The office of Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has issued a statement which appears to imply the US State Department had merely asked the Federal Government for background information on its controversial internet filtering project.
On Monday News Ltd blog The Punch quoted US State Department spokesman Noel Clay on the filter project as saying it had “raised concerns on this matter with Australian officials”.
“The Australian and US Governments liaise regularly on a broad range of issues,” Conroy’s office said in a statement issued late this afternoon. “The US State department has asked for, and received, background information only on our policy.”
“There has been a lot of misinformation about the Government’s cyber-safety policy both locally and overseas and we are happy to provide the details.”
The comments come as Canberra in general has gone quiet on the controversial issue since Conroy on Monday night said he had not been aware of the US contact.
The office of Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith has not responded to a request for comment yesterday on the issue, while a spokesperson for his Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade would only say that the Australian and US governments liaised regularly on a broad range of issues, but that it would be inappropriate to discuss the detail.
Conroy’s Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy has not yet responded to a request for comment. Delimiter asked all three parties for details of who the US State Department had contacted, and whether and when Conroy and Smith had been informed of the contact.
Conroy’s statement tonight further repeated earlier statements that the filter policy was to require ISPs to block overseas content that had been deemed Refused Classification.
It also repeated the Minister’s reference to a January speech by US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, in which Clinton said that all societies recognised that free expression had limits. “This view is consistent with the Australian Government’s policy,” the statement from Conroy’s office said.
Image credit: Office of Stephen Conroy