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Australia Taps More Phones Than Entire U.S. 277

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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  • Oh No (Score:2, Funny)

    by WzDD ( 23061 ) on Monday September 16, 2002 @04:31AM (#4264266) Homepage
    Lucky We Live In A Free Country Like America!

    See What Happens When Citizens Give Up Their Guns?

    This Would Never Happen If Australia Had A First Amendment Like The US!

    Just wanted to get those out of the way. Carry on. :-)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 16, 2002 @04:34AM (#4264273)
    They're welcome to our line. I admire anyone that could stand more than 5 minutes of listening to the crap that my sister speaks about all day long on the phone.
  • by HacTar ( 86396 ) on Monday September 16, 2002 @04:34AM (#4264274) Journal
    Silly. What did you think seti was for?
    To spy ET phone home..
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 16, 2002 @04:35AM (#4264277)
    Considering that the population of Australia consists almost entirely of banned convicts from England, it's no wonder that they need the tap that often. Hell, I'm suprised those criminals are even allowed to use a phone.
  • Re:Oh No (Score:3, Funny)

    by rchatterjee ( 211000 ) on Monday September 16, 2002 @04:45AM (#4264298) Homepage
    not to be too picky about your little rant there but the first amendment is:

    Amendment I

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    I'm pretty sure Australia has most if not all of that somewhere in their constitution as well. What they don't have is something like our second amendment which is:

    Amendment II

    A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

    But i'm just one of those types who is picky about which amendment is which.
  • by Camel Racer ( 134168 ) on Monday September 16, 2002 @04:51AM (#4264311)
    I found the quote
    The spokeswoman said the Australian figures reflected the "increasing sophistication of criminals and their use of new technology".
    especially telling.

    Guess that explains everything. The crooks, labor organizers, and opposition, have mastered the "sophistication" of the telephone.

  • by Black Copter Control ( 464012 ) <samuel-local&bcgreen,com> on Monday September 16, 2002 @04:54AM (#4264322) Homepage Journal
    I've been friend and associate of enough interesting activists that ther have been times when I just pre-emptively presumed that my line was being tapped (there was actually one instance where I had some circumstantial evidence that my line really was being tapped.

    I know that one friend of mine had her phone line bugged over some activist work she was doing. She saw the transcripts. Her comment on it was "all they got were some really nice recipies".

    Not that all that stopped me from saying much: As Ghandi once said:

    Let then know exactly what you're going to do, and then hope that they overreact

    At one point, my outgoing phone message (on the phone company's voice messaging system) said:

    Hi: You've reached the home of Stephen and Regan. Unfortunately, our answering machine is broken, but that's OK -- Our phone line is being tapped. So speak clearly and we'll get the transcripts from our lawyers.
    Most people recognized it as a joke, but a couple took it seriously... Regan's mom, particularly left a message worrying about whether or not we were going to get the message, and what kind of roommates did he have that we were getting our line tapped?

    It was the best laugh I had for months.

  • PATRIOT! (Score:3, Funny)

    by DoctorFrog ( 556179 ) on Monday September 16, 2002 @04:56AM (#4264329)
    America must claw its way back to the top. We can't have the Aussies showing us up! Support your local PATRIOT Actors...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 16, 2002 @05:46AM (#4264435)
    Last night I was lying in bed trying to get to sleep when I thought I heard a strange noise coming from the bathroom.

    Knowing that I wouldn't be able to doze off until the mystery was solved, I hauled by sad ass out of bed and stumbled down the hall to the "little room"

    At first I thought it must just be tinnitus because the sound was really indistinct and seemed to be coming from multiple directions at once.

    After a few minutes walking around the bathroom with my hands cupped to my ears I finally traced the source of the noise to the basin.

    Yes, those bastard law-enforcement officials -- they'd phoned my tap!

  • releif (Score:3, Funny)

    by tanveer1979 ( 530624 ) on Monday September 16, 2002 @05:58AM (#4264447) Homepage Journal
    so ggod in living in a developing country .. our phones dont work half of the time whew ;-)
  • by pommiekiwifruit ( 570416 ) on Monday September 16, 2002 @06:18AM (#4264497)
    For instance UK journalists and newscasters are really hard questioners and don't give politicians an easy time in the way they do in many countries...

    Let's see, we have:

    • Johnny Vaughan.
    • Richard and Judy.
    • Martin Bashir.

    On the other hand we also have

    • Peter Snow
    • Jeremy Paxman
    • Ali G :-)

    Hmm, depends who the politicians pick to interview them...

  • by pubjames ( 468013 ) on Monday September 16, 2002 @06:25AM (#4264514)
    Hmmm. I don't think I would call Johnny Vaughan, Richard and Judy or Ali G news journalists.

    Mind you, I remember Ali G asking Edward Heath if she ever fancied giving Thatcher a quickie, which is a pretty tough question...
  • by nzhavok ( 254960 ) on Monday September 16, 2002 @06:39AM (#4264544) Homepage
    Yeah but it's so much easier to convict when you have a kangaroo court...

    Sorry, couldn't resist.
  • by Proquar ( 577283 ) <echidna@tig.com.au> on Monday September 16, 2002 @07:06AM (#4264598) Journal
    Actually, Australia's constitution came into effect on 1 Jan 1901 - the day we federated. So it was quite a significant day. It established and defined the relationship between the all states. It took a long time to develop - and was done by a group of clear-thinking, diverse people in a fiery debate - where no one got killed.

    (People often walked out, but no one got killed. And the process went for years) until finally the fiction that is the Australian constitution was born. Somehow, we managed to develop a Clayton's monarchy, (the monarchy you have when you're not having a monarchy).

    And now lots of people want to change the constitution - because of this very clever fiction. But I'm sure in the process they'll remove a lot of the freedoms that are currently afforded to Australian's if they are allowed to change it one iota. Then we won't be able to walk down the street with the right to be free from fear of drive-by shootings and there will proabably be more allowances and less restrictions phone tappings by incompetent organisations like ASIO.

    If ASIO were so good at tapping phones, how come the newspaper knows about it? Is it just me, or is the real story - we know about more Aussies having their phones tapped than we know about American phones being tapped?

    Now the CIA, there's an agency that really knows where its towel is (and how to keep its phone-tapping under wraps).
  • by kevin lyda ( 4803 ) on Monday September 16, 2002 @08:11AM (#4264767) Homepage
    that's nothing. in america we spent over $30 million investigating one guy over a land deal and ended up barely being able to prove that he lied to people that he had an affair - and that was just because a private citizen illegally recorded some phone conversations.

    as usual we americans are better at everything - including abusing civil liberties. so there.
  • by Catbeller ( 118204 ) on Monday September 16, 2002 @02:25PM (#4267468) Homepage
    'twas 70 million plus, actually.

    But it bought us Bush II ! I'm sure the House managers thought it other people's money well spent.
  • by Proquar ( 577283 ) <echidna@tig.com.au> on Monday September 16, 2002 @07:32PM (#4269514) Journal
    What do you mean... it protected the Franklin River, didn't it? :P
    Have you seen The Castle? It protected those guys too - it's the vibe of the thing - really!

    It's not a bad old bird, really - and it allows changes as is appropriate, rather than being a document spawned in a civil war with no room to grow... It ain't perfect - but it ain't bad either.

    (I'm having fun, but not trolling :)

A committee takes root and grows, it flowers, wilts and dies, scattering the seed from which other committees will bloom. -- Parkinson