back to article Yes, Australia's government SHOULD store comms metadata

Australia's federal government should store metadata collected by the nation's Internet service providers (ISPs), because the government already operates suitable facilities in which to do so. ISPs have suggested that if the government persists with its metadata retention plans they would have to pass the costs of storing data …

Silver badge

No, no they shouldn't

There is little utility in it for anything the government should be doing.

Even good governments will tend to misuse the data (scope creep, commercialisation, corruption of electoral wards, analysis of political activity in aggregate or otherwise).

Godwin! Do you think the "best democracy" in Europe anticipated Hitler's rise to power? WWHD (with that information)? (blackmail, arresting those with who look for directions to the nearest synagogue or visiting undesirable websites)

That's still our money being used to pay for people to spy on us.

All people die eventually. I prefer to risk the few, very unlikely, bombs of sworn enemies to the certain corruption of my "friends".

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Trollface

Re: No, no they shouldn't

Of course they should

What could possible go wrong with Big Brother having a log of every email, website, phone call, etc that you have ever made?

If we can't trust the people we put in charge of running the country, then who can we trust?

Just remember the catch cry "If you've done nothing wrong, then you have nothing to fear"

http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/2013-09-06/

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Most insane argument on ElReg in a loooong time...

...so let me get this straight: the AUS gov (you know, long considered to be the most servient one to foreign interests among any Western-style democracy) SHOULD retain metadata (=who called whom, when, where, how long, what kind of handsets etc.), of which they are the biggest USERS (=zero third-party interests to provide some protection from abusive overuse) because...

....just BECAUSE THEY already have DCs and THEY CAN?

Wow.

Just wow.

PS: I think someone really need to take his medication as the doctor prescribed it (or get off the payroll of certain government agencies.)

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Re: Most insane argument on ElReg in a loooong time...

I don't say the government should store it because it can. I say that if the government decides it must be stored, it and not ISPs should store it.

Subtle but very important distinction.

S.

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Gold badge

Re: Most insane argument on ElReg in a loooong time...

If the government decides it must be stored, it and not ISPs should store it the country should rise up as one and drive the fuckers into the sea.

T,FTFY

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Bronze badge

Re: Most insane argument on ElReg in a loooong time...

So the government should have ALL the data, to trawl for whatever they see fit rather than the ISP's holding the data and requiring the government to get a court order for access...

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Re: Most insane argument on ElReg in a loooong time...

That's not what I say. I say there needs to be lots of oversight, but that the government should do the storage.

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Vic
Silver badge

Re: Most insane argument on ElReg in a loooong time...

I don't say the government should store it because it can

You did. From the start of your article :-

Australia's federal government should store metadata collected by the nation's Internet service providers (ISPs), because the government already operates suitable facilities in which to do so.

And that makes as much sense as "Australia's federal government should machine-gun everyone over the age of 50 because they already have the facilities to do so"...

Vic.

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Mushroom

So, lemme get this straight...

Australia's federal government should store metadata collected by the nation's Internet service providers (ISPs), because the government already operates suitable facilities in which to do so.

So, it is your assertion, Mr. Sharwood, that the gov't of Oz should be allowed to run roughshod over its sovereign citizens' rights to privacy because they would be good at it?!?

Fucking really??? In your mind (such as it is), the primary requirement for allowing any manner of government, whether in Oz, America, Blightey, PRC or WTF, to abuse its citizens is because they would be good at it?!?

Simon, that is the stupidest mother-fscking thing I have heard in at least a month, and I've been listening to the likes of John Boehner, Antonin Scalia, John McCain, and Lindsey Graham in that same timeframe.

Your nice warm bowl of STFU is waiting...moron!

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Re: So, lemme get this straight...

No it is not my assertion that the government should invade privacy.

It is my assertion that if the government decides to do it - which I oppose - that it should not place the burden of storing that data on ISPs.

Got it?

S.

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Re: So, lemme get this straight...

Hi Simon, while the body of the article is absolutely clear that it is not an endorsement of this proposed data collection, only an explanation of the ISPs position on whom perform it and hold responsibility, the headline provides completely the opposite impression.

Stupid, misleading and dishonest headline, should be changed and detracts from a good, informative article. Get the sub-ed to stop chasing page impressions.

You might want to push people in the direction of iinet's submission on this subject by the way, it provides a thorough debunking of the government's propaganda in the Murdoch lead press:

http://www.iinet.net.au/about/mediacentre/papers-and-presentations/20142807-tia-act-1979.pdf

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Re: So, lemme get this straight...

Wasn't the sub wrote the headline - it was I. And I also wrote the subheadline explaining that data retention is not a good idea.

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Re: So, lemme get this straight...

Then you might want to try re-writing it - it implies you support the retention of data.

There's no other way a reasonable person could read it and it's all that appears on the home page.

Using the sub-head as a gotcha is a. dishonest b. you didn't go far enough with it.

Start the headline with 'ISPs suggest' and it's a lot more useful if less exciting.

Proper journalism is less PT Barnum.

Good article though

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Re: So, lemme get this straight...

What Simon is trying to say is that if the government decides to roger us all, it should roger us itself because it's very good at rogering people and not try to make the ISPs roger us.........

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Silver badge

Doesn't matter who tracks and stores it

It's still just plain fucking WRONG.

Fair enough that the ISP's dont want to lose customers due to the price of connectivity going up.

But us taxpayers don't want a new "anti-terror" tax, which is less about anti-terrorism, and more to do with unwarranted snooping on all aspects of our digital lives.

Not to mention the new laws they are shoving down our throats whose sole purpose is to punish whistle-blowers for daring to bring government nastiness to light, it seems they do not want to be subject to the same laws as everyone else.

I wonder, are there any legally minded folks out there who could have a browse through the hastily drafted anti-terrorism legislation, and see if it can be used to prevent the government from launching their own war of terror upon our personal privacy?

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Re: Doesn't matter who tracks and stores it

Not 'launching', 'continuing'.

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"Before a single bit of ISP-sourced data about any of us reaches a single magneto-resistant atom we need legislation to determine who gets to see the data, under what circumstances and with what kind of oversight and disclosure."

The problem here is that the legislation won't be static. Once the data is there, agencies that feel the need to access the data will be able to ask for changes that will enable them to access it (no doubt with laudable aims). This kind of expansion is often controlled by a web of different acts and instruments and can often be quite hard to unravel who has access to what information and what real oversight or control exists.

Although I agree with Simon that there is no way ISPs should be picking up the tab for data retention, the proposed scheme is still a bad idea. And no amount of legislation or oversight is going to turn a bad idea into a good idea.

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Silver badge

". . . why should the private sector be asked to replicate expertise and facilities accrued at taxpayer expense?"

Because we elected a Liberal government - one hell-bent on privatising everything it can.

And, if you think for one moment that the government has any interest in actually securing the data to anything like the extent you mention (offline storage, transport on tapes, security-verified in-person access only, etc...) then I commend you for your optimism.

That would be no good at all for catching terrorists and pedophiles!

The problem is that the same logic and hand-wringing that sees the push for the data to be retained in the first place also pushes for it to be available at a moment's notice to whomever "needs" it, which, in practice, means far less security and scrutiny than such a treasure trove of personal information should have.

I know that this is besides the point of the article, but one only needs to look at what is happening with requests for the data that is currently available. In the words of Telstra, speaking to the Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security at a parliamentary hearing the last time this was looked at:

"If an agency is able to verify that it actually undertakes an investigation for a criminal offence, that it protects the public revenue or it has the ability to impose a procurement penalty or all three of those, then they have the right to actually request, lawfully, from the telcos, that information."

That includes requests from:

  • Centrelink
  • The RSPCA
  • Local councils
  • Blacktown anti-dumping authority

And remember, all of that is without a warrant, without any judicial oversight - it's available with little more than managerial sign-off; no reasonable suspicion or probable cause needed.

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Mushroom

Of course they should.

And every time their 360k floppy disk is full, they just eject it, turn it over, reinsert it, and keep on storing. Like any good government minister's understanding of IT will dictate.

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By the same reasoning, the Government SHOULD handle the NBN also.

No wait, didn't they nearly balls that one up?

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Silver badge

Re: By the same reasoning, the Government SHOULD handle the NBN also.

Which version of the NBN?

Labor's Fibre To The House?

or

Liberals Fruit Tin and Twine to the Neighbour's house.

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Re: By the same reasoning, the Government SHOULD handle the NBN also.

Twine is a type of fibre.......

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Trust

I wonder whether this wouldn't have received even more attention on Whirlpool?

;-)

[/NotSoSerious]

Usual Disclaimer: I am just a guest, in your lovely country.

Good article, but missing a Part-1 if any balance was intended - which it wasn't - So I'd tend to agree with PNG above (a bit sadly).

(That said)

There is no acceptable answer to this problem. I can't remember the name (Irvine, maybe?) of the Security guy who was grilled by your senators the other week? But having read the write up (on here) I am pretty sure that the following is the problem a lot of people have with the way the world now works:

I am the only person I would trust to be a spook

Please note: That includes spooks.

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Go

Simon is being prescient, sensible and is an exemplary Australian.

To me, Simon displays the appropriate amount of pessimism. If the government grants itself the legal powers to enforce metadata to be collected, then the government is going to find ways to abuse the contents of the collection as surely as night follows day, whether the data is hosted long-term by ISPs or by the government itself. Might as well make them wear the cost of it (and the unpopular taxation involved in paying for it) - at least it makes it simpler for future revolutionary governments to hit the DEL button. (Or more likely, significant chunks of the archive will soon disappear as a consequence of future cost-saving).

However, I venture to suggest that Simon's sensible civil outcry won't get heard, and we'll end up with the worst of everything for both civil freedoms and the cost of telecommunications.

Trevor's valuable input would unfortunately not work on a practical level. To round up the two leading parties and herd them into the ocean with horses and bull-whips is geographically impractical, given Canberra's location (although I expect the entire nation would turn out to watch and cheer, should it be attempted). I think we may be forced to something like it in the next 30 years, since things are starting to get mildly dystopian around here. (And yet I wouldn't swap with the citizen of any other country for ... er, quids!)

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Coat

Re: Simon is being prescient, sensible and is an exemplary Australian.

"To round up the two leading parties and herd them into the ocean with horses and bull-whips is geographically impractical, given Canberra's location"

We have a lake, you know.

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Silver badge

Re: Simon is being prescient, sensible and is an exemplary Australian.

Trevor's input, while agreeably-worded, is already out-of-date. The correct time to start takin' names was at the end of the Howard era when Ruddock (as AG) basically removed all scrutiny and restrictions on access to the data that was already kept.

See, the problem is not the length of data retention per se, it's how that data is used and how strictly access to it is controlled.

If there was some way to have an absolute, iron-clad, concrete and inviolable assurance that such data would only be used for the most important reasons, and only after the strictest scrutiny - including but not limited to judicial oversight - then the length of retention of that data becomes almost a non-issue.

To be clear, I am not saying that people should have no problem with it, just that the length of the retention is irrelevant as those against it would be against ANY retention - be it for 1 year or 1 day.

So, the problem really is how the data is used, by whom, and with what oversight. Well, we know that already and the answer should disturb every Australian. The data is used by whomever wants it, for whatever purpose they want it and without anyone to monitor it. The last thing we want to do is increase the amount of our personal data available under so unsatisfactory a system.

And that's really the crux - if you (the police, ASIO, etc...) want MORE data under the appeal that you are prevented from solving serious crimes then first the system must be cleaned up and locked down so that it can only be used for those reasons you are arguing for.

Now, I don't think ANY data should be retained any longer than required for the provision of the service it was collected for, but the above is what needs to happen if the hand-wringing of the police and the others is to be taken seriously as anything more than a grab for our personal data.

While I deplore illegal dumping (keep Australia beautiful), I find it astounding that my council would be allowed to pull mobile phone location details for someone they suspect was responsible.

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Gold badge

Re: Simon is being prescient, sensible and is an exemplary Australian.

Damn it, always late to the party.

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Gimp

"*most* of the time, they are subject to public scrutiny. "

And there's the problem.

You know the government will play the "National Security" card and say this is too sensitive to discuss/monitor/question.

I did not know that the Aus gov has such advanced cross government data management and I agree that if the government the usual cabal of data fetishist career spookocrats who are usually behind this BS wants it done they should pay for it.

I also agree it's a butt headed stupid thing to do and is grossly disproportionate to the size of threat involved.

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Terrible no matter how you read it.

Unchecked access to that amount of data is dangerous, and if the government controls the data it will become unchecked. At least if it resides within many private companies there are more eyes on the number and type of requests. As soon as the requests become non-specific someone can blow the whistle quite easily.

That being said, only data required for billing should be retained anyway. Or will the library now be required to log which books I picked up but didn't check out? And the pub, which other patrons I spoke with? Why do I suddenly have no rights to privacy just because the data is easier to steal?

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Silver badge

Re: Terrible no matter how you read it.

It's already 'unchecked'.

Access to the existing metadata requires no warrant, no judicial oversight, and can be given to ordinary public servants - such as a Centrelink employee accessing mobile phone location data to determine if someone actually went to their job interview.

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Bronze badge

Whoops, the drive failed.

ISP's can just follow the American Internal Revenue Service and claim that the drive/tape/alien storage device containing the metadata failed and was disposed of. You know? that sort of thing happens quite frequently with consumer grade drives used in an enterprise application. Ask the experts. Since The Man® isn't shifting cash to the ISP's to buy these drives, there isn't any way they can afford more robust kit.

Yeah, that's the ticket.

Most failed lawyers, err, I mean politicians, have no concept of what it takes to run a competitive business when their brain spasms get drafted into laws. Using the same logic, why not start requiring the post office to open, photocopy and store a copy of every piece of mail they handle in case the information is useful on the next witch hunt? Never mind the cost, just pass a law.

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