Conroy's Filter Is Dead, But A New Evil Is Gathering Strength...

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



    Agreed. The Data Retention legislation is one to seriously consider as a breach of privacy and waste of taxpayer's money even more than the filter was. The filter was laughably foolish while the DR policy is scary.

    Wasn't the DR Policy also the one where industry was supposed to be consulted but wasn't? It was also reportedly discussed behind closed doors or something like that?

      But wouldn't a proxy get around this too? They are going to store the URL that your IP was accessing. If your accessing a proxy server in Yugoslavia will they, without a packet sniffer, know what you are looking at?

      Data Retention should in theory cost taxpayers nothing. Potentially a slight increase in internet access to compensate for ISP's buying more hardware.

      ISP's storing data != government spending money.

        News flash, ISPs already store data... This just makes it a requirement.

    Personal Digital Rights Invasion Much!!

    Why does the government think the Book 1984 is a guideline not a warning??

      Ever tried being original? Or do you only vomit out catch lines from internet memes?

    The trouble is, Australia's governments are too far gone is worship of everything American. We really need to tell our politicians that we are too close to the US. Australia has for too long being passing legislation that mirrors US legislation. We have not yet gone so far down that ratbag path that has consumed the US Congress that we cannot withdraw but the time is rapidly approaching. Write too and talk to you local member and state and territory senators before it is too late.

    Looks like I'm going to be automatically logging in to VPN secure from now on.

    Meh, I don't care if some authorised person accesses my browsing history. I use the internet as if that was already happening, anyway.

      It's not just browsing, it's emails and texts too. Can I have a copy of all your browsing (including recording of passwords and userid's entered into websites), plus a copy of all your emails and texts sent and received in the last 2 years please? What's that? You don't want to give it to me? Oh, well, I can wait, some hacker will get it from your ISP and post it somewhere one day and then I can read them all thanks to the GIllard Government's Communist Spying Bill For Future Oppression of Citizens, sorry I mean the 'Data Retention Legislation".

        Hysterical much? The terms of reference for the development of the legislation specifically include the need to balance with the individual's privacy. Which means - presumably - that passwords and credit cards would not be part of the data.

        And all my emails already exist on a server somewhere permanently - if my ISP decides to retain them, it's just one more database. Big whoop.

        No you can't have a copy Steve but I would have no problem giving it to the government. I don't do anything illegal online, not anything I am ashamed of.

        The only reason that you have to not want this to happen is that you are a Terrorist, Pedophile, Hacker or foil hat wearing nut job.

          Or someone that's downloaded something via torrent in the last 2 years, or someone that's said something inappropriate about any governments or officials in the last 2 yrs, someone that's looked (just looked, not actively done something suspicious) at a site that may be deemed terrorism related (not actually related just deemed to be by the legislation) or basically anything suspicious in the last 2 yrs, then wham. If you don't get prosecuted you'll sure as shit find that you now have a warrant authorizing much more than just the checking out of 2 yrs of browsing.

            And if you are genuinely "looking not doing" what do you have to be concerned about if you are investigated? Your just reading, remember, not doing.

            Don't forget, even if you do get charged with something, It still has to be heard in a court. If you are genuinely innocent nothing will happen.

            A filter on the other hand. Once it's there there is nothing stopping someone adding to the list. How long would it be before an anti JuLiar site gets added? or a site with videos of Conroy having an orgy?

            Monitoring has checks and balances in place to ensure that it's not getting misused. Police can't just get data and come put you in jail forevermore. You have to be charged, you have access to a lawyer and you have the opportunity to plead your case in a court of law. A filter is activly impeading freedom of speech. One day you try to go to and find that its been blocked because JuLiar didn't like a meme about her.

              Premise is innocent until proven guilty, not the other way around. Warrants for searches of living areas and communications (physical mail) were put in place to to allow an impartial party (a judge) to determine if the state has a reasonable grounds to investigate you.

              As far as privacy goes the bullshit line of "you've got nothing to hide, if you want to then you must be doing something wrong". Well do you have curtains on your windows? But you've got nothing to hide right? Hang on, you don't want people to see you walking around naked in your house etc seeing your junk hanging out, or checking out your hot wife, or watching you have sex with your hot wife, and then wanting to have sex with your hot wife because they can see she is really good at it, then trying to do something about that because they are tempted to try..

              Privacy is a right and this act is the digital equivalent of refusing you to have curtains in your house.

              This recommendation of this data retention act allows law enforcement and their contractors to have access without a warrant which completely bypasses any impartial community based approval (rather than politically based) which is set in place by a judge. And they are allowed to do this without informing you.

              So you might be into shoe porn, love that shit, really gets your motor running. Is it illegal? no. Do you want anyone else to find out about it? No, your work might not understand and skip over you for that next promotion because the other guy going for it has a mate who works as a contractor for the police who can look you up and you can release this info.

              If you're that into it, hand over your facebook password to your next employer to have a really good look and judge your life from your photos or just take a plane to North Korea or China etc where that type of access is allowed in the government and see how awesome your life is if you are not in a position of power.

              The abuse from this level of introspection occurs almost immediately and I for one am sick of the rising legislations of being treated like a criminal first and having to prove my innocence later if anything goes wrong.

              On the other hand, if they get a warrant for a covert retention or to go through my laundry etc then I am more than happy to comply as they have impartially justified good reason to make me a person of interest and start collecting data from this point. But to make a person of interest by default? Fuck that.

              I agree with Concerned. Why should I be under suspicion by default? I did nothing wrong. Why should I be charged if I am innocent?

              Tony, you talk about how easy it is for them to add to a filter once its in place. The same goes for data retention, who has access to it and what they collect. Look at the US that Australia's government seems to be struggling to copy, one court ruling made it legal for cops to do unwarranted phone line tapping. Since and before 9/11, the US government has slowly been removing rights, privacies and liberties under the guise of national security. Checks and balances are not fail-safes. It doesn't take much for a certain person to put their friends into certain positions in government for checks and balances to fail. The act of putting restrictions in place "to protect" is the first step on the road to a loss of privacy and rights. Why do innocent people have to be punished to control those that are not?

              So much for freedom on the internet...

          Congratulations for playing the Terrorist and Paedophile cards so quickly, but a shame you couldn't work Hitler into it somehow as well.

          Look, criminals will just use VPNs, proxies, TOR etc to hide their traffic, so this won't actually help us catch lawbreakers, but it certainly has potential for abuse. How long before someone hacks into it and starts releasing our private data? What if a disaffected government or ISP employee starts selling it? Plus there's always the chance of corrupt officials using it to target political "undesirables", or perhaps "leaking" it to discredit opponents.

          Why should we dramatically increase our exposure to all these problems, for so little practical gain?

            Well said +1
            Would have up voted, but it just doesn't seem to work.

              Disable Adblock Plus, then refresh the page, then upvote/downvote your heart out.

            News flash. ISPs already store data. This just changes the time frame.

            Do you mean stealing the data like Anon and LoLsec do all the time? Funny that those actions are commonly congratulated by those who frequent Giz.

            Leaking information about politicians and political parties has been going on since the first political parties formed a couple thousand years ago. Nothing will change.

            There are no risks in this new data retention that don't already exist. You have made no valid arguments.

              So the fact that it won't effect those it's targeting and will only add to the information being stored and therefore available to those that wish to do harm isn't a valid point?

              Oh and I would be willing to bet Anon will make a point to expose the flaws in the implementations ISPs go with.

              As for just changing the time frame, I would suggest reading:
              helpfully posted already by usebuy.

              Yes, these risks exist today, but they are (relatively) minor at the moment. Clearly not much of our data is being kept right now, or there wouldn't be proposed laws to keep more of it.

              If ISPs start storing far more data, the consequences of a breach or misuse go up dramatically.

              As you're not disputing that the advantages of increased storage are minimal, would you not agree that the net effect of these laws can only be negative?

                I would like to be able to say that the laws are unnecessary. That bad people don't exist and that we don't need to protect our children from these evil people. The fact is that evil does exist, and if someone wants to waste their time trolling through my boring online activity, go for it. If it catches a pedophile then that's well worth it.

                That said, I don't like the idea. There's no doubt that it could be misused or abused if not managed correctly, which is why I'm less concerned that the Government is going to make the ISPs store the data rather than it being managed by the Government.

                However, if it comes down to a choice of this or Chronic Conroy's Filter. This is the lesser of the 2 evils.

                  However, if it comes down to a choice of this or Chronic Conroy's Filter. This is the lesser of the 2 evils.

                  That is an incredibly lackadaisical way of looking at government policies. It is not one or the other, the two are different situations. That does not mean we have to accept one OR the other. It means you can refute either of them.

    Wow this is horrible.... if they enable this, it can be used as a precedent for other invasions of privacy without warrants surely?

    No ISP is going to want to do this.
    This is possible the dumbest idea I've ever heard.

      ISPs already do it.

        Which ones? Got proof?

        The one I work for doesn't. And I have no idea how they possibly could given the volumes of data.

    The biggest problem most have with this is personal data being leaked into the public domain. Most people complaining about this are the same ones who support the likes of Anon and LoLsec when they hack personal data then say that they won't release it.

    What checks and balances are put in place by Anon to prevent unscrupulous people from accessing my data?

    Are all people with access put through a police check?

    Is all access logged so that the person who accessed it is required to explain why they accessed it?

      You're right about the main concern being leaks (and also misuse), but I very much doubt anyone's cheering Anon et al when they hack personal data. Whatever support Anon enjoys comes mostly from them hacking "faceless" corporations or government agencies, which simply stems from a desire for greater transparency. Nobody wants Anon or or even officials getting into their private data, at the least not without a very good reason.

      Stricter controls on access would of course be critical, but are unlikely to be sufficient in all cases. The greater the amount of data to be hacked, the greater the incentive for unscrupulous parties to find ways around these controls.

        The thing is, there will always be the same battle between hackers and network administrators. Its the same battle that happens in war. they build a bigger bunker, we build a bigger bomb. Just look at the GBU-28. in 1991 Iraq had bunkers that the existing bunker buster bombs couldn't penetrate. So they said, lets build a better bomb. and that's what they did.

        Must have made the greens happy too. It was by recycling howitzer artillery barrels that had fired too many shots. Who says the military can't recycle?

      Gah, and my reply gets held for moderation once more, and doubtless won't appear for hours - if ever. Again.

      Luke, why?!? I can't imagine what criteria is being used to randomly hold my comments - it seems unrelated to length, timing, content, language, links or anything I've thought of. It's bloody irritating though.

        Hm, at least it turned up quickly this time. The question about criteria still stands.

          Has happened to me today too. Perhaps someone negged one of my comments and so further comments get flagged for mods.

      Hackers stealing your information and the government making a law to keep your information are two very different and unrelated things.

      If you are worried about Anon and LoLsec stealing your data, maybe you should contact your service providers. That's more an issue with your service provider leaving security vulnerabilities in their network.

    I think the filter was the bigger threat. Once you start to block access to something it will never be long before the religious idiots get hold of it and say well we already block this lets block this too. And then you get the Political Richard craniums who say well I don't like this political opinion, lets block that too. At least with a monitor, if someone feels you have looked at something you shouldn't you can look at it and then argue the matter in a court.

    Run, you fools!

      One does not simply browse the Internet without engaging incognito mode

        you realise that incognito mode only stops you browser not your isp from storing your internet history right?

    "Interpol Filter" doesn't sound very friendly to me. Sounds like i've been selling missiles and James Bond is after me.

    This time can I just take an straight to Mt Lake Burley Griffin and drop it in.

    This is just dumb 'if it ain't broke don't fix it' the internet is already well established and a sound way of sharing information to change anything and impose anything like a filter is just asking for trouble. I mean think about it you're basically talking about using a packet sniffer on EVERYBODY on top of slowing everyone's internet down taking up ridiculous amounts of bandwidth who the hell is going to manage the thing? It's far too complex to just be an autonomous system not to mention sticking this amount of information out there and publicly announcing that you're going to be using this system? It's almost begging hackers and crackers for attention and then there's abuse of power since knowledge is power as they say.

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