Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Telstra having a bob each way on Conroy's national Internet filtering scheme

I have to say that I breathed a sigh of relief when I read that Telstra was not participating in the Rudd Government's live trial of a mandatory national ISP-level filtering scheme.

The Age reported last Tuesday:

AUSTRALIA'S largest internet service provider has said it will not participate in trials of the Federal Government's controversial national internet filter.

Telstra's BigPond said yesterday it would not be part of the pilot, which will run for six weeks from this month, citing "customer management issues".

It wouldn't say what the issues were but Telstra is believed to be worried about the effect on its reputation of any inconvenience to customers.

I was also rather surprised at this position because I had thought that Telstra would eventually come on board after it had wrung a few unrelated concessions from the federal government.
After all, that is its modus operandi.

However, it quickly became apparent that Telstra is actually running true to type and hedging its bet.
It also announced that it was; separately evaluating technology that allows the blocking of defined blacklists .

According to iNet News:

It is understood the Federal Government has invited some 400-plus ISPs to participate – so Telstra's decision is undoubtedly a blow to Broadband Minister Stephen Conroy's proposal.

The minister most concerned, Senator Stephen Conroy, must really be scratching for participants about now with only iNet and Optus definitely joining the trial and the sign-on date having past last Monday.

Let us hope that the version of an Internet filter which Telstra envisions is a voluntary opt-in plan, because anything else is likely to see a mass migration of its customer base.

The lighter side of Conroy's stubborn refusal to understand the severe limitations of his censorship plan is the fact that he has started a community consultation blog on the subject (which of course he intends to moderate to within an inch of its life whilst allowing pseudonym comment so that his staff may influence comment trends).

I decided to make a brief sober comment in relation to Minister Tanner's welcome post on this new blog and, surprise, surprise, I'm still waiting for my comment to be published.
Due to the time lag between lodging a comment and the same comment passing moderator's inspection, this clumsy attempt at e-consultation may yet wither on the vine.

APC's article on teh blog, The 10 sins of Senator Conroy the blogger, is here.


Anonymous said...

Keep going on Conroy's blog... and note they are after ideas on the process of consultation.

Believe it or not, some of the folk in Tanner's office have even been talking about metrics for responsiveness, including not only lag times, but also how responsive people INSIDE government are.

As for moderation, the possibility of non-government moderators (like a uni economics prof on an economics-related forum) has been discussed... even in the original 2007 AGIMO backgrounder.

clarencegirl said...

I appreciate your enthusiasm for the DBCDE consultation blog, but I cannot share it.
If the Minister's blog was about opening up debate, it might just slip by.
However, at some point when comments run in favour of a government policy/position either the Minister or DBCDE will be tempted to treat these individual posts as formal submissions.
As the blog allows anonymous or disguised comment it is inherently dishonest for the purpose of community consultation.
The moderation function also throws doubt on the process.
As does the fact that, unlike formal submissions to parliament, there is no legal protection for blog comments - which would have a chilling effect on legitimate and informed opinion being offered on many issues.
So I don't care how many uni profs may eventually moderate; this method of consultation is compromised from the start.
Which is something the public service may not have considered, but I'm sure minsterial advisors and political spin doctors did.
As formal signed submissions to government are accepted via e-mail already, this consultation blog is actually redundant.
Yesterday was my first and last participation in e-consultation for all of the aforementioned reasons.