Aussie Minister: “I Never Wanted to Filter P2P”

Broadband Minister Stephen Conroy responds to criticisms that the proposed “mandatory voluntary” Internet filter would try to block BitTorrent and other P2P programs, though is a complete reversal from earlier statements.

Opposition to Australian Broadband Minister Stephen Conroy’s plan for a “mandatory voluntary ” scheme of filtering the Internet to “protect the children” is taking another beating these days with criticism from the Green Party over his refusal to release data on what proportion of illegal net traffic the government’s filter would actually block.

In Senate Question Time last week, Greens Communications Spokesperson Senator Scott Ludlam asked Minister Conroy to what degree his plan would filter BitTorrent and P2P traffic. For after all, it was he who said last December that “technology that filters P2P and BitTorrent traffic does exist and it is anticipated that the effectiveness of this will be tested in the live pilot trial.”

Minister Conroy, apparently suffering from a case of amnesia, denied any pans to filter file-sharing traffic.

“As Senator Ludlam well knows, there has never been a suggestion by this government that peer-to-peer traffic would or could be blocked by our filter. It has never been suggested. So for you to continue to make the suggestion that we are attempting to do that just misleads the chamber and the Australian public, Senator Ludlam, and you know better than that. We are not attempting to suggest that the filter can capture peer-to-peer traffic,” he said.

Senator Ludlam said the Minister was either trying to hide some quiet goalpost-shifting or was simply unaware he had contradicted himself.

“Maybe the minister doesn’t read his own blog,” Senator Ludlam suggested.

He also said that if that’s the case then the whole “mandatory voluntary” scheme is more pointless than ever.

“We received another vivid demonstration yesterday of why people are right to be suspicious of this pointless waste of $44 million,” Senator Ludlam said.

“The Greens support measures that will achieve better protection for children from objectionable online material, but Minister Conroy reminded us again that the mandatory internet filtering scheme started out as ill-conceived and has just gone downhill from there.”

Stay tuned.

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