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Australia Taps More Phones Than Entire U.S. 277

Posted by timothy
from the speak-up-mate dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Last year Australian authorities tapped more phones all United States authorities combined. Australian phones were tapped at 20 times the rate of phones in the US according to this article in the Sydney Morning herald. The fact was revealed during a debate in the Australian parliament. The government is attempting to pass new legislation to to make it even easier for the country's domestic spy agency ASIO to tap phones." Update: 09/16 14:07 GMT by T : Julian Assange writes "The Australian is also running the story and has better stats." Thanks for the link.
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Australia Taps More Phones Than Entire U.S.

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  • Re:Suspicious ... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by k-0s (237787) on Monday September 16, 2002 @04:55AM (#4264326) Homepage
    I'm in total agreement with you. Also has anyone thought that with Carnivore and our (remaining) rights here in America that maybe the CIA/FBI/NSA are just having the Aussies tap the American lines for them so as to prevent all those nasty civil rights violations we always hear in the media? Notice in the article it says "The data also reveals that the number of phone taps used *IN* Australia has increased threefold in four years, and ninefold in just over a decade" and "The Australian figures include *INTERCEPTIONS BY* the National Crime Authority, the Australian Federal Police and state policing agencies, but exclude ASIO." Nowhere does it say these are all domestic taps. I read somewhere thats how our government was getting around those pesky rights of ours, in regards (but not limited) to Carnivore, by having foreign governments do the tapping and keeping their hands clean of the matter. Seeing as how we are close allies with the Aussies it's not hard to believe that any information relavent to a case would be turned over to the American government. In the article it mentions how easy it is to get taps in the country so why go to a local judge when a tribunal half way around the world can get it done alot easier. I know this sounds all Men In Black, super spy, conspiracy theorist but I could have sworn I read about the skirting of our rights in regards to Carnivore on Slashdot a while back.
  • by The Famous Druid (89404) on Monday September 16, 2002 @05:18AM (#4264382)
    Does anyone really believe that the entire US spy industry only taps 1490 phones per year???

    At current levels of funding, that would work out at about $50 million per phone tap.

  • Re:being tapped (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 16, 2002 @05:19AM (#4264384)
    A friend of mine was raided by the Federal Police in full gear. They spent over $1 million ($500,000 $US) trying to get this guy..... And they turned up _nothing_ We found out from a contact in the Federal Police that naturally his phone was tapped, as were all his closer friends (this includes me).

    It disturbes me that I was watched because of guilt by association with someone who was NOT guilty of anything.
  • by Cyberdyne (104305) on Monday September 16, 2002 @08:24AM (#4264832) Journal
    As I understand it D-notices was/is a somewhat bizarre scheme, a kind of gentleman's agreement between newspaper editors and the Department of Defense whereby the DoD would supply the newspaper editors with privilaged access to certain information if they agreed not to publish it. It wasn't a legal thing as far as I am aware - the editors could (and some did) tell the DoD to stuff their D-notices.

    No. It involves the Offical Secrets Act, and basically amounts to "information about the theft of that anthrax from Porton Down is classified. If you tell anyone about it, we'll lock you up." There's a specific exemption to our Freedom of Expression for "national security" - basically, the Ministry of Defence (MoD; DoD is the US version) can just turn up and gag you on any matter they feel like. They can't gag you about, say, a politician screwing his secretary, but anything military or relating to the security services is another matter: just ask David Shayler...

    (The theft I mention was actually referred to by one paper at the time: the British lab at Porton Down was broken into, and had three things stolen - one being a sample of Foot and Mouth, another being Anthrax. For some strange reason, it wasn't referred to again...)

  • by carlfish (7229) <cmiller@pastiche.org> on Monday September 16, 2002 @09:22AM (#4265124) Homepage Journal
    I really hope you were trolling. I'll bite anyway.

    The Australian Constitution does not guarantee us any freedoms at all. If you read it, it's all about how power is divided between the State and Federal governments and the Governor General. There's no Bill of Rights, no guarantees of anything for the citizens save the right to vote in elections. Australian governments can pass any oppressive legislation they want.

    We do have a pretty lame kind of freedom of speech, but you won't find it anywhere in the constitution. That's because the High Court invented it out of nowhere in the late 80's. It was an interesting case - the government of the day tried to pass a law restricting spending on political advertisements, the TV companies sued, and a one-judge majority in the High Court decided that we had a "freedom of political speech" implied in the constitution. In other words, "It's not there, but it should be so we'll pretend it is." The logic they used was tenuous to say the least.

    Being a High Court decision, and a narrow majority, it could be overruled any time.

    So there's no wonder we have more phone-taps than the USA. They have constitutional protection against unreasonable search, all we have is a Common Law doctrine of evidence that will mostly (but not always) suppress evidence that was illegally obtained.

    Charles Miller

    (Who isn't a lawyer, but did pass Constitutional Law before he dropped out of University to become a programmer)

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