Turnbull was always going to do it. It was a matter of language and timing. Fears his government has allowed to spread about Chinese money in Australia’s democracy and China’s growing influence in the region had little substance, and have done Australia more harm than good.
As I’ve written previously, the Australian Government has given auDA – the company managing our Internet domain names – three months to develop new processes to redress historical weaknesses in its governance. The organisation has been mired in controversy in recent years. For quite some time, though, it had been seen as a tightly held fiefdom under the control of a board of directors elected from within the industry and fraught with conflicts of interest.
It’s time we did something about the ‘keyboard cowards’ – especially those who post false and/or defamatory comments on social media.
To fail to do so will open the Internet up to moves by governments to interfere in ways that have been successfully opposed since its inception, on the basis of arguments about free speech and freedom from undue state interference in people’s lives.
It’s a complex issue, but the laws that have traditionally protected people from damaging defamatory comments must be extended to the online world or they might as well not exist!
The years ago, Internet Australia, the NFP peak body representing internet users, embarked on a mission to foster more informed debate about the National Broadband Network and its importance to Australia’s future. It was – and is – the view of the board and members that we need something better than a network deploying ageing copper wires. Most technology journalists already agreed with that proposition.
Earlier in the year the head of the NBN Co, Bill Morrow, was appearing before a Senate Estimates hearing. Asked by Greens Senator Scott Ludlam about his organisation’s habit of blocking people who make unkind comments about his inferior broadband network on social media, Mr Morrow had the first of two ‘brain farts’ in which he gratuitously attacked Internet Australia.
The other day I was talking to a friend who recently retired from the public service. After a career lifetime of studied discretion he now wears as a badge of honour his entitlement to express independent views. Many of these are critical of the processes that played a pivotal part in his rise to a very senior posting.
With our president and the head of the policy committee sitting beside me I boldly told the committee that the Data Retention Bill was “fundamentally flawed” and had clearly been drafted by lawyers who didn’t understand how the Internet actually works. How prescient those comments have proven to have been.