Feeds

Oz government in filter paranoia meltdown

Just because they're out to get you, doesn't mean you're not deluded

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

In a performance punctuated with all the hallmarks of paranoia, Australian Communications Minister Stephen Conroy laid into internet giant Google earlier this week, suggesting that the approach taken by their chief executive, Eric Schmidt, is a "bit creepy".

Google hit back yesterday, saying that Conroy had singled it out as the poster boy for everything bad about the internet because it had stood up to the government's controversial policy on internet filtering.

Speaking before a Senate committee hearing late on Monday evening, Conroy described Google as having committed the "single greatest breach in the history of privacy" by deliberately collecting private wireless data while taking pictures for its "Street View" mapping service.

He also had sharp words for Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, claiming that the latter had a "complete disregard" for users' privacy. He went on to berate Zuckerburg, who, he said, broke up with a girlfriend and then set up a website containing all the photos from his yearbook so that he and his friends could rank the girls according to their looks.

However, it was for Google that Conroy reserved his greatest venom, accusing it of deliberately collecting private wireless data while taking pictures for its Street View mapping service. He said: "It was actually quite deliberate ... The computer program that collected it was designed to collect this information".

Challenged to say whether he disputed Google's own assertion that fragments of personal data had been gathered in error, he added: "Yes. I'm saying they wrote a piece of code designed to do it."

Google Australia head of engineering Alan Noble suggested that this was yet further evidence that relations between the world’s largest web company and Australia's communications minister had broken down entirely. He said: "Right now, he's decided that filtering's all about Google, for some reason.

"Singling out companies like Google or Facebook is distracting. It's not about Google, it's about you, me, all Australians."

Although Google had been talking with Senator Conroy about the proposed filtering policy for two years, these talks had recently collapsed. Noble explained: "Right now, no, I don't think he is listening."

In a further display of non-paranoid listening, Senator Conroy was also out and about explaining his point of view in an online interview on the Sydney Morning Herald’s Why on Earth? programme.

To a clearly incredulous interviewer, he explained that the filter would be "100% accurate", with "no under-blocking and no over-blocking" - and take "just one-seventieth of the blink of the eye". Google’s filtering policy was more wide-ranging than what the Australian government is proposing. What Google is saying is "trust us, we know best".

In response to a recent poll of 45,000 Australian citizens, that showed 96 per cent public opposition to the filter, Conroy complained of "an organised group in the online world ... spreading misinformation".

In an attempt to introduce some balance to the argument, he explained: "If people are going to spread the argument that the internet should be completely unregulated by governments, we don’t agree." This claim may not be entirely unrelated to a claim made in previous years, that Senator Conroy was later forced to withdraw, that those opposed to internet filtering were supporters of child porn.

Banning material that was refused classification is, he added, "not considered to be censorship of free speech". ®

Bootnote

According to Wikipedia, "Paranoia is a thought process heavily influenced by anxiety or fear, often to the point of irrationality and delusion. Paranoid thinking typically includes persecutory beliefs".

In the case of Conroy, who has been attacked in recent months by Yahoo, Google, the Australian opposition and the US State Department - not to mention members of his own civil service - over his plans for internet filtering, paranoia may be the least irrational way to go.

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Britain's housing crisis: What are we going to do about it?
Rent control: Better than bombs at destroying housing
Top beak: UK privacy law may be reconsidered because of social media
Rise of Twitter etc creates 'enormous challenges'
Ex US cybersecurity czar guilty in child sex abuse website case
Health and Human Services IT security chief headed online to share vile images
We need less U.S. in our WWW – Euro digital chief Steelie Neelie
EC moves to shift status quo at Internet Governance Forum
GCHQ protesters stick it to British spooks ... by drinking urine
Activists told NOT to snap pics of staff at the concrete doughnut
What do you mean, I have to POST a PHYSICAL CHEQUE to get my gun licence?
Stop bitching about firearms fees - we need computerisation
Oz biz regulator discovers shared servers in EPIC FACEPALM
'Not aware' that one IP can hold more than one Website
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?