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Monday, 23 March 2009

Aussie govt to monitor blogs

Interesting NBR article... Australia’s controversial DBCDE is to start monitoring blogs, including

Chris Keall | Monday March 23 2009 - 07:33am
ISP filtering critic Whirlpool, for mentions of itself – but the government says it’s all innocent.

A tender put out by The Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE) asks media monitoring of print, plus websites, for mentions of its name, reports TechWired Australia.

Alarm bells were sounded by Australian privacy critics when the tender used the phrase “blogs such as Whirlpool.”

The Whirlpool site has around 277,555 members, and its community-generated content frequently includes swipes at government policy, along with many articles rating broadband service.

Whirlpool posts have been frequently of the government’s ISP filtering plan (under which six ISP’s are trialling a content blocking system) and the tender for the national broadband network (NBN) – the two key projects being pursued by Communications and IT minister Stephen Conroy, whom the DBCDE comes under.

The move comes just as Senator Conroy had praised the Singapore government for recently halting its monitoring of blogs.

A spokesman for Senator Conroy’s office downplayed the development, telling The Melbourne Age it was "only natural" that the tender include services for monitoring relevant blogs:

"Whirlpool is a long-established online platform for news and information covering a wide range of topics across the telecommunications sector," the spokesman said. "It and other websites provide valuable insight into the industries in which we work."

Sunday’s revelation about the monitoring tender comes at a bad time for Senator Conroy, already under pressure after the DBCDE’s alleged blacklist of banned sites was leaked on Friday.

The National-led government has ruled out any ISP filtering here.

"We have been following the internet filtering debate in Australia but have no plans to introduce something similar here," Communications and IT minister Steven Joyce tells NBR.

"The technology for internet filtering causes delays for all internet users. And unfortunately those who are determined to get around any filter will find a way to do so. Our view is that educating kids and parents about being safe on the internet is the best way of tackling the problem."

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