Conroy goes unopposed in TV filtering debate

Possible opponents prevented from voicing their opinion on Channel 7 program, "Sunrise"

The vice-chair of the Electronic Frontiers Association has laughed off being snubbed by Channel 7's Sunrise program for a segment on net filtering with the communications minister, Senator Stephen Conroy.

Despite being invited to participate Geordie Guy told Computerworld Australia that he was asked not to come on to the show at the last minute due to a request from the minister.

"I got called by Sunrise yesterday asking to come on the show tomorrow morning [14 May], but at the last second it appears that Senator Conroy wanted to speak just by himself," he said.

Guy also tweeted the events as they unfolded.

"Was going to have a chat with Sen. Conroy tomorrow about #openinternet on Sunrise but it appears he would prefer to speak alone. Next time", he said, appending it with "at least I get a sleep in".

"Conroy is awesome. He's gone from last minute cancellations on #openinternet debates, to actually stopping the OTHER PARTY from debating," he tweeted later in the day.

In the segment, Sunrise hosts asked questions about ISP-level filtering to Senator Conroy, and what the scheme would entail. Along with general information Conroy has delivered on several occasions since the filter was announced, the minister also defended against claims by "people trying to mislead the Australian public".

"The most common mislead is about the speed," he said. "One organisation in fact wrote to hundreds of thousands of Australians saying 'we're gong to slow the Internet down by 87 per cent'.

"This is a complete lie. All the tests have shown that this is possible without any impact on users."

Conroy also affirmed a potential accountability mechanism flagged by the Government's Cyber Safety policy, in which an independent person would assess the ACMA blacklist and classification processes every six or 12 months.

"We're going to put forward a new mechanism of an independent person, perhaps a retired judge, who can every 6 or 12 months have a look at the list and say 'we think that everything that's on that list is appropriately on that list'," Conroy said. "We don't want a system set up that allows Stephen Conroy, Kevin Rudd or anybody else to be able to slip anything onto that list."

A spokesperson for the minister said the independent assessor would fall outside of an Internet Ombudsman under consideration by Kevin Rudd.

Computerworld Australia requested comment from Channel 7 and the Communications Minister regarding the segment, but did not receive a response at time of writing.

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Tags internet content filteringmandatory internet fiteringisp-level internet content filteringChannel Seven's SunriseSenator Stephen Conroy

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