Gov't doesn't trust 'internet companies', says Conroy

During a press event at NBN HQ in Sydney, Conroy was asked whether the classification system for online content should be different from that for other mediums such as newspapers or television

The Federal Government doesn't trust large internet companies -- which he said were solely interested in profit -- to regulate their own sector, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said yesterday in response to questions about the Government's mandatory internet filter policy.

At a press event at the headquarters of the National Broadband Network headquarters in Sydney, Conroy was asked whether the classification system for online content should be different from that for other mediums such as newspapers or television.

"It's a communications system. It's not magic. I know there are people who like to give it magical properties, net utopians think that it should be completely unregulated," Conroy said. "This government and many other governments aruond the world don't accept that argument."

"We're not prepared to trust big internet companies whose sole basis of operation is profit motive, it's not a model that has ever worked long term on a range of issues ... take the privacy debate, where some companies say trust us. Unfortunately that doesn't seem to have worked out too well."

Conroy has been involved in several high-profile stoushes with internet companies in Australia. For example, earlier this year the Minister described Google's inadvertent collection of Wi-Fi payload data by its Street View cars as "possibly the largest privacy breach in history across Western democracies".

And in March 2009 Conroy attacked broadband provider iiNet's defence in its Federal Court case against the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft as something which "belongs in a Yes, Minister episode", spurring claims he had potentially prejudiced the case -- which iiNet eventually won.

Yesterday Conroy said of the filter that fundamentally the Government didn't believe that material which is refused classification under Australian law -- "that you can't see on TV, that you can't see in the newspaper, that you can't watch it at the movies" -- should available online, and that was the basis of the Government's filter policy.

The event yesterday was held to announce new rollout locations around Australia for the National Broadband Network. But Conroy has also scheduled another press event this morning at 10AM to "make an announcement" regarding the Government's Cyber-Safety policy -- which includes the filter policy.

The news comes as both the Opposition and the Greens have stepped up their attacks on the controversial filter policy, with the Joint Select Committee on Cyber-Safety kicking off yesterday in Federal Parliament.

Greens Communications Spokesperson Scott Ludlam said yesterday that new Prime Minister Julia Gillard should not have backed the filter policy publicly as she did this week without hearing the evidence from those presenting before the committee.

"The friendless net filter proposal is one policy that the ALP will probably regret taking into the 2010 election. There is still time to work with industry, online advocacy groups, child protection groups and other political parties to adopt a truly evidence based approach," he said.

And Liberal MP Alex Hawke described Labor's pursuit of the filter policy as "bloody minded".

The man to the left of Conroy in the video is NBN Co CEO Mike Quigley. Video taken by Jenna Pitcher.

Tags Stephen Conroyinternet filteringclean feed

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Renai LeMay

Good Gear Guide


mike tayla


The public do not trust the government... RC is not all illegal, and until you concede this point and only censor ILLEGAL materials, the government cannot be trusted. People have used these big internet companies since their inception, and have fair more trust than any government could muster with their continuous lies, spin and removal of freedoms.

Sorry conroy..



I put more trust in the internet companies over this gimp called Conroy!.



And we don't trust you Conroy. Liar.

This government is just the same, but now the pig just has a red wig.

Chris Schneider


Stephen has no idea of what he is talking about when it comes to the internet and black hats around the world have already vowed to hack the filter and install major government websites as blocked material. The filter will not work and will cost mega millions to secure on a daily basis. It's all good though because as soon as Stephen introduces he next idea storing all internet data (really not feasible but no one can tell this moron that) our company and many like us will buy VPN access off shore and NONE of his policies will apply. The guy is the biggest moron in public life I'm sure Lindsay Lohan could do a better job! Wake up Stephen.

Matthew W


Oh, the lunacy of Conroy. Who would have thought businesses exist to make profits? Glad he’s not the finance minister. And he trots out the old line about those against his internet censorship plan as wanting a “completely unregulated” internet, but then conveniently doesn’t mention that federal laws already apply to the internet and it is already policed and people are brought before courts for crimes committed on the internet. When has anyone said in this debate that we should get rid of those laws?

One can also wonder how in hell our beloved minister expects companies to comply with internet censorship and data retention policies when he keeps slaging them off in the public arena.



When the A.G.'s department start discussing capturing people's browsing history and who the send and receive email to, under NDAs with the ISPs, nor will the government listen to experts on networking and then Internet as to why the filter won't achieve the goals the Government believe it will, then the Government is far less trustworthy than companies like Google etc.



I think im old enough to decide what i can and cant watch for myself, and seeing as there is no underage kids in my household i despise the idea of having a mandatory filter, even if there was kids i would be more than capable of filtering what i want and dont want them to see. Come election time vote these clowns out of the government.



As noted by other posters, WE DO NOT TRUST YOU CONROY. And as much as you think you're the be and end all, it's our damned opinion which matters, not yours...

As for privacy snafu's, how about the AG's proposing retaining our email and browsing records Conjob??

This guy couldn't find his ass with both hands and a GPS.



I still won't be voting Labor until this filter is scrapped entirely, rather than delayed.



The real tragedy here isn't Conroy's malignant personality, it's that he'll have stocked NBNco with his mates, who will just be toxic clones of him. We might be able to flush him down the bowl at the election, but we aren't be going to see the back of his flunkies for a long time yet.



Conroy would have been the kid everyone hated at school and rightly so. I really hope someone puts their foot in his behind and sends him packing. His anti google stance is not doing him any favours and I dont need to mention how bad the filter is.



Interesting that he reserves his lack of trust for the new media, whilst allowing the old to 'self regulate' with questionable results ie; the kerfuffle with John Laws and the incitement to violence in Cronulla.



So the government does not trust internet company to self regulate but it trusts itself to self- regulate, it trusts petroleum companies, it trusts banks - me smell TAX. As long as it Taxes you it trusts you but if it's not taxed the government does not trust you. But in the end what the government is really saying is that it does not trust it's own citizens. Like most people in the work force - they never trust their bosses and the government does not trust it's boss- the people of Australia so it wants to take that right away so that it becomes the boss.



"A true patriot will defend his country against all enemies including it's own government"

[Thomas Jefferson]

"Censorship reflects a society's lack of confidence in itself. It is the hallmark of an authoritarian regime."

[U.S. Justice Potter Stewart]

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