Conroy: Waffle, dodge, weave & evade
Saturday March 28th 2009, 7:34 am

image: MsFitsABC’s Q&A with Conroy was a supreme disappointment. Tony Jones let him skirt and misrepresent every issue of contention. Shame, Tony! Worse, the panelists were very poorly chosen. Where was Mark Newton and Burnthenette McPanickin? (FYI, Mark Newton will appear on SBS’s Insight program, Tuesday, 31 March 2009 at 7.30pm AEDT.)

While Conroy was handed his arse on a platter several times (except when Andrew Bolt was busy burying his tongue in said arse; talk about strange bedfellows), despite ABC receiving over 2000 submitted queries, Senator Conjob still wasn’t forced to answer the truly key questions regarding this completely and utterly ill-conceived scheme. TJ let him go off on some silly tangent about the bloody Russian mob, with no challenge.

When the good Senator admitted that the proposed filter can’t deal with encrypted peer-to-peer traffic, Conjob amazingly claimed to have ‘cracked peer to peer’ in Brisbane, which frankly would be no more complex than manually noting the IP addresses of peers shown in any P2P sharing application. Even so, it’s completely possible to fake an IP or use a P2P proxy to avoid identification.

Had I been in the Q&A audience, I’d have asked:

* Do we really have a problem to address? Child porn, the (first) given reason for the filter, comprises a minuscule part of internet traffic. Spam and phishing are statistically much more prevalent (as noted by all panelists), but the government haven’t managed to make even a tiny dent in those, which cost Australia millions yearly.

* Why does the filter have to be mandatory? Can’t Australians be trusted to choose their reading materials? Are we dumber or less capable than Americans or all the other nations with no internet censorship?

* Why must the blacklist remain secret? If the filter works, it won’t matter if it’s public or not. Banned sites will be blocked anyway. Keeping the list secret is an admission that the filter won’t work.

*If the banlist is secret, not subject to FOI, how will mislistings be known of and removed in a timely manner?

*Why must filtering be accomplished at the ISP instead of at the PC in homes with children or folks with delicate sensibilities? A home PC has lots of spare capacity to process comparisons to a blacklist; ISP servers don’t.

* Why should internet users with no children be penalised because a few bad parents won’t take the responsibility to supervise their own children? Is the Australian Government a good parent?

*Will the Government criminalise evasion of the filter? The Great Firewall of China (partially) works because it is enforced with the barrel of a gun. The more savvy Chinese web users still get around the filter, though.

It’s hugely significant that and were hacked just before Conroy went to air on Q&A. It’s the first shot over the Government’s bow in the looming war to eliminate all government censorship in Australia, not just from the proposed filter, but from the OFLC and ACMA as well. Conjob & KRudd should most definitely be paying attention… and I strongly suspect they are not.

Some filtering Kool-Aid drinkers commenting on Whirlpool noted that there are not thousands of people on the street protesting the filter. Well, duh- isn’t the net the ultimate communications tool? If you can’t get a message out to internet users about internet censorship, you probably couldn’t organise a pissup in a pub. There’s nearly 100,000 signatures on GetUp’s anti-censorship petition, which exceeds the numbers claimed as Labor Party members.

This stoush is farrrrrrr from over. If KRudd & Conjob don’t back down on this one, it is undoubtedly going to go to the ballot box. It would be among the greatest disappointments in my life to have to see the Lieberals back in power after finally dispensing with them after some 11.5 years of HoWARd, but this issue is a major vote loser for Labor. Numerous users say this single issue will change their vote.

The same online mechanisms that were exploited to elect KRudd/Labor will assuredly be used to unseat them.



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