Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Trials of an Internet Trial

Senator Conroy probably couldn't have imagined how hard the process of implementing policy in Government could be. Since coming to office the PM has referred to a concept of "evidence based policy", which Conroy has being trying to pursue on filtering by deciding that he won't make propose any laws to implement the clean feed internet policy until after some real trials have been conducted.

But getting to the point of the trials has been troubling. ZDNet reported that the Government had received 16 applications to participate. Telstra and Internode announced they would not participate, Optus announced they would participate in testing the blcklist only, and iiNet announced iot would participate to "prove it wouldn't work".

Yesterday Conroy announced that arrangements had been finalised with six ISPs to participate in the filter trials, and that consultations continue with a number of other ISPs. Good news one might have thought, the Ministr is behind schedule but getting to the point of conducting the trial.

Well, not as far as Senator Minchin was concerned. He saw something dark in the fact that the two biggest ISPs that had indicated they would apply weren't on the list. What is Conroy to do? One would think that the larger ISPs would have more concerns and therefore a more protracted discussion. If Conroy had waited to announce until everyone was signed then the delay looks longer, if he announces progress he gets criticised with who was chosen.

There has been no indication or rumour that anyone is failing to reach agreement on the trial. Yes, it is behind time, but can anyone remember the last time DBCDE or itspredecessor did ANYTHING on time?

Admittedly these triallists (apart from iPrimus) are all pretty small. That, however, is also a good sign because the suggestion was the cost would be prohibitive for small ISPs so presumably these guys are figuring out its worth pursuing.

But it does make you wonder whether there is a future for "evidence based policy", because the process becomes quite protracted. Just doing things behind closed doors and making big announcements might be better - things like a $10B Murray Darling Basin plan. That's more Senator Minchin's style.


  1. You suggest that the fact small ISPs are taking part in the trial is an indication that the costs may not be that significant.

    I would say that is more an indication of the cost of the filtering platforms. That is why many small ISPs have put their hand up to participate, the government pays for the kit and then they get to keep it afterwards. You can hear Nicholas Power from Highway1 say as much here,

  2. >That, however, is also a good sign because >the suggestion was the cost would be
    >prohibitive for small ISPs so presumably
    >these guys are figuring out its worth >pursuing.

    But isn't the government meeting the full cost of the *trial*? It is really only a guess what the cost of the full rollout would be for a participating ISP or for that matter what the motivation of any given microISP is.

    >Just doing things behind closed doors and >making big announcements might be better

    I'm sure that Krudd's "evidence-based policy" will eventually be ditched as too inconvenient.