The following is a partial transcript of this ABC audio file. This file contains an interview with the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy. The interviewer is John Barron of ABC NewsRadio. The interview was conducted on Monday, December 31, 2007. If you spot an error or omission in this transcript, please post a comment.
John Barron (00:00): Now this is something that's been talked about over the years - blacklist filtering at the ISP-level. Why do you think it will work?
Senator Stephen Conroy (00:07): At the moment we view this as an extra safeguard. Wer'e not suggesting for a moment that this is the only thing that the Government should be doing. We have already seen home-based filtering being championed by the previous government, we need education campaigns and we need increased policing. But, as the 16 year old who wasn't an expert computer hacker, demonstrated he could disable the home-based filters in 30 minutes. This is something that parents understand that there is parental responsibility necessary but the Rudd government was elected on a policy that we will be working with the industry to introduce mandatory ISP filtering, so that sites that involve child pornography and truly violent material can be blocked at an ISP-level.
Barron (01:08): How would that work? What would the technology be? Do you need to know the web address of all of these nasty sites and to keep updating the list as new ones emerge - otherwise they will get through?
Conroy (01:17): ACMA will have responsibility. They are the content regulator they will have responsibility for updating and maintaining this list. It will be coordinating with international agencies and other bodies that actually already have similar style lists and this information will be provided to the ISPs. But as I said the people who peddle this kind of filth are very smart individuals and they are always seeking to change their names and addresses so this is something we need constant vigilence on.
Barron (01:53): What do you say Minister to those that say that as soon as you give a government authority the power to tell internet service providers "you gotta block these websites", well that is one step towards the kind of internet you have in Saudi Arabia and China. Freedom of speech is dead.
Conroy (02:10): Well, we make no apology for wanting to block sites that contain child pornography and truly violent material that is out there. If looking at child pornography is defined a free speech then we are going to take issue with that. We are committed to working with the industry. We are going to fund a trial to see how this can work. We've said that we will find the best possible way to work with the industry to ensure that this disrupts the world of the internet is as minimal a way as possible. But people shouldn't confuse peddling child pornography with freedom of speech.
Barron (02:52): In past years Stephen Conroy the then Howard Government was accused of pandering to conservative Senator Brian Harradine. Is this you just doing the same to secure Steve Fieldings vote now.
Conroy (03:06): Well this is a policy we've been championing for the last two years. We went to the election campaigning on this policy. There are a whole variety of other areas in terms of cyber-safety that Kevin Rudd campaigned on during the election campaign and this is a policy we were elected to implement.
Barron (03:27): Is there a danger at the ISP-level and the PC-level that parents who ultimately would have to be greatest filter for what their children do and do not see on the Internet will just sort of - a bit like a pool fence - will think that's taken care of I don't have to worry about it.
Conroy (03:44): Well that's why we've got to ensure that we have educational programs for both parents and children. As I have said, this is not in anyway to replace parental supervision and parental education. We hope to promote and continue to promote these education aspects and we want to work with the industry on the best way to do that.
So, we are not for the moment suggesting that parents should step back and simply now say: "Right, that's fixed it", because this isn't the case. The people who peddle this sort of filth are very smart individuals. They spend their time trying to weedle away into people's homes and push this material onto people. So, we are very supportive of educational programs as well as this mandatory ISP filtering as a way to give an extra level of protection.
Barron (04:37): And do you think the industry will be receptive to this - the onus being put onto the ISPs?
Conroy (04:41): Well, I think that they will have some concerns and that is why we are committed to working with them, to work through the details of this. As I said there is a trial we will be conducting here in Australia. Overseas there are a number of countries that have got similar type systems: BT in the UK, a couple of Scandanavian countries and other countries in Europe that are actually working with this model. So we wil; be keen to be work with industry so that we can introduce this way in the least disruptive way to the world of the Internet.
Barron (05:17): Many thanks indeed for your time this morning.
Conroy (05:19): Thanks very much.
Barron: Communications Minister Stephen Conroy joining us on NewsRadio this morning.. Well let's find out how receptive industry is likely to be. Peter Coroneos from the Australian Internet Industry Association is with us. Peter, good morning....Interview continues with Peter Coroneos. Transcript ommitted, refer to audio for more information.