Australia's Attorney-General: Data Retention Is 'Very Much The Way In Which Western Nations Are Going'

from the dedicated-follower-of-fashion dept

Techdirt has noted before that bad policy ideas have a habit of spreading around the world. As the UK's Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill continues its ridiculously rapid passage through Parliament, it now looks as if Australia may bring in something similar. Here's what the country's Attorney-General, George Brandis, said, as reported by ZDNet:
"The question of data retention is under active consideration by the government. I might point out to you as recently as yesterday, the [UK's] House of Commons passed a new data retention statute. This is very much the way in which western nations are going," he said.
Although Brandis insisted that this was "not a decision that Australia has yet made," on related matters it seems that everything has been decided:
Attorney-General George Brandis has introduced legislation to Parliament to expand the ability of spies to hack computer networks, allow more flexible warrants and improve cooperation between different intelligence agencies.
The new legislation will permit:
one warrant to cover a network of computers and electronic devices, not just individual computers

the computers of third parties (those who are not suspects) to be used in order to access other targeted computers

intelligence officers to disrupt the operations of a computer in some circumstances
As that makes clear, this will allow offensive actions, including using computers of innocent parties to attack other targets -- a really bad Australian idea that Techdirt has written about before.

And as if all that weren't enough, Brandis also plans to bring in harsh laws against whistleblowers who might be tempted to emulate Edward Snowden:
Spies who leak sensitive information will face tough new penalties of up to 10 years' jail and internet firms could be forced to store customers' data for up to two years under sweeping national security reforms.

Prompted in part by the leaks from renegade US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, the Abbott government will on Wednesday introduce legislation clamping down on intelligence officers who leak to journalists, lawyers and other members of the public.
As the Sydney Morning Herald report quoted above notes, the Australian government of Prime Minister Tony Abbott is trying to cover every eventuality:
the Abbott government will move to plug a ''legislative gap'' by making it an offence to copy, keep or remove sensitive intelligence information, or to make a record of information without authorisation -- such as making notes of a meeting without approval.

These offences will carry up to three years' jail. At present, no crime is committed unless the copied material is actually handed over to someone else, but Senator Brandis told colleagues it could often be difficult to prove that the information had been passed on.
It will be interesting to see whether that idea starts to spread, too....

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Filed Under: australia, data retention, george brandis, privacy, whistleblowing

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  • icon
    silverscarcat (profile), 17 Jul 2014 @ 12:50pm

    Does anyone else hear that?

    The sound of history repeating itself.

    Two hundred years ago the French and British had oppressive governments and the people revolted.

    One hundred years ago, the Russians had a government that supported the rich and not the people and the people revolted.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Jul 2014 @ 2:27pm

      Re: Does anyone else hear that?

      In America the People are to lazy to get up off their couches revolt or protest , because OMG " Somebody Should DO SOMETHING" .

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 17 Jul 2014 @ 2:46pm

        Re: Re: Does anyone else hear that?

        Silver is right, but yes, it all too often requires that the problem devolve to people killing each other over it before people "DO SOMETHING"

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Jul 2014 @ 2:13pm

    Bandwagon approach

    Everyone else is pursuing this idea, therefore this must be a great idea that we should do too. Everyone, jump off the cliff, now!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Jul 2014 @ 2:32pm

    You mean except all EU countries, where data retention has been declared illegal and against human rights? Might as well say "hey, this is where China has been going - first - so now we must follow them as a role model..."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    vastrightwing, 17 Jul 2014 @ 2:48pm

    next crime

    Removing any covert applications and interfering with the state to collect data in the manner they want, will be a crime. In other words, don't remove or tamper with your computer after we've targeted you. That will be evidence you have done something wrong.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    BentFranklin (profile), 17 Jul 2014 @ 2:52pm

    "Spies who leak ..."

    That says it all.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Jul 2014 @ 2:53pm

    The Brandis suggestions seems completely Stasi. I am not sure how a man of the law can be so blind to effects...

    The Abbott change may not be that bad. Except for the meeting notes being very abusable it holds a more specific "abuse of intelligence data", that doesn't seem unreasonable if applied in the right manner!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Kronomex, 17 Jul 2014 @ 4:30pm

    Monkey see, monkey do. Except the government here is going further into totalitarianism and fascism and the opposition (and I use that word very loosely) makes noises and nothing much else.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Jul 2014 @ 5:19pm

    this is another example of the US paranoia expanding to countries that have previously showed common sense over such matters as contained in the article. this paranoia is going to bring about some serious consequences for the democratic world if not curbed and that is extremely worrying!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Adolf Hitler, 17 Jul 2014 @ 10:03pm

    George Brandis = New Nazi regime

    Thank you Australian government. You have taken my master plans and turned them into something genius. Now can you please do something about Penny Wong, she must be part of Al Queda.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Jul 2014 @ 10:06pm

    George Brandis is a Hollywood puppet.

    He dances whenever they pull on his strings.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Jul 2014 @ 2:11am

    Glaring typo in this one, it should read
    Australia's Attorney-General: Anal Retention Is 'Very Much The Way In Which Western Nations Are Going'

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Jul 2014 @ 9:35am

    You might want to be a little careful there, Mr. Attorney General. The US Courts have already declared much of the Government's data collection efforts unconstitutional, and the EU Courts are looking into declaring the GCHQ and US efforts as against international law. I don't think it's quite as cut and dry as you seem to think.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      GEMont (profile), 19 Jul 2014 @ 12:20am


      Actually he is telling the truth.

      (Rant Warning)

      As Government (as we know it today) becomes more and more obsolete, and the common people take upon themselves more and more of what the government was supposed to be doing, the millionaire members of government realize that their cash cow can be easily done away with if they do not create crisis after crisis and convince the general human populations that they are the only thing standing between humanity and the abyss of chaos.

      To do this in these days of mass electronic communications and uncontrollable internet reporting and investigation, without getting caught, necessitates a near total awareness of what everyone is doing everywhere, so that the world's government cartel can manipulate and redirect the efforts of the populations, manufacturing accidents and happenings that kill off or financially destroy their enemies - as they occur - and prevent the long over-due dissolution of the false institution of politics.

      The internet will of course need to be subjugated and redesigned to fill the needs of the ownership society and this process is already half over.

      Of course one should understand at the onset that Government is merely a tool of the massively wealthy, and always has been just that. Its true mandate is solely concerned with making the rich richer, and nothing else. It is a club house of sorts where the wealthy take time off from turning one dollar into three dollars through their usual business, and play snake-oil salesman for a time.

      It is simply that at this time, all governments can see the writing on the wall, as well as the unique possibility that technology provides and have come to a general agreement that their own needs far outweigh the needs of humanity at large.

      All of the recent decisions by the courts of the land will soon be overturned as soon as all of the judges come under the control of the cartel.

      The cartel has adopted a very old slogan:
      "Every man has his price."

      Everyone has something they want to keep hidden and total global surveillance will eventually find every single skeleton in every single closet and it can now be retained forever in computer-based memory forms and at that time, the oldest dream of the oldest families will come true - the complete domination of the peasants in an ownership utopia for the technologically divine Priests of Mammon and their servants.

      When they have dirt on everyone, no-one dares to nay-say their directives or disobey their demands. Whistle Blowers become a thing of the past once there is no longer a place to take the stolen information - when they control all of the media and public information becomes what the cartel decides it should be.

      These little setbacks are just that - setbacks - but they also tell the cartel where they need to put pressure next and what sort of mistakes to not make a second time. In plain words, they are educational.

      This has of course been attempted repeatedly throughout history, but, only now has the technology needed to succeed, and the wealth needed to turn half the world's population - minions - against the other half - slaves - become available. But the actual process is being written on the fly.

      When one path to a prize becomes closed due to civilian dissent, the cartels simply reroute their plans through a different path. If one SOPA/TIPA dies, it simply changes its name and is run through the process again and again until it succeeds. Nothing really changes and so it cannot be stopped. The laws will be made to support the rulers' desires and nothing else. This process is also half done already.

      The global government cartel is composed of billionaires and millionaires, who do not even need to use their own wealth to enslave the human race, since they have access to all the wealth that is created by the peasants around the world through taxation.

      They also have access to a huge percentage of the population who want nothing more than to become the servants of the rulers and who vocally support every move made by the cartel, free of charge.

      They want so badly to become the rich and powerful that they refuse to limit the privileges of same because they believe that some day, they will be the ones to enjoy those privileges.

      The cartel owns the police, the armies, controls the production of food and water, and the institutions that pretend to be humanitarian and they simply need to own you as well to make it all perfect and they know they can do it because they have the tools and the will and because those about to be enslaved are incapable of realizing their peril.

      The cartel simply does not yet know how to pull it off, since its never been done successfully in the past. This is why so much of their efforts are generally hit and miss as we have seen over the last decade.

      Aside from the talent of turning one dollar into three dollars repeatedly, they are not exactly the most astute or intelligent humans in the litter - just the most ruthless, cunning and opportunistic. After all, they have never suffered a day of hunger or hardship, the need to find employment, or struggled to make ends meet. They have always had freedom from laws and never face punishment for their crimes. What they do have, is money - lots of it - period.

      With time and the aid of computers, and hacking and surveillance technology they absolutely know they can finally build a "heaven" on "earth" for those who have proven they are the strongest and most ruthless members of the species - for those who deserve to rule.

      After all, who is going to stop them?

      You? :)


      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Seegras (profile), 21 Jul 2014 @ 7:11am

    This is very much the way in which western nations are going

    Yep, "This is very much the way in which western nations are going". And there's a word for what "This" is. It's called fascism. And it's still fascism when "everyone does it".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    GEMont (profile), 22 Jul 2014 @ 12:27am

    Rant Warning

    " And it's still fascism when "everyone does it".

    True, but sadly, fascism is nothing more than the result of the addiction to the accumulation of great wealth.

    Every ruin of a civilization on earth went through the very same entropic process. The ancient families will always paint the historical demise of any civilization as the result of war, but it was always they and their addiction to wealth as power, that began the process that brought it down.

    The process is extremely simple. Wealth gets accumulated through criminal acts by a few very greedy, opportunistic and self-serving individuals who naturally gravitate towards each other and form a group. Since the beginning of civilization, there have always been a few families that lead this process and have never admitted their culpability for the resulting collapse. It is a lesson they can never learn.

    As a group, they can accomplish things that would be extremely difficult individually.

    As the group grows, the ability to manipulate the processes of civilization itself gets easier until one day when they can start to re-write the very laws themselves through paid surrogates that appear to be "working for the people", known as statesmen, politicians, lawyers, priests, etc..

    The first laws that get rewritten are those that were put in place to prevent monopolies, racketeering, and other forms of illicit profiteering by the wealthy at the expense of the poor. Later, laws that allow others to climb out of poverty are eliminated to prevent unwanted competition created through desperation and necessity among the poor.

    Soon, the laws of the land become the literal basis for the business model used to dismantle a civilization.

    Once the new laws are in place to promote these ancient "business practices", the end of that civilization is guaranteed, because the wealthy will at that time subjugate any form of public information to supress the awareness of the things they are doing and to disseminate "news" that keeps the public thinking the problems are external and being fought by the powers that be.

    The majority of the misinformed public will thereafter actually support the ongoing demise of their nation because one of the beliefs the wealthy will instill in their minds through education, games, entertainment and religion, is that they too can become wealthy and join their betters, through diligent hard work and determination.

    Of course, absolutely nothing could be farther from the truth.

    The wealthy are of course, far too busy stealing everything that is not nailed down to notice that they are actually dismantling the very machine that created their ability to turn one dollar into three dollars repeatedly. They are eating their cash cow, and never notice this until after it is dead.

    Drunk on power, they eventually find ways to strangle the last few dollars out of the poor and in the case of modern civilizations, the middle class who will replace the poor, until the only place left to steal from is each other.

    At this point the Rulers usually employ the starving masses as now eager armies to wage war with, against each other, over the dregs, and in no time at all, the civilization is just another smoking ruin dotting the plains of earth.

    What is truly sad though, is that even made aware of the result of the addiction to wealth and its consequences, humanity cannot free itself of the dream of wealth as power.

    As each civilization falls to fascism and becomes dust, the survivors immediately plan out the erection of a new civilization dedicated to the accumulation of wealth as power, once again, led by the same families that have always been accustomed to life at the head of the food chain.

    Sadder still is the simple fact that even should the ancient families all die off tomorrow, the rest of us will be all too willing and eager to take their place and insure the cycle continues.

    We now return you to your regularly scheduled diet of sour milk, sucrose and penetrating oil...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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