Privacy be damned, cops need our records

Privacy be damned, cops need our records

Summary: NSW Police this week said they want access to phone records of missing people whether there's suspicion of foul play or not. And why shouldn't they?

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TOPICS: Security, Telcos
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commentary NSW Police this week said they want access to phone records of missing people whether there's suspicion of foul play or not. And why shouldn't they?

police image

(Caithness-shire Constabulary circa 1874 image by
Dave Conner, CC2.0)

But, of course, this wasn't the view of the privacy pundits who claim to fight for our rights.

They said the powers would be subject to abuse by our supposed quasi-Orwellian law men and women.

The privacy pundits also said the powers would be used without our consent.

They even said, "some people who go missing want to stay missing, for their own safety or 'whatever' reason".

If they had their way, these archaic antagonists would have our law keepers using whistles in moments of distress, and using oil lamps to track criminals.

Opposition for opposition's sake is the same vexatious dribble that has borne our disillusionment with the incumbent political parties, and it has driven my belief that these privacy pundits need to rethink their modus operandi.

If they truly represent the people, then they must know our opinions of privacy have changed: look at how we flocked to nascent social networks, sprayed our personal data over the public internet, and smiled when pubs and clubs made copies of our driver licences.

Yet while these powers are designed to help police find our missing friends and families, they just could not resist the sirens.

They would have achieved relevance by flagging the need for police accountability and oversight, so those abusing access to citizen phone records would be outed.

But that would require compromise, and it seems they will continue to call for omnipotent anonymity in a world where privacy is, for many, an afterthought.

Topics: Security, Telcos

Darren Pauli

About Darren Pauli

Darren Pauli has been writing about technology for almost five years, he covers a gamut of news with a special focus on security, keeping readers informed about the world of cyber criminals and the safety measures needed to thwart them.

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Talkback

13 comments
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  • Perhaps Darren, it is not the spirit of the law they object to, but the potential repercussion of it. While the use of the information to locate missing persons is a good application, the question how the legislation can be used for other means. What loopholes can be exploited? It's the same argument with the net filter; people are worried about scope creep, as is want to happen with new legislation that gives authorities access to our personal data and control over our lives.
    JamesMcCutcheon
  • "look at how we flocked to nascent social networks, sprayed our personal data over the public internet, and smiled when pubs and clubs made copies of our driver licences."

    All those examples are purely optional, and those of us who wish to not publicise our data can do so.

    This proposal is a gross invasion of privacy. Under no circumstances should private information of individuals be made available to anyone else unless it is to protect the lives of others. Just because someone is missing that doesn't mean they should have access to their private conversations, this is the police department, not exactly the most trustworthy of people.
    m00nh34d
  • "If they had their way, these archaic antagonists would have our law keepers using whistles in moments of distress, and using oil lamps to track criminals"

    Strawman argument Alert!
    meski.oz@...
  • The proposal has merits, but it needs to be implemented VERY carefully. We've seen a constant erosion of individual rights for the supposed benefit of government (and rarely that of the individual tax payer/voter).

    Too often naively optomistic good ideas are quickly implemented, which are later subverted and abused.

    Some of us are very wary of the government, and for good reason. Just take a look at how Conroy has doggedly avoided fair and open review (including criticism) of his internet filter. You don't need to be an expert to see the flaws, the same flaws Conroy believes is an advantage to the government....not Joe Public. Meanwhile he labels those he criticises as child molestors.
    Scott W-ef9ad
  • "look at how we flocked to nascent social networks, sprayed our personal data over the public internet, and smiled when pubs and clubs made copies of our driver licences."

    Not this little black duck! Only the youthfully naive or ignorant sheep willingly hand over private data without thinking.
    Scott W-ef9ad
  • Now read another ZDNET article which highlights the valid concerns over privacy. Now on the surface the proposed use sounds fine, but I bet it will be extended the switch is flicked.

    http://www.zdnet.com.au/us-kill-switch-bill-defence-or-imposition-339308767.htm?ocid=nl_SEC_27012011_fea_3
    Scott W-ef9ad
  • ...and let's add the inevitable:

    "If you're not doing anything wrong then you have nothing to hide. So why are you against it, do you have something to hide?"
    Scott W-ef9ad
  • 'The privacy pundits also said the powers would be used without our consent'. are you live in cloud 9? sure there will used ,is just an back-door to snoop
    b_rolle
  • Scott W, you sound as if you have some major trust issues, the police, the government, to quote yourself above,
    "If you're not doing anything wrong then you have nothing to hide. So why are you against it, do you have something to hide?"
    Yes there are some police with questionable morals as just as there are politicians.
    Perhaps you would prefer it if the civil libertarians ran the country. While I agree with your comments about Conroy there are certain circumstances where sometimes our information is important.
    Normal practise in missing persons cases is if a mis per is located they are usually given the opportunity to tell police that they do not want their whereabouts given to whomever for whatever reason.
    Am interested in your opinion on wikileaks......
    schizochick
  • "If they had their way, these archaic antagonists would have our law keepers using whistles in moments of distress, and using oil lamps to track criminals.

    Opposition for opposition's sake is the same vexatious dribble that has borne our disillusionment with the incumbent political parties, and it has driven my belief that these privacy pundits need to rethink their modus operandi."

    Pot, meet Kettle...
    Tinman_au
  • There seem to be some significant differences between Conboy wanting to impose secret government censorship, and what is being proposed here.

    When somebody is reported missing, their phone records could show if their disappearance was voluntary or a possible crime. Some people may initially say they do not want to be located (eg, runaway teenagers), but that should not mean that police are unable to do anything about clearing the report so they can get on with other matters.

    According to some in the privacy industry, too much privacy is never enough, but like anything else that approach can be taken to ridiculous extremes.
    gnome-8be8a
  • here here, gnome!
    schizochick
  • This is a joke coming from an IT journalist. Maybe we should let them filter our internet at the same time? Of course it is for our own good.
    gelliottaus