April 1, 2014
Federal Labor has come out in defence of the surveillance state. Tanya Plibersek indicated her in support of the mandatory data retention regime, which would compel phone companies and internet service providers (ISPs) to retain telecommunications data – "metadata" – for at least two years for the whole Australian population.
The meta data is not the recordings of phone calls or content of emails that is proposed to be retained; it is data around these things. Who you called, and for how long; who you email, and the size and type of the attachments you send. If you carry a mobile phone, metadata can record your location every minute of the day.
Plibersek justifies the roll over on the grounds that metadata collections had been an important tool in safeguarding Australia’s national security, that the spooks have disrupted some very serious terrorist plots in Australia, and that government needs to make it as “easy as we can” for intelligence agencies to protect against established and emerging threats.
Scott Ludlum observes that:
Data retention is not about targeted, evidence-based intelligence gathering. It is the indiscriminate collection of detailed, real-time metadata on everyone. It is not just for people suspected of serious crimes or political violence, and no judicial oversight is required for a proliferation of hundreds of agencies and local government authorities to get their hands on it. Because the access threshold is so low, there were more than 320,000 of these requests made of telecommunications companies in the last financial year, rubber stamped without a single warrant being issue
This allows the spooks to build what they call ‘a pattern of life’, a detailed profile of a target--ie., a full profile of somebody’s interests and habits---and anyone associated with them. The spooks say they need all this data, because, in order to find the needle in the haystack, they need access to the whole haystack.
Labor accepts the argument for 'mass surveillance'.
The Senate Standing Committee on Environment, Communications and the Arts recent report, The adequacy of protections for the privacy of Australians online, indicates that Labor has form on this.The Attorney-General in the Rudd/ Gillard Governments tried to implement a mandatory data retention network in the form of the retention of metadata and not content related to email, telephony and internet access.