As news broke last night that the proposed mandatory internet filter was dead, in favour of the more liberty-friendly Interpol filter, I couldn’t help but think of J.R.R Tolkien’s The Two Towers. Sure, the filter has fallen from grace like Saruman from Isengard, but a new evil lurks behind the walls of Canberra’s very own Mount Doom: an all-seeing eye that wants to track your every move online. I’m talking about data retention.
The siege of Conroy’s filter stronghold was long and the battle was hard, but last night, the Stephen “Saruman” Conroy gave in to the onslaught and abandoned his filter fortress. There was much celebrating, ale drinking and pipe smoking in the wee hours of the morning, but a splinter hung in the back of our victorious hearts. We knew our celebrations were being watched.
Over the horizon, deep inside Parliament House, the all-seeing eye continues to gather strength. The felling of Conroy’s Isengard is nothing compared to this new threat. The all-seeing eye belongs to none other than Attorney General Nicola Roxon and her data retention legislation.
Data retention involves the government’s national security committee changing several key interception, telecommunications and policing laws so that — among other things — ISPs will be forced to hold browsing data from users for two years. Many are concerned that the data will be subject to warrantless access by law enforcement agencies, and opponents of the original filter legislation have branded this new evil a tool that will be used to treat all Australians like criminals.
We may have won this battle, but the war for digital rights wages on.
Image: New Line Cinema