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Australia's Privacy Boss Slams Gov't Data-Retention Scheme 82

Posted by timothy
from the here-we've-got-czars-instead-of-bosses dept.
mask.of.sanity writes "The Australian Government's privacy commissioner has slammed its plans to implement a data retention scheme, in which it would ask telcos and internet providers to store the browsing and calling logs of Australian subscribers. He said the scheme would put user privacy in jeopardy because data will lie around at the behest of law enforcement. The Aussie scheme would be based on that which exists in Europe under the EU Directive. The directive aims to give law enforcement authorities the ability to ascertain the identity of a person using a public network to communicate by mobile, fixed line, email, or internet. The directive defines 'data' to be collected as 'traffic data and location data and the related data necessary to identify the subscriber or user.'"
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Australia's Privacy Boss Slams Gov't Data-Retention Scheme

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  • by JDmetro (1745882)
    data retention scheme? Personally I trust the Aussie government more than Google.
    • by Nazlfrag (1035012)

      As an Australian, I have to differ. I prefer someone who's trying to push me advertising over someone who's out to take my liberty.

  • by atomicstrawberry (955148) on Friday October 29, 2010 @02:15AM (#34059900)

    ... which is to say record labels and motion picture companies.

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Media barons don't give a shit about Australia. It has more to do with the fact that the Australian government is attempting to install an authoritarian regime. They've done worse than this, though, introducing laws that contravene the geneva conventions which not even influential groups like scientology could overturn.

      Currently, the government has the ability to put you into a mental hospital with no oversight, based on a single family member's judgement. Perfect for when the schools start teaching about h

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        If it becomes a Christian theocracy I'll move there. The road it's currently on -- one of iron-fisted ruling, the removal of freedoms and a general government invasion into the lives of its people -- is certainly not a Christian one. If you're an avid and serious Bible reader then you likely understand what the founding father of America understood; freedom and the ability of the people to govern themselves are cornerstones of a great nation.

        If you'd like to see behind the veil, here it is. Political inc

      • by walshy007 (906710)

        Since this was modded insightful, I'll bite, what geneva conventions has australia broken?

        Most mental institutions tend to check you out when you get there, if they don't release you it tends to be a good sign that maybe they were right in putting you there. Last I checked there weren't masses of people tossing their perfectly mentally able parents etc in there either.

        By the general rant against mental health institutions and putting scientology in a positive light, would I be correct in saying you are in f

        • I can't supply an answer about the Geneva conventions, but Australia does indeed have a long and well-documented history of incarcerating people in mental institutions with no judicial oversight. The situation might be better in the US (certain novels notwithstanding [wikipedia.org]), but Australia's record is pretty grisly.
  • If he was in the U.S. He would be canned soon. It's nice to see someone fighting the good fight. Hope he keeps on keeping on.
  • by Freaky Spook (811861) on Friday October 29, 2010 @02:24AM (#34059928)

    This dragnet approach is pretty pointless. All it does is cost people time and money.

    With the amount of browsing I do I would probably be able to look at my entire history and find illegal things I have accidentally or unintentionally stumbled across over the years, not to mention what kind of traffic I have generated when I have got the odd virus/worm.

    It doesn't really protect the community either as anyone who wants to go to the trouble of hiding what they do online can do so very simply so in sense something like this is akin to listening to everyone's phone conversations and not realising the people you are trying to get are sending each other letters.

    Australia really needs a Bill of Rights created, and in this day and age of Communications and identity it strongly worded to protect peoples individuals rights online from government, corporate and other individuals.

    • Depends. Is the idea to prevent crime, or maximise the prosecution rate to make the government look good? If the latter, it could be useful having access to a wealth of dirt so vast. Everyone has done something illegal, after all. Could be a powerful tool for the police: "Look, we might be able to secure a conviction or we might not - but if you don't plead guilty, we know about those movies you downloaded last month, and those comments you made a year ago threatening your ex. Make this easy for us, because
  • I very much doubt that the Greens will vote for this. The Liberal/National coalition will support the idea, but will be compelled to vote against it just to annoy the Labor government (although once it gets publicly linked to those kiddy-porn loving, WMD-owning, union-member, terrorist boat-people then that might give the Coalition the excuse to vote for it).

    • by Nazlfrag (1035012)

      Like every slashdot story about how oppresive Australia is, this will never pass the House let alone the Senate. Sure, they want an opressive Orwellian regieme but somehow our parliamentary system actually seems to work and put a stop to the idiocy before it gets close to becoming law.

      • It's a pretty sad indictment of our system that the best that we can hope for is a government that is incapable of governing. I often fantasise that the world is ready for anarchy, but of course the corporations and Big Money would never stand for that, and would quickly start making their own "justice".
      • by drsmithy (35869)

        Sure, they want an opressive Orwellian regieme but somehow our parliamentary system actually seems to work and put a stop to the idiocy before it gets close to becoming law.

        These sorts of schemes almost never have any serious support in the major parties, they're nearly always pandering to independents to get their support on more "important" issues. Hence, as soon as said "issue" has been resolved, they wither and eventually die.

  • Third Link (Score:3, Informative)

    by cappp (1822388) on Friday October 29, 2010 @02:30AM (#34059954)
    The third link directs to a discussion of the implimentation of the EU Directive in Sweden, not the Directive itself. For that you can just click here [europa.eu] (pdf).

    It's probably important to note that the EU Directive specifically mandates that

    2. No data revealing the content of the communication may be retained pursuant to this Directive.

  • the government doesn't listen.... again?
  • Man... (Score:3, Funny)

    by rakuen (1230808) on Friday October 29, 2010 @02:37AM (#34059986) Homepage
    You want to see what I view on the internet, man? I will show you things, man. Crazy things, man. Things you never even dreamed of, man. Your mind won't be able to handle it, man! Game over, man! Game OVER, man!
  • hmm (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Moggy : Gosh Big Bro,you sure know alot.

    Mogster : Yeah, I know.

  • Whether you think it's valid or not, I implore the international community to ignore anything our government says/does about the internet.

    Thank you.

  • ...for an Australian government of any stripe to take a bad idea from another country and repeat it here, as if it'll somehow work out all right this time. Nobody ever learns from anyone else's mistakes - which is probably why history keeps repeating itself.
  • by tick-tock-atona (1145909) on Friday October 29, 2010 @03:47AM (#34060256)

    Using the example of a Gmail account, Google public policy and government affairs spokesperson Istar Vij used the example of deleting an email from a Gmail account. "Once it's deleted and gone from our backup servers, it's gone," she said. "From the entire techostratasphere?" Fisher asked. "If I stored data with my Gmail account and I deleted it, it will be gone," Vij replied.

    Thank god our elected representatives know what they are talking about.

  • How does this work when most email sites (at least gmail) now use https by default. They cant possibly log that. Or will they at one point force isps to do man in the middle. That way you will never get a valid certificate and know when you are giving away your login to the wrong website...
    • From the summary;

      The directive defines 'data' to be collected as 'traffic data and location data and the related data necessary to identify the subscriber or user.'"

      All that is required is record the fact that IP xyz contacted IP abc using protocol def, that IP xyz belonged to ISP subscriber vikisonline at the time, and that vikisonline is at this physical address. No need to break encryption. If the other end, IP abc, is in Australia then they will also be required to record that IP xyz connected and that this connection authenticated to account viksionline. This is a traffic analysis mother lode. With both ends of this conversation they now can

  • With https this would be really useless anyways. Unless they force ISPs to do a man in the middle attack. But then now everyone there would be really open to fake websites, because people would just get used to getting a false certificate warning on every page (much like if you browse on rogers's 3g network in canada...)
    • > With https this would be really useless anyways.

      There is still a log of where you connected and when. That seems to be what they want, for traffic analysis.

  • by CuteSteveJobs (1343851) on Friday October 29, 2010 @04:37AM (#34060414)
    Aussie PM Julia Gillard is Kevin Rudd's successor. She supports the filter, but put plans on hold for the election. Now the election is over and she's back, complete with a reappointed Stephen Conroy as Minister for Communications.

    Gillard really should have lost the election, but the right-wing opposition party was lead by Tony Abbott; a pro-business anti-worker fundamentalist misogynist racist buffoon firmly in the pockets of big business and the tobacco industry, but an economic ignorance that was laughable. Every time Abbott opened his mouth he drove voters away. Like Palin in America, when a right-wing party is out of office they get captured by the crazies and swing further to the right thinking that will win them more voters. Of course it doesn't, and Abbott lost.

    And so Gillard won by default... and now the filter is back. You would think the opposition would kick out Abbott and put in someone more centrist, but they refuse to admit they made a mistake and they're clinging on to him. Meanwhile the censorship regime rolls on. Both parties are pro-censorship. What are we to do?
    http://www.heraldsun.com.au/opinion/gillard-ushers-in-the-era-of-farce/story-e6frfhqf-1225896276726 [heraldsun.com.au]

  • encrypt everything (Score:2, Insightful)

    by evanism (600676)
    Ozzie here. I swear I have been having more trouble with my email since I've begun encrypting everything. I'd swear these Gestapo bastards are using these laws retrospectively and have been forcing ISPs to do this for some time. I am ashamed to be an Australian. Every year we take a step closer to the steep cliff of tyranny.
  • by ghostdoc (1235612) on Friday October 29, 2010 @04:51AM (#34060466)

    ('wowser' is a uniquely Aussie term for a strong supporter of interventionist government policy).

    Any discussion of online privacy/retention/etc tends to be one-sided, from my experience so far, largely because wowsers seem to be almost universally technology-illiterate. If the government proposed to keep a photocopy of every letter you ever received or sent, there'd be a howling outcry (well actually probably not, since the only people that send letters any more are government agencies and utility companies, but you get the picture).

    In discussions on the Conroy Filter, any explanations about how it won't work tends to fall on deaf ears, or gets the standard Conroy response of 'so you propose we do nothing then?', and the assumption is that the internet is full of vile perverts who should be castrated. The point being that the debate is not on technical feasibility, or even benefits, but on perceived moral stance.

    With any opposition to government surveillance, the standard response of 'if you've done nothing wrong you've got nothing to hide' should be ringing across the ether...except it appears that no-one who knows enough to comment on this issue is ignorant enough to declare that (well, not as many as you'd expect).

    So it seems there's a Digital Divide right there...if the debate is pitched in terms of details and technical specifics, it only attracts knowledgeable commentary, and that tends to be broadly anti-censorship and pro-privacy. If the debate is pitched in simple terms, it attracts wowsers.

    Which would suggest that wowsers tend to be older, since young people are more familiar with technology? Or is it education?

    • by geefau (986367)
      After the NBN roll out continues across Australia, will it will be technically easier for the government to implement a filter (because NBN Co. [nbnco.com.au] controls the network hardware [nbnco.com.au])?
    • by drsmithy (35869)

      ('wowser' is a uniquely Aussie term for a strong supporter of interventionist government policy).

      Er, no. A 'wowser' is typical right-wing, puritanical, fundie-Christian, save-the-children, hand-wringing moron. It's got nothing to do with whether or not they agree with Government policy (and given the current Government, they probably don't, since such people wouldn't support the godless Labor heathens in a pink fit).

  • Here's an example of such data as captured from a potential terrorrrrrrirst:

    Traffic: All goes to suckitup.is

    Location: Roaming wifi

    Related data: The Fifth of November
  • Somebody gets a clue about the impact of data retention. If only somebody with enough cloud in the EU will take the same stance...

  • First Post? (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by dcollins (135727)

    Either (a) no one's made a comment in 3 hours since this story was posted, or (b) something's glitched up on Slashdot and this won't go through.

  • and the related data necessary to identify the subscriber or user

    And what better way to identify beyond reasonable doubt who the user is than to save all emails to check for signatures, record all calls to compare voices, and so on. Right?
  • Note that the EU directive is being fought - successfully - by activist in individual countries. In March, Germany ruled the directive to be unconstitutional: [eff.org]

    From the linked article dated March 10, 2010: Last week, the German Constitutional Court issued a much-anticipated decision, striking down its data retention law as violating human rights. It was an important victory for Europe’s Freedom Not Fear movement, which was formed to oppose the EU Data Retention Directive. But it was also a reminder of t

  • I blame WD, Seagate, et al. Now that you can buy 1TB drives for less than $50, and single drives up to (and soon exceeding) 3TB, it is easy and relatively inexpensive to archive everything the users do. Soon, if storage continues to be cheaper per TB, it may become possible, even mandantory to log every keystroke. Of course, there will always be excluded classes, politically and economically, from such laws. But then I'm a cynical old fart, who has seen technology become increasingly invasive, and priva

    • "People kill people, Guns don't kill people", sounds familiar ?

      Don't shoot the hard-drive manufacturers because their products get abused by another totalarian government.

      It's still those "for the citizens" which demand these draconian rules of data retention, not Seagate, WD or any company making storage cheaper.

      Technology has become to a fase where it's being used against us all, should we therefor blame Intel, Asus and all the mainboard manufacturers in the same time?

      Our own (elected) people, with their

  • Thank-you Timothy Pilgrim for this statement I will listen to you intently in the future.
    Are there any Europeans who can offer an opinion on their system?
  • Judging from the TFA this Timothy Pilgrim sounds like a reasonable guy.

    Using the phrase "privacy boss" is probably a bit strong though for the head of an organisation that only regulates existing legislation. They only advise the government on new policy, which of course they can ignore. Data retention will obviously save children and stop the terrorists so I suspect that will be the case here.

  • I wasn't aware that the privacy commissioner actually had any power. Perhaps he's just realised, and that's why he's grumpy.
  • The rise of Squid? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by eric31415927 (861917) on Friday October 29, 2010 @07:47AM (#34061052)

    We have a similar law in Canada, whereby law enforcement can review a person's web browsing (and email?) for up to two years.

    I see a business model for selling anonymous web browsing via proxy servers.
    Commercial proxy servers already exist to get around Hulu barriers and the like.
    If such servers market themselves as "anonymous," they should find more paying customers.

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