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Not So New Liberals


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Date: Wed, 15 Sep 2010 22:21:33 +1000

Recently your blogger offered his humble opinion that Malcolm Turnbull might be an effective shadow Communications and IT spokesman.

Note: This was one of several posts about The Great Internet Rabbit-proof Fence -- Click here to return to the Index page.

This previous blog brought a quick response from Armidale Poet and historian, Dan Byrnes, who has a keen interest in the Internet and broadband. And as someone who actually lives in Tony Windsor's electorate, he has a lot to say about IT and Communications in the region. He took some time off from working on a history project to pen this quick reply, and to accuse your humble blogger of being too charitable about the new Liberal spokesman for communications:

Dear Editor on 15-9-2010,

Can I tell you that in the IT world, it's as though all we can say is that the Liberal Party is now in lockstep with the Neanderthals. If, as the media tells us, Malcolm Turnbull is now to accept a brief as shadow communications minister to destroy Labor's plans for the National Broadband Network (NBN). Turnbull's brief is to turn a flame-thrower on good blue cable, nationally, and sell the trashed product to ignorant voters annoyed by our outcomes due to a hung parliament situation.

To slash-and-burn his way through my and your better accessing of the greatest innovation in human communication media since the invention of the printing press, electricity, the telephone, radio, recording devices, movies, TV, take your pick --- the Internet.

No, we're Australian Liberal voters, we don't do that sort of thing. (Communicate skilfully, that is.) More so, the Liberals don't dig digital. They just, don't get it.

Here's the rub about "knowledge of IT". Turnbull has been on the board of a noted IT outfit, OzEmail, an internet service provider. But even this proximity to an IT pioneer in Australia did not teach him how to read headers in an e-mail. For when Turnbull got faked e-mails from one Godwin Gretch, neither he nor his staff, as far as we know, knew enough to examine the headers of Gretch's e-mails to see if they were legitimate.

Examining those e-mail headers would let one know if the pathways the e-mail had taken were faked, fabricated, mucked-about with (as with most spam), or seemed legitimate, that is, logical. If there were not any headers evident, then the seeming e-mail wasn't in fact e-mail, and if so, was probably a document faked to look like e-mail. But to date, anyone knowing these facts of the Gretch affair are spilling no beans.

Meaning, it's clear that few on the Liberal side of politics know enough about IT to be able to comment sensibly on IT. So why should we listen to anything at all they say about the NBN?

Tony Abbot - a real true-blue would-be if he could-be - confessed to the 7.30 Report that he was no tech-head, he didn't want to get involved in any deep discussions about his party's let's ditch the NBN theory. Sadly true, he sure ain't no tech-head! So he should say exactly nothing, because he is probably more incompetent about IT than even he suspects. He comes across as furiously incompetent! He is in no position to comment.

Nor is Turnbull qualified, who saw his political career seriously interrupted because he fell for some fake e-mails!

The Liberal Party seems to be the Taliban of the Oz Internet, the Khmer Rouge of cyberspace in Australia! Lest I digress, while I'd promote Labor's NBN as an ideal addition to our national IT infrastructure, let me say on the way out, Labor's plan to filter the Internet (against porn) simply won't work, technically. Anyone who says it can work is either ignorant or lying.

More so in the tragic absence of a workable, technically-sensible Telstra to manage our national IT infrastructure, what we do not now need in Australia is sitting members of two major political parties giving us ideas about a NBN and "the Internet" that are profoundly ignorant and gruesomely uninformed.

But it appears for these parties, not even a hung parliament is sufficient punishment. We should remember, no one ever becomes better-educated by talking to slow learners.

PS: My own most interesting e-mail in recent weeks was legit, from an Englishwoman in Tangier, Morocco, North Africa, who'd been closely inspecting some of my website pages (yes, I checked her out because I was able to!). As a website manager, I want more of this, from Labor (and Tony Windsor). Not less, from the brain-and-IT-dead Liberals/Nationals.

I get e-mail from North Africa and it's not from Nigeria, it's legit! Our Federal politician Turnbull gets some e-mail from Canberra, Australia and we're all told, it was faked! Really, in this situation, who ya gonna call, ghostbusters?

Yours faithfully, Dan Byrnes, Armidale

Guess your blogger will sit down and eat some more humble pie ...

Note: Since this letter was posted online, it has also been published in the Newcastle Herald, The Tamworth Northern Daily Leader and the Armidale Independant. Dan has also followed up with a brief article about the NBN debate.


Update: 2010-09-16

The day after I received this email, Senator Conroy was interviewed in the afternoon for the ABC PM program, which aired later on Thursday evening.

Senator Conroy started off well enough, with a vigorous defence of the National Broadband Network (NBN). He addressed the important issues of old corroding copper networks, wireless networks, etc. And overall seemed to be doing very well ... However once the interviewer referred to the "Internet Filter", his well prepared address on broadband and the NBN, soon got side-tracked and Senator Conroy veered off the paths of common sense and found himself stumbling into an almost incoherent, rambling diatribe about the efficacy of the "Internet Filter".

Senator Conroy tried once again to defend the Refused Classification (RC) approach to the Internet, saying that it was consistent with our existing classification system and it would defend our children etc, etc. ...

Among the remarkable facts and figures that Senator Conroy pulled out of thin air:

Your humble blogger is not a radio interviewer, but if he was he might have asked Senator Conroy ... Which is it, exactly, in Sweden? ... Is it eighty percent ... Or is it ninety-five percent? Quite a significant difference there! ... And if ninety-five percent of Internet users in Europe have indeed adopted a voluntary Internet Filter ... Umm, then why do we have to pay ACMA to introduce a mandatory filter in Australia?

Oh yes, and could we please have a little more detail about that scheme that ninety-five percent of European users have adopted on a voluntary basis?

Now on the question of Internet speed. It is true that there has been a lot of misleading information about this. And most of it has come out of the Senator's mouth. It might be possible to setup a universal filter for all the users in Australia and not have a horrendous impact on speed ... If it was setup by a top class professional organisation ... Someone such as Google ... Who really do know how to setup fast servers to lookup information and get the results out quickly ... It is possible not to cause significant network degradation ... But the mandatory filter (still secret) is not going to be setup by the sharpest tools in the shed. It is going to be setup at the behest of a government body.

And it will slow down the Internet.

But most remarkable was Senator Conroy's assertion that there were 430 sites out there offering child pornography, which his filter would block.

If there are 430 such sites amongst the many millions of sites on the Internet ... Then wouldn't it be a preferable to prosecute them rather than pay a substantial amount of money to implement a mandatory filter (that won't work anyway)? Where's the justice in saddling the taxpayer with a huge bill to filter out .00000000001% of the Internet ... Just so that 430 paedophiles can carry on with "business as usual" without offending one out ten billion people who stumbles across evidence of their criminal activities, in the short time that it will take to catch up with them and take them down? ...

Oh, and they are going to try and apprehend the perpertrators? ... Aren't they?

And if these 430 paedophiles are still operating ... Why are they still operating? Has ACMA informed law enforcement agencies? We don't want details of which websites the paedophiles used to use ... Just reassurance that they have reported it. And if they have ... Perhaps they should follow up with those agencies ... Something like "Umm, What's happening with those 430 cases we just gave you evidence for?" Have the netblock owner's been informed? What was their response? Most netblock owners use email ... So it should be easy to get a quick reply. Or maybe ACMA, like Malcolm Turnbull don't handle email very well?

Just on the grounds of justice, not to mention economics, the scheme that Senator Conroy proposes is quite insane!

It's clear that if Senator Conroy is going to appear effective as a minister for communications and broadband, he must ditch the Internet Filter!


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