Filter: Conroy to debate EFA, Newton tonight


Communications Minister Stephen Conroy will hit the radio airwaves live tonight to debate the Government’s controversial internet filtering project with dissenters such as outspoken Internode engineer Mark Newton.

The politician will appear on the ABC’s Australia Talks program at 6PM (AEDT). The show will be chaired by ABC presenter Paul Barclay. Also appearing will be Electronic Frontiers Australia vice president Colin Jacobs, UNSW journalism professor Catharine Lumby, Internode’s Mark Newton and Michael Grace, regional chief for internet filtering company Netsweeper.

Jacobs and Newton are both seen as leaders in the movement opposing the filter, while Lumby has conducted research on the subject. The adversarial relationship between Conroy and the EFA has run white hot at times.

For example, just several weeks ago, the minister accused the leaders of the EFA of deliberately misleading the public in its campaign against the filtering project.
At the time, journalistic freedom organisation Reporters without Borders had released what it called its ‘Enemies of the Internet’ report, noting it was concerned that online censorship may enter the nation through the filtering project driven by Conroy.

“While one could possibly excuse Reporters without Borders for their ignorance of the government’s policy, the same cannot be said of the local … Electronic Frontiers Australia, who through Colin Jacobs, chairman Nic Suzor and board member Geordie Guy, have run a campaign to deliberately mislead the Australian public,” Conroy said in the Senate.

In return, the EFA described Conroy’s attack as “extraordinary”.

Just last week, Newton mocked what he called Conroy’s “hissy fit”, publishing a satirical imagined conversation between Jacobs and Conroy in which the minister repeats previously published policy statements.

The news comes as the level of public debate about the filter continues to build. This morning the Australian blog the Punch reported US Government officials had raised concerns about the filter plans directly with the Australian Government.

Image credit: Office of Stephen Conroy


  1. Damn. I’m going to miss that.

    Although, I imagine it’ll be little more than Conroy repeating everything he’s said since he first announced the policy, being totally close-minded to the idea that it just won’t work and shouting down anyone that speaks out against him.

    Hopefully, the anti-filter argument will be consice, logical and plain spoken enough to get anyone that doesn’t quite understand what’s going to happen on side and force the government to go away and come up with a better way to stop child pornography.

    • Given Conroy’s past performances, I don’t expect him to do much more than repeat his previous messages — I haven’t seen him make new arguments or engage very constructively on the filter issue. In general, it seems that Rudd has all of his ministers on a pretty short leash.

      • It’s a shame Rudd doesn’t actually trust his own ministers to manage their portfolios without his intervention. That said, maybe it’s because he knows that they’re all largely clueless as to what they’re administering and doesn’t want them running off doing things that are too stupid for his liking.

        In either case, there is no logical argument for mandatory internet filtering.

        What we need to do is stop them using the “If you’re against the filter, youi’re pro child-porn” line. As outrageous as it is, it’s that kind of stuff that subdues the resistence by the general public to this sorts of measures.

  2. This could actually get interesting if Colin Jacobs drills into Conroy about where did EFA mislead the public. Oh, who am I kidding. I am sure he will redirect whatever criticism to the other party supporting illegal content.

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