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What do Canberrans think about mandatory data retention laws?

By Steven Bailey 14 April 2015 32

data retention

While I do not have access to statistics on how Canberrans feel about the recently passed mandatory data retention laws, I can honestly say that I have spoken to no one who agrees with them.

The Australian Capital Territory’s Human Rights Act was the first charter of human rights enacted in Australia. After coming into force on 1 July 2004, it has served as an inferior, but not redundant, substitute for a federal charter of human rights.

Under privacy and reputation in section 12 of the ACT’s HUMAN RIGHTS Act 2004, it is stated that:

Everyone has the right—

(a)     not to have his or her privacy, family, home or correspondence interfered with unlawfully or arbitrarily; and

(b)     not to have his or her reputation unlawfully attacked.

The data retention laws mean that telecommunications companies are compelled to retain information of people’s online personal activities, including:

  • When you contacted a suicide prevention line
  • Who you communicate with
  • Where you are at all times…. and the list goes on.

The information can be accessed by government authorities without a warrant. This is an unprecedented attack on one’s liberty, privacy, family, home and correspondence.

Needless to say, the most basic of principles for protecting the liberty of its citizens by which the ACT Legislative Assembly operates are violated by the new data retention laws.

Additionally, it was a personal sadness for me that on the very day Katy Gallagher (a person for whom I have considerable respect) assumed office as Senator for the Australian Capital Territory, the two major parties held hands in the senate and merrily, and knowingly, legislated against the will of the Australian people by passing these draconian and Orwellian laws.

Indeed, it was attorney general Robert McClelland’s department who forced telecommunications companies into secret meetings to establish how a two-year data retention scheme might work in 2010… the very same year that McClelland dashed the hopes of Australia instituting a charter of human rights. A coincidence? Whether it is or not, I can say with confidence that these laws make a lot of Australians feel angry and disempowered, not to mention those who live in the most enlightened Australian jurisdiction of all, the ACT.

Australia is the only English-speaking western country that does not have a national bill or charter of rights. There are valid arguments against having a bill or charter of rights, but there are more valid arguments for having one. Protecting a citizenry against a new era of surveillance where people’s privacy is invaded, where we are disempowered by the state, where we are assumed guilty before proven innocent and where our data sits like a golden goose waiting to be stolen and sold on the black market are but a few good reasons for progressing the argument in favour of an Australian charter of rights.

It will not be a matter of if our personal information is stolen from telecommunications companies on a mass scale, it will only be a matter of when – I promise.

The greatest injustice in all of this is an injustice of democracy, and that is even though politicians knew that Australians did not want these laws passed, they passed them anyway. Gutless.

Do you support mandatory data retention laws?

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32 Responses to
What do Canberrans think about mandatory data retention laws?
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HenryBG 11:34 pm 02 Oct 15

neanderthalsis said :

I was thinking of cutting out the middle man and just emailing George Brandis links to all of the pr*n sites I visit.

…except Data Retention has nothing to do with the websites you visit.

Dame Canberra said :

…I have no interest in being under surveillance for stuff as harmless as looking up cold and flu symptoms.

…except Data Retention has nothing to do with the websites you visit.

Rollersk8r said :

… I’m investigating a VPN at home – …very household would have some awkward and embarrassing questions to answer if their browsing, searching and download history was made public.

…except Data Retention has nothing to do with the websites you visit.

Furthermore, a VPN encrypts nothing that is relevant to Data Retention.

alanwade said :

Metadata is the key to create an exact duplicate profile of yours. Your like or dislikes, political views, taste in food or dressing, even how more private stuff. Privacy is our own responsibility. So, counteract by using VPN: http://www.purevpn.com/order/ and encrypting all your information, hiding it from the government.

…except Data Retention has nothing to do with the websites you visit. And VPNs do not encrypt anything that is subject to Data Retention.

6 months on, and I’m still reading the same arrantly ignorant and fearful nonsense on this subject.

Data Retention does not violate your privacy – it is all about Service Providers maintaining proper records of your use of their services, same as they have always done, as per the 1979 Telecomms Act.

watto23 said :

The main issues I have with these laws are:
1. They won’t catch pedophiles, ….

er… except that Data Retention has caught many paedophiles and criminals.
…and of course, nobody has been able to point to any instance over the last 36 years of retained data being used in any kind of untoward way….

justin heywood 8:02 am 20 Apr 15

watto23 said :

…..Again the real issue I have with this legislation is the government (note this applies to labor also as they are guilty of doing this), using terrorism and fear to pass laws that actually don’t do what they’ve told us they do.

Again floating a the idea of a conspiracy here Watto, but you’re not saying what you think the conspiracy is. This makes it a bit hard to evaluate the argument.

I love the idea that our governments are clever enough to plan and run these secret agendas, but having known a few pollies and worked in government, I favour the incompetence / knee-jerk / overreaction followed by complete stuff-up theory every time.

justin heywood 7:41 am 20 Apr 15

dungfungus said :

justin heywood said :

….the most enlightened Australian jurisdiction of all, the ACT

Stephen, I think you’re confusing ‘most enlightened’ with ‘most formal education’ – which is not the same thing at all. Inner city elites often trot out the high numbers of university qualified people within their ranks as evidence of their superiority over lesser mortals, but they can be as much victims of group-think and irrational beliefs as the lunar right.

Hipsters. Saving the world, one fair trade flat white at a time.

“…..one fair trade flat white at a time.”

Could you please translate that phrase into every day bogan idiom?
I am sure I am not the only one who hasn’t got a clue what you are talking about.

Yes sorry about that one Dungers, completely off-topic late night ramble.

dungfungus 10:31 am 19 Apr 15

justin heywood said :

….the most enlightened Australian jurisdiction of all, the ACT

Stephen, I think you’re confusing ‘most enlightened’ with ‘most formal education’ – which is not the same thing at all. Inner city elites often trot out the high numbers of university qualified people within their ranks as evidence of their superiority over lesser mortals, but they can be as much victims of group-think and irrational beliefs as the lunar right.

Hipsters. Saving the world, one fair trade flat white at a time.

“…..one fair trade flat white at a time.”

Could you please translate that phrase into every day bogan idiom?
I am sure I am not the only one who hasn’t got a clue what you are talking about.

dungfungus 10:27 am 19 Apr 15

watto23 said :

justin heywood said :

Are people really so self-absorbed that they think the government cares that a lot of people pirate movies and watch porn? I think they already know that a very large proportion of the population do exactly that.

Why float the idea that this is all some conspiracy? Is there any evidence? I’m sure somewhere in Google there’s already enough information to embarrass just about everybody who ever used a computer.

Maybe it’s just as they say, part of the effort to combat terrorism (and legitimise what they already do).

I’m not worried about the government sniffing what I do. As I said to many who thought the US government were sniffing emails, thats not what they do and they wouldn’t have the resources to read even a fraction of the number of emails sent.

Again the real issue I have with this legislation is the government (note this applies to labor also as they are guilty of doing this), using terrorism and fear to pass laws that actually don’t do what they’ve told us they do. Its adding red tape and also cost burden onto all Australians, for something that is not needed and won’t catch any extra criminals. Now if the reason is to catch pirates on the internet, then fine, but just say thats what its going to be used for. However if that was the actual reason, do you think the law would have been passed, as members would have been bombarded with emails urging them to not pass the law.

Its a flaw in our democracy, an example is the Coalition have said they didn’t sell their last budget that well. Basically what they meant is people worked out what the budget was actually going to do and decided they didn’t like it. The coalition didn’t sell it in terms of what it was really designed to do. They tried to use a budget emergency as a selling tool but its obvious now the bad policies had nothing to do with budget repair.

We are only going to see more and more of this over the years. Rusted on conservatives and progressives won’t change their votes, but those moderates and swinging voters will change their minds, especially if governments pass legislation designed to not be in the best interest of the country.

Half of Europe will be an Islamic caliphate within 20 years and the same fate awaits us so all the speculation about what rusted on voters and swinging voters will do for “the best interest of the country” is totally academic.

watto23 11:15 pm 18 Apr 15

justin heywood said :

Are people really so self-absorbed that they think the government cares that a lot of people pirate movies and watch porn? I think they already know that a very large proportion of the population do exactly that.

Why float the idea that this is all some conspiracy? Is there any evidence? I’m sure somewhere in Google there’s already enough information to embarrass just about everybody who ever used a computer.

Maybe it’s just as they say, part of the effort to combat terrorism (and legitimise what they already do).

I’m not worried about the government sniffing what I do. As I said to many who thought the US government were sniffing emails, thats not what they do and they wouldn’t have the resources to read even a fraction of the number of emails sent.

Again the real issue I have with this legislation is the government (note this applies to labor also as they are guilty of doing this), using terrorism and fear to pass laws that actually don’t do what they’ve told us they do. Its adding red tape and also cost burden onto all Australians, for something that is not needed and won’t catch any extra criminals. Now if the reason is to catch pirates on the internet, then fine, but just say thats what its going to be used for. However if that was the actual reason, do you think the law would have been passed, as members would have been bombarded with emails urging them to not pass the law.

Its a flaw in our democracy, an example is the Coalition have said they didn’t sell their last budget that well. Basically what they meant is people worked out what the budget was actually going to do and decided they didn’t like it. The coalition didn’t sell it in terms of what it was really designed to do. They tried to use a budget emergency as a selling tool but its obvious now the bad policies had nothing to do with budget repair.

We are only going to see more and more of this over the years. Rusted on conservatives and progressives won’t change their votes, but those moderates and swinging voters will change their minds, especially if governments pass legislation designed to not be in the best interest of the country.

justin heywood 4:27 pm 18 Apr 15

….the most enlightened Australian jurisdiction of all, the ACT

Stephen, I think you’re confusing ‘most enlightened’ with ‘most formal education’ – which is not the same thing at all. Inner city elites often trot out the high numbers of university qualified people within their ranks as evidence of their superiority over lesser mortals, but they can be as much victims of group-think and irrational beliefs as the lunar right.

Hipsters. Saving the world, one fair trade flat white at a time.

justin heywood 4:07 pm 18 Apr 15

Are people really so self-absorbed that they think the government cares that a lot of people pirate movies and watch porn? I think they already know that a very large proportion of the population do exactly that.

Why float the idea that this is all some conspiracy? Is there any evidence? I’m sure somewhere in Google there’s already enough information to embarrass just about everybody who ever used a computer.

Maybe it’s just as they say, part of the effort to combat terrorism (and legitimise what they already do).

housebound 2:51 pm 18 Apr 15

The real issue is that governments don’t need a warrant to access all this data. And it’s any old government, not just the police or security services. It could be your local council, the ACT Government, the state government, a utility (the few that are still government owned). All without a warrant or a subpoena. And none of these has national security responsibilities (other than police, of course).

What happens when a branch of government, say ACTPLA or Community Services or a local council, ends up in a legal dispute with someone? Do you want them accessing your data at that stage, and not through the usual discovery process that happens in a court?

I personally would have no real trouble with this whole data thing if there were some legal protection for citizens – you know, something like the police need to convince a court/judge they need the information.

dungfungus 6:46 pm 17 Apr 15

VYBerlinaV8_is_back said :

watto23 said :

VYBerlinaV8_is_back said :

wildturkeycanoe said :

And whilst our government appears to be snooping on your every move, you resort to spending money on “secure” ways to avoid it like throwing $50 a year from your credit card to an offshore company, to take your private data through a server in a third world country with “who knows” encrypting and storing your online transactions. If you think the Australian government cares so much about your web surfing activities, imagine how much more the scammers in South America, or central Africa will enjoy eavesdropping on your E-bay purchases. I mean, honestly, does anyone know what happens to their internet traffic when it leaves their kerb? Can anybody be really sure who is looking over your shoulder when you type your banking password into the keyboard?
I bet 99% of readers here would not be able to tell me what country their Google search is going through after they press “Enter”. The computer is a mysterious box that sends your bits and bytes all over the globe and as much as some might like to believe they are safe, could they be any better with cyber security than the Hobart International Airport for example?
For all the cries about keeping ourselves anonymous online, we have already been defeated without even so much as a peep. Try to get a quote for car, home or life insurance without providing at minimum your name address and date of birth so they can email you directly with the cheapest option. Almost any online service requires these or you can’t get past the first page. Who was crying out for “privacy” then? It’s only now that your movie downloads are under threat that you get militant. It’s too late folks.

+1 on all this.

People put all manner of stuff about themselves up on Facebook, including pictures, despite the terms and conditions stating that anything you post up becomes their property, to do with as they will. And where is this information stored? Where is it transferred through? Where are the sysadmins who can access any and/or all of it at will? Which countries have laws that are even relevant? What about other social media sites?

If you use social media or have an online presence you have probably lost most of your privacy already anyway. The government can easily find out all manner of information about you by cross matching with multiple sources.

Social media has been a revolution, but it has come at a price.

So why are they introducing these laws. They are not being honest with the people yet again. If the real reason is to catch pirates then just say so. They use things like terrorism and pedophiles to gain support for the policy, but the policy won’t help catch and pedophiles or terrorists. So what is the policy really for? The government said it wanted to remove red tape, but its adding red tape for no reason, they are willing to use. Its the most pointless piece of legislation ever introduced for as long as I can remember. It adds red tape and costs but does nothing.

Before people label me a pirate, I have far more DVDs and CDs than i really need and probably could have spent my money more wisely 🙂

I don’t really know why they want these laws. I’m not convinced those calling for them understand just how much access the government already has to our online data.

It’s probably an attempt to legitimise some existing stuff the government does, and also would pass some of the workload and effort to ISPs.

They are not doing it to annoy the population at large. It is all about being vigilant against those people who throw others off refugee boats. The security agencies haven’t got the time to waste on checking the data of a few hand-wringers on this blog.

dungfungus 11:26 am 17 Apr 15

Steven Bailey said :

dungfungus said :

alanwade said :

I am fed up of listening to government new policies violating the privacy right of an individual. To catch terrorist, Australian government introduced metadata retention law that violates 23 million Australians privacy. What a shame? Only 0.0006% chances that government may encounter a terrorist, but 100% chances that government employees will enjoy our very private conversation. So, be careful if sending a private pic of yours to your girlfriend or boyfriend, they might see it L.
Do you think that metadata is just little basic information that has nothing to do with your activities, if so, than you are wrong? Metadata is the key to create an exact duplicate profile of yours. Your like or dislikes, political views, taste in food or dressing, even how more private stuff. Privacy is our own responsibility. So, counteract by using VPN: http://www.purevpn.com/order/ and encrypting all your information, hiding it from the government.

Only the paranoid survive?

My dear friend Dungfungus, it’s nice to speak with you again. As adroit and dissecting as your commentary is, forgive me for being unclear on your position on the issue. Is it that you just don’t care and therefore don’t think it’s an issue? It’s fine if that is you position of course – I’m just wondering.

Please keep wondering.

VYBerlinaV8_is_back 10:18 am 17 Apr 15

watto23 said :

VYBerlinaV8_is_back said :

wildturkeycanoe said :

And whilst our government appears to be snooping on your every move, you resort to spending money on “secure” ways to avoid it like throwing $50 a year from your credit card to an offshore company, to take your private data through a server in a third world country with “who knows” encrypting and storing your online transactions. If you think the Australian government cares so much about your web surfing activities, imagine how much more the scammers in South America, or central Africa will enjoy eavesdropping on your E-bay purchases. I mean, honestly, does anyone know what happens to their internet traffic when it leaves their kerb? Can anybody be really sure who is looking over your shoulder when you type your banking password into the keyboard?
I bet 99% of readers here would not be able to tell me what country their Google search is going through after they press “Enter”. The computer is a mysterious box that sends your bits and bytes all over the globe and as much as some might like to believe they are safe, could they be any better with cyber security than the Hobart International Airport for example?
For all the cries about keeping ourselves anonymous online, we have already been defeated without even so much as a peep. Try to get a quote for car, home or life insurance without providing at minimum your name address and date of birth so they can email you directly with the cheapest option. Almost any online service requires these or you can’t get past the first page. Who was crying out for “privacy” then? It’s only now that your movie downloads are under threat that you get militant. It’s too late folks.

+1 on all this.

People put all manner of stuff about themselves up on Facebook, including pictures, despite the terms and conditions stating that anything you post up becomes their property, to do with as they will. And where is this information stored? Where is it transferred through? Where are the sysadmins who can access any and/or all of it at will? Which countries have laws that are even relevant? What about other social media sites?

If you use social media or have an online presence you have probably lost most of your privacy already anyway. The government can easily find out all manner of information about you by cross matching with multiple sources.

Social media has been a revolution, but it has come at a price.

So why are they introducing these laws. They are not being honest with the people yet again. If the real reason is to catch pirates then just say so. They use things like terrorism and pedophiles to gain support for the policy, but the policy won’t help catch and pedophiles or terrorists. So what is the policy really for? The government said it wanted to remove red tape, but its adding red tape for no reason, they are willing to use. Its the most pointless piece of legislation ever introduced for as long as I can remember. It adds red tape and costs but does nothing.

Before people label me a pirate, I have far more DVDs and CDs than i really need and probably could have spent my money more wisely 🙂

I don’t really know why they want these laws. I’m not convinced those calling for them understand just how much access the government already has to our online data.

It’s probably an attempt to legitimise some existing stuff the government does, and also would pass some of the workload and effort to ISPs.

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