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Aussie Senator Blames Russian Mob for Blacklist Errors

March 27, 2009 (CAP Newswire) — On a Q&A program aired on Australian television last night, Australia's Communications Minister, Senator Stephen Conroy, finally admitted error regarding the leaked blacklist of websites that the government is reportedly considering blocking.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald's recap of the session, more than 2,000 questions were submitted regarding the Aussie government’s "hugely unpopular policy" of Internet censorship. The audience even ridiculed and laughed at the senator’s responses, according to the article.

The main point of controversy regarding the blacklist is the inclusion of many sites that are perfectly legal, including gambling sites. When asked why the blacklist, which is supposed to focus on illegal activities, included a number of non-criminal websites, "Senator Conroy said it was the result of a 'Russian mob' that targeted small businesses and published questionable content on their websites,” wrote Asher Moses in the Sydney Morning Herald article.

“The admission by Senator Conroy on ABC television's Q&A program last night casts significant doubt on the Government's ability to filter the internet without inadvertently blocking legitimate websites,” the article continued.

Nick Minchin, a spokesman for the Opposition political party, was also quoted in the article: "This error only came to light because content from the secret blacklist had been publicly leaked. Under Senator Conroy's regime how many similar errors will result in the wrongful filtering of legal sites and content?"

"When he wasn't blaming the Russian Mob, the Minister was still invoking hateful, extreme content and protesting that they don't intend to censor 'political' content," commented Colin Jacobs, spokesman for Electronic Frontiers Australia, in the article.

"But this doesn't address questions of how the secret list is administered, how the Government hopes to classify millions or billions of web pages without making any mistakes, or why an expensive national filter has to be applied at the ISP level in the first place."

Click here to read the article in the Sydney Morning Herald.