Australian ISP iiNet Says It Will Fight Against Data Retention Rules
from the if-only-other-ISPs-were-so-customer-focused dept
Last week, we wrote about some vague plans announced by Australia’s Attorney General George Brandis to require data retention rules for ISPs. “Data retention” is a euphemism for mass surveillance. It requires ISPs to hold onto a ton of data and allow the government to snoop through it. Australian ISP iiNet — a company whose willingness to stand up for its customers against Hollywood extremism we’ve discussed before — has come out with a blog post in which it promises to fight back against any such data retention rules.
Unlike the typically buzzword heavy responses you normally see from overly compliant ISPs regarding government surveillance, iiNet continues its reputation of being a straightshooter and explaining what’s really going on and how the company is working to protect its users.
Law enforcement agencies (like ASIO and Federal and State Police) are proposing private companies, like iiNet, should keep ongoing and very detailed records of customers? telephone and online activity. We?re not talking targeted surveillance of individuals suspected of a crime, we?re talking about the wholesale collection and storage of data on your online, digital and telephone activity. These records are euphemistically labelled ?metadata? ? and could include the unfiltered records of your browsing, updates, movements and phone calls, which can be readily matched to the identities in your customer account.
We don?t think this ?police state? approach is a good idea, so we?re fighting moves by the Australian Government to introduce legislation that would force us to collect and store your personal information.
iiNet goes even further in explaining and demonstrating graphically just how much “metadata” reveals about you. For example they show a single tweet — and then all the “metadata” associated with that tweet to show just how much more information is often revealed in the metadata:
The data collected can be incredibly sensitive ? it can reveal who your friends are, where you go and what websites you visit. Indeed, it may even tell more than the content of a phone call or an email. Recent research from Stanford University showed that when analysed this data may create a revealing profile of a person?s life including medical conditions, political and religious views, friends and associations.
Police say ?If you have nothing to hide, then you shouldn?t be worried?. Personally I think that if you follow that dubious logic, we?d all be walking around naked. It?s not about being worried, or wanting to ?hide? anything. It?s about the right to decide what you keep private and what you allow to be shared. YOU should be the one to make that call, and that decision should stick until a warrant or something similar is issued to law enforcement agencies to seize your information.
Not convinced? Then we suggest you check out the startling website based on information collected on German politician Malte Spitz by Deutsche Telekom over just six months. Zeit Online combined this geo-location data with information relating to his life as a politician, such as Twitter feeds, blog entries and websites, all of which is all freely available on the Internet. It?s really worth a look and illustrates just how informative and personally invasive metadata can be ? it is truly scary stuff.
Experts in the US have some equally frightening things to say about metadata. According to NSA General Counsel Stewart Baker, ??metadata absolutely tells you everything about somebody?s life.? General Michael Hayden, former director of the NSA and the CIA, called Baker?s comment ?absolutely correct,? and frighteningly asserted, ?We kill people based on metadata.?
Brandis, in the past, has seemed totally impervious to people who have a different opinion than he does (even if they have the evidence on their side), so it’s unclear how much good this will do. Still, it’s good to see an ISP that is loudly and clearly standing up against data retention, and not hiding behind misleading language, but clearly stating what’s happening and why it’s bad.