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Australia Blacklist Update

April 3, 2009 (CAP Newswire) — Australia’s Senator Stephen Conroy, the central figure in the recent blacklist scandal (for background info, click here) has found himself in another controversial situation today, reports Australian online tech mag IT Wire.

New comments the senator has made are apparently in danger of causing a legal backfire for the politician, and perhaps the government itself, according to the article.

iiNet, Australia's third largest ISP, is doing battle in the Federal Court of NSW with a consortium of movie studios and a TV network that have accused it of allowing its network to be used to illegally download copyright entertainment,” writes Stan Beer in the article. “The ISP also happens to be one of Senator Conroy's biggest critics and recently pulled out of his office's much maligned Internet filter trial.

“The public slanging between the Communications Minister and iiNet is hard to find a precedent for in the ICT industry. The CEO of iiNet, Michael Malone, has told iTWire and a number of other media sources quite openly that he believes Senator Conroy is the worst Communications Minister ever and described him as incompetent.”

After these remarks, Conroy reportedly went on the defensive during a speech at the high-profile CommsDay Summit 2009 being held in Sydney this week. There, he “stunned the bemused audience by making sarcastic and denigrating remarks about the iiNet defence strategy for its court case.”

The remarks were inappropriate because they referred to an ongoing court case, and have reportedly angered members of Australia’s technical and legal communities.

“It has been suggested that iiNet could have a case for pursuing Senator Conroy for defamation,” Beer writes, “but even worse for the Minister there is a possibility his remarks could be deemed as contempt of court.

It’s difficult to tell whether the senator is indeed undergoing some kind of public unraveling, or whether his actions and words are being blown somewhat out of proportion by Australian technical professionals, who are (justifiably) upset at their government’s attempts to censor the Internet and thus curtail their livelihood.

The good news? All this controversy certainly isn’t good PR for the Australian government and its crusade to seize moral control of the Internet down under.

Click here to read "Conroy jumps out of filter fire into iiNet ire" by Stan Beer at IT Wire.