• Senator Conroy: the Internet is not special

    Apr 1 2010, 12:04

    In The Age this morning Senator Stephen Conroy, the Minister responsible for the Government’s plan to censor the Internet, repeated his mantra that the Internet is not special:

    Senator Conroy also brushed aside concerns from leading academics and technology companies that the plan to block a blacklist of “refused classification” (RC) websites for all Australians was an attempt to shoe-horn an offline classification model into a vastly different online world.

    “Why is the internet special?,” he asked, saying the net was “just a communication and distribution platform”.

    “This argument that the internet is some mystical creation that no laws should apply to, that is a recipe for anarchy and the wild west. I believe in a civil society and in a civil society people behave the same way in the physical world as they behave in the virtual world.”

    Newton said this was a “gross oversimplification”, pointing out that Australia Post and Telstra’s telephone network were also distribution platforms but were not censored.

    “Why should the internet, a distribution platform for all manner of intangibles, be censored as if it was a movie theatre? It makes no sense, the model doesn’t fit,” he said.

    Read more here.  The article quotes several other experts who disagree with Senator Conroy’s statement that the Internet is not special, including Associate Professor Bjorn Landfeldt, Greens Senator Scott Ludlam and EFA Vice-Chair Colin Jacobs.

    Senator Conroy also dismissed all criticism of his policy as “misleading information” spread by “an organised group in the online world”.  Greens Senator Scott Ludlam quite rightly debunked this assertion:

    “To characterise sustained opposition by individuals and groups as diverse as EFA, Google, SAGE, Yahoo, Save the Children, Reporters without Borders, Justice Kirby, Choice Magazine, leading online academics and industry associations and the United States Department of State as ‘an organised group in the online world’ is a remarkably naive misreading of how unpopular this proposal is,” Senator Ludlam said.

    Read more here.