Comms Minister Stephen Conroy's latest attack is on Electronic Frontiers Australia, who he has accused of deliberately misleading the public about his internet filter scheme.
Journalistic freedom organisation Reporters without Borders on Friday released what it called its ‘Enemies of the Internet’ report, noting it was concerned that online censorship may enter the nation through the filtering project driven by Conroy.
“While one could possibly excuse Reporters without Borders for their ignorance of the government’s policy, the same cannot be said of the local … Electronic Frontiers Australia, who through Colin Jacobs, chairman Nic Suzor and board member Geordie Guy, have run a campaign to deliberately mislead the Australian public,” Conroy said in the Senate today, after publicly lambasting the report yesterday.
The EFA has published its own response to Conroy, saying it was still awaiting a solid defence of the filter policy that references evidence that the filter would help Australian children.
“They have argued there is no child abuse material traded on the open internet,” said Conroy today. “Yet at the latest count, there were 355 child abuse URLs on the [Australian Communications and Media Authority] blacklist and therefore on the open internet.”
Conroy also said the EFA had argued that filtering would slow the internet and result in overblocking, despite what he said was the Government’s independent report into the filtering plan.
Last week Shadow treasurer Joe Hockey launched an attack on the filtering scheme, in one of the first cases of a senior Opposition figure coming out publicly against the controversial policy.
“What we have in the government’s Internet filtering proposals is a scheme that is likely to be unworkable in practice. But more perniciously it is a scheme that will create the infrastructure for government censorship on a broader scale,” he said.
But Conroy wasn’t impressed.
“In 1999, the previous government — including Mr Hockey — supported the bill to prevent refused classification content from being hosted on Australian websites,” he told the Senate, appearing to imply that Hockey’s stance last week was hypocritical.
The filter legislation was slated to be introduced into the Federal Parliament this week, but the Government appears to be struggling to get its legislation through the Senate, due to what both the Government and the Greens have claimed is obstructionism by the Opposition.
Greens Senator Scott Ludlam has claimed the filter legislation will have to wait until after the next Federal election.