[ad] The service leader for Cloud is now in Australia. Secure, reliable cloud and managed hosting all backed by 24x7x365 Fanatical Support. Create your free account now.
Buy an Seagate Business Storage NAS for your chance to win a holiday
[ad] Purchase a selected Seagate Business Storage NAS to receive a $20 cash-back AND go into the draw to win a $1,000 Flight Centre voucher so you can holiday in the destination of your choice. T&Cs apply.
Great articles on other sites
- IBM accuses Qld govt of trying to ‘rewrite history’
- Newlease undergoes reverse takeover to score ASX listing
- Australia Post loses battle | The Australian
- Start-ups leap at Telstra's accelerator
- Labor won't hand over NBN advice to Turnbull
- Adelaide Uni on hiring blitz for tech transformation
- Human Services to cut 56 IT jobs
- Turnbull to release NBN review next week
- Canberra blitzes states with NBN take-up rates
- War on whistleblowers from Abbott, Turnbull as ICJ case arrives
How mobile and social media affect your Customer Experience strategy
[ad] How will the adoption of mobile devices and social media affect your Customer Experience strategy? Are you reaching your organisation's customers through these touch points? Click here to download a whitepaper by Fifth Quadrant examining consumer and business attitudes to these new contact channels.
50 things top IT pros need to know
[ad] This 18 page TechRepublic whitepaper explores 10 things you should know to become an epic IT manager, 40 other essential tips to advance your IT career and practical guidance for starting an IT consulting business. Click here to access the whitepaper.
News, Security, Telecommunications - Written by Renai LeMay on Tuesday, October 9, 2012 7:28 - 39 Comments
Turnbull has “grave misgivings” on data retention
news Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has broken his silence regarding the Fedeal Government’s controversial data retention and surveillance package, declaring that he has “grave misgivings” about a project which he feels “seems to be heading in precisely the wrong direction”.
The Federal Attorney-General’s Department is currently promulgating a package of reforms which would see a number of wide-ranging changes made to make it easier for law enforcement and intelligence agencies to monitor what Australians are doing on the Internet. For example, one new power is a data retention protocol which would require ISPs to retain data on their customers’ Internet and telephone activities for up to two years, and changes which would empower agencies to source data on users’ activities on social networking sites.
Up until now, Turnbull and other senior Coalition figures have declined to comment substantially on the proposal, pending a parliamentary inquiry into it. However, some Liberal backbenchers are stridently opposed to the package, including Liberal MP Steve Ciobo, who has described as including tactics similar to those used by the Gestapo — the Nazi secret police. Yesterday, in a wide-ranging speech given as the annual Alfred Deakin lecture, Turnbull openly declared his concerns about the package for the first time (see the full text of his speech here).
“Without wanting to pre-empt the conclusions of the Parliamentary Committee, I must record my very grave misgivings about the proposal,” Turnbull told the audience. “It seems to be heading in precisely the wrong direction. Surely as we reflect on the consequences of the digital shift from a default of forgetting to one of perpetual memory we should be seeking to restore as far as possible the individual’s right not simply to their privacy but to having the right to delete that which they have created in the same way as can be done in the analogue world.”
Turnbull said out of the package’s many proposals (PDF), it was the data retention issue which was the most far-reaching, but “least clearly explained”. “Internet companies will apparently be required to store parts of everyone’s data, although there is no clarity as to which material will be kept or why,” said Turnbull. “In fact there is little clarity; period. A recent letter from [Federal Attorney-General] Nicola Roxon to the Herald-Sun bemoaning its coverage of the data retention issue provided more information about this measure than a 61-page discussion paper released by her department.”
“While the purported intent is that only metadata – data about data – will be available to law enforcement, security and intelligence agencies, there is no explanation of how metadata will be distinguished from data (the two are often commingled, as in the ‘subject’ line of emails), why both would not be readily available once a message has been handed over and decrypted, and indeed how readily in an IP world it is possible to keep a record of the time, date, size, sender, receiver and possibly subject of an email without also retaining the contents.”
Neither, said Turnbull, had there been any explanation given by the policy’s backers (principally the Attorney-General’s Department and law enforcement agencies) as to what costs and benefits have been estimated for what the Liberal MP said was a “sweeping and intrusive new power”, or how such costs and benefits were arrived at, what (if any) cost was ascribed to “its chilling effect on free speech”, and whether any gains in national security or law enforcement outcomes would be monitored and verified, should the proposal be enacted.
“The German Federal Constitutional Court has recently struck down a similar data retention law noting that “meta-data” may be used to draw conclusions about not simply the content of the messages, but the social and political affiliations, personal preferences, inclinations and weaknesses of the individual concerned,” said Turnbull.
“Leaving aside the central issue of the right to privacy, there are formidable practical objections. The carriers, including Telstra, have argued that the cost of complying with a new data retention regime would be very considerable with the consequence of higher charges for their customers.
Turnbull also questioned how offshore data would be treated, pointing out that search and software as a service giant Google hosted “much, if not most” of the relevant data for Australia — but that the company had no Australian datacentres, with it hosting all of its data offshore. “Much of our voice and video calls occur now over IP services, like Skype or Google Chat. Is their customer metadata stored in Australia? Almost certainly not,” the Liberal MP said.
“Google currently permanently deletes emails or Youtube videos from their server once the customer deletes it. Search logs are rendered anonymous after nine months. It would be utterly impractical, and possibly unlawful, for Google to discriminate against customers from Australia and treat them differently from any others.”
Turnbull also pointed out that the “criminals of the greatest concern to our security agencies” would be able to use “any of numerous available means” to anonymise their communications, or even choose new services which were not captured by legislated data retention rules — meaning the scheme would be easy to evade.
The Shadow Communications Minister also pointed out that the data retention proposal was only “the latest effort by the Gillard Government to restrain freedom of speech” — with its mandatory filter policy which was backed by Communications Minister Stephen Conroy several years ago having been knocked back by the Coalition and the Greens. Conroy said the filter would have represented ” a profound weakening of online liberty in Australia”.
Turnbull linked the issue of Internet privacy and freedom of speech to core values held by liberals.
“Just as the digital world has opened up new avenues for every form of freedom, so too it is freedom itself, our core value as liberals, which will continue to liberate the imagination,” he said. “It will ensure the digital world is, if not the best of all possible worlds, at least a world where more of us can speak out in our own voice, unmediated by others, dream our own dreams, undirected by governments, and claim more than any generation before us, our birthright as free men and free women.”
In general, the Government’s data retention and surveillance package has attracted a significant degree of criticism from the wider community over the past few months since it was first mooted. Digital rights lobby group Electronic Frontiers Australia has described the new powers as being akin to those applied in restrictive countries such as China and Iran, while the Greens have described the package as “a systematic erosion of privacy”.
In separate submissions to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security inquiry into the reforms, a number of major telecommunications companies including iiNet and Macquarie Telecom, as well as telco and ISP representative industry groups, have expressed sharp concern over aspects of the reform package, stating that “insufficient evidence” had been presented to justify them. And Victoria’s Acting Privacy Commissioner has labelled some of the included reforms as “being characteristic of a police state”.
The Institute of Public Affairs, a conservative and free market-focused think tank, wrote in its submission to the parliamentary inquiry on the matter that many of the proposals of the Government were “unnecessary and excessive. “The proposal … is onerous and represents a significant incursion on the civil liberties of all Australians,” wrote the IPA in its submission, arguing that the data retention policy should be “rejected outright”. And one Liberal backbencher, Steve Ciobo, has described the new proposal as being akin to “Gestapo” tactics.
In addition, several weeks ago The Australian newspaper reported that about a dozen Coalition MPs had bitterly complained about the data retention proposals in a passionate party room meeting, with Opposition Leader Tony Abbott being urged to directly pressure the Government on the issue.
Roxon and agencies such as the Australian Federal Police have attempted to justify the need for a data retention scheme by stating that the increasing use of the Internet by criminals has made traditional telecommunications interception powers less useful.
“The need to consider a data retention scheme has come about because of changes in technology that have affected the behaviour of criminal and national security suspects,” said Roxon recently. “Targets of interest now utilise the wide range of telecommunications services available to them to communicate, coordinate, manage and carry out their activities. The ability to lawfully access telecommunications data held by the telecommunications industry enables investigators to identify and build a picture of a suspect, provides vital leads of inquiry and creates evidence for alibis and prosecutions.”
I commend Turnbull for this stirring and wide-ranging speech and fully support his comments, as I expect the majority of Australians will.
What is remarkable about this speech (I encourage you to read it in its entirety, it’s worth the 10min) is that it represents not only an evocation of traditional liberal values, but also a bridge between those values and the modern world. Unlike many politicians, Turnbull clearly “gets” technology and its interaction with our modern society, and he applies his values to that situation — but not only his values. He also applies his intellect and does his research before taking a position on issues.
It’s shocking, right? A politician who researches and thinks about an issue in depth, and them thinks about how their own values will apply to that issue? Then gives a stirring, noble, well-referenced and thought-out speech on a major occasion to show their thinking? No wonder that so many Australians continue to be inspired by Malcolm Turnbull. In an age where the chief political catchcries have been things such as “stop the boats” and “moving forward”, Turnbull talks about freedom, the rights of the individual, our human ability to dream and the a vision for the way forward.
We haven’t quite forgiven the Member for Wentworth for his muddying of the National Broadband Network debate yet. And in truth, classic liberal values are a little harder to apply to that complex situation, with its detailed financial and regulatory minefield obscuring things. However, every time Turnbull gives speeches such as the one he gave last night for the Alfred Deakin lecture, we find ourselves willing to believe in the politician all over again. Nice work, Mr Turnbull — you nailed this one.
Image credit: Office of Malcolm Turnbull
Latest Delimiter 2.0 articles (subscriber content)
|Politicians from Australia’s major parties need to stop issuing ludicrous blanket pardons for the intelligence community’s ongoing misdemeanours and start applying a basic modicum of transparency and accountability to this important national security function.|
|The independent pro-fibre National Broadband Network movement is doing a far better job of promoting Labor’s Fibre to the Premises-based NBN policy than Labor itself. When is Labor going to wake from its slumber and start supporting this scrappy but energetic grassroots network of activists?|
|Ziggy Switkowski's first substantial public appearance since being appointed NBN Co chief executive has starkly demonstrated just how different he is from his predecessor, Mike Quigley, and just how strictly he will adhere to the guidelines which his patron, Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, has set for him.|
|Australian technology companies have been virtually absent from the the nation’s public stockmarket over the past decade as the stigma of the dot com bust took its toll on investor confidence. But a clutch of new listings planned for the closing months of 2013 shows renewed interest in the sector and that local entrepreneurs are smelling money in the air once again.|
|NBN Co’s Strategic Review process gives the company an unmissable opportunity to re-evaluate the early decision to deploy its FTTP network primarily through Telstra’s underground ducts. The company and its new Coalition masters must now seriously consider deploying more fibre aerially on power poles in an effort to speed up its rollout substantially.|
|That moment which many Australian technologists fervently hoped for but never expected to see has come to pass: Simon Hackett has been appointed to the board of the National Broadband Network Company. But what questions should the Internode founder be asking NBN Co’s executive management team? Here’s five ideas to start with.|
|The rapid replacement of respected NBN Co chief operating officer Ralph Steffens with a Telstra executive who appears less experienced with fibre rollouts but better politically connected represents a key signal that NBN Co’s senior executive hiring process has now become completely politicised and is no longer independent from the Federal Government.|
Enterprise IT, Featured, News - Dec 9, 2013 11:35 - 0 Comments
More In Enterprise IT
- Harbour City Ferries goes Microsoft across the board
- Payroll disaster: Queensland sues IBM
- End of an era: Oracle Australia’s ‘safe hands’ leaves
- Qld launches whole of government IaaS panel
- Defence finally allows staff iPhones, iPads
Blog, Telecommunications - Dec 9, 2013 15:54 - 2 Comments
More In Telecommunications
- Delimiter appeals Turnbull Blue Book censorship
- Final closure: TPG buys AAPT for $450m
- NBN FTTN analysis “devastating” for Coalition
- NBN Co internal FTTN analysis: Turnbull refuses to retract inaccurate claim
- Defying the Senate: Turnbull to release NBN Review by end of 2013
Industry, News, Startups - Dec 9, 2013 15:40 - 0 Comments
More In Industry
- The Australian IT sector needs a stronger voice
- Xbox One goes off with a bang … but will the PS4 launch eclipse it?
- It’s not just Freelancer: Aussie tech IPOs are back in general
- Freelancer’s IPO: A billion reasons to care
- Australian retailers online: Late to the party and much to do
Blog, Digital Rights, Gadgets - Dec 9, 2013 11:15 - 14 Comments
More In Digital Rights
- Censored: Appeal for AG’s Blue Book fails
- Senate to force TPP publication
- Global privacy group files formal ASD complaint
- Labor open to surveillance discussion
- Snowden an “American traitor”, says Australia’s Attorney-General