back to article Brandis: NO LIMIT to ASIO network taps

Laws criticised for creating a spooks' warrant for the whole of Australia's Internet - kind of a "spook-envy" of what the NSA says it can accomplish - look like passing before the end of this week, with attorney-general George Brandis declining to limit the scope of ASIO data-tap warrants. As part of its more general ramp-up …

  1. RealFred

    What could go Wrong Indeed

    If the Greens, Palmer and Labor don't combine to defeat this, then we can be sure they are all complicit in it.

    1. Michael Hoffmann

      Re: What could go Wrong Indeed

      Palmer?! Why would they? So far their voting record is "LNP plus some extra goodies for the Flying Fat Man (*) thrown in".

      (*) You mean he *doesn't* remind you of Vladimir Harkonnen?!

      1. RealFred

        Re: What could go Wrong Indeed

        Don't forget that Labor tried to head down this track as well. So I'm not very hopeful that they understand or want to understand, whats at risk here.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Got Nuthin' To Hide, Eh?

    What about in the bedroom?

    What about in the bathroom?

    Many people take their mobile communications devices into places considered really private. The devices in many cases are connected to the home 'computer network' via Wi-Fi, or to a mobile phone carrier's '(data)computer network.' And when the Secret Magistrate overseeing these warrants doesn't truly understand what a 'computer network' is, then it'll be open slather for the spooks! Just mention 'computer network!'

    blah, blah... I'm seriously thinking of doing an experiment for 12 months, where I can't interact with technology, and technology cannot interact with me.

    It'd take a bit of planning, methinks :D

    1. Anthony 13

      Re: Got Nuthin' To Hide, Eh?

      From The Shovel today:

    2. Elmer Phud Silver badge

      Re: Got Nuthin' To Hide, Eh?

      "ASIO could use a single warrant to access computers on a network – with no definition of what constitutes a network."

      That'd be your wireless hub and your mates phone, your printer, TV etc.etc.

      I bet they'd tap a baby alarm as well - nice little listening devices, especially the ones that can relay 'soothing voices' from the parent.

      I guess it also includes the car and phone and SatNav having a chat, too.

  3. P. Lee Silver badge

    Laws defined by Parliament?

    Goodness gracious me! How quaint, but its totally unreasonable to actually define the laws rather than having the government just make decisions at it sees fit. I mean, we wouldn't want to have to go to the bother of passing laws in the future, if circumstances change, would we?

    1. dan1980

      Re: Laws defined by Parliament?


      Don't worry, mate - governments, intelligence agencies and law enforcement bodies are actually immune to scope creep.

      The thing is that such open-ended laws are saying, in effect, that the citizens of Australia (ostensibly the people that the politicians and various government bodies are supposed to serve*) should just sit down and let those who know better sort it all out. Passing laws like this is the Government (and the rest of parliament, if they don't oppose it) telling us that we trust them, rather than presenting the policy they want to enact and then asking us if agree.

      Enacting a law that essentially allows the government to do whatever they want is simply not democracy. In a democracy, the government puts forwards it's ideas to the people and the people vote on them.

      A government only has legitimacy where the people are informed about what the government is doing on their behalf. If the public is not adequately informed then the it's all down to the government telling the people it is acting in their best interests but not letting them decide for themselves. So yeah, not really democratic.

      * - Now that is a quaint idea!

  4. dan1980

    "Brandis told parliament it's “unworkable” to constrain ASIO in legislation, and that such constraints ignored what might happen in the future."

    Beg your fucking pardon?

    Preventing what "might happen in the future" is exactly the reason why such powers must be constrained by the strongest and most clearly-worded laws possible.

    We need to make sure that when some "future" government MP wants to monitor the Internet usage of an entire state in order to effect a pre-election witch-hunt 'crack down' to shore up support and look tough, the legislation prevents him from doing so.

    To everyone who voted for the Coalition, congratulations. I officially hate the fucking lot of you. You bleated on about 'pink batts' and 'carbon tax' and 'debt' and 'NBN blowouts' and any number of supposedly big issues. What you elected instead was a government more focussed on achieving its ideological goals than improving the quality of life for the citizens of this country.

    Thanks for that.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Mental image: Mr Burns

      In real life: Rupert Murdoch creaming his jeans in anticipation of the "Great Pirate War of '15"

    2. Tim Bates


      "What you elected instead was a government more focussed on achieving its ideological goals"

      I'm not so sure. I get the impression most of the pollies (on all sides) actually believe Brandis is keeping the national interests in mind. They just gather around, drink his KoolAid and pass his bills.

      I'd have thought they'd give the job of AG to a person who actually understands how laws work (and how they sometimes don't)... But what would I know.

  5. Winkypop Silver badge

    "the attorney-general's oversight"

    Remember, this is an idiot who couldn't define meta data.

    Brandis is a fool.


    1. dan1980

      Re: "the attorney-general's oversight"


      He "couldn't" define meta data?

      What gives you that impression? Certainly he didn't do so clearly to the Australian public but you make a very big assumption when you say that he couldn't.

      That assumption, of course, is that he would have been clear and informative if he could have. I truly believe that one of the main tactics of the Coalition in this matter has been to keep the public uninformed, thus preventing any real, open debate. You can see this in their responses to challenges and criticisms. They of course went heavy on the 'necessity' of these measures but, moreover, every time someone protested that the government would be collecting far too much personal information, the response was to tell the public that they had it all wrong - it was addresses on envelopes and the number you dialed (both of which fall down completely as analogies for Internet traffic). Certainly nothing that any reasonable person should worry about.

      Personally, every time I heard someone from the Coalition spout the "what's written on the envelope; not the content of the letter" line, I mentally replaced it with: "the titles of the books and articles you've read; not the words in the books and articles", or "the street addresses of the places you go, not what you do there".

      The point being that, in the first, modified, analogy of books and articles, the name of the the book is all the information you could ever want to know about what someone reads, just as the addresses of the websites visited tells you at least 95% of what you would want to know about what someone is doing online. In the second analogy, the address visited can tell you a LOT about about what someone was doing. If the address visited was a brothel, it's no good saying "we don't record what you did there"! Likewise if you visit a GP and then an abortion clinic.

      Sorry - this whole thing just riles me up so I have rambled somewhat.

      1. Winkypop Silver badge

        Re: "the attorney-general's oversight"

        Yes, perhaps and maybe, but I watched the guy fumble over basic words and concepts.

        I don't discount a misinformation campaign. Be it couldn't or wouldn't, I still think the guy is somewhat dim.

        1. dan1980

          Re: "the attorney-general's oversight"


          Indeed - who better to conduct a misinformation campaign than someone who is, himself, misinformed!

          Never account to malice what can be explained by stupidity, but in this case (making decisions for the entire country), allowing yourself to propose, back and vote for measures without actually understanding the real ramifications is neglect. Worse, it is an utter betrayal of your charge.

          These clowns fumbling their way through vague IT-speak have a duty to understand this properly and inform the public clearly. Fail and fail, yet they still assure us that it is (a) nothing to worry about, and (b) in our best interests.


  6. Originone

    "How can anyone — certainly, how can Senator Ludlam — stand in the Senate today and anticipate what the needs of ASIO will be in relation to warrant based computer access next year, or in 10 years time, or for however long this legislation exists?"

    So the reasoning is at some point in the future ASIO may needs powers it doesn't have now, and because we can't anticipate what those powers might be we must grant it a specific power that it currently doesn't need now. Brandis should just cut to the chase and take his nonsense to the end game which is that any legal constraint on ASIO may one day prevent it from stopping someone somewhere do bad stuff, so let's remove all constraints now.

    I don't think Brandis and Co are genuinely evil, but the only other explanation is that they are genuinely naive to think there is no good reason to not give security agencies powers they don't need.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Next time:

      Please speak into the flower vase.

      Thank you.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "'round here, all the internet belong to us... Bwahahhahaaa!"

    Down here in Oz, the boof-heads are in power. They get more love from their constituents by banging their chests & even more love from media & mining moguls by claiming the world is still flat and that everything should be sold to the best-connected bidder. The ideology of this idiocracy goes something like this:

    "Our political enemies will now be monitored. We will know what they are saying, all the time. And no-one can blow a whistle as our new law makes that illegal too. No /au/snowdens down here... ever"

    The methodology is simple enough for most of them to understand and intangible enough for the public to get confused about.

    1. Make the Spooks all powerful and they will support us as they always have.

    2. Thanks to our incredible super-powers, terrorists will give up using the Internet and go back to farming.

    3. We achieve 24x7 surveillance of the voters that don't agree with us, and get bonus votes for seeming to be strong. If any of them (our people or our terrible enemies) use encryption and so on, we'll spend 90% of GDP breaking their secrecy. We will continue smoking our cigars, and it won't matter that we are not actually improving security because people won't find out what we aren't doing and if they do we'll send them to our own Guantanamo. If there are no plans being made, we'll 'crack-down on" (and steal the computers) of anyone that is borderline schizo and show how they might have had plans, or enrage them into saying something along those lines.

    If anything fails at step #3, find another schizo, wind him up and repeat.

  8. Trigonoceps occipitalis


    "That's led legal experts and Greens senator Scott Ludlam to ask whether such a warrant could reach out across the whole Australian Internet."

    Quite tightly drawn really compared to the NSA and GCHQ.

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