Greens Senator Scott Ludlam has urged Australia's "militant ISPs and engineers" not to get complacent in the fight for online rights.
Speaking at a surprise appearance at Linux.conf.au, Ludlam praised parts of Australia's internet industry for being vocal on issues that were otherwise being negotiated behind closed doors by former Attorney-General Robert McClelland.
McClelland had been overseeing negotiation for an ISP data retention regime and anti-piracy regime.
Ludlam said that Labor's cabinet reshuffle late last year that led to McClelland being replaced by Nicola Roxon was "fantastic".
He was hopeful Roxon would not follow the same path as her predecessor in opting for closed-door discussions.
Ludlam also warned of the effects of cybercrime laws, noting they tend to expand into much larger forms of surveillance and can be difficult or impossible to repeal.
He also slammed the current political climate in the United States, saying they were "transitioning quite rapidly into an authoritarian state" that was "becoming increasingly unmoored from the constitution and the rule of law".
Ludlam branded the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) - the subject of an internet blackout protest this week - an "absolute debacle" and a "slow-motion train wreck".
He warned that the US was "increasingly applying its legal framework in an extra-territorial way" that could lead to US law being applied around the world.
Ludlam thanked the technology industry for keeping things "a little bit sane". His talk was well received, although there were several interjections and heckles from the boisterous crowd.
During some spontaneous applause, Ludlum mentioned it "wasn't intended as an applause line", which was immediately cut off by more applause.
"Smartarses," Ludlam noted.