The proposals being put forward here amount to an almost unbelievable wishlist of surveillance and intelligence-gathering powers. They would enable the government to gather, store and use our computer passwords, monitor our Twitter accounts and other forms of telecommunications.
If the proposals become law then the government would effectively be able to observe everything we do and say on the internet. Intelligence agencies could access and use any of our personal information while remaining virtually unaccountable.
I think that goes a step too far, more than a step too far. It is trying to take control of the internet and other telecommunications - the sort of thing that happens in China.
I know national security is seen as a problem. Australia has serious problems with respect to national security. It is a big country. It has a small population. Surveillance of the land mass and the coastline is always going to be an issue. It is not helped by the current policy with respect to border protection. We also have issues with terrorism that are greater than most people realise.
However none of that justifies the potential collection of vast quantities of data from ordinary citizens. There has to be reasonable cause before any government has the right to invade the privacy of its citizens.
Intelligence gathering, while far from perfect, does give security agencies like our ASIO and its equivalent organisations a very good idea of who they should be looking at. They have ways of doing it. They do not need the power to put every citizen who uses the internet or other means of electronic communication under surveillance.
In my line of work I sometimes have to deal with people who are in highly sensitive situations. If I breached security their lives could be put at risk. There could be other consequences. The idea that the government would also have access to information without due cause just adds another unacceptable layer risk.
There is no such thing as "secure" data. We can work at ways of making it as secure as possible but law abiding citizens do not need the added risk of another Manning stealing our data. We do not need the added risk of another Assange publishing it just because he or she can.
These proposals are about control, not security. They are unacceptable.