Australia Finally Wins International Internet Award

I’ve been waiting years to say it, and finally I can – Australia is the recipient of an international internet award. Well, more specifically, an Australian is the recipient. Hhmmm, to be even more to the point, our Federal Minister of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy is the winner, and it’s probably an award he could do without.

Britain’s Internet Industry Awards, the ISPA’s, handed Conroy the award, with stiff competition that included the French president Nicolas Sarkozy and the European parliament.

The criteria for winning the award was for “recognis[ing] individuals or organisations that have upset the Internet industry and hampered its development.”

And with Senator Conroy and the current government supporting a form of internet filtering, even with huge opposition from not only the tech industry but everyday Aussies, it’s no surprise that he won.

People who have only give the debate a cursory glance are probably wondering what all the fuss is about. Surely, the idea of blocking child pornography and illegal file sharing sites is not a bad thing. On the face of it, you’d be right. It’s a great thing. These types of sites are a blight on the Internet and deserve to be deleted from the web once and for all, or at least blocked so nobody can access them.

But that isn’t the problem. There are two issues here – Conroy wants to create blacklist that blocks undesirable content, but he wants to keep it secret. Why? What gives him the right? We don’t work for him, he works for us, and in this case what is wrong with transparency?

But by far the most annoying thing for most people, from a purely functional point of view, is that there are quite a few experts who believe it will slow down the Internet, and that aside, the filtering process itself might be easy to get around.

This debate if far from over, but the Minister can at least pat himself on the back knowing he has gotten Australia on the international internet map, even if it is for all the wrong reasons.