As the Australian Senate debates the Government's data retention legislation long into the night, Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull is on TV telling everyone how to get around it. What?
That's right: the guy who introduced the Bill into Parliament has just given us all a guide as to how to communicate in a way that it will keep you mostly anonymous: use data services.
Here's a quote from the Minister on how to dodge the Feds which kind of blew my mind (emphasis added):
Whistleblowers have nothing in addition to fear, because those records have been accessed by police investigating leaks, but of course you now have the ability to use over the top applications like WhatsApp or it might be a more encrypted application to avoid leaving a trail at Telstra or Optus.
If you have a device, you know, a phone or a smartphone, and if I call you through the mobile phone network there will be a record. Say my phone's with Telstra, there'll be a record with Telstra that I've called your number. If on the other hand I communicate with you via Skype for a voice call or Viber, send you a message on WhatsApp or Wickr or Threema or Signal or Telegrammer — there's a gazillion of them — or indeed if you make a FaceTime call, then all that the telco can see is that my device has had a connection with the Skype server or the WhatsApp server...but it doesn't see anything happening with you.
There are always ways for people to get around things, but of course a lot of people don't. That's why I've always said the data retention laws, the metadata use is not a silver bullet, it's not a 100 per cent guarantee, it's one tool in many tools.
So this legislation is designed to catch lazy terrorists? Gotcha. Thanks, Minister.