Stephen Conroy has today announced a humiliating backdown on his proposed Government-imposed Internet filter after five years of attempts to bully the industry.
Under the Telecommunications Act, law authorities in Australia have long had powers to request illegal sites be blocked.
The only thing new in what Labor has announced today is that it is walking away from yet another promise it took to the 2010 election.
In July 2010, Senator Stephen Conroy explicitly rejected the type of model he is now proposing. He told a press conference:
“We’re not prepared to trust big Internet companies [to block sites] whose sole basis of operation is profit motive. It’s not a model that has ever worked long term on a range of issues … We’re looking at the Internet filter issue and saying that material that is refused classified – material that you can’t see on TV, you can’t see in a newspaper, you can’t see it at the movies, it’s currently blocked already under exists legislation nine years old on Australian hosted websites.”
The Coalition’s opposition to Labor’s proposed filter were that it included sites not deemed illegal, it slowed the overall performance of the Internet, imposed significant and unnecessary costs on ISPs and ultimately will not work.
Unfortunately, rather than acknowledge that the Government simply got it wrong, Labor has abandoned its policy because it doesn’t have the numbers to get its policy through Parliament.