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Australia Government Privacy

Australian Spy Agency Offered To Share Data About Ordinary Citizens 78

Posted by timothy
from the they're-only-ordinary-citizens dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Australian spy agencies offered to share personal information about law-abiding Australian citizens with overseas governments. This includes legal, religious and medical information, which was shared about this Canadian women. Departments in the Australian Public service has also been caught spying on citizens. Even low-ranking public servants can look up information such as phone calls and email metadata without needing a warrant. The target is not notified."
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Australian Spy Agency Offered To Share Data About Ordinary Citizens

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  • This is an outrage (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @10:29AM (#45583309)

    Government officials behaving like Internet businessmen!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Where is cold fjord to tell us all this BS is needed to protect us from the terrorists?

    • Rarely is a first-posting AC this on the money. It's like an Internet unicorn (the good kind, not the kind that watches kid's TV shows from the basement).
    • by Anonymous Coward

      It just further goes to show why right-wing politicians are so keen to be against privacy laws. For the longest time, I thought it was because it'd limit what companies could do with your data--as they're usually the target of such laws. But, now it's clear. They don't want a right to privacy recognized because then they couldn't sell out their own citizens to foreign governments. So, for all that talk of the NSA spying for espionage? More than likely it was to sell out the metadata of US CEOs, manager

  • by SirGarlon (845873) on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @10:34AM (#45583349)

    All the way back in 1995, when I first started using the World Wide Web, some users were advocating for strong privacy protections. We were ignored, then laughed at, then insulted with the "tinfoil hat" labrel.

    Are you ready to reconsider our point, that society is better off if governments are corporations do NOT have free reign to collect, store, and mine as much data about us as they want?

    • by fluffythedestroyer (2586259) on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @10:37AM (#45583391) Homepage
      crap... they'll know I went on porn sites...my life is ruined :)
      • by sumdumass (711423) on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @11:05AM (#45583745) Journal

        They will know more than that. They can determine if you have an affair, a medical condition that could potentially harm your ability in other areas like how AIDS patients were originslly treated as outcasts with leprosy or something.

        Of course stuff like that may not matter to people who think the government should be in charge of their medical and all those aspects of life. But when your neighbor gets killed in a drug deal gone bad, disapeArs, and the government decides because you purchased lime for you garden, kives for your kitchen, large garbage bags, a shovel, new mattress and area rug for your bedroom, all within thE last 2 months- one of which your neighbor was missing, and decides you killed her because you also looked at a page about scott peterson, you will think differently about those dangers.

        There have been people convicted for crimes primarily on circumstantial evidence. Traditionally, something connected them to the crime outside of that but what happens when there are no leads and they search your metadata and decide you are the most likely match for the criminal behind it? I know, you have nothing to hide.

        • by TheMeuge (645043) on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @11:23AM (#45583975)

          Actually, it's worse than that. What will undoubtedly affect most people is not the power imbalance between the individual and the government as a whole, but the tremendous power imbalance between an individual and the lowest tier public worker that has access to that information. When your local policeman will be browsing your daughter's naked photos (that she took in the shower with her cell phone) while contemplating which would be better to coerce her into sex, her confession about cheating in French class, smoking a joint once a year ago, or going on a date with two different people without them knowing it; and when you find out, and the same person will threaten you with being arrested for anything he could make up he saw in the surveillance, put you on a watch list, destroy your life.... that's when you will realize how far the power separation has gone.

          Take it from someone who was brought up in the Soviet Union - even the lowliest civil servant had power, and exercised it. There was no action without bribery, and there was not even a concept of freedom... not because of power coming from the top down, but because the system was so skewed at a traffic cop could pull you over, rob you, rape your wife, then kill you both, and if anyone witnessed it, they'd keep their mouth shut.

          Power corrupts.

          If you give someone absolute access to your information (even forgetting the concept that the latter will likely mean absolute access to making stuff up), you given them absolute power over you.

          • by jythie (914043)
            One only has to spend a bit of time in one of America's small towns to see this type of thing going on. Those little '5k and under' towns are notorious for this kind of corruption.
          • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @06:29PM (#45589539) Journal

            If you want to see a colorful illustration of the above, find and watch a movie called "Lives of Others". It's a German film about Stasi surveillance in the late GDR period and its abuse by people in the system for blackmail etc.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Not really no, you had the problem upside down. You need to get data about the governments and corporations.

      See, in your world what happens is that snooping is illegal, and it still happens but you've said it's illegal and when occasionally the cracks show and you realise you were spied on you rant and rave but ultimately you can't do anything about it. Like now.

      Whereas if you demand transparency then yes, everybody knows you like furry porn or whatever, but you now know if the government are trying to hide

      • by SirGarlon (845873)

        You have a good point. Frankly, it is hard to imagine what a world of total transparency would be like. I have doubts whether total, universal transparency would lead to a utopia or a dystopia, but I am pretty darned confident this is all academic because it will never happen. Governments will never allow themselves to be *that* accountable.

        You're totally right that privacy laws will always be violated. However, I believe that creating a climate where privacy is the expected situation will make the world a

    • Indeed. Privacy does _not_ equal paranoia.

      I hate to see us have to fight this fight, yet again. It appears we need to, once more, remind our government and corporate overlords that what we do and who we are is really none of their business. Just because we pay taxes or give them our hard earned money in exchange for cheap pieces of electronic crap does _not_ mean they have the right to know everything or anything about us.

    • by Mashiki (184564)

      All the way back in 1995, when I first started using the World Wide Web, some users were advocating for strong privacy protections. We were ignored, then laughed at, then insulted with the "tinfoil hat" labrel.

      Well there were some of us advocating that before 1995, even as a young teenager using usenet, gopher and so on I could see it. And I wasn't particularly smart, or anything else. But you could see the way it was going, you could hear the whispers in the dark as it were, if you watched how politicians reacted to this whole "internet thing." I was a huge political hound back then, and the Liberal Government of the day was drooling over this up here in Canada. Luckily massive political infighting, and othe

  • by Anonymous Coward

    In retaliation, from this point forward I'm going to make jokes about Australia being a country full of dim-witted criminals.

    Q: What did the government do the public servant who broken into private computers and stole private data?
    A: Awarded him with Australia's highest prize for thievery, the Stealybaloo Award.

    • by gmuslera (3436)

      make jokes about Australia being a country governed by dim-witted criminals

      FTFY

      Oh, wait, thats no joke.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I've never been much of a fan of democracy (well democracy as we call it in Australia). As such we need someone to play watchdog to the corrupt government officials who bleed our wallets and souls dry. I would have thought that this was the Governor General's responsibility; if not then who or what can we do to expose the government when they don't act in our interests or good faith?

    • I've never been much of a fan of democracy (well democracy as we call it in Australia). As such we need someone to play watchdog to the corrupt government officials who bleed our wallets and souls dry. I would have thought that this was the Governor General's responsibility; if not then who or what can we do to expose the government when they don't act in our interests or good faith?

      Your government DOES have a watchdog -- it's called the American Government. Unfortunately, the interests its watching out for probably don't line up with your own.

      As for the GG, the GG is a representative of the Queen in her role as Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith. Unfortunately, she's even more of a figurehead in this role than she is in her role as Queen of the United Kingdom. So if things get REALLY bad, the GG can halt parliament and force the people to elect a new one -- but other t

  • That these came from leaked Snowden documents can't be true. cold fjord told us that Snowden's leaks were only to harm the US government and would never include things about other governments. *rolls eyes*

  • we want to do that...

    oh wait no we don't... yes thats what centrelink etc are trying to do is catch fraud...

    its not like they leave windows machines administrators full access to classified documents...

    how many australians are concerned about immigration ?

    thanks

    John

    • by Kalriath (849904)

      we want to do that...

      oh wait no we don't... yes thats what centrelink etc are trying to do is catch fraud...

      its not like they leave windows machines administrators full access to classified documents...

      Er, that was Work and Income New Zealand, not Centrelink Australia.

  • And also angry at the Departments in the Australian Public service that has been caught spying.

    • by aiht (1017790)

      And also angry at the Departments in the Australian Public service that has been caught spying.

      And also angry at the Departments in the Australian Public service that are spying but have not been caught.

  • by Sir_Eptishous (873977) on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @11:16AM (#45583875) Homepage
    The interesting thing to me is how little(except for places like /., etc;) extrapolation is done regarding our erosion of privacy and rights.
    No one seems to think we are on a slippery slope here.

    Yes, I know it's BEYOND trite and redundant to quote or reference Orwells' 1984, but hey, a guy having to stand in the corner of his apartment to stay out of view of telescreens and microphones is essentially where we are headed.

    We are almost there now.
    • by TheMeuge (645043) on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @11:38AM (#45584163)

      No one seems to think we are on a slippery slope here.

      Not anymore. I think we're long past it. We're like Wile E Coyote... we've run off the cliff, just haven't fully realized it yet.

    • by AHuxley (892839)
      That staff in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, United States, a few other nations the US really like and cleared contractors: seem to have more faith in each other than their own elected govs, countries or their own public.
      We all had a good look into the future when Eastern Europe opened gov archives in the early 1990's and we saw the huge amount of paper files, audio tape and index cards.
      All backed up by a tame judiciary and mil/police that enjoyed keeping the boarders sealed.
      Orwell
  • it is all fucked up now. I think we need a reboot.

  • by alexo (9335) on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @11:44AM (#45584229) Journal

    This includes legal, religious and medical information, which was shared about this Canadian women.

    How does the Australian spy agency share medical data on a Canadian woman?

    • by SirGarlon (845873)
      Pretty simple. First, they get the data because the woman lives in Australia, or visited Australia, or knows somebody in Australia, or said "Australia" once. Whatever. They get the data somehow. They're an intelligence agency. Getting data is what they do. Then they share it with a nod and a wink as they ignore whatever feeble privacy laws may exist. Because, as we learned from Snowden, that's also what they do.
  • by sandbagger (654585) on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @11:55AM (#45584343)

    'If you're not cop, you're little people.'

  • by gumpish (682245) on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @11:55AM (#45584349) Journal

    Why doesn't the summary mention Snowden?

  • You better run, you better take cover.

  • This is something that I truly worry about it. We are constantly bombarded with new outrages and many people are like "meh, it sucks. but what you gunna do?"

    Is there an antidote?

    • Yes. It's called prison. For that you need a judge.
      For that you need the law.
      It's a grand idea. It should be implemented.

    • by Nyder (754090)

      This is something that I truly worry about it. We are constantly bombarded with new outrages and many people are like "meh, it sucks. but what you gunna do?"

      Is there an antidote?

      It's called a revolution.

    • by AHuxley (892839)
      Re the antidote.
      Think about a book, comic, stage play, cartoon, song, dance, puppets, animations, create a free video game (app, PC, PS$...), blog -
      A few $ on a website, lots of useful free software, code is free, digital art no longer has a huge up front cost in terms of cash or new skills.
      Govs in Eastern Europe really got upset when they saw themselves, their 'new' laws, their 'legal' orders and their actions reflected around the world.
      Terms like: contractors, insider trading, drones, clearances, re
  • Quite simply information is power. Governments might claim (and potentially truthfully) that they won't abuse this power; but it is power that they have quite simply grabbed without much debate. On the otherhand we the people are denied much information about government with them saying that it would be a security issue to hand out much of the most powerful information. So why is it that minor nobodies with little or no oversight can go through my most personal banking, telephoning, and medical information
  • Why is Australia a sad joke compared to the USA. Both have a similar recent history, with their significant origins in the British Empire. Both are effectively continental nations with unthinkable levels of natural resources. But the USA was developed by the British (every philosophical aspect of the so-called American Revolution was designed by British thinkers to create) to create Britain II, whereas Australia was kept as a crap-hole to serve various nasty purposes.

    Today, Australia has a level of social e

    • by alexo (9335)

      -voting is compulsory. You break the law if you refuse to vote. Of course, since anyone who votes, no matter how they vote, gives active support to the current system, every citizen of this sick nation is FORCED to actively support the current system- BY LAW.

      You are not prevented from casting an invalid [austlii.edu.au] vote.

    • by aiht (1017790)

      -the Orwellian 'department of statistics' has (and uses) the legal power to forcibly 'interview' any citizen, asking them the most intrusive and sickening questions about their sex lives and other personal issues.

      Sorry, but what are you even talking about?
      I can't find anything online called the Department of Statistics (except for in various universities, of course). Do you mean the Australian Bureau of Statistics?
      They're the ones who send out a census form to be filled in and mailed back. I have never heard any suggestion that they send representatives to question people directly, let alone "physical inspection" or wielding the threat of jail time.
      Do you have a source for this?
      Am I just feeding a troll, here?

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