Greens senator Scott Ludlam has delivered a blunt rejoinder to Communications Minister Stephen Conroy’s statement this week that Australians would stand up against a future broadening scope of the internet filtering project, saying: “We are standing up”.
In an interview with ABC television show 4 Corners broadcast on Monday night, Conroy had said Australians should stand up and say ‘just a minute’ if future Parliaments wanted to broaden the filter’s scope beyond Refused Classification material. “I’ll be one of them,” he said.
“The time for Australians to stand up is right now, and we are standing up,” Ludlam, who has been a strident opponent of the filter, said in the Senate this afternoon, adding that the Greens would definitely vote against the filter legislation when it was introduced.
Ludlam said in response to Australia “standing up” against the filter over the past several years, Conroy has spent that time “vilifying anybody who criticised the proposal — including digital rights organisation Electronic Frontiers Australia, Google and Reporters without Borders.
“And every time the government shoots the messenger, more messengers arise,” he said.
Ludlam said — although he has long been a critic of the filter — that he had held back from declaring the Greens’ voting intentions on the filter issue in “the faint hope” that when the legislation arrived, Conroy might have accommodated some of the concerns put to him by those against the project.
“But, on the back of the Four Corners piece the other night, it is pretty obvious that this is a false hope. So let me remove that ambiguity once and for all. If the government presents its mandatory internet censorship scheme to the parliament in the form that the minister has been describing to us, the Australian Greens will vote against it,” he said.
According to Ludlam, the filter proposal should not be judged against the scope of the current blacklist of banned sites administered by the Australian Communications and Media Authority, but against what future governments would do with the technology.
“The installation of a physical choke point on every internet service provider in the country, filtering against a growing secret list of material, ranging from illegal to unwanted, establishes hard-wired censorship architecture, which future governments will almost certainly be unwilling to dismantle,” he said.
The senator also reiterated a number of other points that he had previously claimed about the filter — that it would not do anything to protect children online and that it was technically unworkable.
Instead of pursuing a mandatory filter, Ludlam said, the Greens is proposing a three-fold strategy to tackle objectionable content online — education, law enforcement and tailored, optional filtering solutions. His full speech is available online.