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Correspondance on Censorship

About six months ago, I sent a letter to the Australian Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (yes, that’s a mouthful), Stephen Conroy, raising some concerns with the ISP filtering the Government was proposing.

A few weeks ago, I received a response. It’s overly long, filled with spin and cruft, but hey, that’s better than nothing. There’s still some questions unanswered though, and new ones raised, so here’s my response to the good senator. Fingers crossed for a faster reply.


To the Honourable Stephen Conroy,

Thank you for your letter dated 26 June 2008, replying to my own concerns sent to your office in January. I appreciate the extensive details on the current Government’s plans for cyber-safety, although I feel a couple of my concerns weren’t addressed. Namely:

  • The reasoning behind using an opt-out filter instead of an opt-in filter;
  • Acknowledgement that this filter will slow down the internet in Australia; and
  • Confirmation that it is the ACMA, not the Government, that determines what sites are filtered.

Secondly, I have some questions from what you outlined in your letter:

  • Who decides the participants in the Consultative Working Group and Youth Advisory Group?
  • What defines success and/or failure for the ISP filtering pilot?
  • Was there consultation with the industry about the feasibility of the filtering? Or is that consultation limited to how best to implement it?

Again, thank you for your response, and I look forward to the continuation of this discussion.

Kind regards,

Patrick Allan

Lachlan Hardy left a comment on 16 Jul, 2008:

Righteous work, my man!

John Barton left a comment on 17 Jul, 2008:

keep up the good work, anything that we the inter-tards can do to help?

pat left a comment on 17 Jul, 2008:

John: Since you’re in Melbourne and I’m currently not: go speak to him in person about the issue (admittedly, that’s a step I’ve not taken before, but should start doing it). He’s a Victorian Senator. Push for human responses, don’t let him get away with the political bullshit that these letters become.

For an online-only task: email him - refer to these letters if you like, but make sure it’s your own message at the core, even if it’s something as simple as “I’ve seen these issues discussed, and I feel they’re important. I look forward to hearing your response to the questions raised.”

Something like that, anyway. Or not. There’s no value in spamming him with exactly the same message over and over again.

And cc your local member - or forward him your original email, and write a little note explaining that he’s your member of parliament and you want to make sure he’s aware of your thoughts on this policy.