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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:

(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?
watto23 10:32 pm 15 Apr 15

Evilomlap said :

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not *for* these laws in any way shape or form, but I’m keen to know *why* people feel angry or disempowered by them, if only because the Non-Cynical dreamer in me wants to believe in the old saying “If you’ve done nothing wrong, you’ve nothing to fear.”

The main issues I have with these laws are:
1. They won’t catch pedophiles, despite the government using that excuse.
2. It won’t catch terrorists, despite the government using that excuse.
3. They didn’t mention piracy, but it won’t catch them either.

So why are they introducing the laws? The government is not being honest with the people about this and the laws are being introduced most likely in return for political donations.

What will happen is internet prices will go up, so we all pay for laws that might catch the occasional person who downloads a TV show or movie.

No there is no way to track what is sent over a VPN, the government and companies use them to keep their data safe and you’d argue their data is more interesting than the average families.

The metadata laws are what is wrong with democracy in this country.

alanwade 6:04 pm 15 Apr 15

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.

wildturkeycanoe 1:34 pm 15 Apr 15

We’d be pretty naive to think that our internet and phone activities haven’t already been under scrutiny by many government and non-government organisations since their conception. Call me paranoid, but it seems that these devices are designed to guide our lives through certain channels whether we like it, know it or not. Surely those vast data banks of Centerlink aren’t purely there to keep job application records of our unemployed. How much can they possibly need to know about someone who may not even be able to afford a computer, let alone an internet connection?
Even if you try to route your personal online browsing through “underground” channels or anonymous addresses, surely the Telco gurus can figure out what goes through your phone line if they can already shape your data usage whenever you reach your monthly allowance.
This data retention stuff isn’t a new invasion on our privacy, it’s simply a way to make legal what they have already been doing for decades.

gooterz 9:06 pm 14 Apr 15

The two party system has failed. Throw them all out and only allow independents.

Masquara 8:56 pm 14 Apr 15

Other than re journalists’ sources, I’m fine with it.

dungfungus 6:56 pm 14 Apr 15

Evilomlap said :

Laws like this will always be passed and receive bipartisan support because they can be sheltered under the convenient umbrella of the War on Terror. Neither of the major parties will ever oppose things like this because the paranoia of being seen to *not* support things like this when something Big goes Horribly Wrong.

Personally I don’t feel ‘angry’ or ‘disempowered’ by these laws because I keep my online presence to an absolute minimum (I don’t have Facebook, I don’t use Insta-Twit or any variation of those…even being a member of RiotACT was a big step for me) and I don’t do anything illegal or even remotely questionable online.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not *for* these laws in any way shape or form, but I’m keen to know *why* people feel angry or disempowered by them, if only because the Non-Cynical dreamer in me wants to believe in the old saying “If you’ve done nothing wrong, you’ve nothing to fear.”

Good comment!

HenryBaits 5:56 pm 14 Apr 15

Evilomlap said :

Laws like this will always be passed and receive bipartisan support because they can be sheltered under the convenient umbrella of the War on Terror. Neither of the major parties will ever oppose things like this because the paranoia of being seen to *not* support things like this when something Big goes Horribly Wrong.

Personally I don’t feel ‘angry’ or ‘disempowered’ by these laws because I keep my online presence to an absolute minimum (I don’t have Facebook, I don’t use Insta-Twit or any variation of those…even being a member of RiotACT was a big step for me) and I don’t do anything illegal or even remotely questionable online.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not *for* these laws in any way shape or form, but I’m keen to know *why* people feel angry or disempowered by them, if only because the Non-Cynical dreamer in me wants to believe in the old saying “If you’ve done nothing wrong, you’ve nothing to fear.”

People feel angry and disempowered because they feel that authorities don’t have the right to intrude upon their privacy. Just because you don’t feel that your privacy is being invaded, it doesn’t mean that others’ feel the same or should feel the same. Some people are forced to take part in the digital world more than you and as time goes on this will be the experience of everyone. There wont be bank shopfronts, post offices, or non-smart phones etc. Would you feel comfortable with someone walking into your house and taking and learning everything about you, who you speak to, who your children contact, where they are, etc? That is exactly what is happening in the digital world.

Evilomlap 5:22 pm 14 Apr 15

Laws like this will always be passed and receive bipartisan support because they can be sheltered under the convenient umbrella of the War on Terror. Neither of the major parties will ever oppose things like this because the paranoia of being seen to *not* support things like this when something Big goes Horribly Wrong.

Personally I don’t feel ‘angry’ or ‘disempowered’ by these laws because I keep my online presence to an absolute minimum (I don’t have Facebook, I don’t use Insta-Twit or any variation of those…even being a member of RiotACT was a big step for me) and I don’t do anything illegal or even remotely questionable online.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not *for* these laws in any way shape or form, but I’m keen to know *why* people feel angry or disempowered by them, if only because the Non-Cynical dreamer in me wants to believe in the old saying “If you’ve done nothing wrong, you’ve nothing to fear.”

dungfungus 2:32 pm 14 Apr 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.

Metadata retention laws are pointless, won’t reduce crime and those who think they will don’t understand the interwebs. They are almost as daft as the internet filtering that Stephen Conroy was pushing for under the previous Labor government

Not to forget Bob Hawke’s aborted Australia Card.

bobster 2:16 pm 14 Apr 15

Yep…can’t argue with any of that. I like Neanderthals’ suggestion to send the Minister all the porn sites you visit. Steven’s comment about katy Gallagher is sad but true. She would have been better staying local than joining Labor federally. What a bunch of losers they are…just Liberal clones…

dungfungus 12:23 pm 14 Apr 15

Pragmatix said :

The laws are going to cost the government 400 million and the companies will pass on the other half to the user. It is an outrage.

Only $400 million? It’s a bargain then.
And the people who demand to be outraged are sated.

Pragmatix 10:07 am 14 Apr 15

The laws are going to cost the government 400 million and the companies will pass on the other half to the user. It is an outrage.

Rollersk8r 10:05 am 14 Apr 15

To be honest I don’t think about this stuff often – especially considering how much electronic data already is available to authorities if they need it. Mobile phone and bank records alone give a pretty clear picture about who you are, what you like to do and where you spend your time.

However, there are a couple of reasons I’m investigating a VPN at home – and probably should have done it before now. I think more or less every household would have some awkward and embarrassing questions to answer if their browsing, searching and download history was made public. Especially if you have kids. My 5 and 7 year old had multiple windows of pornography open within seconds simply by searching for “pictures of boys and girls”. Out of context it doesn’t take much for something as simple as this to be relationship and career threatening.

There’s also the broader issue of illegal downloads, considering the current attention the Dallas Buyers Club is getting. Slightly separate issue to data retention laws. However, we are going to see an internationally unprecedented situation if your teenager at home is suddenly forced to pay for all the music, TV and movies collected over a period of years. This is potentially millions of households being forced into paying many thousands of dollars – all because government has taken so long to legislate.

neanderthalsis 9:57 am 14 Apr 15

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

Metadata retention laws are pointless, won’t reduce crime and those who think they will don’t understand the interwebs. They are almost as daft as the internet filtering that Stephen Conroy was pushing for under the previous Labor government

Dame Canberra 9:15 am 14 Apr 15

Mandatory data retention is scary and pointless.

Anybody conducting even remotely criminal activities does so on the dark web using Tor or a VPN, which can’t be tracked by ISPs. Mandatory data retention has no impact on these people. I’ve started using Tor just to conduct everyday online activities – not because I’ve done anything wrong, but because I have no interest in being under surveillance for stuff as harmless as looking up cold and flu symptoms.

Also, mandatory data retention is officially costed at $400 million per year (around twice the cost of funding reductions to the ABC), which is an extraordinary waste of money considering that similar laws in Europe only reduced crime by about 0.06 per cent.

It’s ordinary Australians with nothing to hide who will end up worst off under these new laws.

Bernard Keane at Crikey has done some of the most in-depth and comprehensive coverage of metadata laws, which is worth a read for anyone interested: http://www.crikey.com.au/author/bernardkeane/

Also, here’s a great photo of the three lonely MPs who supported our right to privacy: https://twitter.com/jennijenni/status/578429361960792064

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