The lower house of the federal parliament passed new laws on Thursday (metadata retention laws) that in theory will allow government agencies to spy more on the Australian public. From what I can see the new laws seem to do little and achieve even less yet will cost a lot. The politicians and mainstream media have had their say on the issue but there are very few people talking on behalf of the public and defending our rights.
The new laws simply mean that telecommunications companies will now have to keep our telephone and internet records for 2 years. Most companies already keep the records for a certain period which I would guess to be at least 6 months to a year. So not a great deal changes anyhow.
The only real question that needs to be answered as far as I am concerned is: Will Australian metadata retention go down in history as one of the dumbest ideas passed into law by any government anywhere? Only time will tell.
Exactly how the new laws will work and what the real benefits will be no one seems to know. On Thursday night, the same day as the laws were passed in the lower house, the Minister for Communications Malcolm Turnbull was on the ABC show Lateline advising journalists on ways around the new laws.
Using old metadata to catch criminals is not common and is almost outdated as there are messaging services such as Wickr that encrypt messages and leave no metadata. So as Lateline host Tony Jones said to Malcolm Turnbull on Thursday:
“If you’re a smart leaker, if you’re a smart coup plotter, if you’re a smart journalist, you’re going to be using” Wickr etc
And Mr Turnbull responded: “If you were a smart journalist – and I said this in the House today; I didn’t say if you were a smart journalist, but I said if you’re a journalist and you are dealing with confidential sources, you – you, the journalist, have an obligation to protect your sources and using encrypted messaging applications and taking care that you don’t leave an electronic trail is very important.” (Click here to read more or watch the interview)
So if there are simple ways around leaving a metadata trail then how useful will the new laws be?
Real cost unknown
One of the first things governments are meant to do is a costs-benefits analysis when in the planning stages of any new laws or expenditure. The government has clearly not done this as Malcolm Turnbull’s admission that people can circumvent the new laws by using encrypting services such as Wickr shows. The benefits of the new laws will be minimal if anything at all.
The costs on the other hand could be anything and are still unknown.
The SMH reported on Monday (16-3-15): “Consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, which was commissioned late last year to come up with a cost estimate, said the scheme would cost anywhere between $188.8 million and $319.1 million just to set up.”
If the best cost estimate is up to “$319.1 million just to set up” with no ongoing cost estimate then the laws should never have been passed in the lower house. What is the real cost going to be? $1 billion or $2 billion?
It is us the public who will ultimately pay for it whether that be through higher taxes or a higher internet access fee. We are entitled to know what sort of value we are getting for our money with a proper costs/benefit analysis. Not some stupid roll of the dice hoping its value for money.
Metadata has been used to catch criminals in the past
South Australia’s assistant police commissioner has been quoted as saying: “Police are struggling to cope with and make good use of the vast reservoirs of metadata collected during investigations” (Click here to read more)
While police have on occasions used metadata (phone records and internet records) to catch criminals in the past the new laws are highly unlikely to help them catch a greater percentage of criminals in the future. They only thing that I can see happening is more business for sites such as Wickr.
The Liberals and Labor both support the metadata laws. Why?
Both the Liberal government and Labor opposition are supporting the laws which means they will pass the Senate. Given all the evidence points to the fact that the new laws will have very little impact on catching criminals if any then why pass the laws? What is their motivation?
The Labor Party held out from supporting the laws until the Government put in better protection for journalists. (Click here to read more) Another time waster as all that will happen is that a corrupt judge somewhere will decide whether or not the police can see the metadata of the journalist. The journalist’s and the public’s interests will be represented in court by a lawyer appointed by the Prime Minister as Malcolm Turnbull has stated in the Lateline interview referred to above.
So what happens in a Watergate scenario where the police are investigating a leak from the government regarding corruption by the Prime Minister? I bet the lawyer picked by the Prime Minister will not be trying too hard to stop the police from finding the leak.
Is the government just passing the laws to try to make it look like they are doing something and are the Labor Party doing the same by supporting the laws? If that’s the case it has backfired as they both look stupid to many voters.
Is the government trying to intimidate whistleblowers in the government to shut their mouths? Whatever the real story is, the whole situation is a scandal and a waste of taxpayer’s money and the Liberal Party government and Labor Party opposition are lying to the Australian public.
If the Liberals and Labor Party really want to do something, then employ more police
The government could probably employ anywhere between 500 to 1000 new federal police officers for the same cost as implementing the metadata retention laws. A lot more crime would be stopped by doing that than spending it on metadata.
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Yes sadly the political process that is proposed and ‘passed’ makes it more dangerous for whistle blowers. What needs to be looked at is who owns these new encryption sites and what the investment links are to the politicians who lead the parliamentary changes. It all looks more and more every day like the spying in book ‘1984’ book by George Orwell. and it is true that met-data collection and scanning has been happening for more than a decade, just as said and warned by Julian Assange. The issues is that some people have access and others do not. And it’s not happening in the interests of everyday Australian citizens.
LuLu I have too agree with you, one of my concerns (be it founded or not) is that this Data Mining is not just used for Political Advantage of the Government of the Day (as Shane has described, in his article).
But it is accessed or sold off to Major Corporations to spy on their smaller competitors, with their Intellectual Property and Company Secretes are stolen for Commercial Advantage and Profit… !!
I am not as worried about the Average Citizen having their lives invaded, apart from there buying habits and potential commercial trends, there wouldn’t be much profit in it.. !!
Its true that many of the Western Worlds Governments have squandered what credibility and trust they may have once enjoyed from their Citizens, once that is either being questioned, eroded or lost, its a 100 times harder to recover it (if it ever can be)… !!
In reality the only thing that holds societies together over the long term is trust, a good example is that a Dollar is only Worth a Dollar, because of trust and when that trust is lost the currency collapses, it can and has historically happened overnight.. !!
Too many laws and no common sense by politicians and in the process nothing is achieved other than robbing Australians of their rights.
It is amazing that within the USA the Obama Administration (Democrat/Labor) has persuade the same thing, as has the Abbott Government (Liberal/Republican) and there appears to be no difference between the two.. !!
You cold say that Governments always have the one thing in common, they just love to Squander Money and on both sides of the house, only in different ways.. !!
You could flip a coin on whether any Government is either Corrupt or Incompetent, with no matter if the coin lands on heads or tails both would be the correct answer.. 🙂
We are controlled from the District of Columbia, as indeed they are. This is the kind of lawmaking that comes from when a government is taking orders from its true Masters. There’ll be a reason for it, we just haven’t seen it yet. They have.
I made a phone call a few months ago to a business & this could have had serious legal implications for the business concerned because they were supposed to phone me & never did. The record of the phone call has disappeared from my itemised phone bill?! I rang the phone company & they just said that this was impossible. Who is to say that these records won’t be fiddled with to incriminate innocent people? How would you be able to prove that the data is correct?
After waiting 4 hours in casualty to see a doctor on Sunday myself, a mother with a sick baby and another patient were told to go home without seeing anyone. This money should be spent on our hospitals etc. The fact that the two major parties are endorsing this shows just how rotten both of them are. Time to abandon both of them at the ballot box.
You’re right. Vote for the Wikileaks Party to make your vote mean something positive for the people of Australia.
If this provided info to prevent just one terrorist event in Australia it has succeeded.
Quite frankly I have and will never have anything to hide.
‘ do not care if Government know what colour underpants I wear! ‘
The situation is now way past the ‘servants’ running the ‘Manor House’, the servants live in luxury and the ‘owners’ are forced into sub-serviance with their accommodation ‘below stairs’
Add to this, every word in every method of their communication will be ‘monitored’.
Hey FRANK RANK, can I have the keys to your car, front door, work office, credit cards, power of attorney and guardianship authority…… Remember you sad you have nothing to hide…. Come on Frank, be real. Terrorism it’s almost synonymous with false flags, it’s called psychology and it’s real, real, real..
My only concern with your comment, with respecting your point of view is that “you can’t wake someone up who is pretending to be asleep”…
You obviously support protecting terrorism . Any info to prevent crime is good. I cannot see Australia run by the Stazzi. You are a closet protector of evil. An open society should not fear. Simply alarmism just try to do something positive – any
Initiative is constantly bagged by those that propagate negativity.
Germany tried metatdata retention laws and concluded they don’t work.
Interesting opinion Frank. Please answer my questions if you’re game to expose your ideology.
I do not support terrorism-as you charge. Very defamatory statement Frank.
Your understanding of “doing something positive”, I suspect is based upon what you believe is necessary, fair enough, but please consider very carefully the value of false flags which can influence your objectivity and consequently create fear. Your fear. Please read about all the historical false flags throughout history that lead to WW2, Vietnam war, Korean war, Iraq war (1 & 2) and the almost successfully invasion of Syria but the U.S. Military that was only stopped when Russia simply parked their navy of the Syrian coast last year (not a bullet fired), just standing up to bullies.
I don’t propagate negativity, just asking you to think for yourself. And please don’t let the fear propagated by the mainstream media affect you…..now they ARE evil…. Go read the “Flat Earth News”…..only if your game to know the truth!
Sorry Con . You are obviously a very good bloke and a great Australian.
But you are unfortunately an Ostrich . We need every possible tool to fight terror.
Anything else is unAusraliaian. We protect our own.
ps – do not hide behind a smoke screen . Nothing is perfect . Only God is perfect.
it is a slow and tedious process to wade through the mud of disinformation. it takes years of research, determination and analysis. bit by bit one can break down virtually every thing they tell us on the controlled media as being a gross lie, manipulating us towards a certain nefarious agenda. very few people have the time and inclination to verify what we’re told – and that’s why very few people can see what is really going on. but eventually those who make the effort break free from the thought control matrix these criminals have created for us. (they own the MSM too, remember?) more and more people are doing just that, and now we are a serious threat to their way of life – their lucrative criminal enterprises are in jeopardy. THIS IS THE REASON WHY THEY NEED TO TIGHTEN THEIR CONTROL OF THE INTERNET, and in a way that the masses do not know what they are really doing. convince the people you are “saving” them, and they will gladly submit to whatever they ask.
but i say all this for the benefit of anyone else who reads this, because i can see that you know that already.
for the scams
I tend to agree with Rank Frank, I have nothing to hide they can read my mail anytime.
These laws do NOTHING to protect Australia from this scam called “terrorism”. The world is waking up to the massive deception and criminal activities being undertaken by all of them from the top down – this site is just one tiny example of the crimes being committed. These laws are designed to harass and silence anyone who speaks out about it, and to slowly start shutting down websites that expose the truth.
the internet is possibly THE biggest threat to these criminals. they do not want people to find out what they are doing, so shutting down the independent news sites, bloggers and their readers/commenters is their primary goal. these laws are just the first step to achieving that.
The foot is now in the door,the gap will get wider.If the federal government have nothing to hide then establish a federal I.C.A.C.This way we can see who the pollies are communicating with .After all we are all equal under the law.
I totally agree. There is no ICAC for the A.C.T. and there should be. The corruption that goes on there is over the top, I am dealing with it at the moment and they think they can do what they like because they have no one to answer to. If they want to examine every ones correspondence etc then we should be able to examine theirs. The A.C.T. think they are like the Vatican state or the City of London and they should be answerable to an ICAC like the other states!
If,after the next election the federal government has a docile senate then we may see the Australian version of the Patriot Act.
Concerned Aussie is right on the ball.
That is why not one rational argument has been provided by those who “have nothing to hide”. Usually it’s because they have everything to hide, and their histrionic descriptions are nothing more than theatre (comic theatre at that) to scare and intimidate….they fail.
Suggestion- Shane you need a window where members (bona fide only) can vote on a question you pose…..would be very interesting!
Look, the issue is that the government can watch everyone from afar and also what we type in the privacy of our private emails to each other, and to government. The people really already have little scope to scrutinize government or call for transparency.
I have heard and have experienced what Jo-Ann says about a call disappearing. I had a very rude moving text image sent to me from one of my police mates in about 2002. The men were laughing their heads off at my frustration that the ‘evidence’ went when I terminated the incoming message, yet it was there when I was annoyed at it and showed it to my (ex) boss, the sender. He is a mate of … that lot.
Apologies for the long post. But what i have to say is important, relevant and reliable. The changes being made impact us all far more than we currently can immediately perceive.
Yes, there is much more to this ‘communications’ watching thingo than we are told. I know. I heard and saw what USA staff said in 2002, but I am not allowed to say for another two years … except it is not in favour of the Commonwealth.
There is so much advancement already done within government channels. The OZ military and policing activity is decades ahead of what gets released to the public.
In 2005 I personally heard of an agenda that I find very worrying and see unfolding, despite my efforts help the people. What I was told was very anti-democracy, anti-Australian. It was an ‘elite’ v’s us attitude. The 1984 book describes the proposed outcome.
(Moderator: rest deleted as way too long)
Hey Lu Lu, we are already scrutinizing government and calling for transparency from the day Wikileaks put “Collateral Murder” on line worldwide and we learnt about the leaks to the US Embassy in Canberra by our ‘elected’ politicians… Don’t you know about this. Why don’t you know ?
And then Snowden exposes to the world how treacherous and deceitful the “Five Eyes are”….. You know: USA, UK, New Zealand,Canada & (yes your right,) A.u.s.t.r.a.l.i.a.
As the evil, lethal and anti- human Joseph Goebbels (Adolf Hitler’s Reich Minister of Propaganda) boasted in the 1940’s:
“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”
The truth IS the mortal enemy of the state– we DO have the strength to expose the truth and we must all keep doing it, always.
were you trying to typing the new name of this good nation
as perhaps the great new world of southern
‘Cross’ Au IStRA(e)Liar?
What happened overseas was very terrible and is unwanted here.
See if your local library has the book ‘Hawke P.M’ ISBN: 0 207 14806 6
published 1979 and again in 1983, by John Hurst.
At least those printed pages cannot be altered to hide content
(there are detailed events & names depicting a certain agenda from one cultural group).
It is really laid out on those pages who and how a certain group gained dominance and why, and who they consulted from certain communist nations.
I see the C.P.A. set (especially detailed in that book) still running their tactics.
I found the book “Hawker PM”, very cheap at $9.95, read it cover to cover and not found the reference re ” a certain group gained dominance”.
Can you please give me a page reference ( if it exists).
By the way just to help you and Rank Frank, just have a look (todays ABC Breaking News) at:
Really sorry it highlights your mislead beliefs and values, but then, that’s what happens with tribe mentality.
Wake up! Stand up! Be honest! Nothing else is acceptable in Australia !
And to our Government…. I’m watching YOU!
Rank Frank have you ever thought of how many ways metadata can be used to benefit those who can access it. From what I can gather you only seem to look at it from one perspective.You are right in saying it can benefit government agencies in the cause to stop terrorism or criminal activities. What about all the other numerous possibilities which can arise from giving a selected few access to such personal information.
I wonder if turnbull has shares or owns a VPN company?
Hope some find this useful.