The Biggest Failing of Stephen Conroy

What is his biggest failing? Honestly, there is such a gigantic list of possible answers to this question, that any one of a dozen answers could quite easily be the “right” answer.

Is it his apparent complete lack of knowledge of the IT industry? I mean, naming Eric Schmidt as the “founder of Google”, and implicating that just because he made a statement to the New York Stock Exchange that Google “loves cash” is a justification for broadly attacking them about a range of issues that aren’t even vaguely related to internet filtering/censorship, shows massive contempt for the industry he is meant to be regulating in this country.

The fact that Sergey Brin and Larry Page founded Google as part of their postgraduate studies at Stanford University in 1996, and that as a company that answers ultimately to its shareholders, it needs to “make cash”, is apparently – at least in the constricted world and/or mind of Stephen Conroy – completely irrelevant.

Is it his adamant belief that his filter will be “100% accurate” in blocking inadvertent access to “dangerous material online”, when it has been statistically demonstrated that his proposed filter will make a miniscule difference to the ability of this online material to be downloaded? As stupid and irrelevant as his filter looks like being in the “defence” against such material, that too is not his biggest failing.

Is it his laughable attempt to try and look like he is making the entire blocking/filtering process seem like it will be more “transparent” by accepting submissions that the ACMA blacklist should be periodically reviewed by “someone like a retired judge”, yet still adamantly keep the list secret, completely free of public scrutiny? No, that’s not it either.

No, the biggest failing of Senator Stephen Conroy is a simple one – it is his complete inability to hear any opinion that is in any way contrary to his own opinion.

Think about it – how many interviews have you heard with him on the subject of mandatory ISP filtering? There’s been quite a few, and I have highlighted some of the technical, moral, and political implications this policy is fraught with on this site repeatedly in recent months.

Cast your mind back to any of those interviews, and ask yourself how many times someone presenting a contrary opinion has been interrupted, or talked over by Senator Conroy? There’s more than a few.

He is so pigheaded in his rabid determination to railroad this legislation through the Australian parliament, that anyone – ANYONE – who dares question his plan, must quite simply have their voice on the matter squashed, right there and then.

That’s attempted political censorship, right there.