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

  • News, Telecommunications - Written by on Friday, May 18, 2012 12:18 - 5 Comments

    Parliament knocks back surveillance terms

    news The Parliamentary Committee tasked with examining the Labor Federal Government’s wide-ranging plans to broadly increase and deepen its surveillance powers has reportedly knocked back the terms of reference which the Government has given it.

    Several weeks ago, the Federal Attorney-General’s Department revealed the broad overhaul, which includes the introduction of a so-called “data retention” scheme that has attracted a great deal of controversy in Australia under the ‘OzLog’ banner. At this stage, the Government has not yet released the precise details of the legislative changes it wants to make. However, Delimiter has seen government documentation suggesting that that the changes are extremely wide-reaching. For example, the Government is seeking to modify aspects of the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act that relate to the legislation’s privacy protection clauses, tests for issuing warrants, oversight arrangements and information sharing provisions between agencies, for a start.

    Instead of law enforcement agencies being forced to request multiple different types of interception warrants, the legislation would be modified to allow authorities to request a new more comprehensive centralised type of warrant with multiple powers. The interception regime — which allows authorities to request Internet service providers and telcos to intercept the communications of their customers — would be extended to some types of service providers not currently covered by the legislation.

    Provisions under the ASIO Act for the intelligence agency to request warrants are to be modernised and streamlined, and the agency is to gain the power to disrupt a target computer for the purposes of accessing the information on it — or even to access other third-party computers on the way to the target machine. The Government is also interested in establishing an offence which would allow Australians to be charged with failing to assist in decrypting encrypted communications. Also on the cards is a data retention protocol which would require ISPs, for example, to retain data on their customers for up to two years. This is an idea which has proven controversial in Australia over the past several years.

    However, Crikey reported this week that the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, which has been asked by Attorney-General Nicola Roxon to hold public hearings into the proposed legislative changes, has asked for the terms of reference for its inquiry to be modified.

    The publication reports (we recommend you click here for the full article): “One problematic but easily remedied issue about the draft terms of reference was the reporting date of July 31, giving the committee just 10 weeks … However, there are more substantive concerns among committee members, who decided to knock back Roxon’s initial terms of reference at a meeting on May 10.”

    The Government has already come under attack for promulgating the reforms from the Greens, which views many of the proposed changes as being inappropriate. Australian Greens spokesperson for communications Senator Scott Ludlam today warned against further extending what he said was the “the loosely defined and already over-reaching online surveillance powers” of Australia’s intelligence agencies.

    “Today’s announcement starts the next chapter of the ‘data retention’ debate (#ozlog) which the Government should have backed away from,” Ludlam said in a statement. “This is the idea that all our personal data should be stored by service providers so that every move we make can be surveilled or recalled for later data mining. It is premised on the unjustified paranoia that all Australians are potential criminal suspects. Australians are already under a phenomenal amount of government surveillance. Nearly a quarter of a million telecommunications data warrants were granted in 2010-11 according to the annual Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act report. This includes detailed locational data logged by every smartphone, every minute of the day.”

    However, no Greens members sit on the committee which will examine the proposal. Notable members of the committee include former Attorney-General Philip Ruddock, Shadow Attorney-General George Brandis, former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and independent MP Andrew Wilkie.

    I’ve seen the proposed terms of reference for the committee and they were extremely broad. I don’t believe that the committee could have held a fair inquiry into these legislative changes in brief reporting period which Roxon attempted to give it, and I don’t believe the committee would have easily accepted such a huge brief in such a short time. I suspect that the terms of reference will be narrowed and re-submitted to the committee. We can only hope the legislative change proposed will be narrowed at the same time. Otherwise we may not get public debate of some of the far-reaching surveillance-related legislation the Government is proposing.

    I’m not kidding when I say that any one of the proposals in this huge surveillance package which the Attorney-General’s Department has proposed could be the subject of its own independent inquiry. Data retention, mandatory decryption of private data, the ability to remotely penetrate computer systems (even unrelated systems) to gain access to evidence … it’s all fairly Orwellian, and it’s all in this package. This whole process needs to be as public as possible.

    submit to reddit


    You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

    1. DrBob
      Posted 18/05/2012 at 1:30 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Having phone companies and ISPs retain data is no different in principle from having Australia Post scan and retain all our mail, or having red-light and CCTV cameras retain their data, too. We need to be consistent about surveillance – and be careful about widening police powers. When the government is trying to hide more and more data from the public, they should certainly not be allowed increased access to the private data of the general public.

    2. Freddy
      Posted 18/05/2012 at 5:12 pm | Permalink | Reply

      If the Government want to see all of our data then lets be fair, the government should allow us to see all of their data.

      Offense not to decrypt data. Say good bye to any businesses using the internet if that comes in.

      BTW how do I decrypt https data that was sent months ago. I would not remember the forms and the data contained in the forms. The encryption is done by the protocol, how am I supposed to decrypt a google search request I did months ago. I couldn’t do it if it was yesterday let alone months ago.

    3. Freddy
      Posted 18/05/2012 at 5:16 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Of course the government is not expecting to get their far ranging terms agreed to, but its an exercise of asking for much and getting some. Then repeat and rinse later on.

      That way they get their “1984” in stages.

      They should not get any of it and stop this scope creep that is removing our rights and privacy a bit at a time.

    4. Harquebus
      Posted 18/05/2012 at 11:44 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Labor’s days are numbered and they know it so, they might as well make the most of it. Another ten years or so when they have some hope of being elected again, the loss of our paid for with blood liberties will have been long forgotten.

    5. Duke
      Posted 19/05/2012 at 11:14 pm | Permalink | Reply

      light on the hill?



    Leave a Comment


  • Get our 'Best of the Week' newsletter on Fridays

    Just the most important stories, 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

    • Super funds close to dumping $250m IT revamp facepalm2

      If you have even a skin deep awareness of the structure of Australia’s superannuation industry, you’ll be aware that much of the underlying infrastructure used by many of the nation’s major funds is provided by a centralised group, Superpartners. One of the group’s main projects in recent years has been to dramatically update and modernise its IT platform — its version of a core banking platform overhaul. Unfortunately, the $250 million project has not precisely been going well.

    • Qld’s Grant joins analyst firm IBRS peter-grant

      This week it emerged that Peter Grant, the two-time former Queensland Whole of Government CIO (pictured), has joined well-regarded analyst firm Intelligent Business Research Services (IBRS). We’ve long had a high regard for IBRS, and so it’s fantastic to see such an experienced executive join its ranks.

    • Westpac dumps desk phones for Samsung Android mobiles samsung-galaxy-ace-3

      The era of troublesome desk phones tied to physical locations is gradually coming to an end in many workplaces, with mobile phones becoming increasingly popular as organisations’ main method of voice telecommunications. But some groups are more advanced than others when it comes to adoption of the trend. One of those is Westpac.

    • Ministers’ cloud approval lasted just a year reverse

      Remember how twelve months ago, the Federal Government released a new cloud computing security and privacy directive which required departments and agencies to explicitly acquire the approval of the Attorney-General and the relevant portfolio minister before government data containing private information could be stored in offshore facilities? Remember how the policy was strongly criticised by Microsoft, Government CIOs and Delimiter? Well, it looks like the policy is about to be reversed.

    • WA Govt can’t fund school IT upgrades oops key

      In news from The Department of Disturbing Facts, iTNews revealed late last week that Western Australia’s Department of Education has run out of money halfway through the deployment of new fundamental IT infrastructure to the state’s schools.

    • Turnbull outlines Govt ICT vision turnbull-5

      Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has published an extensive article arguing that the Federal Government needed to do a better job of connecting with Australians via digital channels and that public sector IT projects needn’t cost the huge amounts that some have in the past.

    • NZ Govt pushes hard into cloud zealand

      New Zealand’s national Government announced a whole of government contract this morning for what it terms ‘Office Productivity as a Service’ services. This includes email and calendaring services, as well as file-sharing, mobility, instant messaging and collaboration services. The contract complements two existing contracts — Desktop as a Service and Enterprise Content Management as a Service.

    • CommBank reveals Harte’s replacement whiteing

      The Commonwealth Bank of Australia has promoted an internal executive who joined the bank in September after a lengthy career at petroleum giant VP and IT services group Accenture to replace its outgoing chief information officer Michael Harte, who announced in early May that he would leave the bank.

    • Jeff Smith quits Suncorp for IBM jeffsmith4

      Second-tier Australian bank and financial services group Suncorp today announced that its long-serving top technology executive Jeff Smith would leave to take up a senior role with IBM in the United States, in an announcement which marks the end of an era for the nation’s banking IT sector.

    • Small business missing the mobile, social, cloud revolution iphone-stock

      Most companies that live and breathe the online revolution are not tech startups, but smart smaller firms that use online tools to run their core business better: to cut costs, reach customers and suppliers, innovate and get more control. Many others, however, are falling behind, according to a new Grattan Institute discussion paper.

  • Blog, Enterprise IT - Jul 5, 2014 13:53 - 0 Comments

    Super funds close to dumping $250m IT revamp

    More In Enterprise IT

    Blog, Telecommunications - Jul 5, 2014 12:12 - 0 Comments

    What should the ACCC’s role be in guiding infrastructure spending?

    More In Telecommunications

    Analysis, Industry, Internet - Jun 23, 2014 10:33 - 0 Comments

    ‘Google Schmoogle’ – how Yellow Pages got it so wrong

    More In Industry

    Blog, Digital Rights - Jun 30, 2014 22:24 - 0 Comments

    Will Netflix launch in Australia, or not?

    More In Digital Rights