Conroy denies filter circumvention offence planned


The office of Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has acknowledged the existence of a protected online forum used to discuss controversial issues about the internet filter, but has appeared to reject forum suggestions from departmental officials that the Government could make it an offence to promote methods of circumventing the filter.

The site is being hosted internally by the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE). In screenshots sighted by Delimiter today, ISPs such as Pacific Internet and Webshield — which will be required to implement the scheme if it goes ahead — discuss the filter with un-named departmental officials.

In the forum postings, officials from Conroy’s Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy wrote they were exploring whether the planned filter legislation needed to make the specifici promotion of means of circumventing the technology — by ISPs, for example — an offence.

In response to a question about whether it could confirm the option was being expored, Conroy’s office this afternoon issued a statement saying the Government “will not be creating any specific offences in relation to circumvention”.

Online rights advocacy group Electronic Frontiers Australia — which revealed the existence of the online forum within DBCDE today — immediately slammed its creation as a “secret club”, but Conroy’s office said it was one aspect of consultations with ISPs on the implementation of the ISP filter.

“All Australian ISPs were invited to participate,” the statement said.

The Minister’s office also responded to a variety of other contentious issues raised by the Department in the online forum.

On the issue of high-traffic sites hosting refused classification content not being listed on the planned blacklist of banned sites, Conroy’s statement said the Minister had stated publicly that this would be the case if the sites agreed to a process of either removing RC-rated content or blocking it from Australian users when identified through the public complaints process.

On the issue of blocking video games that are refused classification, Conroy’s office said the Government’s approach to filtering overseas-hosted online games would be developed by drawing on the consultation process around the potential R18+ classification for games.

On the issue of timing of the legislation, Conroy’s office said a public consultation on improved transparency measures for the filter had been held, and DBCDE was now working with other Government agencies to consider the submissions and examine whether the ideas could be used.

Once these and other consultation processes are complete, “the legislation will be introduced into Parliament,” Conroy’s office said.

The Minister’s full statement is as follows:

As previously stated the Department of Broadband Communications and the Digital Economy has been consulting with ISPs on the implementation of the ISP filtering component of the Government’s cyber-safety policy. These consultations have involved the use of an online forum to discuss various issues relating to implementation of ISP filtering. All Australian ISPs were invited to participate.

The ISP filtering legislation will be introduced into Parliament as soon as the consultations with industry including on the issue of high usage sites has been completed. The Minister has said publicly that URLs of high traffic sites will not be included on the RC content list if they agree to a process of either removing RC rated content or blocking it from Australian users when identified through the public complaints process.

The Department noted on the online forum that the Minister for Home Affairs released a consultation paper on whether there should be an R18+ category for computer games in Australia. The Government’s approach to filtering overseas-hosted online games will be developed drawing on this consultation process.

The Department also noted that Government’s policy is to introduce legislative amendments to require ISPs to accurately filter specific URLs of overseas hosted internet material which are listed on a Refused Classification (RC) Content list. The policy does not extend beyond the blocking of URLs on the RC Content list.

The legislation will detail the Government’s ISP filtering policy of requiring ISPs to filter a list of Refused Classification URLs. There are a number of filtering technologies available and ISPs will have the flexibility to choose the technology that best meets their network requirements.

The Government has acknowledged that a technically competent user could circumvent filtering. As the Minister has previously said it will not be an offence to circumvent filtering. The Government will not be creating any specific offences in relation to circumvention.

The policy aims to stop inadvertent access to RC content.

The Government is committed to the Cyber Safety policy, which includes ISP-level filtering of Refused Classification content.

A public consultation on improved transparency measures has been held and the Department is now working with other Government agencies to consider the submissions and examine whether the ideas can be used to enhance the proposed accountability and transparency measures.

Once these consultation processes are complete the legislation will be introduced into Parliament.

Image credit: Office of Stephen Conroy


  1. docx…. blurrrrrrk. docx should, and as far as I know, has been outlawed. Wouldn’t a pdf be better?

        • ROT13 as requested…

          Nf cerivbhfyl fgngrq gur Qrcnegzrag bs Oebnqonaq Pbzzhavpngvbaf naq gur Qvtvgny Rpbabzl unf orra pbafhygvat jvgu VFCf ba gur vzcyrzragngvba bs gur VFC svygrevat pbzcbarag bs gur Tbireazrag’f plore-fnsrgl cbyvpl. Gurfr pbafhygngvbaf unir vaibyirq gur hfr bs na bayvar sbehz gb qvfphff inevbhf vffhrf eryngvat gb vzcyrzragngvba bs VFC svygrevat. Nyy Nhfgenyvna VFCf jrer vaivgrq gb cnegvpvcngr.

          Gur VFC svygrevat yrtvfyngvba jvyy or vagebqhprq vagb Cneyvnzrag nf fbba nf gur pbafhygngvbaf jvgu vaqhfgel vapyhqvat ba gur vffhr bs uvtu hfntr fvgrf unf orra pbzcyrgrq. Gur Zvavfgre unf fnvq choyvpyl gung HEYf bs uvtu genssvp fvgrf jvyy abg or vapyhqrq ba gur EP pbagrag yvfg vs gurl nterr gb n cebprff bs rvgure erzbivat EP engrq pbagrag be oybpxvat vg sebz Nhfgenyvna hfref jura vqragvsvrq guebhtu gur choyvp pbzcynvagf cebprff.

          Gur Qrcnegzrag abgrq ba gur bayvar sbehz gung gur Zvavfgre sbe Ubzr Nssnvef eryrnfrq n pbafhygngvba cncre ba jurgure gurer fubhyq or na E18+ pngrtbel sbe pbzchgre tnzrf va Nhfgenyvn. Gur Tbireazrag’f nccebnpu gb svygrevat birefrnf-ubfgrq bayvar tnzrf jvyy or qrirybcrq qenjvat ba guvf pbafhygngvba cebprff.

          Gur Qrcnegzrag nyfb abgrq gung Tbireazrag’f cbyvpl vf gb vagebqhpr yrtvfyngvir nzraqzragf gb erdhver VFCf gb npphengryl svygre fcrpvsvp HEYf bs birefrnf ubfgrq vagrearg zngrevny juvpu ner yvfgrq ba n Ershfrq Pynffvsvpngvba (EP) Pbagrag yvfg. Gur cbyvpl qbrf abg rkgraq orlbaq gur oybpxvat bs HEYf ba gur EP Pbagrag yvfg.

          Gur yrtvfyngvba jvyy qrgnvy gur Tbireazrag’f VFC svygrevat cbyvpl bs erdhvevat VFCf gb svygre n yvfg bs Ershfrq Pynffvsvpngvba HEYf. Gurer ner n ahzore bs svygrevat grpuabybtvrf ninvynoyr naq VFCf jvyy unir gur syrkvovyvgl gb pubbfr gur grpuabybtl gung orfg zrrgf gurve argjbex erdhverzragf.

          Gur Tbireazrag unf npxabjyrqtrq gung n grpuavpnyyl pbzcrgrag hfre pbhyq pvephzirag svygrevat. Nf gur Zvavfgre unf cerivbhfyl fnvq vg jvyy abg or na bssrapr gb pvephzirag svygrevat. Gur Tbireazrag jvyy abg or perngvat nal fcrpvsvp bssraprf va eryngvba gb pvephziragvba.

          Gur cbyvpl nvzf gb fgbc vanqiregrag npprff gb EP pbagrag.

          Gur Tbireazrag vf pbzzvggrq gb gur Plore Fnsrgl cbyvpl, juvpu vapyhqrf VFC-yriry svygrevat bs Ershfrq Pynffvsvpngvba pbagrag.

          N choyvp pbafhygngvba ba vzcebirq genafcnerapl zrnfherf unf orra uryq naq gur Qrcnegzrag vf abj jbexvat jvgu bgure Tbireazrag ntrapvrf gb pbafvqre gur fhozvffvbaf naq rknzvar jurgure gur vqrnf pna or hfrq gb raunapr gur cebcbfrq nppbhagnovyvgl naq genafcnerapl zrnfherf.

          Bapr gurfr pbafhygngvba cebprffrf ner pbzcyrgr gur yrtvfyngvba jvyy or vagebqhprq vagb Cneyvnzrag.

      • You fixed it before I got here, but thanks for the plain text. Proprietary formats make life difficult.

  2. All Australian ISPs were invited? Funny, I don’t recall the ISP I work for getting an invitation.

  3. And the ISP I own has not been consulted. Even though we have contacted the department for information on several ocassions, they are just not interested.

    I guess with the hundreds and thousands of ISP’s in Australia, it a logistical nightmare for them to contact all the ISPs, right !.

    • Yeah far too impractical too try and contact all ISP’s in this huge country. It would probably required a computer or something.

      (Could we please get a professional government one day?)

  4. “All Australian ISPs were invited to participate,” – hey Mark Newton, it sounds like Conroy wants to hear from you now. Tho I guess that doesn’t mean he’ll listen, O’ who am I kidding, unless your the ACL or Webshield, he doesn’t listen to anyone.

    Other then that, it just seems that Conroy has admitted he’s wasting millions of tax payers dollars on something that can be easily circumvented and doesn’t work. Sounds like just about every other Rudd policy of late, so why hasn’t this one been dropped.

  5. What is it with the arrogance of these morons who aspire to power and to political office.

    I am not meaning to boast when I say that I am a qualified lawyer who has studied politics and philosophy and maintained a life long interest in these matters.

    Nevertheless, I do not have the arrogance to believe that, apart from preventing theft and violence to members of society that I should impose beyond that laws concerning morality.

    Stephen Conroy is under the misguided belief that the people of Australia have voted for him to decide on our behalf. If he believes this gives him a mandate to introduce a law like this he is an arrogant misinformed ghoul. Even though he has the legal power to do so, it does not mean that he actually has the support of a majority of Australians to do so. Even if he did have that support, to do so is inconsistent with the fundamental principles of liberal-democracy that render it essential that freedom of speech and freedom of information is available in a civil society. Such concepts are to be understood in accordance with the benchmark treatise of J S Mill’s in “On Liberty”.

    They say that hard cases make bad law, and the reason for this is that higher principles are railroaded when occasional individual cases arise where an undesirable outcome occurs. However, the higher principles are in place to protect an optimum system as a whole and to prevent the architecture of the system collapsing because of too much tinkering here and there.

    Conroy is a tinkerer. He is tinkering with the basic fundamentals of liberal-democracy. If freedom of speech and freedom of communication is an essential tenet of liberal-democracy, then an interference in these fundamental rights amounts to treason. He thinks he knows better than J S Mill and possibly a majority of Australians. He believes he is protecting us from ourselves, that we don’t know what is best for us and that if we do know that in any event he has the answers.

    He is merely a buffoon who has aspired to high political office and done so successfully. It only proves that he is a skilled networker who is capable of manipulating people to achieve a highly contested position. That is a qualification that has nothing to demonstrate the possession of superior moral judgment or a superior credentials to the creation of good public policy.

    He is just a person who was so determined to reach high public office that he did in fact achieve it.

    Otherwise, he is a widely despised little man who has made a reputation for himself as someone who is willing to ignore widespread public criticism of a very unpopular proposed policy of censorship, and to press ahead with it nonetheless.

    This is probably the same personal trait that enabled him to reach his position of high office within the Australian Labor Party.

    Thankfully, the Greens made history and deprived both parties of a majority. Such is the lack of faith in the Australian people in either of the major parties to govern competently and wisely.

    Mr Conroy, you may one day get your way implementing this online censorship program. However, you will only be remembered as an arrogant little man who thought he knew better than great philosophers and statespersons on this matter such as J S Mill and Hillary Clinton.

    I hope your demise in politics comes soon and that it is humiliating for you. You are a dangerous and arrogant little man buoyed up by an ignorant and therefore dangerous political party.

  6. i was told that the filter only plans to target simple webpage access, no other internet protocols will be targeted. i was also told that this amounts to only 20% of internet traffic, the rest belong to other protocols (i believe i remember this from the program “insight”), and i am now told that it will not be an offence to circumvent the filter.

    so we have somthing that….. targets 20% of internet traffic, tells us we cant do something and doesnt punish us if we do it anyway. WTF?

    if liquer stores followed conroys example, 20% of all liquer stores would not give alcohol to anyone under 18 but there would always be a way for a child to walk in and get a beer, and if one did, no punishment would apply. on top of that, the other 80% would be glad to hand a beer to a minor

    obviousely, we cant compare internet and liquer stores, but it does illustrate a point. the filter will not be able to do much good at all.

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