Australia Plans "Big Brother" Seizure of S/N, Passwords, Emails, Text Msgs
September 28, 2012 5:56 PM
Country claims Orwellian measures are necessary to fight "white collar crime"
Steve Dalby has a big problem. As the chief regulatory officer at Australian internet service provider iiNet Ltd. (
Sydney Morning Herald
that his company is struggling sustain the $3M USD a month service the government is demanding to spy on its citizens.
I. Orwellian Plan Could Cost Telecoms $3M USD a Month
Other service providers like Telstra Comp., Ltd. (
) are flat-out refusing to comply saying the government order to spy on everything from a user's Google Inc. (
) searches to storing the numbers involved in their encrypted payments via eBay, Inc.'s (
) PayPal is not only a gross invasion of privacy -- it's also likely illegal.
Security director Darren Kane told the
, "We cannot capture or provide any metadata or any content around something like Gmail because it is Google-owned, it is offshore and it is over the top of our network. The real value of what we might have in a data retention scheme would be greatly diminished as soon as the organised criminals and potential terrorists knew that we were not capturing that data."
Australia wants to "watch" its citizens' every digital communications. [Image Source: DeviantArt]
But that's precisely what the
Australian Securities and Investment Commission
(ASIC) wants access to full access to all user metadata, including usernames and passwords. It also wants to intercept and store copies of citizens' emails, social media chats, and text messages.
ASIC officials claim that handing ubiquitous spy powers to government regulators will help the ASIC fight
"white collar crime"
. But collecting the information may actually create criminal opportunity, as Telstra points out. And industry officials suggest that the plan could cost up to $400M USD to put in place, plus potentially tens, if not hundreds of millions a month to maintain a full watch over users' data.
II. U.S. Presidential Candidates are Eyeing Similar Efforts
Australia is a pretty punitive nation when it comes to internet law enforcement, having been
among the few to contemplate a "strikes" plan
to disconnect users' internet. But it's far from alone. The Obama and Bush administrations both
frameworks to allow
. This is unlikely to change as both the current President and Republican nominee Mitt Romney have defending domestic spying.
Mr. Romney expressed a viewpoint narrowly in line with the President's plugging warrantless wiretaps in an interview, stating, "If it means we have to go into a mosque to wiretap or a church, then that's exactly where we are gonna go, because we are going to do whatever it takes to protect the American people. And I hear from time to time people say, 'Hey, wait a sec, we have civil liberties to worry about', but don't forget... the most important civil liberty I expect from my government is my right to be kept alive."
Much like Australia, the U.S. is currently considering heaping a plan to
sever "frequent" pirates' internet
on top of the growing framework of non-transparent, warrantless surveillance methods.
In both nations the big pushback is coming from interne service providers and internet software service providers like Google.
Sydney Morning Herald
"A politician stumbles over himself... Then they pick it out. They edit it. He runs the clip, and then he makes a funny face, and the whole audience has a Pavlovian response." -- Joe Scarborough on John Stewart over Jim Cramer
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