BIG brother became a little more real in Australia last week, with the introduction of new metadata laws.
This means that from now on the telcos will be storing data on who we call, message or email. These laws have been a long time coming, even though most of you wouldn’t have heard a peep about them until now.
This was actually an idea that began with the Gillard government in 2012.
The laws are being put in place to protect us against terrorism and organised crime and this means that the telcos will be required to keep our communication history for two years.
They won’t be keeping track of the content of our messages, only where we send them or who we call.
Information to hand so far says they’ll be storing IP addresses (potentially your internet history), email addresses, phone numbers, dates and times, type of service used, download and upload volumes, and the location of equipment or telecommunications devices.
I wonder if they can tell me where I left that phone I lost?
Put all these pieces of information together, and even without the message content you can probably take a good guess at what someone is up to.
With recent events in mind these new laws seem like a good plan for protecting us, but there is cause for concern, especially given the size of the task now before our communication providers.
A collection of such a vast amount of data will mean offshore storage, this will be attractive to hackers, and also cost a lot. The set up costs will come from our taxes to the tune of $130 million.
If you have nothing to hide, then privacy issues may not concern you, and only law enforcement agencies can access the data under certain conditions.
The big hole in this plan however is that messages that are created using offshore services, such as Facebook messenger, iMessages, snapchat or WhatsApp, cannot be tracked.
While the government knows you are using the services, they won’t know who you are talking to within that application.
It is even possible to make calls within the Facebook app now, so tell me what is the point of this big expensive plan?
Back in March, infamous whistle blower Edward Snowden commented about our pending new laws, stating that they won’t catch any real terrorists.
Most of us will accept these new laws because we are starting to get scared, and we want the police and security agencies to be able to thwart potential threats.
Especially now that we know children as young as 12 are being monitored for terrorist activity, and if there is one thing kids are good at, it is running rings around adults when it comes to technology use.
Prime Minister Turnbull stated at the Terrorism Summit that technology is moving very quickly. So why start off with half a plan that cannot keep up, and an expensive one at that?
This week it is both Stay Smart Online and Anti-poverty week, the brief for these must not have made it to parliament, it seems.