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Stephen Conroy is perhaps best known around the world for his strong advocacy of a mandatory internet filter, a policy that drew scathing criticism of the Communications Minister before it was eventually suspended and then, finally, killed off.
But Conroy been singularly animated in his determination to head off any effort by the International Telecommunications Union to extend International Telecommunications Regulations to cover regulation of the internet. In announcing Australia won’t support any revised ITRs at the World Conference on International Telecommunications in Dubai, he said:
“Australia’s consistent position has been that the internet should not be included in the ITRs. This is a point on which we would not compromise. Australia does not support any changes that would undermine the current multi-stakeholder model for internet governance or fundamentally change the way the internet operates.”
As the conference wound up this morning, the US, UK and Canada all announced they too would not be signing.
The attempt by régimes like Russian and China, supported in some cases by the sclerotic economies of Europe, to extend the dead hand of UN regulation to the internet as a vehicle for their own anti-democratic agendas needed to be resisted. Conroy’s active role in this regard should be acknowledged.
It would be more comforting, however, if our own and other Anglophone governments adopted a similar liberal approach to internet regulation domestically — particularly on issues like privacy.