Letter to Conroy

Dear Senator Conroy,

By way of introduction I am a systems administrator for a high-performance computing centre critical for researchers in your state. You may also remember me working on IT support for the Victorian Parliamentary Labor Party for a number of years.

I am writing to you concerning the proposed "mandatory 'clean feed' internet service" which you expressed last year in "Labor's Plan for Cyber-safety".

Adult Australians have the cognitive ability to determine for themselves what constitutes "objectionable material". They do not require the State to predetermine this for them - and they certainly do not need a technology that can be expanded to include what is currently not objectionable material in a future date under an even more malicious government.

This policy is more reactionary than anything even suggested by the previous Howard government. It puts Labor to the far right of the Liberal Party on this issue.

The idea of spending tens of millions of dollars to cripple Australian internet speeds and increase consumer costs to implement a highly ineffective technical solution for a policy that is morally unsound in the first instance is causing significant disquiet among IT professionals and civil libertarians.

Perhaps you are unaware of the degree of this disquiet, so you will excuse me if I spell it out in very blunt terms. This is a policy that, if implemented, will cause Labor to lose an entire generation of supporters in the both the IT industry and among Internet users. Tens of thousands of individuals will change their vote in the next Federal election assuming the Coalition continues with a modern, principled and tech-savvy leader.

Whilst I am sure that there will be no threat to your own position at the top of the Victorian Senate ticket due to factional influence, this policy is a threat to the Rudd Labor government. I urge you, in the strongest terms, to abandon it. Concentrate instead on improving Internet access to Australians and making it less expensive, rather than slowing it down and increasing the consumer price with the desire to impose your own moral view on everyone else.

Yours sincerely,

Lev Lafayette
1/74 Brighton Rd
Ripponlea VIC 3185

cc Michael Danby, MHR Melbourne Ports
cc Malcom Turnbull, Leader of the Federal Opposition

Following up Message to the Socialist Left Policy Discussion Group

"Useless, Inefficient, Ineffectual".. but very damaging

Now unless you've been utterly inattentive there's this crazy idea from our Communications Minister to do some packet filtering to block not just illegal content but also inappropriate content, whatever that is supposed to mean. And this idea is mandatory, although the minister seems to be seriously confused about this at times.


Electronic Frontiers Australia, not for the first time, have gone out of their way to explain in some detail why this simply is the wrong policy and the wrong procedure.


The nations largest ISPs have gone out of their way to explain how utterly "useless, inefficient and ineffectual" (their words) this is.


Now whilst the proposal is morally and technically dubious, I would request that people consider the economic damage that this proposal would cause. Check out the claim made in the ACMA report (chapter 4, at the top of page 45 or p53 in the PDF)


"The scope exhibited by the filter products showed the following characteristics:
? all are capable of filtering HTTP traffic and five of the six products are capable of filtering HTTPS traffic;

The proposal is about cracking HTTPS traffic and analysing the content for "inappropriate" or illegal material.

In the world of IT security this is usually referred to by a different name: a man-in-the-middle attack.

Assuming for the moment that the report is correct and these filtering products can do what the government report claims, this is the end of all online commercial transactions.

If they can filter HTTPS traffic it means that every ISP in this country will be required to run software which is capable of intercepting every banking and credit card transaction routed through Australia.

How secure would that be? Not very.

Congratulations Minister, you've just destroyed the pitiful remains of the Australian economy.