Friday, 13 July 2012

Increasing surveillance on the

internet is almost certainly going to become a fact of life but I am deeply disturbed by the following:
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.

2 comments:

virtualquilter said...

Cat,

The thing which makes me wonder is if they have thought about how many people it would take to monitor all the various forms of comunication which now happen on the web!

And how much of that communication is about something the government should know about ... so much of it is about what to buy at the shops, reminders to pick up kids or the drycleaning and other such mundane subjects the stuff about security etc would be lost in the noise unless they know who thy are targeting from other intelligence.

If they have that intelligence they don't need to be able to monitor everybody all the time, and the current laws allow them to monitor somebody who is already suspect.

Any changes are about control, not about security.

catdownunder said...

No they don't - as I understand it all internet traffic is monitored now. It is done electronically and programmed to try and "capture" certain things. If it does "capture" something of interest then a human looks at it.
They also monitor certain sites, certain places and certain individuals. There is plenty of scope to keep people of interest under surveillance. This is about ease of access and control as well.