Govt may record users’ web history, email data


The Federal Government has confirmed it is considering a policy requiring Australian internet providers to retain precise data on how their users are using the internet, with the potential to include information on emails sent and — reportedly — their web browsing history.

“The Attorney-General’s Department has been looking at the European Directive on Data Retention, to consider whether such a regime is appropriate within Australia’s law enforcement and security context,” a spokesperson for the department confirmed via email today. “It has consulted broadly with the telecommunications industry.”

The spokesperson’s confirmation was also contained in a report by (which broke this story), which stated that ISP industry sources had flagged the potential for the new regime to require ISPs to record each internet address (also known as URL) that an internet user visited.

Delimiter has contacted spokespeople from major ISPs such as Telstra, Optus, iiNet, Internode and Adam Internet to ask for a response on the matter, as well as the Internet Industry Association, a group which represents the ISPs. The office Communications Minister Stephen Conroy and the office of Attorney-General Robert McLelland have also been contacted for comment on the matter.

The European Directive on Data Retention (2006) requires communications providers to retain a number of categories of data relating to their users.

Broadly speaking, they must retain data necessary to trace and identify the source, destination, date, type, time and duration of communications — and even what communication equipment is being used by customers and the location of mobile transmissions.

According to the directive, where internet access is concerned, this means the ISPs must retain the user ID of users, email addresses of senders and recipients of email, the date and time that users logged on and off from a service, and their IP address — whether dynamic or static applied to their user ID.

For telephone conversations, this means the number from which calls were placed and the number that received the call, the owner of the telephone service and similar data such as the time and date of the call’s commencement and completion. For mobile phone numbers, geographic location data would also be included.

The EU directive requires that no data regarding the content of communications be included, however, and it has directives regarding privacy, including the fact that data would be retained for periods of not less than six months and not more than two years from the date of the communication.

Any data collected is to be destroyed at the end of that period.

Image credit: Mateusz Stachowski, royalty free


  1. This is completely, totally outrageous! Labor deserve to lose the election for even considering this.

    • No kidding, the fact that this is even being considered makes me furious! What are we, pawns for the government? How are journalists to maintain the privacy of sources when every email and phone call is tracked? It’s a travesty!

    • Lose the election? To who? To TONY FREAKING ABBOTT? We have no Opposition in this country that isn’t FAR WORSE!

      The individual idiots who proposed this policy need to lose their INDIVIDUAL seats. Throwing the country back into the hands of drooling morons is NOT the answer.

      • Yes, this is by far the biggest problem here. The Opposition is not even smart enough to realise that this would be a problem. Politicians on both sides are completely screwing with our entire internet and gradually withering away our strong democracy.

        The other problem is that it would be very hard to remove many individual parliamentarians from office, given that many of the senior ones are senators … with the Senate voting system it’s almost impossible to get any cabinet member out.

        To be honest I don’t know what the solution is. As a journalist my only path is to continue to publish information about what is going on until they pry the laptop from my cold, dead, filtered, monitored, controlled, censored and powerless hands.

      • luckily we have more than two parties in this country as well as independents.
        Vote for and support a minor party, your vote will still probably eventually go to one of the major ones, but you’ll show your disapproval and increase the likelihood of greater diversity in the our government.

        • Agreed. Don’t rule out the greens, especially in the Senate. We must hold the line at the Senate otherwise this country is going to be doomed to these luddites in the Labor and Liberal parties. Even in the lower house, if enough people vote independant or green at least we will have enough of a fulcrum to alter the balance of a hung parliament.

          • I do normally vote for the Greens, and I usually preference the Liberals last. Funnily enough though, if Malcolm Turnbull was the Opposition Leader and actually had control of his party I would consider preferencing Liberal above Labor. He knows what he is talking about in terms of technology (he even has an iPad!).

          • An iPad is the equivalent of a noob tube in BF2. Owning one does not exactly say your tech savvy, quite the opposite really…

      • I’m sick of hearing this defeatism. Vote Independents, Greens and then direct your preferences.

        These two major parties need the boot!

        They get away with this corruption and flagrant breaches of human rights because people like you keep voting them in anyway. Show some moral backbone and principle.

        • Well I personally normally vote Greens. I don’t approve of all of their policies, but I do approve of most of the technology policies (normally led by Senator Scott Ludlam). But most of all I think it’s important to have a balance of power in the Senate and the Greens represent Australia’s best current chance at that.

    • Indeed. This is an absolute vote-changer for me, unless it is dumped immediately.

  2. Does the government record ever newspaper, television show, radio show, phonecall or phsyical mail we the people send and receive?

    No. So if the internet “is not special” according to Senator Conroy, why does it need special treatment?

    Furthermore, surely this infringes on personal liberties?

    … wheres a constitutional lawyer when you need one?

    • Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. This proposal they have isn’t even official policy yet, and I doubt that they are really seriously considering creating a database of every URL that everyone visits on the internet.

      It is far more plausible, however, that they will extent the length of time that telcos keep telephone call data, and start to compel ISPs to maintain user IDs associated with IP address data. This is something that the Government could definitely get away with, as most people won’t understand what it is that they will implement.

      But yes, if even this level of thing comes about, there will be a lot of work ahead for the lawyers. Monitoring in any form always gets challenged again, and again, and again in court.

      • Aside from the utter insanity of this proposal, the hypocrisy is breath-taking. This from the government that criticised Google for breaching privacy.

      • It’s surprisingly easy to do this. I deal with databases and I’ve coded in PHP, and I can tell you how easy it is to insert the name of a person, their ISP, their IP, the website they’re looking at and what time they accessed it. Whether they consider it or not isn’t the issue – it’s the fact they CAN do it that’s the problem.

        • I’m not sure that it would be as easy as you suggest — surely there is quite a lot to be done in the back-end network routing side of ISP’s networks before they can have this sort of technology?

      • +1 to parent and grandparent posts
        It may be time to invest in datacenter space in a *sane* country that actually respects peoples’ right to privacy and gets the notion that the internet should not be filtered, censored, or used as a tool for fine grained profiling of users.

        • Apparently the Nordic countries (Sweden, Norway, Finland etc) contain quite a lot of enlightened people who understand modern issues. So maybe there. Pity about the shitty weather though, and apparently expensive b33r.

    • I don’t anticipate it will get to the level where they will seriously propose to record every web address that everyone views. But I do think that — like the filter — this will stick around, and stick around, and keep on generating small news stories that will continue to sting the government every week. It’s the same with the filter. Every time a dentist in Queensland gets blocked inadvertently, a journalist somewhere will write a story.

      I don’t think Conroy and Rudd have every quite understood the nature of this kind of news cycle about bad technological decisions like this.

  3. oh man, China’s got nothing on us, we’ve got KRudd holding up Conroy as a poster child.

    • We can be the “innovator” that can show China where they need to take their world-leading filtering and monitoring technology next. Australian innovation FTW!

    • You’ll be able to automagically do it online, by visiting a certain URL. All you’ll need to do is visit it — not hand in any information or click on anything. The Govt will know that you have visited and dispatch a team to de-immigrate you.

  4. Myke,

    Too right. Remeber that KRudd is fluent in Chinese and spent much of his younger days studying the ways of the Chinese communist government. I truelly believe he thinks there is nothing wrong in the way China censors anything that gets in the governments way and has no problem in doing the same here. There has been nothing democratic about any of whats being brought in.

    But remember you can vote these monkeys out at the next election! .. Australia deserves better.

    • In some senses this is true, whenever I have seen Rudd speak about the filter it has been apparent that he doesn’t understand the nature of the complaints. Many of the people against the filter see it as a technical abhorrence — why and how would you attempt to restrict a medium which is clearly designed to route around any restrictions, which has been consciously set up to evade any kind of blockage?

      But Rudd sees it as a social problem, a defect in our society, and doesn’t grasp the technical complexities. It reminds me that you can debate maths all you want and consult many people, but it won’t make 1 + 1 equal 3, no matter what you do. Even if you have some people saying it will, it won’t. This is the essential problem Conroy and Rudd are still grappling with. They are thinking of the problem in the wrong way.

  5. I am ok with this on one condition… that we the Australian people get access to the governments email and web history data for our perusal, immediately not after inquest, to make sure that those shady politicians are doing their jobs and not discussing which strip club they are going to visit on the weekend or which car dealer mate they are going to bail out.

  6. Ya they took your guns away too – If they try that shit here in the U.S. they will get all the ammo first.

    • I’m glad they took away our guns — I never wanted any in the first place. I’d much rather have my dangerous ideas … this is what they are trying to take away now. Citizens who think about things have always been the biggest problem for any government.

  7. Yes, god forbid they took away your precious guns. They would be doing you a favor if they did.

    Thank god I don’t live in Australia or the US…

    • Australia is actually a great place to live most of the time. The problem is, at the moment, that we let our government get a little bit out of control. Give us a couple of years and we’ll have the problem fixed and then we’ll be safe for foreigners to come visit again. Just need to do a little house-keeping …

  8. Unfortunately I don’t think this is a Krudd thing. The Libs have not opposed the internet filter, and haven’t ruled out doing something similar (for the sake of the children). If they don’t oppose this either, I suspect they’d also considered it if in power.

    • Well we haven’t been able to get the Libs to make a comment on this today, we’ll keep trying next week. It is true, though, that they have been weak as dishwater when it comes to the filter. I honestly don’t understand why they don’t fight harder on that one — they would have the population behind them, and it would give them a constant platform to attack Labor on.

      But then, the Liberal party is run by the Mad Monk at the moment … bring back Malcolm Turnbull!

      • the Libs are probably wringing their hands on both The Filter and now this.

        “Gee, we really want what Labor’s proposing, but our budgie-smuggler leader probably won’t get us over the line unless we use Labor’s breathtaking folly against them. hmmmm… well, I guess we’ll oppose it at the 11th hour before the election & then do Same-But-Different once we’re in. Yeah, that’ll work.”

  9. So its gonna be like the EU directive… plus they record the content of the emails and what pages you visit?

    • They haven’t said much at all so far, only that they are considering a similar model to the EU. The Attorney-General’s Department refused to answer questions on it this afternoon. However, reported that web URL address recording could be involved.

      The EU directive stipulates that no content of telephone calls or emails is to be recorded. However, recording the “to” and “from” address fields alone is a massive privacy headache (this is what the EU directive stipulates must be done). You can easily imagine a situation where journalists would no longer be able to protect the privacy of sources, just because the government would have access to who they were in contact with at certain organisations they were reporting on.

      Scary stuff.

      • I’ve been reading this with that dreamlike “this is not happening” feeling. The internet seems to be the focus of every power-mad paranoid in government, simply because it’s technically possible to easily wield massive power – to create a proxy police state.

        Perhaps this is indicative of what our politicians feel is the perfect, 100% monitored and controlled society. Indicative, also, of their apparent delusion that government runs the people. I think it’s time for people to be reminded that government are our employees and we are the board of directors.

        Surely these chronically insecure personalities in politics need some serious therapy. The kind of person who seeks power is probably the least suited to wield it.

        Anyway.. all that aside, it’s easy to prevent government knowing who you email by using webmail services like GMail, Hotmail, Yahoo, etc, particularly over SSL. Then your ISP can’t know what you’re emailing or who to. I’m sure journalists are aware of this already.

        I’m a programmer. Programmers made the interwebs, and we made it to be free. Whether the issue is filtering or surveillance, we will create new ways to retain your privacy, because we value our own. Don’t worry, programmers all over the world are on your side.

        • I think that it is absolutely hilarious that politicians in any one country believe that they can control the internet in any way. Firstly, the entire technical structure of the internet has been setup to continue to be able to route information around any black holes such as destroyed fibre cables or censorship islands. And secondly, it’s an international thing, not a national thing.

          I think that politicians need to go back to their electorates and ask people what they really think of these ideas, and start to represent the people, not their party line. It is only then that we would have some semblance of democracy.

          >Anyway.. all that aside, it’s easy to prevent government knowing who you email by using webmail services >like GMail, Hotmail, Yahoo, etc, particularly over SSL. Then your ISP can’t know what you’re emailing or >who to. I’m sure journalists are aware of this already.

          To be honest, I wouldn’t trust Microsoft or Yahoo as far as I could throw them. I do trust Google a fair bit more, because it has demonstrated an understanding of the internet and the fact that it should not just bend over whenever the Govt requests data. However, I wouldn’t count on Gmail in the end game to protect us from Governments.

          I think ultimately, email must be routed through an ISP’s network somehow, no matter what email client or system you use — even if it is your own mail server in your own office. And thus it can be tracked.

          As a journalist, I see the future of information sharing as being in peer to peer file sharing via systems such as open IM networks without central servers — encrypted, of course. Only when there is no middle-man can you be assured your data is not being snooped.

          >I’m a programmer. Programmers made the interwebs, and we made it to be free. Whether the issue is >filtering or surveillance, we will create new ways to retain your privacy, because we value our own. Don’t >worry, programmers all over the world are on your side.

          As are the sysadmins, unless you piss them off ;)

      • Oh, one caveat to the above… iPads and iPhones.

        These devices have been created by Apple, who seems to want complete control over “the user experience”. Which apps you can use and which you can’t. It is not a free environment, like your laptop or computer is, where you can use whatever software you like. The way you use Apple’s devices is very tightly controlled.

        So the real danger I see in the future is that internet use is going to be funnelled more and more through such devices, instead of your personal computer. Having said that, competitors arise like Google’s Android devices – which are more free and open.

        So in the end, as usual, it comes down to *education*. People who value freedom and privacy will (if educated on the issues and alternatives) choose not to use restrictive devices, as long as competitors are out there. Interesting times.

        • The whole history of human thought and endeavour has been a struggle between open systems, where information is shared for mutual benefit, and closed ones, where arbitrary hierarchies attempt to control the flow of information and control.

          I believe that governments, corporations, technology manufacturers and so on are strongly attempting to rejuvenate their hierarchical control structures right now as a ‘last gasp’ effort, as they realise that technology, open standards and universal communications networks are about to eliminate the control structures once and for all.

          After this last push … could come an open information sharing nirvana. The Singularity approaches.

  10. filter, rat button, now this. I’m surprised there hasn’t been more vocal and widespread opposition to these proposals, Aussie don’t care about privacy and freedom of the internet or what?

    • There is massive widespread opposition to the filter — polls have consistently shown this. But the problem is that the Opposition party (the Liberal/National coalition) is not opposing it. Without elected political opposition, it is very hard for the population to have an impact on these kinds of issues. Elected politicians can tackle the issue in parliament, block legislation, get amendments, etc. If no politician is interested in listening to the people then it becomes very hard to get anything done — until the next election, I guess.

      This type of situation is how political parties are formed. I note the Pirate Party Australia (which has digital rights as one of its key campaign planks) is gaining members at a fast rate at the moment.

  11. Seriously, what the hell is happening to Australia when it comes to internet issues?

    • Main problem is we have many politicians are luddites. We apologise, next time we’ll have a much better screening process involving a test where they have to click a mouse on a screen.

      The ironic thing about this is that this is actually a test that would screen out some of the current batch. No joking!

  12. I used to work for an ISP 10 years ago. I Australian Federal Police approached us one day and asked us similar request. We told them to get stuffed – based on the resources it would take to implement their request.

    Really, if you don’t like this, you need to do something about it. You all (the Australian people) voted for them, and the political scene over the past 30 years has evolved to ‘book keeping’ rather than focusing on the important stuff.

    • Well … some of us voted for them. Others had our votes handed down to them after our preferred parties and candidates didn’t get enough votes to get across the line. But there was also the fact that it seemed important to many, many people at the time to get rid of John Howard so that we would never have to see his smarmy face on television again.

      I, for one, would like to see some of the younger politicians brought up into positions of power more quickly. You know — the ones that understand the internet, technology, the modern age.

      And the problem as well, is that often you don’t really get much choice during elections. You often have several bad choices and have to go for “the lesser evil” that doesn’t have any really disastrous policies, but doesn’t understand thinks really either.

  13. Exactly, do something about it. You need to defend your liberty, don’t take it for granted just because you’re living in a democracy. Internet is a big part of our lives now, it’s not just a hobby, it’s part of the political sphere, it’s as important as a free press.

    • Speaking as someone who’s written so many articles using the word “filter” that I feel like it has been stencilled into my brain, we’re trying! I think the best thing that could happen is that a hardcore ‘small l’ liberal like Malcolm Turnbull could form a splinter party and drag some of the parliamentarians from the two major parties off into a small but powerful third force. This would really have the potential to drive quite a bit of change.

      The Greens are slowly getting there but their influence has so far been limited to the Senate. Someone like Turnbull might have the once in a generation charisma that a new party would require to get started.

  14. Uh, Australia is an island prison to store criminals. Thus, everybody there must be a criminal in one way or another (including the police and government officials).

    All prisons have tight controls on their populations. Many of the guards at prisons supply the prisoners with drugs and other contraband, in exchange for money or other favors (inside or outside the prison).

    I don’t know why any of this would be surprising? How could it be any different?


    • You’re out of date Mike! It was an island prison about 100 years ago. Then we imported about a bajillion hot Italian and Chinese babes and set up a beach paradise situation fuelled by money generated by a bunch of ocker dudes out bush shipping steel to China.

      You’ll read this post and think I’m joking until you come here on holidays.

  15. I never imagined living in a country where my own government is frightening me with its behaviour. I would akin this to privacy rape, and I say that statement seriously.

    • No kidding, it makes you consider very seriously how you run your own personal internet situation. I mean … most computer manufacturers and browser software programmers don’t setup their technology in a way that assumes people are spying on you and you have to have some easy and automatic way to evade the surveillance.

      You do see this sort of thing in China, and shades of it in Singapore, but I never thought to see it in Australia.

  16. I am confident that the reason the liberal party is saying nothing on this issue is that they would do something similar if in power. The greens are the only party to definitively say they are against the internet filtering policy. Please note, I am not akin or associated with any political party and do not favour one party over the another. I consider this proposed erosion of my privacy, and plans to introduce filters to control what I can and cannot see, the most important issue I have faced in my lifetime.

    • To be honest I think the Libs are not saying anything yet because this issue broke on a Friday afternoon before the long weekend, and they were too far into their turps by then to respond to it. It is true that they have reserved judgement on the internet filter so far, but I don’t think they would implement either scheme off their own bat if they were in government — there are vestiges of libertarian thinking in the party, and they took a fairly minimalist approach to internet security when Coonan was Communications Minister (NetAlert was her scheme).

      The Greens are doing a good job on this issue, and have the potential to do an even better job if they win more seats at the next Federal Election (which I think a lot of people are hoping will happen).

      I agree with you that this is a massive issue. I still can’t believe the internet filter has the traction it does. But I have confidence that society will not tolerate these things in the long term. They are not functional or healthy and this will become obvious over time.

      Just like previous societal inefficiencies such as racial and sexual discrimination and the possession of powerful personal weapons.

  17. errrm wait till the after the next election…. a position will announce the the great republic of Australia and doing away with nuisances like democracy……

    Don’t you guys really think a more serious stance was taken about this…. organize a takeover….. or at least a shitload of riots and protests…

    • “Republic”?? Why not go a bit further and re-establish monarchic rule, with Kevin07 as King and Count Conroy appointed to lead Victoria? ;)

  18. Governments can do all sorts of stuff.. So can the People..

    Aussies will simply download for free TOR..which will help them to set up a connection with one of the many American’s running TOR to help the Chinese get around their governments spying.. LOL

    The American’s do it because it pisses everyone including their own Government Off..

    So how do they get away with it? Well lets see… All the Nations of the World have about 50 Million Men with Guns..

    Those American’s “Clinging to their Guns and Bibles”. Well it turns out there are about 90 Million of them Armed with a little more than 100 million Guns.. In the first 4 months of this year they became a little scared… So they went out and bought another 3 Million Guns.

    They must have been maybe a little more than scared because they went from an average of 2 years worth of ammunition on hand per American to 7 year..

    I personally would hate to see them really, really scared..

    We likely would see… Tanks in their Garages..


    • I’ve always found Tor a bit slow, to put it mildly, for real-world web browsing. If we’re going to be facing the kind of censorship and control environments that governments around the world seem intent on implementing with respect to the internet, I think we are going to have to do a bit better than that. It has potential — but in the way that a rough draft does.

  19. so on an equivalent basis
    ..According to the directive, where postal access is concerned, this means Australia Post must register users in order to retain the user ID of users,addresses of senders and recipients of mail, the date and time that users mailed, and the pillar box address — whether dynamic or static applied to their user ID…

  20. Hahaha. Give the people what they want. What people want is a system where people are arrested for looking at a picture or reads a story. Build that system, and it means the government has to track everyone who looks at a picture or reads any website. You are just getting what you wanted!

  21. 1. Network, Proxy Settings, SOCKS -> localhost:1080
    2. “ssh -D 1080
    3. Protect what’s yours under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

    Article 12. “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.”

    Article 19. “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

    Bye bye Mr Conroy… and screw your fascist NWO, WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, and IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH…

    Don’t think it’ll make you anonymous though… If you want to be really scared about tracking and abuse of your privacy see

    Various implementations of ssh exist (below is for OpenSSH). If you want to run on Windows, you can configure PuttySSH to do this also. (optional: Install FoxyProxy if you want selective use of the proxy based on URL patterns)

    “man ssh”
    Specifies a local “dynamic” application-level port forwarding.
    This works by allocating a socket to listen to port on the local
    side, optionally bound to the specified bind_address. Whenever a
    connection is made to this port, the connection is forwarded over
    the secure channel, and the application protocol is then used to
    determine where to connect to from the remote machine. Currently
    the SOCKS4 and SOCKS5 protocols are supported, and ssh will act
    as a SOCKS server. Only root can forward privileged ports.
    Dynamic port forwardings can also be specified in the
    configuration file.

      • Hi Renai,
        Sorry for the lack of clarity.

        The idea (for others too in case you figured it out anyway), is that all common web browser software can be easily configured to use a proxy server. There are different types of proxy servers, one type is called a ‘SOCKS’ proxy.

        The idea is to start a proxy server, that runs on your local machine (and only accepts connections from your local machine). Your web browser, once configured, instead of sending requests directly to your ISP and then out into the world, sends connections to your local machine, through an encrypted tunnel, where it comes out at a remote machine (in a free country) before going off to the rest of the internet. If you’re really paranoid, can bounce across different providers and jurisdictions.

        There are any number of providers the world over who you can set up hosting with, that can run an SSHD server (most do by default). The buzz around ‘cloud’ computing is creating more providers all the time. Or just ask a friend overseas to run it. Amazon EC2 at USD$350 for 3 years and $0.03 per hour, usage based is one solution (but requires a little more work to set up accounts and uses authentication ‘certificates’ as well as passwords). Once it’s running, you can share with as many friends as you like.

        SSH is an extremely common protocol (originally and still used for secure command line terminal access to remote machines) but can tunnel other protocols, such as HTTP, etc. So this can be called the ‘http over socks over ssh’ method if you will. It would be technically infeasible to block SSH traffic (and would break a massive amount of existing embedded infrastructure), and futile anyway because there’s endless other ways to tunnel too.

        You can setup OpenSSH with “ssh -D localhost:1080” (read-on below). Or if you’re on Windows, can just use Putty (see here for instructions: )

        OpenSSH is one SSH implementation, designed to run on Unix-like systems (e.g. Linux, MacOSx, OpenBSD), but can also run on Windows by using a Unix emulation layer or libraries (such as Cygwin), which are available in pre-packaged installers too, e.g.

        OpenSSH can be run at both local and remote end of the tunnel (your local socks server is actually a ‘client’ for the tunnel to the remote sshd server). Or you can mix implementations, such as using Putty (a native Windows based SSH client), to any remote SSHD server (including OpenSSH).

        If you want an even simpler solution (if not as technically useful or flexible), you can ask anyone overseas to install Psiphon. This doesn’t require any browser reconfiguration or local server, but is not as secure (keeps a log of traffic on the remote machine), and ‘wraps’ your web pages at the application layer, instead of the network layer. You connect via a normal HTTPS connection (like for your banking), to the Psiphon web server on the remote machine, and it proxies and ‘frames’ your requests, a bit like Google translate or image search would.

        These are just a couple of the solutions available and you can guarantee there are plenty of people to supply the ingenuity, innovation and desire to fight oppressive regimes that overcome whatever restrictions government tries to put in place.

  22. Booom, sets new records on Delimiter for most comments ever, most comments in any period of time. Great article, Great comments, shithouse Labor party. (Pardon my French)

    • Heh I’m going to come up with new article next week that will get more comments. Its working title will be:

      “Govt installs Android on iPhone 4, links to iPad to build #OzLog control scheme with weekly #nocleanfeed filterupdate porn”.

      I think this one will really get people talking!

  23. Let us not forget that there are two solutions here:

    1) Vote the people out,
    2) Use the tools to protect ourselves and our privacy.

    Always encrypt your messages. Use PGP (fee) or TrulyMail (free) to easily keep your messages away from prying eyes. There are also free proxies out there to mask your IP address. Use encrypted search ( <– notice the 'S' at the end of 'https') instead of non-encrypted search.

    There are tools that allow you to keep your privacy. Use them. Many are free and easy to use.

    • Since Google started being evil, sniffing and storing data from our WiFi connections too, you might want to look at something like this:
      (anonymises your IP to Google and uses a new cookie each time to avoid tracking):

      Australia also ignores the separation between executive and judicial powers by allowing just about anyone the government of the day chooses to issue covert search warrants – no, not just Magistrates. (

      The government already ignores habeus corpus, invokes ‘Minority Report’ style preventative detentions and will probably invoke retroactive laws to criminalise your legal conduct anyway. Time for more private browsing mode and disk encryption.

    • Why not do both?

      And yes, you can encrypt your email, but that doesn’t really stop ISPs from knowing who you are sending it to. And in confidential situations such as the journalists maintaining the anonymity of sources, knowing who sent an email to whom on what time and date can be almost all of the data that is needed to put two and two together.

      What the Federal Government is doing here is co-opting the open standards of the internet to its own ends. And that’s not something that the internet community should stand for.

  24. Good point. Could always be simplified though.

    Give them a web link (or email attachment) that automatically:

    1) Downloads and installs the proxy (a self-executing, preconfigured Putty that runs as a Windows service. see

    2) Opens their browser to a proxy auto-configuration file (

    That should be almost a one-click process.

    (Optionally provide another web link to switched the proxy config off if you wanted).

    For a little extra effort could automatically generate a unique set up for each user.

  25. Leaving aside, for the moment, political rhetoric and general douchebaggery, this mandatory filter and email monitoring has two MAJOR holes in it already;

    1. Mail encryption – OpenPGP. Simple. Uncrackable (so far) and all the Government will get is meaningless binary. Roaring trade for people (like me !!) to teach people how to effectively use this.

    2. Web logging – let them. Using TOR (The Onion Router), a multi-layered proxying system, all they will get is that your ip aaa.bbb.ccc.ddd connected to . Where your connection goes from there is pretty well anonymised.

    Having seen an early copy of the blacklist, which I personally think should be made public as we have a RIGHT to know what is being blocked, I can almost guarantee that many legitimate sites will be blocked.

    Will Senator Conroy, et al. be compensating, for example, an Australian online business who is blocked mistakenly for lost time and profits, and legal expenses incurred in fighting the blockage ? Or will they rush through an amendment to the Bill to make them exempt from civil action ?

    And then there’s the Government’s “right” under the Constitution to even try to implement this whole thing in the first place.. I mean, when did you give Senator Conroy permission to act In Loco Parentis (in place of the parents), and raise your child(ren), teaching them what is right and wrong ? Damn sure *I* didn’t !

    The initial reason for a filter was to protect the good little Australian boys and girls from the nasties on the Internet, and to stop child porn from being circulated. They tried that a few years ago, and it was cracked in less than 30 seconds by a 14 year old Victorian schoolkid, as this video will show

    Two problems with their reasoning are the “nasties” are out there anyway, not just on the Internet, and more kiddie porn is circulated daily via the machinations of Australia Post than ever could be over the ‘net – and it is almost untraceable and impossible to stop !!

    Are you proposing to “filter” every DVD and CD that passes through our mail system, just in case someone tries to snail-mail kiddie porn ???

    Today’s effort – the Honorable Senator announced that the Mandatory Internet Filter will be “further evaluated and refined before it is put into practice”.

    *sniff* *sniff* Is that an election I smell ???

    How stupid do you think the Australian public are, Senator ? You take the filter off the table” and if, by some miracle, the current Government *is* returned after the next election, what do you think will be their first order of business ??

    Plus several points for having the balls to try it on, Senator. MINUS several thousand points for being stupid enough to think it might work !

    • So….
      —- OpenPGP. Simple. Uncrackable (so far) …
      —- Roaring trade for people (like me !!) to teach people how to effectively use this.

      If OpenPGP is so simple why do people need to be taught by you? People don’t need to be taught how to use the easy stuff.

      The fact that you have a good trade teaching people tells us OpenPGP is far from simple.

    • Pretty easy? Try to get someone who is over 50 to set it up when you’re on the other side of the world from them. It was so frustrating when they couldn’t understand. I finally switched them to TrulyMail because at least it’s brain-dead simple (click next about five times and done). I do hope, some day, TrulyMail will incorporate the OpenPGP standard.

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