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Sunday, 12 July 2009 15:51

Conroy beats Sarkozy for Internet Villain of the Year award

Controversial Australian politician Stephen Conroy has picked up an online Oscar for his starring role as Internet villain of the year, but let's not forget the supporting cast: the Australian Government. 

The 11th annual Internet Industry Awards ceremony was hosted by the Internet Service Providers' Association in London this week. The ISPA is the UK's Trade Association for ISPs and the awards ceremony has become something of an Oscars for the online world.

Stephen Michael Conroy was actually born in England, but has found fame (or should that be infamy) as an Australian politician. Specifically for his role as the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy in the Australian Government.

The Internet censorship policies which were pitched as protective measures for children in the face of online pornography, have actually ended up painting a much broader filtering landscape. Indeed, so broad are the censorship brush strokes that they include revolting and abhorrent phenomena that offends standards of morality. Whatever that means.

And so it was that the ISPA opted to include an award category where a number of individuals and organisations could be nominated for their hard work in upsetting the Internet industry, hampering its development and ending up being hated by the online masses.

Conroy, naturally enough, was a favourite to win from the start. However, he was up against stiff competition including the European Parliament for supporting an amendment to the Telecom Package on cookies which could bring the Internet to a standstill.

Other shortlisted nominees included French President Nicolas Sarkozy for his commitment to the HADOPI law which advocates a system of graduated response, despite repeated arguments suggesting the law is disproportionate from the likes of the European Parliament.

However, on the night it was Stephen Conroy along with the entire Australian Government which picked up the award (or rather didn't as Conroy did not attend for some strange reason) for their work in continuing to promote network-level blocking despite significant national and international opposition.

Usually I heartily disagree with the judges when it comes to handing out Oscars, but the ISPA has got this one spot on. Couldn't have gone to a more deserving chap.

In case you wondered, the Internet Hero of the Year award went to the Featured Artists Coalition for publicly recognising that the focus of music companies should be the development of new business models for distributing content online rather than attempting to pass responsibility to ISPs to take action against users. Nice!

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