Labor's (liberal left) blog-watch plan hits Whirlpool of dissent
- Josh Gordon
- March 22, 2009
THE Government will begin trawling blog sites as part of a new media monitoring strategy, with documents singling out a website critical of Communications Minister Stephen Conroy for special mention.
Soon after Senator Conroy praised Singapore's Government for reducing monitoring of blogs, tender documents issued by the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy reveal it is looking for a "comprehensive digital monitoring service for print and electronic media".
The department later attached a clarification confirming the term "electronic media" included "blogs such as Whirlpool".http://whirlpool.net.au/
Whirlpool, the only blog site mentioned, has criticised Senator Conroy's plans to filter internet content and his handling of the Government's $15 billion national broadband network. It is a community-run internet forum devoted to discussing broadband internet access.
Senator Conroy this month told a conference in Germany that it was a "really positive sign" that the Singaporean Government had given up monitoring blogs.
But the documents suggest the Australian Government is just about to start. Senator Conroy's spokesman said it was "only natural" that the tender include services for monitoring relevant blogs.
"Whirlpool is a long-established online platform for news and information covering a wide range of topics across the telecommunications sector," the spokesman said. "It and other websites provide valuable insight into the industries in which we work."
Opposition communications spokesman Nick Minchin claimed it was "extreme" and an unacceptable use of taxpayers' money to expand media monitoring to blogs.
"The minister has been caught out telling an important international audience one thing, while at the same time putting the wheels in motion back home to use taxpayers' money to do the complete opposite," Senator Minchin said.
A spokesman for the department said it had used Whirlpool as an example of a blog site that might be monitored because a prospective bidder for the contract had asked for a clarification.