The Internet Industry Association (IIA) has appointed a new chairman and re-elected its deputy chair at its annual members’ gala dinner in Sydney.
The IIA has more than 200 members from all sectors of the ICT industry, and provides policy input to government and advocacy on a range of business and regulatory issues in order “to promote laws and initiatives which enhance access, equity, reliability and growth of the [online] medium within Australia”.
CEO of AARNet, Chris Hancock, was elected new IIA chairman, replacing Domenic Carosa, who stood down from the position in accordance with IIA’s constitution after serving six years. Mary Jane Salier of Verizon Business, and David Spence of Unwired, have retired as directors.
Managing director for Sophos Asia-Pacific, Rob Forsyth, was re-elected deputy chairman for the third consecutive year.
“There’s not a huge number of changes, it’s largely steady as she goes. 2008 was a busy year for us and 2009 looks to be exactly the same” Forsyth said>.
For the IIA, the three most important issues facing Australia’s ICT industry this year are the rollout of the National Broadband Network, the Internet content filtering proposal, and the copyright litigation between iiNet and Seven Network currently before Federal court.
“We’re not taking an adversarial position on any of those, we’re attempting to find consensus and a way forward,” Forsyth said.
He applauded the $4.7 billion investment the government is making in the NBN, and said the IIA hoped it would result in an open and transparent process that delivered real competition to the Australian broadband market.
“We’re highly supportive of it happening, and happening in an open and clear manner,” Forsyth said.
He was a little less enthusiastic about the government’s proposal to implement ISP-level Internet filtering of “inappropriate” content.
The government is currently conducting a pilot of Internet filtering with six ISPs on board for initial trialling.
Forsyth supported blocking illegal content but was concerned about the additional proposal to filter 'inappropriate' content, as it is based on opinion rather than law, but is nevertheless 100 per cent supportive of an evidence-based trial.
While he was unable to comment on the iiNet copyright case as it is currently before the courts, Forsyth said the case brought against iiNet highlights the complication of transitioning from one vector of content delivery to another.
“The Internet is a wonderful mechanism to deliver copyright material that people should absolutely pay for. As we go through a period of change from delivery mechanisms that might have been hiring a video or buying a CD from a shop into a new era of things being delivered online, the payment models behind that will also need to change,” he said.
“The IIA absolutely supports copyright owners' rights. We’re highly supportive of both camps and our members fit into both camps, so we’re hoping to find a suitable compromise that has a commercial result for both participants.”