The Australian Govt's rush to snoop

Summary:The government wants to give access to more telecommunications data to assist with law enforcement. It sounds like an infringement on civil liberties. Will it be able to push it through?

To the Australian Government's credit, it has called for public submissions and an inquiry before implementing changes to existing national security legislation. Through that process, it has found few supporters, except for the government authorities seeking more powers through the changes.

Others, including Greens Senator Scott Ludlam and Simon Frew from the Pirate Party, have deep concerns about the extent of this review, which discusses keeping telecommunications data for two years, offering access to broader sets of data from a single warrant, allowing ministerial approval for investigations and making it an offence for failing to assist in the decryption of communications.

Despite the extent of the proposed changes, there's a fair chance most of it will soon be passed as legislation. Dr Gavin Smith, a senior lecturer in Sociology at the Australian National University in Canberra, believes that people accept surveillance as an everyday aspect of their lives.

Just as we give away more of ourselves to Facebook, perhaps we'll happily succumb to more snooping by authorities. In fact, the Australian Tax Office wants the powers to extend further than the inquiry suggests — two years of historic data isn't enough to satisfy their thirst for information.

I wonder what George Orwell would make of it all? What do you think? Call the Twisted Wire feedback line on +612 9304 5198 and leave a message.

Running time: 29 minutes, 38 seconds.


Topics: Government, Government : AU, Legal, Security, Telcos


Phil Dobbie has a wealth of radio and business experience. He started his career in commercial radio in the UK and, since coming to Australia in 1991, has held senior marketing and management roles with Telstra, OzEmail, the British Tourist Authority and other telecommunications, media, travel and advertising businesses.

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