20 C
Byron Shire
April 12, 2021

Privacy ends October 13, 2015

Latest News

My own pandemic imaginations

Robert Podhajsky, Ocean Shores Imagination is a powerful mechanism; I must admit I get unsettled with my own pandemic imaginations...

Other News

Essential businesses recognised

A sticker initiative, to say ‘Thank you’ and support local retailers’ doing it tough is adorning Mullum shops, owing in part to efforts by resident Angela Bambach.

Local teams head north under new set-up for women’s AFL 

Local women’s AFL will have a shake-up this year as the Lismore Swans join the Northern Rivers league...

Wooing the discerning gin drinker with Husk Botanic

Husk founder, Paul Messenger, introduces his new Husk Botanic – a fresh cane spirit, designed to be mixed with...

Lilac house bound by red tape

Mullumbimby resident Nicole Haberecht is facing a $3,000 fine and the prospect of repainting her house after Council made a demand that she change the colour after it was painted a shade of lilac.

Armed robberies in Northern Rivers

Police have been investigating two armed robberies this week, one in Byron Bay and one in Lismore.

Big swinging dicks

Keith Duncan, Pimlico After the tumultuous events of the past weeks regarding alleged sexual assaults within the Liberal Party and...

By Phillip Frazer

The Abbott government’s new law on collecting the country’s ‘metadata’ from all of our communications devices will go into effect next month.

The Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Bill 2015 requires that every one of the 400 Australian telcos and ISPs keep a record – not a recording – of every phone call, text, email, and download you make. For phone calls, this ‘metadata’ includes the number called, duration of the call, and the rough location you called or texted from.

This metadata must be stored for two years and will be accessible to more than 20 Australian government agencies, from ASIO through every federal and state police force and corruption commission, and to any other agency that attorney-general George Brandis nominates.

For phone calls, this includes VOIP and 800 numbers, even missed calls.

No warrants, $2 million fines 

Email data is supposedly limited to whom you emailed, when, and the size of each attachment. Email has one loophole – that data will only be tracked and kept if you’re using an Australian provider – Gmail, Yahoo and Hotmail are exempt – allegedly, and for now.

Our intelligence and police agents can access all this on demand, any time without a warrant and telcos and ISPs face fines up to $2 million for failure to cough up.

Any search of your data must be a state secret forever, and anyone who tells you you’ve been searched faces jail.

There is no requirement that ISPs or phone companies keep the IP addresses of websites you visit, but in Quentin Dempster’s excellent Sydney Morning Herald article last Saturday, Fairfax tech editor Ben Grubb says there’ll probably be a record of every website you look at, because it’s too hard to separate that one vital piece from the mandated metadata.

Additionally the internet corporations will be allowed to keep those records of our web-browsing.

As Dempster points out, all these track-and-keep rules zoomed through parliament, herded by Attorney-General Brandis with token amendments from Labor. The only serious resistance was from the Greens and independents.

Our new laws go further than even the US laws, which allow this secret spying on citizens only when it’s specifically about preventing acts of terrorism. Israel, where deadly conflict is always imminent, has no metadata retention laws, because their experts reckon it wouldn’t do much to stop violent acts.

Similar to China

Only China has a surveillance regimen as broad as the one passed by our parliament.

All this data trawling is already happening here, mostly to nail corruption and criminality. In 2013–14, Dempster reports 330,000 requests were made by Australian law enforcement agencies. To my knowledge, none was refused.

Meanwhile, in the US, two separate government agencies have recently announced that all this metadata madness has not stopped a single terrorist attack.

Metadata might save lives if the local cops use it to track an identified abuser who’s messaging threats of violence to the kid, but it’s unlikely to catch those very occasional lone gunmen waving a home-made terror flag just when they’re about to open fire.

No costs presented by federal govt

It’s obvious to most of the world that this is not worth sacrificing our privacy for – and it’s not worth the hundreds of millions of dollars it will cost.

In any event, no estimates of the costs have been presented by our ruling authoritarians.

But it’s not all doom and gloom, folks. No-one will be allowed to read your emails in real time or listen to your phone calls, so the law says, unless they get a warrant… but telling a court there are certain patterns in your metadata could easily result in the issuance of such a warrant – and you won’t know because all those warrants are, and will remain, top secret.

Every provider must be willing and able to hand over your data when shown a warrant, but many will wind up contracting out these new obligations to new, specialist companies.

These companies are being formed as you read this.

In other words, corporates will get your data too. To allay rampant paranoia, the government has a new ‘communications access coordinator’, who will approve these consultants.

When Demster tried to question Brandis’s inaugural access coordinator, she told him she was, ‘not authorised to speak to Fairfax Media.’

Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Inspector condemns prisoner health services

In the forward to the Inspector of Custodial Services Report published last month, Fiona Rafter Inspector of Custodial Services says that the provision of health services to inmates in New South Wales custodial facilities is a complex and challenging responsibility.

The importance of talking about ovaries

Brother and sister clothing designers Camilla Freeman-Topper and Marc Freeman are, were 11 and 13 respectively when their mother died of ovarian cancer.

Dead rats in the Byron bubble?

Poppa Veet Mayo, Main Arm Am I the only one who can smell a dead rat in this bubble called the Byron Shire? Hear it happened...

Linen SHIFT project urgently needs new home

With a vision to disrupt the cycle of women’s homelessness, the Linen SHIFT project was born to provide unique individual support and education for at-risk women in a safe residential environment, but today they they have been forced to close.