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ASIC Seeks Power To Read Your Emails 114

nemesisrocks writes "ASIC, Australia's version of the SEC, has called for phone call and internet data to be stored by Australian ISPs, in a submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry into mandatory data retention. Not only does the authority want the powers to intercept the times, dates and details of telecommunications information, it also wants access to the contents of emails, social media chats and text messages."
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ASIC Seeks Power To Read Your Emails

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  • Inquity ? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Errol backfiring ( 1280012 ) on Friday September 28, 2012 @05:35AM (#41486079) Journal
    Sorry, I am not a native English speaker, and a quick web search does not yield anything on the word "Inquity". Can somebody explain the word?
    • Re:Inquity ? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ByteSlicer ( 735276 ) on Friday September 28, 2012 @05:39AM (#41486101)
      It's most probably a typo of the word "Inquiry". The keys R and T are adjacent on q qwerty keyboard...
      • on q qwerty keyboard...

        Lol. Just thinking of qwerty made me type a Q instead of an A (azerty keyboard).

        • by EnempE ( 709151 )
          So was that typo due to the Q and A keys being adjacent or because of you thinking of a word beginning with 'q' or because you were imagining the location of the 'q' key by thinking of the qwerty layout. Are these typos due to a failure in digital agility or some kind of Freudian finger slip ?
          • In this case it was either because my brain anticipated the 'q' of the word 'qwerty' and skipped ahead, or because the word 'qwerty' temporarily fooled my brain into 'qwerty mode' (I can type in both layouts).
            It's probably the first one, since I often mistype depending on what I'm thinking of. Sometimes while I'm typing a sentence, someone distracts me for a split second by talking, and then I notice I typed a word or idea related to what was said.
            The subconscious brain seems to have these independent modul
      • No, Parliamentary "Iniquity" sounds about right. Go look it up.

        "Where the people fear the government you have tyranny. Where the government fears the people you have liberty."

        • That is precisely the right word. Iniquity is premeditated sin which is engaged in with full knowledge, often with a measure of defiance - and even contempt.

          Governments all over the world seem to have nothing but contempt for the people and they are grabbing more and more power despite what the people want.
    • by ComaVN ( 325750 ) on Friday September 28, 2012 @05:40AM (#41486109)

      probably a misspelling of iniquity:
      Noun: Immoral or grossly unfair behavior.

      sounds about right

    • Sorry, I am not a native English speaker, and a quick web search does not yield anything on the word "Inquity". Can somebody explain the word?

      It is called a typo --- and it happens because submissions can't be spell-checked by the browser or the software that drives Slashdot.

      • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

        It is called a typo --- and it happens because submissions can't be spell-checked by the browser or the software that drives Slashdot.

        Firefox's spell check works on submissions, but it won't proofread for you.

  • It's Psychostory (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 28, 2012 @05:39AM (#41486103)

    According to Harry Seldon (, if a people begins as a prison colony it must necessarily end up as a police state. It's inevitable.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      That explains the USA then !!

      It must have been onerous for the British to have to send convicts to Australia when they found out they couldn't send them to America anymore due to the squabbles there with the French...oh, and a few ex convict colonists.

      You're welcome.

      • by laffer1 ( 701823 )

        Not every colony was used for prisoners. It does explain Georgia though :)

    • Re:It's Psychostory (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Cimexus ( 1355033 ) on Friday September 28, 2012 @08:14AM (#41486643)

      Funny how Australia gets the rap as being a prison colony, when in fact one of the key reasons for it being so was because, post-1776, they couldn't send prisoners to the American colonies anymore. The two countries have a more similar early history than most people know. Australia seems to have ended up with the convict stereotype though.

      • Estimated number of people transported to British North America is 50,000

        Estimated number of people sent to Australia as prisoners in 80-years of transportation is 165,000

        Estimated number of free people who emigrated to Australia in 1852 alone 370,000

        The number of convicts transported is tiny in both countries compared to the number who emigrated ...

    • america/england are 50 times closer to a police state to australia, so harry seldon doesn't seem to be kicking many goals
      • by Dr Max ( 1696200 )
        They have more surveillance in the uk and usa, but there are less rights in Australia. Cops in Australia can do what ever they want, no need for pesky warrants or anything like that over here, they just apply for one latter if they find something.
    • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

      You spelled his name wrong, it's not Harry, it's Hari. And I've read all the Foundation books, but your "if a people begins as a prison colony it must necessarily end up as a police state" is nowhere to be found in my meatware database. Which book?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Going to have to start encrypting everything

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Not being american *or* australian, the summary was not terribly helpful.

    What is the SEC?

  • Do they even comprehend the amount of data this will be? This is just one step away from recording all telephone calls as well. 1984, we didn't learn anything.
  • Encrypt everything (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Morgaine ( 4316 ) on Friday September 28, 2012 @06:02AM (#41486171)

    Encryption of all your Internet comms has been recommended forever and a day, but the bulk of the population hasn't bothered so far because the "postman opening letters" hasn't been very overt and in the public eye.

    Now that the politicians are all in the game of demanding their "right" to monitor everything, perhaps it's time that people will respond by finally encrypting everything and telling the police state advocates to sod off and stop terrorizing the population.

    • Email via Mozilla Thunderbird + Enigmail should give gnupg encryption good enough for most mail users. Can't find too many social media systems that offer gnupg as an option...
    • by pinkushun ( 1467193 ) * on Friday September 28, 2012 @07:00AM (#41486365) Journal

      Also that implementing and using encryption for personal use is more techy than the average being can handle. I'm hoping that [] can approach this issue. Extra points for taking note of the founders...

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Whether in Australia or the US or anywhere else for that matter the people shouldn't "need" to worry about encrypting their communications in any form when it comes to their government wanting to monitor everything. Not only is it simply a violation to peoples right to privacy but in my opinion it is also a blatant move towards what will inevitably result in a complete police state in the civilized world. Instead of worrying about encrypting your transmissions in whatever form we need to stand up and put

    • ...perhaps it's time that people will respond by finally encrypting everything and telling the police state advocates to sod off and stop terrorizing the population.

      Or, perhaps... they could vote for people that will put an end to this. I mean, if they really want to..

      • by donaldm ( 919619 )

        ...perhaps it's time that people will respond by finally encrypting everything and telling the police state advocates to sod off and stop terrorizing the population.

        Or, perhaps... they could vote for people that will put an end to this. I mean, if they really want to..

        Unfortunately it is difficult to vote for a government representative who has the courage to be vocal enough to put forward a good reason why stupid proposals like this should not be made law. The problem seems to be that the majority of people in nearly all political parties are IMHO a "bunch of technological cretins". While I don't think I am wrong with Australian government I would not be surprised if most governments world wide actually fall into this category.

        To be fair the average voter would not ha

    • In concept, yes, encryption is a good thing to have. Many web sites are now providing the option of https access.

      But what about email? Even if you encrypt the connection between you and your email server, there's no guarantee that the next hop will be encrypted. What then?

  • Cheaper to... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by stephanruby ( 542433 ) on Friday September 28, 2012 @06:03AM (#41486179)

    Wouldn't it be cheaper to close down the Australian stock exchange? Or just monitor the people who actively trade?

    Not that this will prevent people from encrypting messages, or passing insider messages face-to-face.

  • Me too (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Dear Australian Government,
    I am having a yard sale next weekend. In order to achieve fair market value for the more valuable goods, I have implemented a closed bidding system. I am worried that some of my neighbours might game the system by discussing their bids and making backroom deals. I am seeking the power to log their phone calls as well as access to the contents of emails, social media chats and text messages.

    Sincerely, John R. Citizen

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Dear John Citizen,

      we are sorry that we cannot allow you to do this because you did not append the mandatory cheque^W^W^W^W^W^W^Wthis would violate the privacy of other people.

      Sincerely, the Australian Government.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 28, 2012 @06:08AM (#41486195)

    So in effect:

    1. You're only innocent because you haven't committed a crime yet
    2. Thus they capture your data and store it
    3. After you've committed your crime, the data is there to prosecute you
    4. They've justified with reverse time causality.
    5. Ergo time travel is real.

    And if you don't commit a crime? Well obviously you haven't YET committed the crime that justified us putting you under surveillance in the past. So you must be a super cunning criminal. We'd better keep your data longer than 2 years, otherwise it might break the time-space continuum.

    That's what it amounts to, calling everyone a criminal and using that to take away their right to privacy.

    • by mwvdlee ( 775178 )

      You forgot a few steps;

      6. Law is changed.
      7. Data is checked for violations of the changed law.
      8. You are a criminal.

      To me the scary thing about data logging isn't what will be done with it now, but how those who inherit the data tomorrow will abuse it.

      • Or how about this one?

        They charge you withsomething.
        They find no evidence to support the charges.
        So they troll through your history and keep looking until they find something they can make stick, to show that they were right all along.

  • ASIC is useless (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Aurix ( 610383 ) on Friday September 28, 2012 @06:13AM (#41486217)

    ASIC is an absolute joke.

    Their failure to act borders on the laughable, and now they want to read our private communications, presumably so that they can .... wait for it.... yet again, do nothing.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      So the description "Australia's version of the SEC" is correct.

  • by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Friday September 28, 2012 @06:16AM (#41486227) Homepage

    Australia, you used to be cool. What happened, bro?

    Never mind frog boiling, they've just tossed the toad of liberty into the seething cauldron of totalitarianism and slammed the lid.

    Seriously, guys, you're even making Soviet UKistan look like a shining beacon of individual rights now. Poor show.

    • Not really ... thats hyperbole. There's a big difference between ASIC wanting these powers and it actually getting them. A lot of crap like this has been tossed around by various government departments and MPs and senators over the last few years (e.g. Internet filter proposal from a few years ago, which never even made it to the Bill stage), but not much of it ever sees light of day as enacted law.

      This is in the context of wider discussions at the moment in Australia about introducing data retention laws t

  • by ifrag ( 984323 ) on Friday September 28, 2012 @06:20AM (#41486237)
    I was actually excited from the title, fabricating a custom chip to do this. Then the summary quickly dispels that.
  • Just goes to show that you can't trust a single-purpose microprocessor...
  • by MysteriousPreacher ( 702266 ) on Friday September 28, 2012 @06:48AM (#41486327) Journal

    Well, it's already begun, but it's another interesting example of how the police state develops. In an established democracy it's kind of difficult to simply introduce something akin to the Stasi - that worries people.

    The trick is to grant unreasonable powers to a group that doesn't appear to have much to do with the average citizen (such as ASIC), or instead give it to a group with what people see as a very specific remit to act only in certain areas (TSA). In the case of ASIC, why should the average guy in the street worry about those stock exchange guys having this power - it's not as if they'll be using to snoop on regular guys. With the TSA, turning airports in to constitution free zones, people are fine with that because they think it's only happening in airports, when in fact they're spilling out in to other aspects of transport. Get people used to presenting documents at airports, train stations and state borders, and before long you'll be able to stop them anywhere and do it. Same with intrusive physical searches. When stopped on a random road, the patriotic dad will proudly hum "God Bless the USA" as his daughter allows a former Wall*Mart shelf stacker with a badge to get his hands down her pants in the name of security and freedom.

    Asking for such a broad and patently unjustified ability to snoop has no place in a modern democracy. Ship them out to an embassy near to a country such as North Korea or Iran - in the hope that they'll defect to a place where their Orwellian urges can be sated.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      How is Department of Homeland Security not the Stasi? Even the name doesn't even try to hide this fact.
      Here in Europe we really crinch about "Homeland" because it sounds to close to "Fatherland". But we also crinch about the pledge of allentience, and saluting to your flag, becuase it feels to much like the hitler greeting.

    • by digitalchinky ( 650880 ) on Friday September 28, 2012 @08:02AM (#41486591)

      You presume there is some giuding intelligence overseeing these power grabs with a view to a long term outlook. Having spent a big part of my career working for a secret 3 letter Australian agency, the reality seems more like everyone (particularly mid level management) simply needing to show they've been productively adding value between reporting periods. The vision extends no further than this.

      These all start out as imaginary problems, some can be monetized, others enable dot points on power point presentations with much self aggrandizement for those involved.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        It doesn't need a guiding intelligence. It's like corrosion: Nobody plans corrosion, but if you let things corrode at places where it apparently doesn't matter, the corrosion will slowly spread and finally find its way to a vital part.

      • There is a guiding force, but the leader of it all has this compulsion of self-contradiction. Likes to cause a lot of confusion by pretending to be God, and then saying that, since he is not God, God cannot be,. Etc., etc.

        But you are right. Corruption is a continual and necessary part of the present natural world.

        Which is the reason that national constitutions that waste little space on idealisms and focus primarily on checks and balances seem to be the most stable. (And why traitors to those constitutions

      • That sounds an even worse situation than if there were a coherent vision.

        It implies high-impact decisions like this are thought of only in the short term. Little consideration for how such legislation could be abused down the track, etc. That can't be a good thing.

  • They forgot to ask for all of your snail mail to be scanned and GPS tracking logs in case you have secret meetings in person so they can at least suggest a conspiracy depending on who you're with.
  • by ThatsNotPudding ( 1045640 ) on Friday September 28, 2012 @07:51AM (#41486551)
    That the descendants of a rather cruel attempt of the ultimate prison colony are slowly but surely allowing their own government re-imprison them is mind-boggling. Turns out the most dangerous animal in Austrailia is Ministerus Fascismus
  • Can anyone explain any advantage to these rules, other than "it makes the cops job easier".

    And they casually talk about destroying our privacy (and by association related rights like freedom of expression) not to mention security.. .... just to make their jobs easier..

    Imagine if every new road, even out in the desert had to have cameras and microphones, to record not just who drove on the road, but what they were talking about. All installed at the users expense.

    And the authorities have complete access to i

    • Can anyone explain any advantage to these rules, other than "it makes the cops job easier".

      It provides extra backups for your mail. Lost a mail? Just ask ASIC, they still have a copy. ;-)

  • Before, I was worried that the big, faceless government might be snooping on me, so I resisted the proposed laws and changes. However, now ASIC is asking, I can see that actually it's far more important and far less dangerous. I'll be supporting this move, as I'm sure will all my fellow non-Australians.

    I'm really hoping that the likes of Fosters will ask for all pubs to log who drinks what beers, how often and with whom. I'm sure that'll be for an equally important reason, and so obviously supportable.

  • by xclr8r ( 658786 )
    I hope your watching. Not that we in the U.S. are any better but we do try to "look" we care about privacy. []

    "In the interview with the Financial Review, Wozniak said the national broadband network was one of the reasons he wants to become a citizen."
  • by aglider ( 2435074 ) on Friday September 28, 2012 @08:41AM (#41486789) Homepage

    Do they have an idea of the amount of data "to be stored"?
    Politicians are all the same everywhere. They rule over things they don't understand.

  • If you send death threats to yourself, and your email gets intercepted and flagged, can you get charged?
  • by MysteriousPreacher ( 702266 ) on Friday September 28, 2012 @10:10AM (#41487693) Journal

    They went through quite a few alternative solutions.

    1) Ask criminals to copy ASIC on all emails and Facebook messages sent. It's about as effective as what they proposed, and will be way cheaper and less intrusive for the public.

    2) Have the Internet burn a daily DVD of the entire contents, which will then be sent to ASIC to be stored in boxes. Estimated physical storage space required for first 3 months: New Zealand.

    3) Have vagina-cams installed in all female residents of Australia in case they happen to be naked at the home of someone considering fraud, and positioned in such a way that the camera catches the content of the suspect's screen.

    4) Require that all Internet communication stop at the ISP level, who will then print it and send it on to the ISP of the person to whom it's address, with a copy being posted to ASIC.

    5) Crime is committed only by the living. Kill everyone.

    6) Receive funding to have ASIC agents stationed in every home, to sit behind computer users. Agent will periodically tap the user on the shoulder, and ask "Whatcha doin'?"

    Number 4 was the preferred option. Greg Tanzer prefers reading personal emails on his tablet while relaxing in a hotel room full of semi-naked pre-teen girls. Having to carry around print-outs was out of the question.

  • Next stop, thought police.
  • ... the many? Are they becoming that skerd of those they are supposed to represent? If so then why, unless they are lying their asses off to the people they are supposed to represent and fear retaliation by the people if or when found out.

  • I agree to it if it is for the continued ongoing investigation of fraud that the SEC is investigating. SEC should also consider getting a court order allowing such investigation to be taken for evidence in an ongoing investigation. My 2 cents worth David O'Rourke. Question to the SEC, can I have a regular job with you guys? I am good at doing what i am told, only I will be in a wheelchair, so do you accommodate those with disabilities? Thanks

No amount of genius can overcome a preoccupation with detail.