Federal communications and IT minister Stephen Conroy has admitted public concern about the possibility of ACMA's Internet filtering blacklist “creeping” to include legal content Web sites is justified, but stopped short of guaranteeing the government will be able to prevent it.
“The concept of creep is a legitimate political debate,” Conroy said.
Public concern has surfaced about the scope of the URL blacklist, which contains URLs to ordinary content like gambling and poker sites.
The big question is where will the blacklist end if it can be added to without public consultation or review.
“If people say it might go further, that is a legitimate point to raise. Am I going to agree with what [Senator] Steve Fielding might want banned? Absolutely not.”
Speaking at the opening of networking vendor Cisco's Sydney customer briefing centre, Conroy remained coy on whether the blacklist will creep to include more “legal” content, instead he blamed the parliamentary process for the possibility of the list expanding beyond content already classified as inappropriate for general consumption.
“The parliament of Australia is made up of elected representatives of the people of Australia and if the parliament decides it wants to go an extra step, that's what the parliament does,” he said, adding people have the chance to “toss us out if they don't like what we do or they don't like what somebody else does”.
Conroy said because of the creep argument there are people who's position on the technology is that the technology “won't make you ban it”.
“This is just not the case and the trial, in my view, will prove you can block 10,000 URLs without any over-blocking at all,” he said. “I believe the technology is there.”
Regarding the legality of Internet gambling and ACMA's blacklist, Conroy said he does not deal with gambling as it is a separate Act of parliament, but a company like Betfair was on the list because some of its activities, like “in race” betting, are not allowed under Australian law.
“Now, do I personally think that was a good law passed by John Howard previously? I'm a little more sceptical about the integrity of a sporting event if you move down that [in match gambling] path.
“I'm actually not a fan of Internet gambling that takes people to overseas Internet sites rather than Australian ones.”