blog The ongoing National Security Inquiry has dislodged quite a few stones from the bottom of the paranoia well. One aspect that took my interest in particular is the relationship between data retention and mobile or cellular telephone data.
The information to be recorded is part of a broad definition chastised for by Greens Senator Scott Ludlam, that has been revealed by the Attorney General’s Department. Often referenced as “Meta Data” which in layman’s terms means “who, when and where” with the “what” somehow not recorded, how this will be achieved is left outside the scope of the legislative wish list. This presents an interesting threat to the privacy of Australians when it comes to mobile phones.
As a late twenties Australian I, like many people my age, carry a smartphone, one that synchronises with a few mailboxes in a “Push” fashion, Facebook, my cloud document storage and other services that maintain a constant “heartbeat” connection to various online services that I subscribe to. This means that my mobile is constantly connected to the internet, and the “Who, When and Where”, due to the nature of mobile telecommunication towers this allows my position to be triangulated between multiple towers to within three meters almost 24 hours a day.
This means that my position accurate to three meters will be logged and archived for at least 2 years, the data requires a warrant to rifle through legally, except for when ASIO flash their requested “Do whatever I want and get away with it” badge, which is a whole other scary topic. A warrant written with appropriate wiggle room allows for this data to be requested so many times an hour it may be used in the form of a stream.
This system, either intentionally or through sheer incompetence, inadvertently places a tracking bracelet on almost every citizen in Australia, a device reserved usually for criminals on bail or attempting gradual societal reintegration. This is a gross overstepping of the boundaries established by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to be free of arbitrary interference with your privacy and correspondence, to be free to associate with anyone and retain the freedom to move anywhere within our nation without government interference.
This is of course more or less in place for 6 months at this point already, but retaining this for 2 years along with a treasure trove of other data in a wide reaching data retention scheme makes for a massive target for hackers and government officials alike.
One out of a large number of problems with the AGD and ASIO wish-lists for the National Security Inquiry, Hopefully we as a society can turn this train around.