The Labor government's plan to censor the Australian internet has entered the realm of farce. Despite scraping back into government by the barest of possible margins, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has returned without delay to trumpeting his doomed scheme to anybody that will listen.

As we have said (for years, now) the filter will not help parents, nor will it help police crack down on illegal material. It's a worst-of-all-worlds approach that is a case study on the fundamental incompatibility of a classification-based system with the internet. Fortunately, most people are able to see this - not just nerds and civil libertarians think the plan is crazy, but industry, academia, the media, all the other major political parties and the vast majority of internet users do as well. With even children's rights groups criticising the scheme, you'd think any government would love an excuse to tow this old scow of a policy out to sea and scuttle it.

As the article above notes, and we have pointed out recently, as things stand the filter has buckley's chance of making it through Parliament, given that it has no supporters beyond Senator Conroy party (and, truth be told, probably only a handful of his colleagues). This gives the latest forays on behalf of the filter the ridiculous air of a Don Quixote. After investing so much into defending the troubled scheme, Senator Conroy clearly cannot bring himself to let the poor thing die with dignity.  The ventilator is still pumping, but all the patient needs is a casket.

For a moment, some of us dared hope that this sorry affair would be behind us. It seemed reasonable, that  given how crucial it was to keeping Conroy himself in the Ministerial lifestyle to which he as become accustomed, he would focus on the National Broadband Network and forget about the filter. After all, he made a good effort, but the public support and numbers in Parliament aren't there. Accept defeat and move on. Alas, that is not to be, so the fight is not quite over.

As long as the filter is Government policy, we must maintain the rage; the possibility of floor-crossing Liberals, a double-dissolution election, or regulation-based solution can still keep us up at night. If that doesn't motivate you, then let the absurdity of the situation do it instead. Write or call the minister's office. Tell him what you really think - that the filter's a joke, that it damages the dignity of the government, that you want him to focus on making our internet experience better, not worse.

Even if the scheme looks unlikely to get up, we need to teach the government a lesson. Make sure that they and future governments will think twice before attempting something like this again.

Call: You can call the Minister's office on (03) 9650 1188.

Write:

Senator Stephen Conroy
Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy
Level 4, 4 Treasury Place
Melbourne Vic 3002

Email: [email protected]

12 comments

  1. *Facepalm*

    And to think that twerp Conroy would be given credit and pats on the back for the NBN getting the Independents on board...

    I hope the opposition appoint a decent Communications Minister, one who does more than only come out of the wood work in an election campaign.

    Maybe the rumours about Turnbull being Shadow Comms Minister might not be a bad thing?

    Comment by Akira Doe on 10 September 2010 at 13:33
  2. I called the office. No one "is available to discuss with me that is knowledgeable on the issue", I basically wanted to know why in the face of fairly irrefutable evidence and on the basis that ministers are supposed to represent the peoples best interests, continuing to waste tax money on this was somewhere between irresponsible and criminal, though no one 'suitable to discuss' was available. The office confirmed Senator Conroy has to respond officially if he is emailed at [email protected] though to be fair the girl answering the phone sounded like she was having a hell of a day.

    Comment by @bravocharlietv on 10 September 2010 at 15:16
    • Also I was advised "Gillard hasn't confirmed her cabinet, but it is likely the Senator is going to keep his position" - mmmm....

      Comment by @bravocharlietv on 10 September 2010 at 15:18
  3. Did anyone really think that the ALP managing to throw its carcass over the line first was going to do anything to change the rot at its heart? That any of those politicians would be any less insufferable after what has effectively been a vote of no confidence by the electorate? These politicians aren't thinking "What have we done wrong and how can we fix it?" they are thinking "When can we get back to business as usual?". The old phrase for the ALP drinking game was "We have a mandate from the people", the new phrase is "Most accountable Prime Minister/Government ever" - and I expect to be no less drunk moving forward.

    I don't mean to be that guy, but seriously: what good is petitioning Conroy (as a course of action)? We've all sent letters, written posts, faxed, made calls - and here we are, after electoral carnage for the ALP, and he's still persisting with this garbage? He won't see reason - I don't think he even can.

    As I have stated before, indulging halfwits like Conroy in their political machinations isn't the solution, the vulnerability of the internet to attack by government remains. What we need is end to end encryption, that would kill all their censorship and data retention fantasies in one fell swoop. We have the technical means at present to stamp out their foolishness once and for all - and that is *exactly* what we should do, not write to or phone a Communications Minister that won't even bother to listen.

    Why can't the EFA help companies, organisations and individuals secure their privacy against unwarranted government spying via *technical solutions* too? If the EFA is prepared to give circumvention instruction (for the filter) as previously stated, then why not go that extra step and nuke the possibility of filtering (and data retention) for all time? I would certainly support the EFA in that pursuit, and I suspect I wouldn't be alone in that.

    Comment by Stuart on 10 September 2010 at 15:47
  4. Argh. Paranoia, ignorance, and ambition... what a destructive combination.

    How many times have you accidently stumbled across illegal online content that you wish was invisible inside Australia?

    Do you realise that you can restrict your browser settings yourself? install free nanny software? ask your ISP to apply their safe filter to your internet connection? report specific websites of concern to the authorities for removal and prosecution?

    Do you realise that most illegal online content isn't shared via websites anyway?

    Also... 'Five Ways Around The Filter In Two MInutes' http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8hWDRmfN2o

    Comment by @blamer on 10 September 2010 at 16:10
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    It's probably best to use this site for contact details:

    http://www.aph.gov.au/Senate/Senators/homepages/senators.asp?id=3L6

    That has the Canberra office, the electorate office and the secondary
    Melbourne office (which is the number you've listed).

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    Comment by Ben McGinnes on 10 September 2010 at 22:29
  6. Sorry I didn't reply sooner, your new comment notification system doesn't appear to work for me.

    I'm not saying political activism is wrong, I'm saying that I think that we've gotten all we are going to get out of it in this instance (and I'll be delighted if I'm found to be wrong about that - we all want the filter dead). I'm also saying it's not the *only* thing - other options are open to us.

    I disagree that Conroy's reputation is in any way tarnished *amongst his peers* (where it matters). Conroy is loved as a star player within the ALP, whereas someone like Kate Lundy is treated like dirt - the criteria for esteem (and the support, privileges and influence that go with that) within the party is diametrically opposite what it is in the public. They love Conroy largely for the reasons we hate him.

    In regards to the second point, my assertion stands: the internet is vulnerable to attack from government, and that is a problem. That gap in the security needs to be plugged. I'm not saying that it is easy, or can be done quickly, but ultimately it is the course of action that will deliver your goals. The government is always going to want to erode our rights, the extremist puritans are always going to want to dictate to and censor us - if the means to permanently render them impotent exists, then we should pursue those means. We can quibble with their plans, or we can drop an A-bomb on their entire capability to interfere - I propose the latter.

    Comment by Stuart on 11 September 2010 at 11:06
  7. Well, that will speed the ALP from office. I don't think Joo-lee-ah has ever bothered to list Conroy's dubious "achievements".
    [1] He ruined the NBN, his $30 million tender scheme was a complete failure (Rudd had to step in and fix it for him).
    [2] He was caught accepting bribes or gifts from TV network owners, after giving them hundreds of millions of tax payer dollars.
    [3] He still hasn't been able to switch Australia from analog to digital TV.
    [4] He has disobeyed orders from Parliament to produce reports and figures which he had in his possession.
    [5] He has refused to show HIS OWN PARTY MEMBERS the contents of reports he had in his possession, but showed them to his religious "friends".
    [6] He was outwitted by his toddler who locked him out of his own iphone.

    Asking Conroy to help run a Government is like asking Ivan Milat to help run a Backpacker Hostel. Abbott must be doing a little jig right about now.

    Comment by Womp on 12 September 2010 at 12:41
  8. "Write or call the minister's office. Tell him what you really think"

    or her. Please don't assume all ministers are men. k thnx.

    Comment by Lordy on 14 September 2010 at 09:32
    • The Minster referred to is Senator Stephen Conroy.

      Comment by efa_oz on 14 September 2010 at 10:19
      • Ah, right you are.
        I was under the impression that your article was urging one to write to ones local mp not to Conroy specifically. I presume he would prefer he as a pronoun.
        Sorry 'bout that. As you were.

        Comment by Lordy on 14 September 2010 at 16:42