back to article Oz gov lets slip: telco metadata might be available to civil courts

A series of slips by the nation's top cop followed by communications minister Malcolm Turnbull has made Australia's data retention bill even more of a potential horror than it seemed when it was introduced last week. It started with the Australian Federal Police commissioner Andrew Colvin saying that stored telecommunications …

  1. Craig Foster

    Australia's Liberal party do what the Fox says.

    Well, Rupert anyway...

  2. poopypants

    I am somewhat comforted

    by the thought that at my age I won't have to witness the state of this country 20 years from now.

    I feel sad for my children, though.

    BTW, after the secret TPP is rammed through, copyright infringements will be criminal offences.

    Now, can anyone recommend a good VPN?

    1. John Tserkezis

      Re: I am somewhat comforted

      "BTW, after the secret TPP is rammed through, copyright infringements will be criminal offences."

      They already are. Sorry, did you miss that? So did everyone else - they passed it at the same time as the "relaxed" VCR/PVR recording changes. Now copyright infringement isn't a civil issue anymore, it's criminal.

      Rather convenient the media (and everyone else) skipped that bit when telling us that recording a TV program to watch the next day is legal now (after we've been doing for 20 years), and how great the changes are. The bastards.

      1. P. Lee Silver badge

        Re: I am somewhat comforted

        And here's why they need the data - the standard of evidence for criminal cases is much higher than for civil.

        I'm not entirely sure how they are going to prosecute a criminal case when they won't know which member of the household committed the offence, even if they have the data. If it was civil, they might get away with prosecuting the adsl link renter, I can't see how a criminal case would stick unless the person lives alone.

        1. poopypants

          @P. Lee Re: I am somewhat comforted

          It doesn't matter. As a result of any random person in your household coming under suspicion, they can seize everyone's computers and hold onto them for several months until a court case takes place, and you have no realistic expectation of getting all your equipment and data back in the same state it was in when it was confiscated. You may win the case, but you will still lose.

  3. John Tserkezis

    "What's depressing is that Australians probably won't take to the streets about this issue. It's unlikely they'll read even a handful of the stories about the data retention regime. And thus does a country sleepwalk into a Stasi-like regime."

    Don't count on that. Once a couple of "if you don't do anything wrong, you have nothing to fear" wankers get thrown in the clink for something they had on their PVR for longer than a week, it'll get noticed, and the normally compliant sheep will fight back - and play dirty.

    Meanwhile, I'm looking for a stable wormhole, er, VPN that's not based in any Australian or US-affiliated country.

  4. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    So Sad

    In my lifetime Austrailia has gone from a country of opportunity and freedom to one of control and repression

    1. Scroticus Canis Silver badge

      Re: So Sad - Indeed

      Seems like the days when England* used Oz as a 'one way ticket penal colony' may soon be "the good old days". Quelle merde mate!

      * Specifically England as Wales and Scotland can't be included in the blame for that shameful episode of our "glorious" history.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: So Sad

      "In my lifetime Austrailia has gone from a country of opportunity and freedom to one of control and repression"

      Non-WASP australians might point out that control and repression has been there all along. This just makes it more equal-opportunity.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "And thus does a country sleepwalk into a Stasi-like regime"

    Not much comfort, but you'll have plenty of equally depressed company.

  6. Winkypop Silver badge

    They are bastards

    And we are screwed.

    Metadata that.

    1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge

      Re: They are bastards

      "...we are screwed."

      Look. The fact that your ISP has any idea what you're doing online, is simply a reflection of the fact that the lazy anti-establishment coders haven't yet added a few more layers to the TOR code base puzzle palace.

      In the same way that "non-repudiation" can be a requirement for financial transactions, and can be easily achieved, it is also perfectly possible to design and implement an algorithmic requirement that the communications be not just secure, but also effectively invisible (buried in 'noise') and (key point-> ) inherently and explicitly repudiable (deniability).

      One can foresee that masking will also be a requirement when the above is banned. So the traffic all needs to be buried behind a veil of normality, e.g. incoming large files appearing to be from Netflix or YouTube.

      These copyright bypassing requirements are trivial in comparison to, for example, Public Key concepts. It shouldn't need much more than a month to draw out the concept in detail, and another year to achieve full release.

      It's obvious what the end state will be. Not good for those holding vast libraries of expensive content.

      At least until They mandate copyright protection at the display panel. Panels refusing to display unsigned content, sigh...

  7. Anakin
    Big Brother

    Hope things will be better in Oz

    Maybe we can celebrate some day

  8. This post has been deleted by its author

  9. dan1980

    What, exactly, does anyone think a protest will do? The answer is nothing because both sides want this.

    If I had the chance, I would like to ask Turnbull and the others the following question:

    "Let's assume for the moment that the Australian people do not what this new data collection regime. How could they present that wish to you such that you would listen and stop?"

    Thats the thing - there must, in principle, be some way for the Australian people to express their wishes to their representatives. And I don't mean just writing letters which get a boiler-plate response from a junior staffer.

    But there isn't - the Government wants this and they won't listen to anyone who tells them that the people don't. You can tell that this is the case because they don't even want to TELL the people about it. They want it to pass quietly without ever having to explain what the consequences are. They don't want us to be informed about the decisions they are making because they don't want us to protest them.

    If members of the Coalition are reading these comments - perhaps monitoring the feedback in the news - then please ask yourselves and your bosses the question above; what can we, the people of this country, do to get you to change your minds? Will you listen? What format? How many? Tell us - give us specifics of what will change your mind and let us do so.

    If you don't have an answer and aren't willing to actually ask the people what they think*, perhaps you should re-evaluate what your job is.

    * - And your answer shouldn't contain the word 'mandate'. Yes, you won an election, but you can't claim a mandate to enact a law that was not explained (and still hasn't been explained) beforehand. And, anyway - as mentioned - when both sides want the same thing how do we convince you that you're both wrong? It's possible to have bipartisan support in both houses but not the approval of the people you are supposedly serving.

    1. StephenH

      They'll claim those protesting are just friends of criminals and terrorists - they can be tarred as such and safely ignored

      1. Flat Phillip

        Maybe not tarred at first. Perhaps a quick peek through 2 years of web browsing history to find something that at very least sounds dodgy (you visited a website that shares the same IP address as would do it).

        Then they've found the tar; A quiet word to a tame press and the job is done.

        1. dan1980

          First they simply brush over them as a small number of very vocal people - the vast majority of Australians are for this. Honest.

          When it doesn't die down or the concern is more widespread, the problem is a miscommunication - that's all. Perhaps they blame it on (say) the Greens or 'the media' whipping people up with false information. Either way, if they understood it, they'd realise it's totally doubleplusgood. Honest.

          And that's where we are now.

          It doesn't matter; when the government want to do something, they will always wave away any negative reaction.

  10. Mark 65 Silver badge

    VPN Suggestions Please

    What we now need is a list of reliable VPN providers. Perhaps El Reg sunshine desk could run a comparison article?

  11. Ant Evans

    Death and taxes

    Tax havens are so last year. The smart money is on data havens.

  12. southen bastard

    work till you die

    Perhaps theirs a good side to this?

    downloading a copy of some crap movie, you get locked up for 10 years,

    if you are over 50 you are probably unemployed or soon will be,

    jail cells are dry , air-conditioned, 3 meals a day, living on the dole dose not guarantee this.

  13. Thornintheside

    Let's sue the entire govt

    In the spirit of fairness, let's pay the government back for their gesture. If this passes, can we as a nation find a lawsuit against every member of parliament , all civil servants and get access to their web browsing and search history. Only then can we as a nation feel safe and secure knowing that our public servants aren't terrorists or pedophiles. I'll be the first to donate and I'm sure many others would love to.

  14. Persona non grata

    I have an exit strategy

    Thankfully my wife is French - but Richard's last line isn't overblown, the journey to oppressive control states can be one of stages, Australia is further down that road then the UK or even the USA, our 'public servants' (it's not the Politicians, they're never the source of the ideas, it's our big consultancy trained execs who love the control state and their idiot friends in the security services) have taken us headlong down that path with the Murdoch dominated press cheerleading all the way.

    Fear rules in what is one of the safest societies to ever exist in history, the irony is saddening.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019