Government plans to track blogs critical of itself

Posted: March 23, 2009 in society
Senator Stephen Conroy

Image by neeravbhatt via Flickr

… and it is starting, as this Age article reports, with those critical of Conroy, known for his useless and invasive Web and Bit Torrent filtering scheme. Feels a bit like a lighter shade of China descending upon the Australian blogosphere:

The Federal Government will begin trawling blog sites as part of a new media monitoring strategy, with official documents singling out a website critical of the Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy.

Tender documents issued by the Department of Broadband Communications and the Digital Economy reveal it is looking for a “monitoring service for print and electronic media”. The department later attached a clarification confirming this included “blogs such as Whirlpool“.

Whirlpool has strongly criticised Senator Conroy’s plan to filter internet content and his handling of the Government’s $15 billion national broadband network. It is a community-run forum devoted to discussing broadband internet access.

Senator Conroy’s spokesman said: “Whirlpool … covers a wide range of topics across the telecommunications sector. It and other web sites provide valuable insight into the industries in which we work.”

Seems like the Australian government is becoming more and more obsessed with controlling activities on the Net. Sure, they won’t censor blogs critical of them (at least not right now), but what will those bureaucrats and pollies do with data they collect? Making the tax-payer funded marketing of their schemes more effective is one thing, which is bad enough. But what will they do with the information they gather about individuals? How will their spying for example affect certain job prospects they might have? And what will the Rudd government ‘monitor’ next?

If the government would really be interested in what the community thinks and feel, it would engage, using forums like Whirlpool to begin a dialogue. Snooping on them instead says a lot about governments in general and the arrogant, self-righteous, autocratic and control-freak attitude of Rudd and Co in particular.

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