• Great articles on other sites
  • RSS Great articles on other sites

  • Renai's other site: Sci-fi + fantasy book news and reviews
  • RSS Renai LeMay

  • News, Telecommunications - Written by on Tuesday, January 24, 2012 11:58 - 1 Comment

    ISP data retention still an issue, Ludlam warns

    news Greens Senator Scott Ludlam has warned that a secretive proposal — known as ‘data retention’ — by the Attorney-General’s Department to force internet service providers to store a wealth of information pertaining to Australians’ emails and telephone calls is still an issue, with the public needing to remain vigilant on how the Government handles Internet surveillance.

    The proposal — known popularly as ‘OzLog’ — first came to light in June 2010, when AGD confirmed it had been examining the European Directive on Data Retention (PDF) to consider whether it would be beneficial for Australia to adopt a similar regime. The directive requires telcos to record data such as the source, destination and timing of all emails and telephone calls – even including internet telephony.

    In August the Attorney-General’s Department confirmed to iTNews that it was still considering the introduction of a data retention regime separately from the sort of watered down data ‘preservation’ rules being introduced in new cybercrime legislation. Delimiter has this week filed a Freedom of Information request with the Attorney-General’s Department in an effort to ascertain the precise current state of the data retention proposal.

    Speaking at Electronic Frontiers Australia’s ‘War on the Internet’ event on Saturday in Melbourne (full video available online here), Ludlam, who is the Communications Spokesperson for the Greens, said much of the thinking around the data retention proposal had been integrated into new cybercrime legislation introduced in mid-2011.

    Ludlam said the proposal had been narrowed down to a degree to which most people would find ‘reasonable’, in that law enforcement agencies could, for example, request ISPs to keep all available data on people suspected of committing major crimes such as terrorism — a technique he described as “hold that person’s everything, until we tell you not to any more”.

    However, the Greens Senator warned, that cybercrime legislation could “mutate” into something completely different. “Maybe let’s trap all the data of these categories of people,” he said, appearing to refer to the political activist community, many members of whom had gathered at the Melbourne event. “Or these postcodes of people.”

    “We know that that agenda is there,” Ludlam said, referring to the potential to “broaden out” the applications of the data retention system. “And it’s going to take sustained work to prevent that from happening. Once these systems and structures are in place, they are abused, almost by definition.”

    Ludlam highlighted a Sydney Morning Herald article published several weeks ago which revealed that the Federal Resources and Energy Minister, Martin Ferguson, had secretly pushed for increased surveillance by police of environmental activists who had been protesting peacefully at coal-fired power stations and coal export facilities, with some of the work being carried out by a private contractor, the National Open Source Intelligence Centre (NOSIC).

    The Greens Senator said his party would be filing freedom of information requests with the Government to find out why it thought it was appropriate, “at taxpayer’s expense, to surveil” activists who were legitimately drumming up interest in the environment. Ludlam said he presumed the Government was also tracking animal rights and anti-nuclear campaigners as well.

    Hacker luminary Jacob Appelbaum, who also spoke at the event, said data retention weakened the whole of society as such systems would eventually be compromised by criminals both in Australia and internationally. With data retention, authorities could “retroactively police the population,” he acknowledged.

    However, once a database like that existed, he said, that database would be stolen, leading to a point where criminals would find it very easy to commit crimes because they would be able to generate a precise pattern of people’s personal movements from the data — for example, “knowing where a car is regularly parked so you can steal it”.

    Appelbaum encouraged Australian telecommunications engineers to find the points in their networks where law enforcement officials were able to connect to conduct surveillance such as wire tapping and disclose those points to the public. “Find those, and expose them. Tell journalists. Tell MPs like this guy over here,” he said, pointing at Ludlam. Ludlam highlighted the fact that it was only through the efforts of such public spirited individuals — which leaked the proposal to the media — that the data retention proposal had come to light in the first place.

    Ludlam also warned of the potential for a reshuffle of cybercrime resources within the Federal Government to lead to dangerous outcomes in the area. In late December, a new cybersecurity unit was quietly formed within the Prime Minister’s Department, although the Government has not yet clarified what its responsibilities will be.

    “We have a major restructure that just occurred in the commonwealth — a super-portfolio, drawn together in the Prime Minister’s office from fragments in Defence, Foreign Affairs, Communications, some presumably copyright stuff and commercial stuff that has all come together,” Ludlam said. “… really most of that sat in the former Attorney-General’s Office … [it was] picked up and moved to the PM’s office. And that’s important. We are getting a cyber-safety strategy at some point this year. That’s going to be very important to watchdog to watch how they’re thinking and what they’re doing, because all kinds of sneaky and nasty agendas are going to creep into that thing.”

    Image credit: Still taken from EFA video broadcast of the War on the Internet event

    Print Friendly

    1 Comment

    You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

    1. Loke Rundt
      Posted 05/02/2012 at 2:31 pm | Permalink |

      *yawn* as consumers, we abdicate too much responsibility and put it on our ISP’s and corporations to keep data private. The democratizing of the web means that there is open source, free options accessible to end users.

      gpg4win if you’re still one of those with a Microsoft machine (secure your email)
      TrueCrypt (secure your hard drive)
      Pidgin with OTR option (secure your chats/skype calls)


      These people we laughingly call “the authorities” are moot. They are incapable of realizing their own obsoleteness. Democracy and freedom are not protected or enforced by “representatives”. . .those “representatives” are bought and paid for.

      It’s a old joke, and it’s not funny anymore. And it’s getting hella expensive

  • Get our weekly newsletter

    All our stories, just one email a week.

    Email address:

    Follow us on social media

    Use your RSS reader to subscribe to our articles feed or to our comments feed.

  • Most Popular Content

  • Enterprise IT stories

    • Legacy health software lands SA Govt in court doctor

      In which the South Australian Government comes up with complex legal arguments as to why it should be able to continue to use a 1980’s software package.

    • Microsoft wants to win you back with Windows 10 windows-10

      The latest version of Microsoft’s Windows operating system will begin rolling out from Wednesday (July 29). And remarkably, Windows 10 will be offered as a free upgrade to those users who already have Windows 7 and 8.1 installed.

    • Qld Govt Depts have no disaster recovery plan brisvegas2

      Two sizable Queensland Government departments have no central disaster recovery plan, the state’s Auditor-General has found, despite the region’s ongoing struggles with extreme weather conditions that have previously knocked out telecommunications and data centre infrastructure.

    • ASD releases Windows 8 hardening guide windows-8-1

      The Australian Signals Directorate appears to have released a guide to hardening Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system, three years after the software was released for use by corporate customers, and as Microsoft is slated to release its next upgrade, Windows 10.

    • ASG picks up $35m CIMIC IT services deal money

      Perth-headquartered IT services group ASG this week revealed it had picked up a deal worth at least $35 million over five years with CIMIC Group — the massive construction and contracting group previously known as Leighton Holdings.

  • Blog, Policy + Politics - Jul 31, 2015 12:43 - 0 Comments

    Google ploughs $1m into Australian tech education

    More In Policy + Politics

    Blog, Enterprise IT - Jul 31, 2015 14:16 - 1 Comment

    Legacy health software lands SA Govt in court

    More In Enterprise IT

    Industry, News - Jul 28, 2015 12:37 - 0 Comments

    ICAC to investigate NSW TAFE ICT manager

    More In Industry

    Consumer Tech, News - Jul 29, 2015 17:14 - 11 Comments

    Telstra integrates Netflix, Stan, Presto into re-badged Roku box

    More In Consumer Tech