AG Brandis Using Paris, Sydney Attacks To Push Metadata Laws

Well this is a little off-colour: in the wake of attacks in Paris that saw the murder of 12 Charlie Hedbo staffers and four hostages, and a so-called 'lone-wolf' attack in Sydney that left two people dead a few weeks ago, Attorney General George Brandis is using terror as a platform to push the government's data retention laws in an opinion piece this morning.

In an op-ed for The Australian today, AG Brandis writes (quite rightly) that we live in an age of terror, writing that the Western world faces a "profound threat that is likely to be with us for a long time".

He then moves into a series of chest-beating paragraphs that outline the broad national security Bills that made it through Parliament last year, before arriving at the metadata Bill.

If you recall correctly, the controversial Bill was hurriedly introduced into Parliament last year to the ire of the Opposition and the Greens, who managed to stall the legislation until a broad debate could be had.

In his morning op-ed Brandis referring to metadata entitled "one more anti-terror tool", re-iterated his point that telcos wouldn't need to collect any additional data in the program. Brandis also wrote how data retention is critical to keeping people safe, but added that nothing can provide an "absolute guarantee" against terror attacks:

Discussions are being undertaken between the government and industry to deal with the definition of the dataset and cost. Former ASIO director-general David Irvine has described the capacity of agencies to access metadata as “absolutely crucial” in identifying terrorist networks and protecting the public.
Of course, the best-resourced agencies, the sincerest community engagement and the most carefully written laws cannot provide an absolute guarantee against a terrorist outrage — as the events at Martin Place tragically demonstrated — particularly in the case of “lone wolf” actors, who may not be active within a network. Nevertheless, the public can be reassured that the government has taken, and will take, all appropriate steps to protect our safety and freedom.

Am I the only one who thinks that it's a bit off that Brandis would jump on the terror events in Paris and Martin Place to push his party's shiny new Bill before invalidating it by saying giving up our privacy won't keep us absolutely safe? Save it, Attorney General.

You can read the slightly obnoxious op-ed here.



    "A bit off " yes, it is. It's Brandis !
    Unfortunately , this rhetoric and desperate fear-mongering is particularly dangerous only because the idiot is the AG of Australia.
    "Everyone has the right to be a bigot " - he terrifies me

      Technically he's right; it's legal to be a bigot, but it's illegal to act in a bigoted fashion (for certain classes of people - bigotry against, for example, left-handed people is legal AFAIK).

      Doesn't mean it's GOOD to be a bigot.

      In any case... just another case of Brandis digging to see how far his moral standing can descend below his intestines rise through his throat to strangle him in sheer self-defence on the part of the universe.... He makes no attempt to explain exactly how more metadata would help prevent incidents like Martin Place or the Charlie Hebdo attack.

        Here is the kicker. It WONT!

        Extra metadata would not have stopped the attack. He was known to the police. If anything it highlights the disconnect between federal and local enforcement agencies. Enforcing anti-privacy laws in order to gain access to after the fact information is utterly useless to crime prevention. It's only use is in the courts proving intent and in this very case, finding out that big terrorist network is 1 person. Again after the fact information. Would not stop 911, would not stop Martin pl.

          His "logic" goes something like this:

          1. Bad people do bad things;
          2. Bad people can be jailed if they break the law;
          3. We need to make more laws.

          Never mind that the metadata retention laws in France didn't help in either of the 2 violent incidents. Never mind that his own metadata scheme is going to be vastly expensive and almost completely ineffective. He just wants more laws, because lobbyists have told him it would be a good idea.

          The guy is a first class twat, and his willingness to use this tragedy to push his own political agenda is sordid and grubby.

      I don't know. If the alternative is that I don't have a right to be a bigot, which is a cornerstone of free speech, then I think we are in real trouble. Brandis is 100% correct, everyone has the right to think whatever they like - bigoted, narcissistic, misogynistic, whatever. It's only wrong to say or do things that cause harm to others. e.g. You can be a racist but you cannot discriminate against anyone on the basis of race or openly encourage others to do so. You can be a misogynist but you can't discriminate against anyone based upon their gender or openly encourage others to do so. The thought police aren't in charge quite yet (but the day is getting closer).

      I hate bigots, most of us do. But the way to counter bigoted free speech is with *more* free speech. Brandis' efforts to defend free speech in your country seem to be almost unique, and I'm think that your opposition to the few defenders you have is foolish.

      Look at the piece of legislation that Brandis wanted to change when he made that statement:

      **Section 18C makes it unlawful to “offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate” a person or group because of their “race, colour or national or ethnic origin”.**

      Below I'm going to discuss some statements which are illegal under section 18C. I don't have developed opinions on these matters, but they are plausible views which I'm using as examples.

      I can't say:
      "Israel does not retain sufficient historical right to justify control of Jerusalem."
      Because this is that it is certain to offend some Israelis, for whom that area is an unassailable religious promise.

      I can't say:
      "Historical evidence shows that Mohammed never visited Jerusalem."
      Because this is that it is certain to offend some Islamists who because of their ethnic origins revere Mohammed (who apparently taught prophets there).

      I can't say:
      "Cannibalism is still practiced in modern highland New Guinea."
      Because this is that it is certain to offend some New Guineans.

      But if society is to survive and advance we must be allowed to discuss ALL OF THESE OFFENSIVE THINGS and many other offensive things.

      To solve problems like drug abuse problems in ethnic groups and child abuse problems in religions and education problems in states we have to be legally allowed to discuss them.

      I don't like Brandis much, and he may be a bigot, I don't know and don't care much. What I care about deeply is that he's one of too few Australians who actively defends freedom of speech.

      The vast majority of response to controversial public statements is ignorant outrage at the existence of such statements. This comes alike from self-serving Australian politicians, from venal Australian media, and from the ignorant Australian public (many of whom are now offended because I called them ignorant Australians in breach of Section 18C!)

      If you support a right to not be offended, you're a moron and I hope this statement offends you.

        Ummm nope... 18C doesn't cover religious speech, so "Historical evidence shows that Mohammed never visited Jerusalem" is perfectly acceptable under the current law. Islamists don't revere Mohammed because of their ethnic origins (ie. they revere Mohammed on religious grounds). Here's some more via The Conversation:

        edit: as spanner points out below, that statement is exempt on academic grounds anyway.

        Last edited 13/01/15 12:06 pm

        You obviously haven't read the legislation (or any of the cases considering it), because if you had you would know that s 18D provides liberal exemptions from the operation of s 18C for artistic, academic and public interest commentary. All three of your examples would be covered by either s 18D (b) or (c), so long as they were said reasonably and in good faith.

        Andrew Bolt was not able to make use of the exemptions in s 18D in his famous 2011 case because his articles were riddled with factual errors which were either deliberate distortions or reckless misstatements, and as such the court found he had not made his comments reasonably and in good faith.

        Note also that offence alone is not sufficient to enliven s 18C. The standard of "offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate" has been interpreted by the courts as a single standard, meant to be more serious than mere offence or insult, but not needing to rise to the same level as extreme racial hatred or inciting racial violence which was the standard in the old legislation.

          "All three of your examples would be covered by either s 18D (b) or (c), so long as they were said reasonably and in good faith."

          So when the extremely rich angry Israeli/Islamist/New Guinean organisation/billionaire takes me to court, all I have to do is pay a better lawyer to convince the court that my statement was "said reasonably", or that "Islam isn't part of a person's ethnic background", or that "I really only meant people with PHDs to hear that".

          Well that's a load off my mind...

          I've used rhetoric above and it's easy to nitpick, but do you see the underlying point?

          The existence of this law provides a simple mechanism for rich zealots to use their funds to silence the non-rich. The mechanism is as follows:

          "O noes, I'm offended, and that's sufficient grounds to force you into court."

          Once I've been forced into court the outcome of the trial is irrelevant because the trial has already silenced numerous people who fear the impact of a court battle.

        I'm pretty certain that none of your examples are illegal even disregarding 18D. It isn't illegal to say things that are offensive to a particular ethnic group. It's illegal to say things that are offensive to a person or group on the *basis* of their origin, ethnicity and so forth.

        To quote 18C(1) in full:
        (1) It is unlawful for a person to do an act, otherwise than in private, if:
        (a) the act is reasonably likely, in all the circumstances, to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people; and
        (b) the act is done because of the race, colour or national or ethnic origin of the other person or of some or all of the people in the group.

        Both (a) and (b) must apply. You must be making a statement because of a person or group's race, colour or national or ethnic origin. Simply making a statement that is offensive is insufficient.

        If this were not so, evangelical creationist Christians could successfully prevent evolution from being taught in schools.

        Basically, a statement must be targeted to be prosecuted under 18C.

        IANAL, but the language seems straightforward. Fundamentally, it does not implement a right not to be offended. It implements a right not to be harassed. On that basis I'm all for it. People making insulting statements in public is perfectly fine IMO, but targeting people due to their background is something else again.

        Call me a moron all you like - the law is there, in large part, to protect the weak, and to my eyes this looks like a perfectly decent example of that. The provisions of 18C(1)(b) and 18D prevent abuse of the process.

        18D(c) also exempts statements made:
        (c) in making or publishing:
        (i) a fair and accurate report of any event or matter of public interest; or
        (ii) a fair comment on any event or matter of public interest if the comment is an expression of a genuine belief held by the person making the comment.

        You wouldn't need a team of lawyers. The language of the law is very simple; cases based on such statements as in your examples would likely be thrown out of court.

          1: I'm sorry, you're demonstrably wrong about this bill relating to harassment.
          Take a quick look at the dictionary meaning of harassment, it's all about repeated or persistent attack. 18C doesn't contain the word harassment and says absolutely nothing about the offence being repeated.

          2: You and I both can think of trivial arguments any plaintiff can use to bypass the 'because' clause, particularly if the audience is large. And before trial, you don't have to prove the argument, you just have to show it's plausible.

          3: Your argument that "If this were not so, evangelical creationist Christians could successfully prevent evolution from being taught in schools." is confusing and incomplete. Let's imagine for a moment that yes, they could. How does that affect your argument?

            1. "Harrassment: aggressive pressure or intimidation." Nothing there about repetition. You're right, the bill doesn't say that harrassment is what's required, but it amounts to the same thing. A person must be insulting, offensive or... intimidating, there's that word, without reason, on the basis of race (etcetera).
            Consider an instance where you're being followed about by a group of yahoos insulting you because of your race or background. This is illegal under 18C, not (AFAIK) without it. Sticks and stones may not break bones, but people have committed suicide for such reasons. Verbal attack is still attack and granting such rights as protected free speech needs to be done with great care.

            2. Even in such cases, 18D provides clear exceptions. Essentially, if 18C were as bad as you suggest we would see a heck of a lot more prosecutions for it. Pretty much anything you could say about the Middle East would be offensive to SOMEBODY, but 18D(2) makes exceptions for "fair and accurate" reports or fair reports of honestly held opinions.
            You could argue that Bolt's case should have been dismissed on the basis of 18D(c)(ii), that Bolt's opinion that people were "choosing" to be Aboriginal although effectively being white was a fair comment on a genuine belief. That's quite a reasonable position, and I don't know the details of the case to make a proper counterargument.
            The fact remains that 18C prosecutions are quite rare, even though there are an ENORMOUS number of statements made in the public space that some group, somewhere finds offensive - including most of your examples.

            3. If such statements could be prosecuted under 18C, then teaching evolution in schools is an offence under 18C and the more aggressive evangelical churches could force such teaching to cease under the terms of the act..
            In fact my example is actually flawed because religion isn't one of the bases under which prosecution can be made. :-/
            For perhaps a better example, Monty Python's "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" would be prosecutable because of the description of the French as cheese-eating surrender monkeys.

            In practice the restrictions on free speech that you're worried about just aren't happening. People still describe Greece as being without financial restraint, still complain that Israel is overly aggressive to Palestine, still complain that China's record on human rights is woeful (for that matter, that Australia's recent record on human rights is also woeful). You can look in any paper and find hundred of statements that somebody, somewhere finds offensive. The flood of 18C prosecutions fails to materialise. It's just not that restrictive.

            I would suggest if you're really worried about human rights you look at how we're treating what used to be called "irregular maritime arrivals", AKA boat people, who are being locked up for months or years without legal representation or decent medical care, despite legal rights under international conventions to be treated as human beings rather than as inconvenient political footballs. Historically speaking, 80-90% of such have been found to be "genuine" refugees, at real risk of life or freedom.

              I think I see the root of the difference in perception now, so If I may, I'll shift things slightly.

              Let's take the example of Mr Bigot, who thinks that them Negroes are stupid and inferior.

              Mr Gregor's chooses to prevent Mr Bigot from expressing his views on TV.

              Mr Muffins puts Mr Bigot on a major current affairs program, where he shares his lies and hate. Then, on the same program we interview Neil Degrass-Tyson about astronomy and Jim Gates about string theory (both are wise and witty physics PHDs, whose lineage Mr Bigot was just denigrating).

              By giving Mr Bigot a platform, Mr Muffins has demonstrated that he's a moron.

              Now let's take the example of Mr Immigrant Linesman. Mr Bigot is also a Linesman, and wants Mr Immigrant Linesman to quit.

              Mr Gregor has passed a law preventing Mr Bigot from being overtly nasty, so he does so covertly, and as a result is able to prevent proof of his activities being proven. Mr Immigrant Linesman can't gather convincing evidence and is slowly made so miserable, he quits.

              Mr Muffins works under no such law, and Mr Bigot is thus less careful. Mr Muffins receives reasonable evidence that Mr Bigot is disrupting his workplace, and finds fires Mr Bigot for doing so. Note that the mechanism uses existing labor laws, not free-speech limitations.

              Bigotry is bad and words can harm. We agree this harm needs to be minimised / countered / opposed.
              But I contend that making laws to silence racists is *exactly the opposite* of preventing racism. Only by letting the bigots speak their minds we can identify and counter them. Obviously this means we must counter them by methods other than laws limiting free-speech, and there are many ways to do this, provided we don't undermine our free-speech!

    Funny how he continually makes these broad statements without a lot of detail (much like the legislation itself), without providing any evidence whatsoever that broad scale data retention is any more effective than the targeted surveillance methods already available to them.

    Of course they are. While the rest of world are coming together in unity. These arseholes are selling fear.

    The only terrorists here are politicians using fear to force their agenda. Its not 1998, their artificial terror campaign wont get them re-elected.

    Makes me appalled to be Australian when we are represented by pricks like this.

    Last edited 13/01/15 10:58 am

    It's perfectly reasonable for Brandis to cite these acts of terrorism if he believes his new legislation might have some ability to prevent some similar acts here. Of course it is correct for him to say that it wouldn't prevent ALL attacks, does that mean that it's not worth doing? That maybe preventing only some attacks it's good enough? He just needs to explain how the proposed legislation would work.

    But I can see how if you are reflexively anti-Coalition (like most people here seem to be) you might want to go around the outrage carrousel one more time.

      Reflexively anti-coalition ? Not really, most people here point out the problems and try to make positive comments ,but the bad policy seems to manifest itself almost daily in one form or another. I mean this is the "Online " section of Gizmodo, there are many other comments in other sections
      "The outrage carousel" sounds very dismissive of real concerns from many members with varied backgrounds and outlooks, which appears to mimic the same dismissive attitude of this government - so totally understandable
      I just disagree

      You may recall the response to Labor's proposed Internet filters was pretty negative as well.

      It's not an anti-Coalition thing. It's a "the Government should not collect data that disrespects my privacy, and ultimately have me pay for it, when the advantages for fighting terrorism are completely negligible" thing. This from a party that claims to stand for individual liberty.

      If he could explain exactly how the metadata is going to help prevent a single, even hypothetical, attack, I might support it. Admittedly unlikely (on both sides of that hypothetical).

      While I admit I tend to vote left-wing (used to vote Aussie Democrat until the party folded) the Coalition persists in giving me more reasons not to vote for them. Reducing the deficit "for our children" while reducing spending on youth unemployment & education and leaving superannuation rorts in place is probably the most egregious example.

      Except that it looks like he works it in the reverse. He wants to enact legislation which curtails our freedoms and simply waits for an "event" anywhere in the world which he can use as a justification for the legislation.

      The anti-privacy laws wont stop a single act of terror. It is a tool for prosecutors and nothing more.

      But I can see that you are a shrill and you might want to go around the outrage carousel one more time.

        You say it helps with a prosecution like it's a bad thing. I agree the ultimate aim is to prevent a terrorist incident but we have seen that's not always going to happen.

          So how is helping with prosecution a good thing after a terrorist incident has already occurred?!

            Umm, really? Because if the terrorist is still alive we can lock them up forever and prevent them from doing it again.

              Fantastic! You actually agree its a tool for prosecution. Now we can move onto the "why is it needed".

              We do not. Not for terrorism. The whole point of terrorism is to sell an idea and have it witnessed by as many people as possible. The who and the why both overtly witnessed and recorded by the disgust of the how.

              Remind me again why does the Government services need a copy everyone's communications to "protect the children" I mean "stop the terrorists"?

          What? Do you even english?

          This law lacks any evidence to support its fear campaign. The only evidence is that it will further erode the right to privacy.

          The "ultimate aim" is not and will not be achieved by this law. It is fine proof of over reach or alternative agenda by the minister.

          Last edited 13/01/15 11:09 am

            Yes, I do English. Sorry I'm not fluent in tin foil though.

      Get your hand off it. Nevermind the fact that the first person to mention partisan bullshit in these comments was you, people are attacking Brandis because of his history of letting anti-piracy concerns ride rough-shod over any consideration for consumer interests or privacy, and the fact that his retention proposals are far more useful at curbing piracy instead of terror attacks, as evidenced by the fact that France actually already follows a similar retention scheme which did jack fucking shit to help them.

      "Hey, everyone! The guys who drowned in that lead-lined life-preserver are a timely reminder that we need some lead-lined life-preservers too!"

      He's an ass, he's in the pocket of overseas entertainment rights-holders, and he's willing to spend ludicrous amounts of tax-payer dollars on persecuting victims of anti-consumer practices instead of fighting for Australians who have been told they need to tighten their belts to pay for it.

      THAT'S what people are outraged about, and if the only thing you see is a knee-jerk reaction then you're either willfully ignorant or outright demented.

    It's 'off colour' but perfectly SOP as far as these ar*eholes are concerned. Shouldn't be surprising in the least - we all know they'll milk every opportunity they can to get a bit more of a tighter grip.

    Seriously - these pricks don't seem to realise they work for US instead of vice versa. Tony is acting like a king, instead of the public servant he is !

    'A bit off' - Ummm yes, its almost 'see I told you we needed this, if only you listened.'
    His reasoning why metadata would of stopped thee attacks is the same reasoning with Homer and having a 'bear tax' and Lisa saying 'I could say this rock is stopping bears'.
    You especially can't say it when these attacks were cause by people out on bail! The bail system is broken, so you don't get to introduce a new system and the 'fool proof' way to stop terrorism.
    This guy is an idiot (we knew that) and its about time someone calls out all the idiots saying stupid crap like this.

    The terrorist in Sydney only killed one man. The second person that died, a woman, died from a bullet that came from a police gun. Apparently it was a ricochet.
    So really, this terrorism act was just an angry bloke that killed another one. That happens all the time in Australia. In fact, a woman dies every week due to domestic violence, so by comparison there is no need for jerk off reactions and try make laws that take away our privacy.
    George Brandis is Australia's biggest moron.

      Monis is legally responsible for every single death and injury that occurred. Acts of Domestic Violence related murder are abhorrent but are not designed to terrorize the entire nation in the name of radical Islam.

        Still does not change the fact that it's an over reaching law.

        Here is another fact: France already have anti-privacy laws.

        Last edited 13/01/15 12:29 pm

    I'm not 'Anti-Coalition', I'm 'Anti-Stupid'.

    Should just outlaw burner phones in Australia. Add voice sampling supercomputers so they can piece together conversations...

      I thought it was pretty hard to get burner phones in Australia? Compulsory identification for any mobile device etc...

        *Technically* it's supposed to be impossible to get 'burner phones' here as ID is always supposed to be asked for, either at point of sale or when registering online. However according to the collective wisdom of Whirlpool forums, getting prepaid SIMS without ID from the supermarket is a piece of pee (just make sure it's a bored 16 year old serving you on the evening shift) and while they request your details when activating, apparently the majority of them don't check / require 100 points as part of that so you can totally be someone from Dark City (Mr.Book, Mr.Hand etc etc) and put in any old sh*t.

        So yeah, 'burner' phones ARE totally illegal in theory, but in practice if you believe multiple posters on forums, not hard at all.

          In my job i am coming across more and more phones in the hands of crooks registered to Daffy Duck and Hugh Jass etc... and attached to false addresses. The system is definitely not watertight.

            But metadata will 'catch' these people, right ? ;)

            Last edited 13/01/15 11:20 am

    2 Words from all of Australia - Giiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit Faaaaaarrrrrrrkkkked.

      Why? What's in your metadata that needs protecting above the lives of the 2 people who were murdered in the Lindt Café? As far as I'm concerned, if sifting through my metadata can prevent things like this, they can have it all and do whatever the hell they like with it. They can post it on a billboard with my photo next to it for all I care. Privacy is an illusion, it's way past time we gave it all up.

        That's the whole point Idiot. Anyone who understands these things will tell you sifting through metadata WON'T prevent things like this. It's a red-herring, a furphy, total bollocks. Metadata won't help prevent terrorism, and anyone who tells you otherwise is 'dog whistling' and / or doesn't understand what they are talking about.

        How will metadata prevent anything? It can't, it will be used after the fact.

    There was nothing “off” about that article. The Sydney siege is mentioned two times. One in the subtitle along with the attack in France that uses these as recent examples of the Western world being under a profound threat (there’s nothing offensive about this). The second time he mentions the Sydney siege he says that data laws aren’t going to prevent lone wolf attacks (again, nothing offensive about this).

    For those who don't have access and want to read the article:

    One more anti-terror tool

    AFTER the Martin Place siege and the atrocities in France, no rational person can dispute that the world — and the free and democratic West in particular — faces a profound threat that is likely to be with us for a long time.

    There was much debate last year about national security, as the government responded promptly to warnings from ASIO and the other national security agencies that the threat of domestic terrorism was escalating, in particular as a result of the activities of Islamic State and the recruitment of growing numbers of Australian Muslims to fight in Syria and Iraq.

    On September 12, acting on the advice of ASIO, the government raised the alert level to high, meaning a terrorist event was likely. The government also announced measures to protect Australians with three principal elements. We increased by $630 million the resources available to our national security agencies, to upgrade their surveillance capability and expand their counter-radicalisation programs. We have enhanced our engagement with the Muslim community, working with moderate Muslim leaders to identify at-risk youth and to counter the influence of the Islamic State terrorist recruiters. Finally, we have undertaken the most comprehensive rewrite of our national security laws in 30 years.

    The government’s legislative response comprises four important bills. Three passed, with bipartisan support. One crucial bill, requiring mandatory retention of metadata, is before parliament’s intelligence committee. Its passage is an urgent priority.

    The National Security Legislation Amendment Act (No 1) became law on October 2. It provides for new powers for the national security agencies including a power for ASIO to undertake “special intelligence operations”, similar to the existing powers of the Australian Federal Police and state police forces, to ensure ASIO has appropriate legal protection in undertaking certain covert operations, for instance penetrating a terrorist network or cell.

    Because such actions are intrinsically secret and inherently dangerous, it is an offence to jeopardise such an operation. Because of their unusual character, SIOs need the consent of the attorney-general and are subject to a strict safeguards and accountability regime. The act also contains other measures to enhance the efficacy and interoperability of the national security agencies.

    The Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment (Foreign Fighters) Act, which came into operation on December 1, is the government’s response to the dangers presented by Islamic State recruitment and training. It gives the foreign minister the power to gazette a particular ­locality as a “declared area”, so that it is an offence for an Australian to travel to or remain in that area. It also provides exemptions for bona fide family visits, humanitarian work and journalism.

    The rationale is that certain localities are hotbeds of terrorist operations and training. One, al-Raqqa, has already been the subject of such a declaration. The provision gives effect to Australia’s obligations under UN Security Council Resolution 2178 whereby all nations undertook to take necessary steps to prevent their citizens travelling to participate in the Syrian and northern Iraq conflict. The act also creates a new offence of advocacy, carefully drafted to fill a lacuna, where the existing crime of incitement to ­violence is insufficient to prosecute advocacy of terrorism.

    The Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amend­ment Act (No 1), the third measure, came into effect three days ago. This provides additional strength and flexibility in the control order regime. It facilitates obtaining a control order (a court order requiring a terror ­suspect to submit to additional surveillance) in urgent circumstances and streamlines provisions governing the listing of terrorist organisations.

    The remaining measure, the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Bill, provides for mandatory retention of metadata (the details, but not the content, of telecommunications). Access to metadata is vital to investigate terrorism and organised crime. The bill does not propose any additional powers for national ­security agencies. It requires telecommunications companies to retain information they have routinely kept but which they might not keep in future.

    Discussions are being undertaken between the government and industry to deal with the definition of the dataset and cost. Former ASIO director-general David Irvine has described the capacity of agencies to access metadata as “absolutely crucial” in identifying terrorist networks and protecting the public.

    Of course, the best-resourced agencies, the sincerest community engagement and the most carefully written laws cannot provide an absolute guarantee against a terrorist outrage — as the events at Martin Place tragically demonstrated — particularly in the case of “lone wolf” actors, who may not be active within a network. Nevertheless, the public can be reassured that the government has taken, and will take, all appropriate steps to protect our safety and freedom.

      What's off colour is exploiting these events to push what's essentially an unrelated policy (these two events in particular - involving lone individuals, or involving people who are already known to the authorities - being completely the opposite type to that which might possibly be prevented through metadata surveillance). It's the political equivalent of ambulance chasing.

        It’s not exploitative at all. It’s leading a commentary with two relevant recent examples of the current environment but also acknowledges that metadata would not have helped in this case.

      Good god your over paid.

        Thanks for bringing nothing to the table.

          Great we agree neither you or I brought anything to the table.

          Want something constructive? How about the AG start by only enact legislation proportional to the crime and evidence to support its necessity. Not a fear campaign to justify a law which holds utterly no chance of stopping any acts of "terrorism".

          Don't lie to the public in order to manipulate its outcome. Fear campaigns are plain fraudulent.

          This law is only a tool to support prosecution where no need exists. Terrorisms entire purpose is to disseminate the message by its act of recorded violence. Prosecution would have to not turn up for a terrorist to get away with the act.

          Last edited 13/01/15 12:47 pm

            I brought a rational opinion and a copy of the full article linked so that others can read the content that was behind a paywall.
            You've just wasted time.

      The unanswered question is, can we trust them to create and apply legislation that works in our favour or to the favour of big business?

        Are you referring to how this will be paid for?

        I think corporations should pay for it themselves. I work in an industry that’s highly regulated by ASIC and that is always paid for on our side. I don’t see why this should be different. Also when a company has to pay for something, they will always try to make it as efficient and cheap as possible. If somebody else is paying for it the opposite tends to happen. I hope the government will recognise this.

          So, you're saying the consumer should pay for the privilege of being spied on?

    George Brandis all terrorists?

    Is Brandis aware that:

    "France is in full compliance with the EU’s Data Retention Directive. All French ISPs must track your personal web-browsing activities, monitoring what websites you visit, when you visit them and who you send emails to. This data must then be stored for at least one year after you leave the ISP’s service and be made available to law enforcement agencies1."

    And it was of zero benefit as shown in the recent case.

      Probably not, same way that Germany had data retention and stopped it because they realized it was a complete waste.

      So it was zero benefit this time. Do you seriously believe that the world doesn't learn from failings like this? The data retention part of the process seemed to work brilliantly, they just failed to act upon it appropriately. You might say that it is simply the price of freedom but I would hope that it is not, that governments can find ways of acting upon threats before they escalate to the levels we have seen recently or, at the very least, they can sift through the metadata afterwards and round up all those who made the attack possible (which seems to be happening in France at the moment).

        "The data retention part of the process seemed to work brilliantly" are you high or just lacking intelligence? People died.

        Last edited 13/01/15 10:36 am

      It goes further:

      "France also has other data retention laws that go beyond the EU’s Data Retention Directive. France issued a legal decree that updated the Legal Regime for E-Commerce Trust directive. The update requires all “web hosting companies”, which encompasses everything from social networks to music sites, to store and provide the government with usernames, passwords, phone numbers, financial transactions and IP addresses of anyone who creates online content.

      This means that major web companies and services such as Facebook, Amazon and Google must store personal user information for one year and provide it to the French government when asked. The Law on Trust in the Digital Economy, also requires ISPs to retain data such as names, addresses and log data for up to one year."

    Unless we're using metadata to incriminate corrupt politicians I'm not interested in a police state for IT.

    Dear Brandis,

    Remember Conroy's attempt to censor the Internet under the guise of fighting child pornography?

    If your recent statements are anything to go by, it's obvious you don't.

    An Australian Not Genetically Related to a Goldfish.

      Speaking as a Goldfish, we threw him back !

    A lightning rod? More like a Trojan horse.

    Trust a scumbag like Brandis to use an international tragedy to push his own filthy spying agenda - even if it's been shown to be of zero benefit to law enforcement in this case.

    What Brandis obviously doesn't realise, is that REAL criminals use TOR, proxies, VPNs, SSH and other obfuscation & tunnelling encryption technologies to bypass detection.

    If he still wants to press ahead with mail-order-copyright legislation demanded from Hollywood, we will all be using this stuff to hide our identities.

    Data retention is only good for knowing how many people watched cat videos this week or checked their e-mail.

    By the way, what possible impact could keeping download/upload volumes have on terrorists? I'm no expert, but how much bandwidth does setting off a bomb remotely consume, according to Brandis?

    Last edited 12/01/15 2:28 pm

      This is exactly it. Anyone with some basic network knowledge can hide their online activities with ease.

    I a sorry.. but this will not do anything to prevent these attacks. These people were known about by the so called security services and they did nothing... other than let them alone to go on and murder the people they did!

    The solution to this is to arrest, imprison and deport, not treat an entire nation as potential terrorists.

    Information about the cost of a dinner is just metadata about the dinner itself. But the exposure of the cost of the dinner in London blew up badly for Brandis, with the press rubbishing his integrity. Does he still believe that collecting metadata about "innocent" activities can have no ill side-effects?

    The real reason Brandis is pushing this cart is not to catch terrorists but rather to catch tax evaders ,cause that's where the real profit is....

    Oh this is bull, I reckon in nearly every major case the authorities receive many reports about potential criminal activity but they never seem to follow up until after it's too late. Doesn't help how many dangerous repeat criminals are free on the streets thanks to bail.

    Normally I dont care about particular politicians.... I paint them all with the same brush, a necessary evil, voting for them is like picking which one is less likely to screw up (not who is best for the job).

    But Brandis... I really hate this guy... I am sick of him bringing American style political agendas into this country (fear mongering and lobbyists agendas). Paranoid fear mongering should not be the nature of the Attorney General, he is suppose to ensure us the systems and the laws work... not accuse everyone in the country of being thiefs and terrorists and then demand technology (that wont work) to spy on everyone.

    Is using the fear of terror to terrorize people and push your agenda considered terrorism?

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