Reading this it appears the Australian government has decided that proposals being examined in the rest of the Anglosphere are just not intrusive enough...therefore it had better strip away what little privacy it's citizens have...it is for their own safety after all...yeah right.
Policy changes could mean the end of online privacy, write Dylan Welch and Ben Grubb.
July 21, 2012
"If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place.''
Thus spake the world's First Digital Citizen, Google supremo Eric Schmidt, during an American television interview in 2009.
Unsurprisingly, it provoked outrage when it was uttered, not least because Schmidt himself once blacklisted an online media company for publishing details of his private life gleaned from Google searches.
Last week, when the Attorney-General's Department released a discussion paper canvassing the concept of a regime of mandatory online data retention as part of a parliamentary inquiry, it provoked a similarly outraged response here.
''Private companies … will buy it, lobby for it, steal it, abuse legal process for it, and then datamine it to sell things to you, fine you, target you, and generally profile you,'' wrote online commenter Simon K in a response to Fairfax's story last week.
''Let law enforcement make their case and let the courts issue a warrant before they go digging in our activities. That way there will be at least one layer of checks and balances.''
''The internet was supposed to be about the free sharing of information and ideas. Now it is to become the big vacuum cleaner of everyone's private data, vices and thoughts,'' wrote Rogan another online commenter.
Simon K and Rogan were far from the only people opposed to the concept. The online comments beneath the story were overwhelming in their rejection of the plan. Of the 24,000 people who voted in an online Fairfax poll asking if the government should force telcos to store telephone and internet data, 96 per cent were opposed.
And as the digital world becomes increasingly ubiquitous, what happens to the data trail people leave online - every day humans create two-and-a-half quintillion, or a thousand thousand trillion, bytes of data - becomes an increasingly important question.
The Australian Privacy Foundation says Australia is per capita home to more data interception than almost anywhere in the world.
No surprise then that the battle lines are already being drawn between the desire of Australia's law enforcement security agencies to have access to the data, and the privacy lobby which believes such a move would be yet one more step towards the establishment of an omnipresent surveillance state.
The wholesale retention of the online history of Australians was first publicised in June 2010 when one of the authors of this article discovered telcos were being called into secret meetings with government about the issue.
According to a document provided to internet service providers (ISPs), the agencies were seeking data that could identify where Australians had been on the internet, something many ISPs don't currently store. The agencies were also making other demands, such as getting internet companies to store a customer's passport number.
At the time, the Attorney-General's Department did everything it could to prevent public discussion of the issue. When Fairfax made a freedom of information application for a key document that year, it was provided almost totally blacked out to prevent, says the department, ''premature unnecessary debate''.
(Fairfax has since obtained an uncensored version and it confirms what industry has long been saying - the agencies want the telcos to retain the online history of every Australian.)
The Attorney-General, Nicola Roxon, is quick to make clear even the government is far from convinced by the agencies' arguments.
''We do really have some genuine questions about how far should the powers go, what's the expense, what's the likely return,'' she told Fairfax this week.
Roxon says she wants the issue to be fully ventilated during the inquiry of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, announced last week.
''My thinking is that the committee will test, in some cases, these broad concepts. The recommendations that they make back to the government we'll then consider.
''The government will then still draft exposure legislation, so there'll be another round of engagement. I don't think people need to worry that there'll be an attempt to keep it above their heads.''
Roxon also says she expects the greatest hurdle will not be the privacy debate, but the discussion over who will have to bear the cost of a data retention regime, which would represent a big financial burden on the telecommunications industry.
She also says legislation in Australia would be impractical if other countries didn't also introduce parallel legislation, given that the world's biggest internet companies operate internationally.
''Some of the business will be able to implement appropriate standards if they can do one [regime] across the whole world, but if they have to do different ones it becomes a bigger burden.''
One of the most vocal proponents of the scheme is the national manager of the Australian Federal Police's High Tech Crime Centre, Neil Gaughan.
A plain-speaking cop who has spent years being frustrated with recalcitrant internet companies who are slow - sometimes unwilling - to provide the data his officers need to pursue alleged paedophiles, terrorists and organised criminals, he is aware this is his chance to get the regulatory system he needs to operate in a rapidly changing world.
He notes that the main instrument which guides what his officers can and can not do online - the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act - was created in 1979 when the internet was science fiction.
''We all get the privacy concerns, but we're in a different operating environment now than we were in 1979 and we need to move with the times.
''If there's a cost-sharing arrangement organised by the Parliament we'll wear it; but from our perspective data retention is a must. We seriously would not be able to do the majority of investigations without it.''
As the telcos have moved towards billing their clients solely for the amount of data they use, they have been keeping less and less records of exactly what they are doing. That presents a huge problem for law enforcement, he says.
He also understands the concerns of the privacy lobby, he says, and accepts that needs to be taken into consideration.
''I'm aware that by asking for this additional information to be retained there potentially needs to be additional oversight or accountability [placed] on us and other agencies about how we deal with this information. We understand that.
''But I think the privacy lobby needs to be aware that if we don't have some kind of data retention regime we're not going to have the same success in law investigations that we currently have.
''There is a big risk that we will in the future not be able to undertake even basic investigations.''
For the industry, the data retention proposal is yet more proof that internet companies are increasingly being treated as a one-stop shop by government for dealing with issues faced in the digital age.
The Internet Industry Association's chief executive, Peter Lee, is of that view and believes the government is not being clear about the data it wanted internet service providers to store in its discussion paper.
''What data are we actually talking about? It could mean a broad gamut of things. That definitely needs to be defined if you're talking about data retention. It needs to be clear about what type of data we're talking about.''
In response, Mr Gaughan says it is clear what data they are seeking. ''What we're asking for is the telecommunications data about the process of the communication as distinct from its content,'' he says.
In layman's language, that would mean the data that shows from and to whom an email was sent, when and how, but not what was written in the email.
When agencies want the content data, that would be done under the regime of applying to the courts for warrants, which is already in place, he says.
The chief regulatory officer for one of Australia's larger ISPs, iiNet, Steve Dalby, says his main concern with the data retention proposal is the privacy and security risks associated with its implementation.
Industry will find it particularly challenging to guarantee the security and privacy of Australian internet users' web history data, he says, particularly considering the cost burden.
And even if it goes ahead, he doubts its efficacy. He says criminals would be able to ensure their web history was not logged using readily available software online, such as the increasingly popular free software called The Onion Router, or Tor.
Tor makes it virtually impossible for someone to establish where an internet connection begins by threading the connection through a dizzying series of of digital tunnels.
''Whether it's internet filtering or surveillance, genuine bad guys will put a lot of effort into committing a crime and will find ways or means to avoid detection,'' Dalby says.
''It doesn't matter if they are committing copyright infringement or doing something a bit more horrible like dealing with child pornography or terrorism.''
Tor's executive director, Andrew Lewman, said he was opposed to mandatory data retention for a number of reasons.
''It sounds good and something sexy that politicians should get behind. However, it doesn't stop crime,'' he said in an email interview with the Herald.
''[Instead], it builds a massive dossier on everyone at millisecond resolution, and creates more work and challenges for law enforcement to catch actual criminals. The problem isn't too little data, the problem is there is already too much data.''
He said that creating a detailed record of everything everyone did online would become a huge target for everyone from advertisers to identity crime rings.
''It will also help future witch-hunts for people doing acceptable things today, but at some point in the future, these activities might seem suspect,'' Lewman said.
Re: Data trail easy to follow for Australian Big Brother
July 28 2012, 11:28 AM
"The Attorney-General, Nicola Roxon, is quick to make clear even the government is far from convinced by the agencies' arguments."
Allow me to translate.. 'we (the government) are happy to digitally fingerprint Australians, Internet use for "security reasons".. only, how do we sell this before the general election next year.. Hmmm..'
I'm not sure how someone, with a clean conscious, can call another person a conspiracy theorist for exposing these idiots plan for a world government. Especially in this day and age, where they have so blatantly made their intentions and over all goal, quite clear, and quite vocally I might add..
This message has been edited by E7 on Jul 28, 2012 2:13 PM
Not sure what you would like explained, and I don't think one can really call it a "conspiracy theory" anymore. Global "elite" have been using the term "New World Order".. "Global Government".. "One World Government".. for the past two decades now, quite openly, yet people like me get a bad rap for repeating it? Makes no sense...
As for it's aims? I would assume, from what they have been experimenting with (the Eurozone for example) is bringing a list of nations, in this case, all nations, under one government and ruling body.
And it would differ from today in the sense that instead of individual nation states, all nations would be governed by one global body (from what these lunatics have hinted at, that seems to be the United Nations)..
The video CT posted is one of MANY global leaders who have said the same thing, not just recently, but through out the past 30 odd years...
Don't shoot me for repeating what they say.. I am simply a humble messenger...
Re: Data trail easy to follow for Australian Big Brother
July 28 2012, 9:08 PM
And from all the surveillance systems in place watching our every move, recording all our internet traffic, email, voice messages, it's the ultimate surveillance grid to control such a world order. Why else would so many countries be implementing such freedom restricting, sophisticated snooping systems? First step would be to silence and eliminate dissidents.. the same way countries like China does. But that's simply my opinion.
Re: Data trail easy to follow for Australian Big Brother
July 28 2012, 9:50 PM
"And it would differ from today in the sense that instead of individual nation states, all nations would be governed by one global body (from what these lunatics have hinted at, that seems to be the United Nations)."
OK first off, you know how much I enjoy playing the devil's advocate...so I have to ask, do you believe that we as a species face issues that will only be made worse if nation states continue to place their self interest ahead of the global good? Also, do you believe that each person on the planet should have an equal voice in the running of matters that impact the entire species?
Well, I truly believe nation states are a necessity to preserve our rights and liberties. A one world government, as I have said many times, would need to be representative of all people. There are too many different religions, cultures and beliefs for a one world government to be beneficial for mankind.
It would need to be brutal and oppressive, eliminating any and all who don't confirm to its ideology. Say they incorporate aspects of sharia law in it? Would you stand for that? I wouldn't. It's a system they want to implement, that will never be able to please everyone.
And if you think big government, in individual nation states we have today, are prone to corruption, imagine it on a global scale.
Thanks but no thanks.. I would rather not be a part of a one world order or global governance. We've progressed so much as individual nation states. Why try to fix what isn't broken?
Also, "each person" will lose their say in the way things are run if there is a global government. You think, to take the US for example, you have a choice when voting for Dems or GOP? The overall agenda is still the same. Imagine that on a global level. No one will have a real say in the way things go. Just the ruling elite... which one can argue isn't much different than today's world, but at least we have the power to fight back against what would otherwise be a centralized tyrannical global government with infinite power..
...you can take your tin foil hat off now.. rant over...
(EDIT number two.. holy spelling mistakes Bruce Wayne)
This message has been edited by E7 on Jul 28, 2012 10:34 PM