back to article Australian Internet policy remains years behind reality

That Australian policy-makers cannot muster a coherent and consistent approach to the changes wrought by the internet has again been made apparent in recent weeks, by a number of events. The national response to the internet remains, most often, to attempt to control it long after accepted practice makes the attempt to do so …

  1. dan1980

    "In that case, and in this, it looks like short timeframes are used to control debate about how the internet can be used."

    Know what?

    I've come around - I think it's better that these 'consultation' periods are held only for short periods and largely unnoticed.

    Because, while Brandis certainly has form in trying to close off debate on these issues, the entire apparatus of government in Australia (at all levels, and on both sides) has form in utterly ignoring any input, criticism or honest questioning that runs counter to whatever it was they wanted to do in the first place.

    Gigantic, even taller than first proposed mega-ritch elite-serving casino/hotel complex at Barangaroo? Right, because that's what the public wanted. We said: "just throw us a small bone in the form of, oh, an ugly park and that will totally make us square with public land being used for an enormous, sun-blocking casino catering to super-wealthy international gamblers."

    When we talk about the 'metadata' retention program, that was conceived and championed by the (I almost said: "our", but they don't work for us anymore) law enforcement agencies and those bureaucrats wishing to track the public.

    In other words, it was dreamed up and planned out by an insular group of like-minded people with a particular world-view and focus. The whole idea of opening that up to (any) consultation is to solicit opinions and arguments from those necessarily outside that soup.

    To my knowledge, there was no real support for the proposed legislation that came from that consultation. Academics and lawyers and telcos and IT professionals and privacy advocates all criticised the changes strongly and even those who provided provisional support were still critical of the scope and loose wording - wording that would allow exactly the kind of thing we see being, ostensibly, discussed today.

    None of these opinions mattered one bit and the legislation went ahead pretty much exactly as the original proponents wanted.

    So it's one thing to not be asked for your opinion; it's another thing to be asked and then roundly ignored. At least if they don't ask, there is less illusion that our governments are anything more than a succession of lizards with authoritarian tendencies.

    Which is, of course, why they go through this charade: see, we asked!!

    Sometimes I really see the appeal of a religious mindset and the concept of divine judgement. Not because I particular want my ego to live on, but because if such a concept was true, I could only imagine that there is a special corner of hell set aside for those in power who abuse the trust their fellow humans have - however loosely and indirectly - placed in them.

    1. Adam 1

      You mention a consultation period. I need to clarify for context, are we referring to a Brandistanian consultation, or something more Gleesonesq?

  2. GrumpyOldBloke

    The LNP has been entirely coherent and consistent in its approach to the internet during its term in power. It is a thing that threatens the established gatekeepers and rent seekers that define the Australian economy. It is a thing people use to download pron. Further, looking at events as evidence of donor based policy and the business of politics we find an approach that is again entirely coherent and consistent. If the nations security services didn't wan't to protect Australia by destroying its democratic foundations through 5-eyes and mass surveillance it is unlikely the LNP would tolerate the Australian internet even in its current crippled form.

  3. LAURIE PATTON | CEO Internet Australia

    For the record, I told The Register that suggesting how content could be more easily be made available was not within Internet Australia's charter. I did point out, however, that we have opposed the use of 'geoblocking' to price-gouge consumers.

  4. Winkypop Silver badge

    Geoblocking is great!

    Brandis must be stopped.

  5. dan1980

    "I've argued, in my own time, that Territorial copyright is encouraging piracy."

    Of course it does.

    There is only one reason why (e.g.) Netflix has a different catalogue in Australia than it does in the US: content license holders trying to maximise profit.

    Oh, there are intricacies to this, like a local station buying exclusive rights to some content, but that's really only the result of seeking to maximise profit.

    Companies are just that, and they are fully allowed to act in ways they perceive will generate the most profits. And that's fine, but they are attempting to artificially restrict the ability of customers to act in the ways that most benefit themselves.

    These companies - and many others - have benefited immensely from the new distribution methods and global opportunities that a more connected world allows. At the same time, however, they are actively trying to prevent consumers making use of that same situation.

    The one that really bothered me was a while ago when I was helping a client purchase a copy of Office through the MS store. That software was significantly more expensive for Australians to purchase than for Singaporeans. It was more expensive than many other countries as well, but I single out Singapore because it is geographically close and that was - at the time - where the MS data-centre was, and so where O365 was being run out of. Both locations are supported from the Philippines call centre.

    So here is a product that requires no shipping (download), no shelf-space in a store paying rent and no local staff - for either sales or support - and yet it was considerably more expensive based solely on the country one was in. It was the exact same product, developed by the exact same people, sold from the exact same website and supported by the exact same team. the only thing that was not the same was the price. And yes, I was looking at the ex-GST pricing.

    That is out-and-out gouging based on no better reason than: "because we can".

    Content providers do this kind of thing all the time and it's greed, pure and simple. Illegally downloading content is, well, illegal, and it is something I don't condone. But I do understand it and I especially understand the anger and annoyance that can lead to it. While there are those who just wouldn't pay and those who just don't really understand the offence they are committing, there are also those who would, if able, be willing to pay a price on-par with our US cousins for access as easily and in as timely a fashion. Denied that opportunity through nothing but greed on the part of the providers, potential customers are turned into 'pirates'.

    And it's not even just paid content. Ever gone to watch a video on and official channel on You-tube and seen 'this video is not available in your region'? This is free damned content you provide for everyone in the US, whether they have a subscription to the cable channel or not.

    I wonder whether the much-maligned (and rightly so) TPP would have had provisions to prevent such geo-blocking. In the interests, of, you know, reducing barriers between providers and markets in different nations?

    Considering the tightening of intellectual property laws, something tells me that would be wishful thinking. No, globalisation and easier trade goes one way - and that's the big companies.

  6. JJKing

    ♫ Opps they fucked us again. ♫


    I used to purchase a Microsoft Action Pack subscription and the cost was US$ price x 2.5 = AUD$ price which at the time cost AUD$699. I then purchased a new TechNet subscription when the AUD$ reached and then exceeded parity with the US$, the formula changed to US$ price x 1.5 = AUD$ price. I search all the places MS sold and Australia was the most expensive to purchase these products. Even Papua new Guinea was cheaper than Australia. When I complained to MS they said it was what the market would bare and they gave me a 30% discount. This renewal WITH the discount still cost more than a new subscription in the US. I don't bother with MS subscriptions anymore.

    The Pirate Bay exist only to infringe copyright

    The Pirate Bay (with it's warm, clear coastal waters) does NOT hold any software/programs/applications. How then can they infringe on any copyright? Surely the users who avail themselves of the torrents, which hold ZERO copyright material, are the copyright infringers. The authorities only go after The Pirate Bay, KickAss etc because they are a soft target.

    After the Solicitor-General debacle and the way brandis furnishes his office, it seems he is only there to further his own ends and doesn't give a shit about the Country or the People who he is elected to represent. brandis and his archaic ideas need to be removed from Canberra much faster than the lnp's failed NFN's failed rollout. He is a Completely Useless No-good Twat.

    My arse hurts from being fucked over by elected officials and companies who sell software and hardware in this country. Enough is enough. Anyone got a numbing gel I could borrow?

  7. LAURIE PATTON | CEO Internet Australia

    Internet Australia's response

    For the record, we told The Register that suggesting how content could be more easily be made available was not within Internet Australia's charter. I did point out, however, that we have opposed the use of 'geoblocking' to price-gouge consumers.

  8. kesawi

    Copyright is government attempting to control markets

    "Which is lovely, save for the fact that it is an attempt to control markets."

    So it's okay for a private enterprise to attempt to control and regulate a market, but not for a government to regulate a market to ensure free trade by removing artificial restrictions such as geoblocking?

    Copyright is government regulation designed to control markets. Copyright is not a natural right, it is a monopoly right assigned by government regulation. Removing government control of the market would mean removing copyright.

  9. aberglas

    Parliament picture will need updating

    To include the security fences, and machine gun totting guards. Makes it more Australian.

    Something like this

  10. Big-nosed Pengie

    Alternative headline

    "Australia remains years behind reality."

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Please learn to proofread your work and stop relying on a spellchecker alone. I kept stumbling over stupid mistakes that make your article awkward to read.

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