites are being filtered, so knowing the URL doesn’t provide access to them. The existence of the filter makes distribution of the list OK. (I would say that the existence of the filter makes distribution of the blacklist mandatory, but I’m just a voter.)

    It is only *if the filter doesn’t work* that distributing the blacklist is problematic. But if the government believes their filter doesn’t work… *waits for the chorus to join in* why are they doing this?

    Be well.

    February 24, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    Great work Kate; myself and everyone i know are behind you 100% of the way.

    Conroy has no clue what so ever.

    February 24, 2010 at 6:07 pm

    Sigh, I guess Labour really don’t want my vote do they? If they really insist on a filter it should be “Opt in” not opt out and up to ISP’s if they want to join. I don’t want to pay extra for “imposed” censorship.

    David Vaile
    February 24, 2010 at 6:25 pm

    Greetings all,

    Re ‘opt-in’ the key thing is not the semantics but the reality, if you have a real choice and are not somehow stigmatised then that is the critical difference.

    I thought some of you may be interested in the resources from the workshops we held over the last 18 months on aspects of the filtering and young people topic.

    Internet filtering and censorship proposals, November 2008, UNSW

    Internet filtering and censorship, second workshop, March 2009, Baker & McKenzie offices

    Reference list (current to July, to be updated soon…)


    February 24, 2010 at 7:29 pm

    i’m with Brian. i’ll decide what to read… not some faceless, un-elected bureaucrat. Good to see a sliver of common sense from the left side of the fence, though, for a change. But it is far too late for that now, & nowhere near good enough… again.
    i doubt that i will ever vote for the ALP again.

    February 25, 2010 at 9:05 am

    Senator Lundy,
    Keep up the good work at not allowing this country of ours to become a police state . Porn is an issue but its an issue for parents to deal with not legislation.

    February 25, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    Senator Lundy,
    like others I encourage you to work within your party to reject this Draconian step. In my travels around the country talking to people from a diversity of backgrounds I find great dissatisfaction with Labour; from Labour supporters. From a start which promised to tackle real issues in a statesman like manner to a pandering, poll driven policy agenda which vacillates between popularism and special interests you guys and girls seemed to have lost your way.

    Statesmen and stateswomen may be politicians who have been dead 20years, but there are moments when this is not the case. People want leadership, freedom and the capacity to succeed in their chosen fields. It seems to me Labour has disenfranchised so many of their base supporters that you are heading for history- a one term government.

    Warwick Davenport
    February 25, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    Well (Sir Alistair Dormandy – the Boat that Rocked) Conroy has spoken. All that is required of this little group of stakeholders is to tug the forelock and take an firm grasp of our ankles.

    Not happy kate.

    February 25, 2010 at 5:49 pm

    The net censorship policy has been further undermined yet again by the revelation that Conroy is censoring his own ministerial website.,2001149271,339301360,00.htm

    February 25, 2010 at 11:23 pm


    What is your view on the secrecy of the Blacklist? Of all of the problems I have with the filter proposal, this is the one that actually makes me afraid for my country. There will be a set of , unaccountable and unreviewed officials making decisions about what is acceptable for me, based on complaints I’ll never see, and making decisions that it will be a criminal offence for me to hear about.

    There can be absolutely no doubt that, sooner or later, the power will be misused. Democracy only works in sunlight, and it dies by inches. I still can’t conceive of why the entire non Cathanglican section of the party – party room and rank-and-file included – aren’t camped on the Prime Minister’s desk over this.

    I can’t vote for a party that supports a retreat from Democratic accountability, so if it gets up, you and whoever replaces Bob will lose my vote. It will be informal both ways – and the party I have voted for my entire adult life will have driven me to it. I’m sorry – I know it’s not your fault, and I wish I lived in Bulimba, but I don’t.

    February 26, 2010 at 7:45 am

    Hi Kate,

    Disingenuous claptrap from the PM on Sunrise this morning.

    – misrepresents RC as usual for this government
    – 1/70th the blink of an eye, well that’s quantifiable isn’t it
    – conveniently fails to answer any of the questions (I know, he’s a politician)
    – has his buddie Kochie there to stop the questioner from actually following up on anything.

    Maybe Kerry O’Brian should ask him some questions on it.


    February 26, 2010 at 7:47 am

    Sorry Kerry, spelt your name wrong, should be O’Brien.

    Mark Newton
    February 26, 2010 at 7:27 pm

    Sounds like the PM has been reading from one of Conroy’s January press releases. Someone should send him an updated set.

    – mark

    February 26, 2010 at 8:08 am

    Good morning Senator

    As I indicated elsewhere, this filter issue was one of several that prompted my recent resignation from the ACT ALP.
    Following the latest revelation, that Senator Conroy not only supports but implements filtering based on political issues (, I am left little choice but to actively campaign against those who promote and support the Conroy Filter.

    Paul Gill
    Former Secretary
    Gungahlin Sub-branch, ACT ALP

    February 26, 2010 at 11:21 am

    Kate, it is very clear that Conroy is a stubborn idiot and will not budge on his stance of this stupid policy (and so does Krudd now).

    There is not much you can do besides crossing the floor if you truly believe in Australian values and democracy. However you have already stated that you will go through the ‘caucus’ of this failure of a government, then there isn’t much we can do besides hoping that the liberals will vote out this stupid policy forever.

    Note: I am very disappointed with Krudd in his sunrise interview today. Maybe Kate could address our concerns to him?

    What a bleak country we live in. Democracy pffft….

    February 26, 2010 at 11:44 am

    Finally, someone from politics has grown a backbone on this issue! I’m against a filter/censorship entirely, but I’m thankful there’s at least a small group who understand Conroy has no idea what he’s talking about.

    Paul, no idea who you are, but I like you! Althought, it’s a shame my liking you has come from a resignation.

    Warwick Davenport
    February 26, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    Dear Kate and Pia

    Could you please pass this on to the Prime Minister. “We don’t want you to apologise, just drop the whole idea.”

    kind regards
    (Not a Senator Conroy Stakeholder, I don’t like golf or skiing )

    Nik Mennega
    March 1, 2010 at 6:22 am

    Kevin Rudd claiming he makes no apologies for “blocking” child pornography??

    He should get down on his knees and beg forgiveness for his policy that leaves the child pornography available on the web and spending two-to-three months at a time trying to decide whether to stick up a little sign saying “Australians please don’t look here”, rather than requesting the relevant law enforcement agencies to have the material deleted.

    This policy is reprehensible, as is anyone who votes in favour of it.

    “Opt-out” or otherwise.

    February 28, 2010 at 1:15 am

    I have to ask: Why is the Govt spending ridiculous amounts of time and money on this issue? We can do all this with FAR LESS waste!

    (1) Windows. (XP, Vista, Windows 7)
    Parents => Administrator accounts. Passworded!
    Children => Limited or Standard accounts. Limit time on computer!
    …Children cannot fool around with the system!

    (2) OpenDNS. (FREE!)
    They allow parents to select and filter lots of things!

    (3) Govt is to provide the guide for parents to set this up!
    That’s it. That’s all Labor has to do! Lots of money saved!

    March 1, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    I’m watching this issue with baited breath. My vote on the next election depends on it.

    The ISP is one of the most ridiculous proposals put before parliment in recent memory.

    March 2, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    Its commendable that Senator Kate Lundy is trying to provide some sense of reasonableness to Senator Conroy’s draconian policy. But when I ask myself what I fear most in my children’s future I find myself believing that giving over control of our freedom of information and knowledge to a clandestine group of paternalistic unknowns is more frightening than having to explain sex, safety and responsibility to my children (as if I wouldn’t do this anyway, or as if I’d entrust my children to unsupervised use of the internet with or without this filtering).
    However, attempting to implement a system of information censorship with an overarching policy of absolute power and secrecy places Senator Conroy fairly in the company of the most repressive, paternalistic and dangerous politicians through out history. Secrecy is the shelter of abuse and paternalism the cloak of intolerance. Senator Conroy has revealed himself as a dangerous, controlling individual who not only wants to protect us from harm, but also from knowing what that harm is.
    Senator Lundy, you can not ameliorate that kind of danger by providing a system of opting out, as the intention revealed by the proposal or support of that kind of censorship that remains, and will find other clandestine expressions.

    March 2, 2010 at 7:44 pm


    Well said, though I think you’ll find that Mr Rudd is the one behind this abomination to democracy, not Senator Conroy. Senator Conroy’s just doing a really bad job of implementing and selling it.

    Does anyone else find it a little scary that the head of the supposed left side of Government and our country uses the term Civil Libertarian as if it’s a bad thing? “Extreme Civil Libertarian”, now where have I heard that before? Oh, that’s right, Jim Wallace.

    And these so called “Extreme Civil Libertarians” are advocating more funding to police. Go figure.

    Now lets see a list of people and groups our PM will be applying this label to:

    – Save the Children Australia
    – National Children’s and Youth Law Centre
    – Australian Library and Information Association
    – Reporters Without Borders
    – Retired Justice Michael Kirby
    – Canon Dr Ray Cleary
    – Will Briggs (Anglican Minister)
    – UNI NSW Media research Unit
    – Google
    – Yahoo!
    – Penny Sharpe (NSW Labor)

    There’s more, but I think you get the point. I wonder if you’d fit in that list somewhere Kate.


    March 2, 2010 at 9:01 pm

    Yes, by suggesting that this proposal is anything other than God’s will and therefore perfect, Senator Lundy is indeed making herself an extremist in the Prime Minister’s eyes. Mind you, with Save the Children, ALIA, Google and me in it, this is the strangest bunch of extremists you will ever come across.

    March 2, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    I’ll take some extreme libertarians over some Authoritarian any day. If only the Democrats had some sway still.

    Mark Newton
    March 2, 2010 at 10:00 pm

    Does anyone else find it a little scary that the head of the supposed left side of Government and our country uses the term Civil Libertarian as if it’s a bad thing? “Extreme Civil Libertarian”, now where have I heard that before? Oh, that’s right, Jim Wallace.

    That bit became one of the amusing side-notes of the debate way back in the early days.

    The people Jim Wallace portrays as “extreme” are the people who are in favour of the status quo which has served us well for 20 years (a whole generation, FFS).

    Can you think of any other debate in which advocating for preservation of tradition is an “extremist” point of view?

    Of course not.

    The “extremist” point of view is the one that says we have an urgent requirement to abandon the status quo in favour of government control over all communication.

    Who is making that case these days? Where are the other supporters that used to crawl out of the woodwork every few weeks? Anthony Pillion? Bernthenette McPanicken? Nope, just Rudd, Conroy and the Australian Christian Lobby.

    Peas in a pod.

    – mark

    March 3, 2010 at 8:15 am

    The Prime Minister and Minister Conroy have repeatedly said that the filter will not block political material.

    Voluntary euthanasia was one of the hottest politicial issues of the ’90s. It even invoked serious constitutional debate after the Commonwealth overrode Northern Territory law. So we can naturally assume from the PM’s assurances that one side of such an important political and constitutional issue won’t be blocked.


    Dr Phillip Nitschke was and is a leading figure in the voluntary euthanasia debate. His Exit International website, which is hosted quite legally in the USA, is on the blacklist and Australians will be denied access under Labor’s ‘non-political’ filter. They will also be the only people in the world outside China and Iran to be denied access to several Wikipedia pages describing euthanasia machines.

    “Australians all, let us rejoice, for we are young and free” is about to become a sick joke, and it has taken a Labor government to do it.

    March 7, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    given that Senator Conroy’s statements on the ABC’s Hungry Beast program have been *thoroughly* debunked – he lies and lies again…

    Why are we still even debating this? the government, and particularly (but not only) Senator Conroy, is incapable of telling the whole truth about what he plans, consistently misrepresents what will be blocked, what is legal, and what the filter is actually capable of achieving.

    Will you, Kate, take up the initiative and *please* ask Senator Conroy the and party decision makers *why* they feel the need to *constantly* lie to the public about this policy? and for that matter, we still haven’t had *any* explanation from the government of what *this particular* part of the government’s cyber-safety initiatives is supposed to achieve, and neither have we seen any evidence that some of the things it is supposed to do are actually problems at all (children stumbling across RC? Adults stumbling acros RC? we already know that it *cannot* stop intentional access, and we also know that (given the respective sizes of the filter list and the internet in general) it won’t have even one percent of all potentially-RC sites on the list, and is therefore more-or-less useless at stopping accidental access to RC rated pages as well). In order to meet Senator Conroy’s continued claims of “evidence based” policy, we need to (and haven’t) see a few things. First, evidence that people, whether children or adults, *ever* come across material which would be rated RC – we need to see how often it happens, as well (if at all). Then we need *proper* evidence that accidentally coming across *specifically* the material which people stumbled upon, causes lasting harm. By specifically, i mean that the study must not take the worst found by adults and apply that to the harms-children test, it must be grouped according to which group found it. IF and ONLY IF it is found that there is a significant chance that Adults *will* come across material *accidentally* (because if they are specifically looking then the filter is absolutely not going to stop them) on the internet that *will* cause them *lasting* harm THEN and only then can you look at a mandatory-for-adults filter, at which point the line of *likely to cause harm* has to be drawn (again, RC-on-the-net but actually-offline-it’d-be-Category-1-or-2-restricted is almost certainly the wrong definition) and the further question has to be asked which is “will the filter significantly reduce the occurances of harm” – take note again of the point i made above about how much material there is on the net, and how absurdly tiny a proportion of potentially-banned sites a complaints-based filter can ever expect to list. against that has to be weighed the potential harms of introducing the filter. None of this has been done. Even Senator Conroy’s old standby “we’re introducing it cos parents don’t know how to install their own filters at home” has been shown to be a lie *by ACMA research!*

    I can understand the uphill battle you face regarding this policy – it is supported at the highest levels within the party. But please don’t give up.

    also posted on the “QandA from my thoughts on the internet filter” page on this blog

    March 9, 2010 at 9:33 pm

    I have been watching this debate very closely and have long suspected that which became just a little more evident after watching ABC’s Q&A last night (8/3/2010) that we are in fact governed by a whole bunch of people who believe the earth is less than ten thousand years old.
    It is impossible to use rational arguments when dealing with this kind of thinking. It may be the case that the filter is an ideologically driven issue after all.
    Conroy and Rudd seem to think if they avoid talking about the filter in any meaningful or intelligent way, and removing any reference to it from their sites, that no one will notice it slip through through the house.
    The bill should, in a sane world, be duly crucified in the house, but the Holy Abbot may just do a Meg Lees here on the day and support it, knowing his theistic tenancies.

    March 10, 2010 at 1:46 am


    I have just licked the envelope on the following snail mail to the PM. You should be demanding a conscience vote on this one.

    The message I refer to can be found at
    Have a box of tissues handy.
    Dear Mr Rudd

    In May 2008 you told the Macquarie Radio Network that you believed voluntary euthanasia to be a matter for a conscience vote. I trust you remember that in September 2008 an incredibly brave young woman called Angelique Flowers sent you a video message. Angelique was dying of inoperable bowel cancer. I hope you remember how she described that, at the end of her illness, she would be vomiting her own faeces until her colon eventually exploded, and that there would be no way to relieve the pain during the last horrific week of her life. In her message, she begged you to show compassion and move to overturn the voluntary euthanasia ban. She also said to you “..had I not gone online and found Exit International I would be lost”. Sir, not only have you failed to listen to Angelique’s dying words, but you are about to close off access to the thing that was her very last comfort.

    You and Minister Conroy have repeatedly dismissed as fiction any criticism that your proposed Internet filter is political, and have said that all it will do is block the worst of the worst Child Pornography. However, your proposed Internet filter will block Dr Nitschke’s US website,, and it will also block access to the web book Peaceful Pill, which Angelique told you was such a relief to her. This isn’t a by-product or an accident – this is a known and direct result of your proposal. You are actively choosing to close this last pro-euthanasia loophole. Nobody is forcing you. And as one final insult to Angelique, you will make it a criminal offence to reveal that the websites have been banned.

    Mr Rudd, in the name of Angelique’s memory, I ask you to explain why you continue to deny the overtly political aspect of your Internet filter. More importantly, I ask you to explain why you are denying your caucus a conscience vote on a matter that will quite predictably and quite explicitly tighten the anti-euthanasia regime in this country.

    Sir, I have worked polling booths for the Labor Party and have voted for it my entire adult life. If you do this thing, I fear I shall never vote for it again.

    Yours sincerely

    March 10, 2010 at 10:35 am

    Richard – I commend your excellent letter. I reside in the USA and I truly wonder how Australia has reached this point since I left five years ago (I am an Australian citizen). In the words of Benjamin Franklin: “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety”.

    March 10, 2010 at 8:07 pm

    “…passionate campaign against the filter has lead to quite extreme views being expressed”

    WTF! How is it extreme to say that we’ve had no filter for the past 20 years and society hasn’t fallen apart so why are you ramming this drivel down our throat?

    The government has failed to:

    1) Articulate what problem they are trying to solve
    2) Show evidence that the problem even exists
    3) Prove that their solution has merit
    4) Prove that their solution is even technically feasible.

    I guess I really should have just stopped at “The government has failed”


    March 12, 2010 at 10:19 am

    “Do you think people are vandalising these Facebook pages more often than usual lately?

    No, this is nothing new…. Back when the internet was young everything was far more insecure and stuff like this happened on a far larger scale.

    The issue is that largely new classes of people who previously were excluded from this medium of communication are finally getting connected and they’re shocked by what they see. People acting obnoxiously on the Internet to garner reactions is not a startling revelation to anyone that has been using any sort of social media in the past three decades. ”

    I was born in the mid 80’s, making me the last generation to go through schooling with no computers, with us only getting computers and the internet in my year 11 and 12. I now work in IT/Multimedia.

    I don’t see the internet/web any different to “real” society. People say, do, and see what they want. The -only- difference between the internet and “reality” is that the internet gets held accountable for actions of others.

    This filter is a generation clash, and nothing more.

    Stuart Anderson
    March 14, 2010 at 10:57 am

    The true gem from that (excellent) article is this:

    Q:Do you think police will be able to catch those responsible for the vandalism of the tribute pages?

    A:Doubtful. The IT muscle of Australia leaves a lot to be desired. This is a country that took $80 million to develop a filtering proxy, something which has already been done more effectively ( free. Literally, squid did regex-based filtering, and not list-based filtering a decade ago. In addition, it can speed up web traffic instead of slow it down like the Australian filter. ISPs that push more traffic than the entirety of Australia’s internet usage have already implemented squid at cost in the hundred thousand range (which includes all hardware and development costs).

    The conspiracy theorist in me thinks this whole deal is an engineered campaign of feigned outrage to push a very expensive public works project that is largely against public interests. However, applying Hanlon’s razor makes me think this is just people new to the Internet just beginning to discover Internet users.

    March 15, 2010 at 11:15 am

    Exactly Mr Anderson! This whole filtering campain is really a scare campain, directed to people who lack a full understanding of the complexity of the issues.

    On a slightly side note, I’m still floored and unbelievably angry that small breasted women, and ejactulating women are now “Refused Classification”.

    It’s illegal for me to email my partner a sexy photo, of myself. Heaven’s if I try and put it on my personal blog for him under this filter!! Maybe the Government will give me an interest-free loan to get a boob job in asia, then I can post a photo of myself on my blog without going to jail :P

    March 15, 2010 at 11:17 am

    Post Thought, would my previous comment be filtered under this filter? It’s a political issue, aren’t we being promised that political issues will not be filtered??

    March 15, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    Well, let’s remember that euthanasia, abortion, gay rights are quite hot political topics, and they are going to be censored.

    And let’s not forget, Stephen Conroy has already abused his power by trying to censor Mark Newton, the parody site, and on his own website, the links to ‘isp filtering’ is not shown.

    Pia Waugh
    March 15, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    Hi Zorella,

    Can I suggest you read this balanced article from Crikey which deals with your assertion:

    It reflects how this issue has been somewhat misrepresented.

    Office of Senator Lundy

    Stuart Anderson
    March 15, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    The short answer is if you happen to look too young to the eyes of some random, anonymous member of the censorship board, then not only are you likely to fall foul of the internet censorship system, but you could be had up on kiddie porn charges (for images of your own, adult self, no less).

    We live in a country where people have been given real gaol time over cartoon depictions of paedophilia (which, as objectionable as that is, is clearly a setting disastrously wrong legal precedent). The law recognises apparent age – even in the case of purely fictional characters with no age whatsoever. The true difficulty, even with living, breathing persons of age, is that the assessment of their age is done by a third party, in secret, in addition to their actual age, and the minute that judgement is made you are retroactively guilty of child pornography offences if you have handled that media in any capacity.

    The Government has made it plain that it prefers opinion to fact, so if it can’t nail you to the wall with evidence it will just call in the friendly classification board member to take a token look at your image and say ‘too young’ – then it’s off to gaol with you! As the Bill Henson episode shows, the Government has no problem with starting up witch-hunting trials should a member of the public denounce you (at any point) – so if anyone at all is offended (or claims so) then expect to be dragged through the mud over it (at the very least).

    As awful as the prospect of people that appear under-age (but are not) in porn is, the simple fact is that setting a hard, legally enforceable and verifiable age limit is the only way we can guarantee that people have the ability to remain within the law. With apparent age as a criteria, as decided by a third party, then it is impossible for people to have any degree of certainty of their own legal standing (how can they possibly read the minds of the board?). It’s like having a secret, variable speed limit – totally ridiculous.

    Cheshire Cat
    March 22, 2010 at 8:59 pm

    Sorry Pia, but Zorella seems to have a pretty good handle on the facts as presented in that crikey article (and the subsequent comments). There is even admission from the classification board that they use breast size to judge if someone appears 18.

    The classification board and its guidelines in this country are a bigger farce than the internet filter.

    If you can voice one opinion to Rudd please remind him of his repeated comments on Q & A at the start of the year stating he believe in EVIDENCE based policy, This filter is not based on evidence so should rightly be scrapped.

    warwick davenport
    March 17, 2010 at 9:50 am

    Hi Kate/Pia
    Listening to Minister Conroy yesterday he stated that the ACMA blacklist has 355 CP urls. This was used as the reason for introducing a $150 million dollar per year censorship solution. Can you find out the following:
    1. If the minister has 355 CP web sites what has he done to alert authorities in the hosting countries to have thse shut down? has he passed them to the Federal Police?
    2. What are the other 745 url’s on the blacklist?
    3. At nearly $500,000 per url can the Minister provide an estimate of the total cost/number of URL’s the list is going to contain.
    4. As 355 url’s represent’s 3.55 exp -10 of the Internet, or a decimal point followed by ten zeros and a 3. What is the Ministers definition of infinitesimal?
    kind regards


    Mark Newton
    March 17, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    The Minister has frequently given counts of CP URLs, which were shown to be completely wrong when the ACMA blacklist was leaked last March and didn’t have any child pornography on it.

    The Classification Guidelines don’t actually mention the term, “child pornography.” What they say is:

    Descriptions or depictions of child sexual abuse or any other exploitative or offensive descriptions or depictions involving a person who is, or appears to be, a child under 18 years.

    The “… or appears to be…” bit is the kicker. The Classification Board has interpreted that very, very broadly, to the extent that they’ll say that someone appears to be under 18 years old if the article’s producer’s intention was to convey the idea that they might be under 18.

    That slurps up all the “young teen virgins” sites on the net, even if they possess the declarations required by US law to certify that all of the models are adults.

    The “… appears to be…” clause is also the bit that catches Simpsons cartoons and other fictional depictions.

    Every time Conroy mentions “child porn”, understand that he doesn’t know enough about the issue to know what he’s talking about — Or, if he does know, he’s being very misleading.

    – mark

    March 18, 2010 at 10:33 pm

    there was, actually, but not much.

    Paul Danyluk
    March 17, 2010 at 11:43 pm

    Dear Kate,

    I find it comforting to see the increasing numbers of posts declaring that if this insane policy comes anywhere near implementation that traditional labor voters will simply vote for the other side.

    I have been concentrating on my campaign (and yes I continue to get positive responses) and will continue to do so. Labor’s support for Conroy has, as far as I am concerned, has sealed its fate.

    The only option that was acceptable was to abandon this policy. Now, I am afraid you will also need to sacrifice Conroy (which is no bad thing) to have any chance at all at the coming election.

    The Australian public, who use the internet (most of us), do not appreciate being told that if we oppose the filter that we are in support of child pornography. In fact most (I would suggest all) would find that proposition abhorrent.

    March 19, 2010 at 2:30 am

    One small correction Paul – this traditional Labor voter won’t be voting for the other side. Phillip Ruddock as Attorney General teamed up with the Right to Life Association to force the Classification Board to RC Dr Nitschke’s book The Peaceful Pill in the first place. And if the Mad Monk ever gets in charge, I wouldn’t be surprised if we had to pass a Catechism test to get a passport renewal.

    No, I’ll be spoiling my vote in the Reps (what a tragic commentary that is), because I won’t want my preference to ever trickle down to Labor. I’ll be voting Greens in the Senate. With Labor’s gallop to the right, the Greens are looking increasingly like the moderate left of Australian politics. Who could have guessed?

    PS – no response yet from my written letter to the PM. Accountability does not seem to be this Ministry’s strong suit………..

    Stuart Anderson
    March 19, 2010 at 3:25 am

    Unfortunately, the Greens killed any possibility of gaining my vote by endorsing Clive Hamilton as a candidate. He is one of the people chiefly responsible for this entire censorship debacle. I won’t be voting for the Greens, and I’d advise others to think long and hard if they are considering voting for them.

    March 21, 2010 at 5:32 am

    @Richard –
    I can’t see how you would think that this ludicrous policy of Labor is somehow a lurch to the right. It is not. It is a lurch toward Authoritarianism, which can span both left and right politics, as evidenced by the the countries who already secretly filter their internets – Communists to Military Juntas. An opposing ideology to Authoritarianism is Libertarianism, hence Senator Conroy’s claim that those that who oppose the filter are extreme forms of the latter; It’s a poor attempt to avoid admitting a slip toward the former. However we can both agree on one thing, and that is that this filter is entirely about ideology, and has nothing to do with pragmatic administration. And just as the previous U.S. Republican administration was consumed by ideology, so to, it would seem, is the current Australian Labor Government.

    March 22, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    @Stuart – you make a good point. But Senators Brown and Ludlam have both been quite outspoken in opposition, and Sen Ludlam in particular has been the only voice on the political stage regularly trying to hold Sen Conroy to account. And on another issue very close to my heart, voluntary euthanasia, the Greens have an impeccable record. Also, if not the Greens, then who?

    @Andrew – loose wording on my part, perhaps. But the result is still the same – an increasingly theocentric government where dissent is censored and dissenters punished. I think the great untold story of the 21st century so far is how the religious extremists took control of both sides of politics under the noses of the rest of us.

    Stuart Anderson
    March 22, 2010 at 8:03 pm


    The fact that the Greens were so outspoken in opposition to the policy, and then got in bed with Hamilton is all the more mind boggling. The Greens would have probably had my vote until that point – and if it had been a minor mistake, or (more importantly) had the admitted fault and removed Hamilton, then they probably could have recovered (or even benefited) from the incident.

    How can I possibly trust them if they think an unhinged authoritarian like Hamilton should even be allowed party membership, let alone endorsed as a candidate? Hamilton should have been shown the door (from the party) the minute his position became public knowledge – he is a traitor to the principles of a free and fair Australia.

    As I have said, up until that point the Greens probably would have had my vote – as you say, they have some reasonable positions on social justice, etc. but I cannot in good conscience vote for a party that willingly embraces a person that is actively working against democratic principles of government, and who is actively working against the people of Australia to further his own personal (so called) moral stance. Some positions are so outrageously wrong and contemptible that they must be unequivocally refuted – and the only way I can demonstrate that belief to the Greens is to exclude their entire party from my voting options.

    As for who else to vote for, it’s certainly not a favourable field. Either vote for some questionable independents (to dilute the primary vote and voting abilities of the government to pass legislation) or go straight to the Liberals (for the direct punishment vote). Are either of these strategies going to get me the political outcomes I want? Probably not – but with no trustworthy or meritorious candidates or parties actually in the running that is probably an impossible goal anyway.

    At the rate we are travelling, I predict that after the next election, if things haven’t improved in terms of the candidates, then the most ethical course of action is likely to be voting informally – there is no point giving credence and validation to the ridiculous farce of sham democracy.

    March 22, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    Haven’t really heard anything from Kate or Pia recently. Has Rudd silenced them? Democracy in action I see.

    James Morris
    March 23, 2010 at 6:43 pm

    I hope that someone in the government has noticed that Google have now withdrawn their search service from China rather than censor it.

    Something to note is that Google publish a real-time blocking report for all of their services as accessible via Mainland China:

    I imagine they will need to publish a similar page for Australia if Conroy’s plans go ahead. That’s going to make us look especially ridiculous.

    Btw, I’ve still never had an answer to a very simple question here: will the internet filter block the entirety of flickr (which carries significant amounts of RC content) ? Or is someone going to go through each of the 2 billion existing photos, as well as the 3000 new photos uploaded each minute, and classify each one? Thanks.

    March 25, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    It’s a complaints based system so it would require someone to complain about each and every RC page on there, then they’d have to classify it (that currently takes 2 months, presumably more once the flood of complaints comes), then if it fits RC it goes on the list.

    Having said that, in Conroy’s usual display on policy on the run he said last night that high traffic sites will not be put on the list. Not quite sure how he legislates that exactly but I would expect Flickr to fall under that category.

    Intelligent policy ain’t it ;)


    Stuart Anderson
    March 25, 2010 at 8:31 pm

    The reason that the Government was so miffed when Google baulked (and rightly so) at its suggestion that it should do the Government’s dirty work for it is exactly what you are getting at with your flickr example – the Government doesn’t have a hope in hell of individually policing every single page on every single site (which is what would be required).

    The only options it has for dealing with sites like that will be to ignore them or block their entire sites – there is no way that the Government could possibly manage the workload otherwise. If the Government were to nuke a site as big as flickr, it would be the end of them – Google isn’t stupid, they know this and they’ve already stared down bigger evils than the ALP, so why would they comply with the Government’s stupid censorship suggestion?

    I must admit that I was astounded by just how impolitic the Government’s suggestion to Google was. Still, little dogs never seem to understand they are little dogs, do they?

    Dr Brett L Scarlett
    March 27, 2010 at 11:18 am

    I understand that Senator Kate Lundy is proposing the following amendments (as below); I find the proposed approach to be reasonable and I think it would afford an acceptable outcome.

    I have been making comments for some time on this issue (see my forum link below) and I’ve also written to Kevin and Stephen. In my opinion, Kate’s response has been by far the most sensible.

    1. The introduction of a Mandatory Option for all Internet subscribers that requires an active choice on the level of filtering for that household, with the government RC filter as the default service if they fail to make a choice within a reasonable period of time, whilst making other information about cyber safety best practices and support available, and

    2. A requirement of ISPs to provide an Open Internet service as one of the Mandatory Options to Internet subscribers, creating the ability to opt out. I think mandating the provision of an Open Internet service in legislation for all ISPs also protects the civil libertarian principles of freedom of information and speech whilst not diminishing the ability of the authorities to tackle illegal content such as child pornography where is found.

    My forum post –


    March 29, 2010 at 10:20 am

    Hi Brett,

    I think it depends in what form the filtered option is supposed to be implemented. If it requires all ISPs to install filter hardware then I and I believe a lot of other people commenting here would still have a problem with that as it is a launching pad to getting what the government ideally want. One, two, five years down the track it will be mandatory. There is an agenda here other than “protecting children”.

    However, if it is something similar to what Mark posted earlier where it could be that ISPs have to offer software to the user along with some level of support. Or that if the user asks for a filtered internet and the ISP, not being able to provide it says, “I’m sorry we are unable to offer that, may we suggest you try “, then that is something most of us can live with. In fact there’s little to change because that’s what’s we already have, it’s just forcing people to make an actual decision.

    – Justin

    Dr Brett L Scarlett
    March 29, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    Justin, I agree with / share your concern about future creeping expansion.


    March 29, 2010 at 10:12 am

    Hi Kate,

    So, can we add the Obama administration to Labor’s list of “Extreme Civil Libertarians”?

    – Justin

    March 30, 2010 at 11:53 am

    You make some interesting points Kate. However if you were true to your tag-line (taking australia forward with openness and vision), why don’t you promote Squid Filter which is under the GNU licence? Maybe I have a different definition of ‘openness’. Still I don’t get why the government would ever want to implement their own in-house solution. Why aren’t they or the media encouraging people to install proxies and/or use DNS filtering? I haven’t even heard this stuff being discussed other than that nineMSN interview with the guy from Encyclopaedia Dramatica. Is there really nobody work on this in government or the media that understands how the internet works?

    I still have very little faith in any of our elected representatives when it comes to tech.

    March 30, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    So Kate, Given Conroy last night on Radio National ruled out opt-in/opt-out, shall we assume that you’ve failed to convince your colleagues to make the filter optional?

    March 31, 2010 at 11:29 am

    We haven’t heard from either Kate or Pia in a while. I suspect she’s been silenced by our wonderful PM. Democracy in action.

    Paul Danyluk
    March 30, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    This government has squandered any trust that could have been placed in it. Roll on the election! And the same goes for any other party that has similar draconian delusions.

    Unfortunately some good folk like Kate will be included as collaterol damage.

    March 30, 2010 at 10:48 pm

    As much as I oppose the proposed mandatory filter, I really don’t understand the huffy, stabby comments here from (presumably) intelligent adults. This is not a net (no pun intended) vote looser for the government and they aren’t going to be thrown out of office (or even loose one seat) because of it.

    If Senator Conroy persists and brings a Bill before the Parliament, the best hope of having it voted down lies with the Coalition (before the next election) and with (I strongly suspect) the Greens after it. While some Liberals are saying they will oppose it, there doesn’t seem to be a Party position yet and I think they’ll probably avoid having one until the last possible minute (if then). The worst outcome would be a “conscious vote” because enough of their socially conservative Senators (and possibly most of the Nats) would certainly vote with the Government on this.

    The Greens will probably vote against it – but let’s not forget it was a Green (Clive Hamilton) who was – and still is – one of the main barrackers for more controls.

    While I respect (and would certainly support) Kate’s opt-out option as the lesser of two evils, I believe the main game should now be focused on Lib and Nat Senators and on the Greens individually. I suggest polite emails and letters to them simply asking them their position and telling them yours. I got a very positive response from my local Lib Senator – but he’s a small “l” Liberal anyway.

    How you actually vote on election day will make absolutely no difference to the result on this issue. Well directed lobbying might. Sorry if that offends your view of democracy or of how important your opinion really is.

    March 31, 2010 at 11:25 am


    I agree we should be talking to Libs, Nats, and Greens however we should not stop letting Labor know exactly how we feel. As I understand it there is disquiet in caucus about this and the only way to build their disquiet is to keep at them. Why else would Senator Conroy be trying to shock them by showing them actual child porn/worst of the worst in caucus? (see his comments on RN)

    “How you actually vote on election day will make absolutely no difference to the result on this issue.”

    This apathetic view is the exact reason we have our current crop of politicians. Their dishonesty, disingenuousness, and lack of integrity is astounding. People’s belief that their vote doesn’t really matter is the reason they get away with this. No one holds them up to any standard, we accept that this is just how politicians are. Well, quite frankly, that’s just not good enough.


    March 31, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    I wasn’t advocating apathy, rather a more active approach to democracy that just telling a politician or party that you won’t vote for them. If people are angry, they have every right to express it through the ballot box. But as the SA election showed, I believe, the impact of nerd issues on total voting is negligible where it might make a difference. Far better to channel that righteous energy into lobbying those who are yet to make up their mind or who are not locked into a position by Party rules.

    I live in Kate’s electorate and, given her very principled and open-minded approach to this and a lot of other issues, I’m not inclined to use my vote to “punish” her. (This is not a paid endorsement, BTW, and I am not a member of any political party). Her opposite number in the Senate (the Lib) is also against the filter and has generally been a pretty good rep too. We only get 2 Senators in the ACT and both are OK by me. As far as I can see, either would be a real loss to good government.

    Does anyone else have responses from individual Lib, Nat or Green Senators?

    April 5, 2010 at 3:18 pm


    Kate’s approach is hardly principled if she know’s it’s terribly policy but will vote for it anyway. She is her constituent’s elected representative, not Labor’s elected representitive even if she did get there on a Labor ticket.

    – Justin.

    Stuart Anderson
    March 31, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    Perhaps it doesn’t bother you, but when I am (falsely) accused of being sympathetic to paedophiles (especially as a transparent and cynical political ploy) I tend to look on that rather dimly. Given that reprehensible conduct, I frankly think that the majority have shown great restraint in their replies. All Conroy has ever had to do is answer the questions put to him – and even that’s proving too much to ask. He seems to prefer insulting his critics (including experts in areas of law, technology and child protection, respected companies like Google, and the US Government) whilst unfairly and shamelessly pandering to the special interests of Jim Wallace and the ACL.

    Personally, I find supreme irony in the fact that Conroy spends the week arguing against the hypothetical scenario of accidentally seeing CP on the web and being offended, and then presumably spends time on Sunday genuflecting and bowing (and let’s not forget, giving direct financial aid) to a Pope that is up to his neck in the scandal of actively shielding real life paedophiles from justice. I guess that’s where he learned that covering things up is so much easier than actually dealing with the problem.

    April 2, 2010 at 11:15 am

    Conroy has recently stated that they plan to block 355 known CP sites. Why are the feds not investigating this claim and working with OS authorities to close these sites down. With regard to children, or anyone else, stumbling on CP sites, I’ve been using the web for 17 years and I have NEVER stumbled on child porn. I would expect that purveyors of CP would not expose their wares on open web sites. They would have non-standard ports, passwords and probably at least 2 factor authentication. I would challenge Conroy to stumble on CP. Conroy has also stated that anyone who voted against this filter in various polls has been manipultated by online fanatics. I voted against the filter and I am quite capable of independent thought. This level of arrogance is exactly what we do NOT want in our politicians. The next poll where I get to have my vote is the one that counts – an election.

    April 5, 2010 at 3:25 pm


    See Mark’s reply to Warwick above. It’s unlikely that there are 355 known CP sites on the list, probably more like 0. RC doesn’t really have a CP category, it’s child depiction and is far broader.

    – Justin

    April 2, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    What really annoys the heck out of me with this issue, apart from everything that Stuart just said, is how very little the mainstream media are airing this issue. When they do, they don’t even question Conroy, they just accept what he says as fact. Its like watching a political advert. The questions are begging to be asked and only the ABC dare ask them and Conroy spits out the same ridiculous answers.

    This is one of the most significant attacks on civil liberties and freedom of speech in the country’s history and still most of the VOTING public know nothing about it, after two years. That’s astounding in itself.

    What worries me is I wrote to Abbot to get his view and did not even get a response. The response I got from my local member, a Liberal, was they were basically sitting on the fence. In other words, can’t wait have a play with it once it is implemented.
    It’s time folks to get a third party up in the mix. Tasmania’s election result was promising.

    On this filter topic, it is true that electorally it currently has no impact on Labor’s vote, but that is only because so few people are in possession of the facts.
    Put this to a referendum (with accurate information, not the RC and beastiality crap) at the next election and see just how far you get Mr Conroy (and Rudd).

    I am so over the moralistic, I know what is good for you attitude of Conroy and Rudd, who arrogantly ignore what amounts to around 96% opposition to this filter. Extrapolate this to the rest of the country who don’t know about it and it may come down a bit.
    We don’t want or even need it, it won’t work, and we don’t trust you with this much power.
    We need a bill of rights Kate.

    April 15, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    Just watched Senator Conroy on the 7:30 Report. So here’s a list of who the Government won’t listen to according to the Senator:

    – Multinational corporations
    – Foreign Governments (including our allies)

    Here’s who the Government will listen to:

    – Jim Wallace

    So where exactly do the Australian people fit in there Senator?


    April 30, 2010 at 1:15 am

    Phew, saved by the great policy reversal of 2010.

    Along with ETS, Insulation, Childcare, Solar heating reversals we are also getting the filter delayed until after the next election.

    Plenty of time to vote all members of the Right Wing Labor party out of office and put this to bed properly.

    Unlike the last election where the filter was effectively hidden, this time we know what is planned.

    May 10, 2010 at 9:33 pm

    Congratulations to Four Corners for being the first program to do an in-depth and balanced review of the filter debate. Good lord, didn’t Senator Conroy look uncomfortable when a journo finally started asking the right questions.

    If anything, the filter got scarier for me as a result of the show. As someone who grew up in Joh’s Queensland, I have vivid memories of his terrible anti-street march legislation, which criminalised meetings on the street of more than 3 people. Watching the show, it hit me like a brick betweeen the eyes – a website proposing civil disobedience to such a law would be deemed as promoting the doing of a criminal act and therefore prohibited content under Conroy’s plan. Conroy’s law will be the next Joh’s best friend!

    How can this be the Labor party doing this terrible and stupid thing????

    David Vaile
    May 11, 2010 at 2:19 am

    Yes, 4 Corners was impressive, gave many perspectives a reasonable hearing.

    Richard, you have picked a significant weakness in the notion the scope of an RC based filter is limited. The three terrorism, offensive portrayal of under 18s and offensive portrayal of other material tests of RC are to some extent bounded (though the ‘reasonable person’ test in the latter two is problematic, see recent criticism based on claimed changed sophistication of audiences).

    However, the fourth test, ‘promote, incite or instruct in matters of crime or violence’, is more open-ended. Critical comment about the legal status of any act as a criminal offence could, at worst, be seen to ‘promote’ that offence.

    For instance, the euthanasia example was well covered in the show. Thoughtful parliamentarians have debated moves to decriminalise assisted euthanasia for the last decade, on both sides, in many states and territories. The closer a statement comes to open advocacy of self help in this area, or cooperation with others, the more that a cautious ACMA officer might identify it as ‘promotion’ of crime.

    New crimes, including cybercrimes, are also of course being created all the time. The new cyber-bullying offences, announced in the last few days, might be interesting. If they are too widely cast, as many of the more draconian recent offences are, online criticisms encouraging not following them to the letter may lurch into this ‘promotion’ zone.

    On the tests themselves, while these are not easy to change due to the states’ role, it is also clear that the RC classification is ultimately just a list of different categories, differently constructed, and thus subject to change any time there is political will across the jurisdictions to add another category or expand an existing one, such as you might see in a moral panic

    NB: The other side of the RC scope problem (RC is in fact tiny at present) was however not noticed. As with all the classifications, Refused Classification means only a specific item that has actually been refused classification – it is, in the context of the global net, a tiny number, apparently in the hundreds or low thousands. The term ‘RC’ does not cover all the vastly larger group of similar online content which would fail an RC test if it were ever classified; yet it is this very large number which I think most people would be thinking of when they think ‘RC’. All of the millions or billions of items which might offend one of these 4 tests, among the trillion on the net, are not RC until they have been complained of, processed and classified. So anyone hoping that say all child porn would be covered would be disappointed – only that very small list of accessible and somewhat stable sites (or individual pages, if Senator Conroy is to be believed now) which have been complained of, identified, assessed and been through the ACMA review and perhaps Classification Board consideration will be Refused.

    The rest of the ‘potentially RC’ material, presumably the vast bulk of material that would if assessed fail an RC test, will never be assessed or classified unless it too goes through this process, which it will not. For cost, time and resource reasons there is no plan to actually classify the whole net, as this would be an impossible task to do properly; the only path to failing an RC test is apparently via individual complaint, or appearance on a list imported from eg a child porn tracker like Internet Watch Foundation in UK, or perhaps Interpol – though, as these latter lists would miss all the non-child porn material, since most countries only focus on child porn, no-one else bothers with our RC list beyond that.

    An RC list would also presumably miss the serious criminalised stuff, including child porn, circulated through organised transient fast-flux botnet insertion into innocent web hosts. And also all the rest of the bad stuff, probably the majority of it, circulated other than by the open Web.

    So, the RC category for online material has problems with both its expansiveness (‘promotion of crime’ can be very broad), and its inadequate minimalism (virtually nothing is actually covered).

    May 16, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    After watching this week’s four corners and then Q & A, I was firstly buoyed by the fact that someone actually put some difficult questions to Conroy. For once he looked rattled, but unfortunately, the arrogance and contempt for his true masters, us, the voters remains untouched. This is despite a significant drop in the polls. Why? Only an idiot would continue with something as unpopular and completely unworkable and ineffective, under these conditions unless there is a hidden agenda. Jim Wallace comes to mind.
    This whole thing reeks of, lets get it in and then increase the scope. It is not intended to filter just Child porn, it will block so much more and this is the objection we have that Conroy and Rudd refuse to listen too.
    Conroy is, I feel attempting a Howard (GST) strategy of putting the filter off until the after next election, when they can pull out the “we have a mandate” card and go right ahead, against the wishes of the elective.
    Watching Q & A, I was dismayed to see that after a unanimous show of hands “AGAINST” the filter, the government’s stand in for Conroy, Brendan O’Connor, actually attempted explain that they would need to move to reassure voters to trust them on this, basically, deliberately missing the point once again. Well I don’t trust them and after so many broken promises and failed policies, neither do many others.

    LABOR, please stop the crap, DROP the whole failed filter idea and LISTEN to the VOTERS before it is too late.

    The filter is heavily backed by the evangelists, who themselves say, once implemented they will lobby hard for a much wider scope.
    Conroy, what part of “we don’t want your useless filter in any shape or form” and “it just will not work” don’t you understand?
    I will be voting for ‘anyone’ but Labor come the election, this is too important to both the reputation abroad and constitutional freedom of speech in Australia.

    I have been a Labor supporter for 35 years but sadly, I can no longer support them.

    If Abbot gets into office, I will hold Rudd and Conroy personally responsible for failing to LISTEN to the electorate. A politician is our servant not our master and Conroy and Rudd need to remember this.

    Molly S
    July 12, 2010 at 9:21 am

    It is time to pick up this idea and run with it again Kate.

    Your voters need a clear statement of what you will do.

    Conroy’s delay means nothing. It is overly cynical and pathetic.

    I will not vote for a party that wants to bring in blanket censorship.

    This is not good Labor policy.

    There are many better options to fight back against child pornography. Police resources would be a good start.

    Jonathan Potter
    July 12, 2010 at 4:54 pm

    For me a mandatory filter for the Internet is a ‘deal breaker’. I am a party Member and have been our local branch president. If the mandatory filter goes through I would seriously consider resigning from the party. I can live with an opt in filter or maybe even an opt out filter but those who seek to limit access to information they don’t like (book burning)are the enemy. I have no problem with laws to prevent child pornography. Personally I would lock these people up and through away the key (as they say). However Senator Connolly’s misguided efforts will not help do this. Wasn’t giving us Steve Fielding enough to show the Senator that what seemed like a good idea at the time may not be.

    July 13, 2010 at 9:26 am

    I feel we all need some pre-election closure and some concrete announcement from Julia Gillard outlining her intentions and policy stance on Rudd and Conroy’s vote losing Mandatory Internet Filter plan. Last night’s Q and A seemed to indicate Labor is stubbornly hanging on to this policy and the ignorant view that it could work somehow in the future. As many of us have said before most people have no problem with more money going to the police to combat child pornography, but do have serious concerns about the scope of the filter, which will include so much political material such as harm minimization material or euthanasia information, to name just a couple.
    It seems ironic to me that many of the most vocal supporters of the Mandatory Internet filter do not use the Internet, have extreme religious agendas, have little or no computer knowledge, (Conroy included)or form most of their political opinions by listening to commercial talk back radio.