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

  • Blog, Internet, Security - Written by on Thursday, February 28, 2013 17:25 - 13 Comments

    Senior editor for The Australian backs data retention

    blog We don’t pretend to know what goes on in the minds of journalists who work for News Ltd, but sometimes some really quite unexpected views appear in their articles. A perfect example is this (paywalled) article by Greg Sheridan, Foreign Editor of News Ltd newspaper The Australian backing Labor’s extremely controversial data retention scheme. If you have a subscription to the newspaper and can read the full article, we recommend you do so, as an example of conservative thinking on this issue in action. A non-paywalled paragraph:

    “[The film Zero Dark Thirty’s] lengthier demonstration of the centrality of phone intercept and phone-tracking technology has surprised no one. Today we stand on the threshold of losing that ability and massively empowering terrorists and criminals as a result.”

    Now, thankfully former Howard Government advisor Alan R.M. Jones was able to get an intelligent article rebutting Sheridan’s somewhat outlandish claims into the pages of the newspaper, giving some credence to the well-known quote by Arthur Miller that “a good newspaper is a nation talking to itself”, with a multitude of views being espoused. However, we have to say we’re still surprised by Sheridan’s views.

    At this point it really is quite hard to find anyone across the whole spectrum of politics and industry who is in favour of the Attorney-General’s Department’s data retention scheme, apart from the department itself and some of the more hard-line law enforcement agencies. If you go outside those somewhat rarefied areas, it’s clear that the policy is broadly opposed by virtually everyone — telcos, sections of the Coalition including Malcolm Turnbull, the Greens, the Institute of Public Affairs, privacy commissioners, Electronic Frontiers Australia and, of course, the general public. Many of these groups are strange bedfellows, but they’ve found common ground when it comes to data retention. And who can blame them? There are so many disturbing aspects to this odious proposal that it’s not funny. Universal record-keeping about all Australian communications, by bureaucrats who have displayed technical ineptitude regarding their plans? No thanks.

    Yeap. Almost everyone is against this one — owing to the fact that, as Victoria’s Privacy Commissioner put it so well, the initiative would impose conditions akin to “a police state”. But Sheridan thinks it’s merely a necessary update to existing law enforcement powers. Right. At least we know now where News Ltd stands on such things.

    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. Simon Shaw
      Posted 28/02/2013 at 5:50 pm | Permalink | Reply

      No great surprise. The Australian is one step short of a fascist publication when it comes to politics with very little even coverage of topics.

      Shame they get so much press ;)

    2. Tinman_au
      Posted 28/02/2013 at 6:24 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I find it most amusing that Greg Sheridan is saying Labor is right! And of this of all things!

      Not quite as funny as how loud The Australian will scream when those records are used by the government to work out who the Oz’s sources are though :o)

      • Posted 28/02/2013 at 7:56 pm | Permalink | Reply

        “I find it most amusing that Greg Sheridan is saying Labor is right! And of this of all things!”

        Truly, that is irony defined.

    3. Hubert Cumberdale
      Posted 28/02/2013 at 6:29 pm | Permalink | Reply

      yeah, I’m not surprised either. The Australian are notorious for supporting policies the majority disagree with while deriding the ones the majority agree with. I’m wondering though since everyone who is in favor of this data retention is obviously wanting more openness in our society why would they also object to groups like anonymous that put information out in the open. We shouldn’t object to it if we have nothing to hide right?

      • Elijah B.
        Posted 02/03/2013 at 9:36 pm | Permalink | Reply

        I think you know this anyway but I’ll say it for anyone who reads here:
        They aren’t going to allow their own information to be collected; they just want yours. This is a one way street in which the powerful have all the legal protect to preserve their secrets and you have none.

    4. Phg
      Posted 28/02/2013 at 9:51 pm | Permalink | Reply

      In the article, Greg Sheridan says

      “Let me make a prediction. Without this legislation there will inevitably be a mass terrorist event in Australia and then the legislation will pass in 12 hours.Without this legislation there will inevitably be a mass terrorist event in Australia and then the legislation will pass in 12 hours.”

      That statement could be wrongly interpreted as more like a threat than a prediction.

      Personally, I’m all for giving non corrupt and independent Australian law enforcement officials access to more data and tools by which to attempt to prevent and solve crime. Particularly corporate crime and collusion, price fixing, tax evasion etc. Most particularly so they can track all those politicians of all flavors from feathering their own nests, and misusing their power and influence.

    5. Duke
      Posted 01/03/2013 at 12:32 am | Permalink | Reply

      Well Sheridan if you hadn’t made it in before, you sure have now, sooo…

      “Welcome to the Penis With Ears Club, just pop over and see Jonesy and Bolty at the bar, they are quaffing down a few jars of Ruperts homebrewed poison…and we really do mean poison”!

    6. Posted 01/03/2013 at 9:07 am | Permalink | Reply




    7. barney
      Posted 01/03/2013 at 9:36 am | Permalink | Reply

      Sheridan’s ideas come straight from the US right wing. He’s not agreeing with Labor – quelle horreur! – he’s simply repeating claims from his neo-con sources. Remember those guys? They created the PATRIOT Act and the Department of Homeland Security.

    8. Posted 01/03/2013 at 10:48 am | Permalink | Reply

      His prediction is laughable. We didn’t have this legislation in place for the last 10 years, what was keeping us ‘safe’ during that period, a cheery disposition? Clearly, the threat (if there was a credible, large-scale threat) was manageable using existing means. It’s the equivalent of Lisa Simpson’s tiger-repelling rock – http://www.criticalthinking.org.uk/tigerrepellantrock/

      #protip: Paywalled articles can almost always be accessed by searching for the article headline in quotes – e.g. http://ow.ly/i9rTe – the first link will take you to the full article. Most paywalls let through traffic following links from search engines.

    9. @GregLBean
      Posted 01/03/2013 at 11:25 am | Permalink | Reply

      My understanding is, if you use gmail, hotmail, yahoo or some other US mail facility your emails are already being retained by the NSA.

      And since the US and Aus have an information sharing agreement, it’s all available to the Aus Gov.

      The trouble is, at the moment Australian Courts may exclude such information in any trial as it was gathered without a warrant.

      So, is the Gov simply trying to legalise what they already have?

      I recognise there are other services that are strictly local to Australia, and this legislation will allow inclusion of that, but with the internet hubs channelling most traffic through the US, the NSA may well have captured a lot of that as well.

      In some ways I am a supporter of data retention on a wide array of information. I do not see that as the evil. It is how the information is used that produces the evil. Any use of that information in secret is amost always a reflection of misuse.

      So, as a novel thought, consider if all information on an individual had to be made available to the individual. Imagine the impact if a suspected terrorist was told he was suspect and “here’s the evidence”, or a suspected drug dealer was shown his communications and bank transactions, or a politician was presented with suspect cab chits or expense claims and each was asked to explain these details early on rather than after a crime occurred.

      Information can be a powerful force to civilise behaviour and deter crime and corruption. And it works for all levels of society.

      Secret surveillance has little if any similar impact.

      So the question is, do we want to prevent crime and corruption or have evidence that will permit prosecution after the fact.

      I want to make it perfectly clear that I am not saying private information should be made public, I am saying private information should be a matter between the individual and the authorities and if it is not known in equal detail by both it cannot be used as evidence for prosecution UNLESS it is gathered after the issue of a valid warrant; ie. if behaviour continues after suspicion is known.

      If sunlight is the best disinfectant than it should be used liberally before any infection can fester not simply after infection has become gangrenous.

    10. Craig
      Posted 01/03/2013 at 12:00 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Why is anyone surprise, this is the same Opinion Columnist (Opinionist?) who support, no, championed The Suharto regime.

    11. CMOTDibbler
      Posted 02/03/2013 at 9:30 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Sheridan is a dick. Not just on this article but all day every day. I think in this instance ‘care in the community’ isn’t working. Time for the jacket where the arms fasten at the back. He’d be safer and we’d all be better informed.

    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