Malcolm Turnbull Is Telling People How To Get Around Metadata Retention

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.



    So they know it won't work for serious terrorists and yet they still want to implement it for "terrorism" prevention etc.
    I wonder how many months until scope creep allows it to be used in "normal" legal and civil cases?

      Of course he's being disingenuous. For example, if you connect through Skype then your ISP will have a record, and then Microsoft (Skype's owner) will happily provide any more information the government may want to identify who you communicated with.

        His point is that there are still some ways around this. Sure some of his examples may not be 100% accurate or perfect, but he is trying to get this point across to those that value their privacy but dont know what to do to maintain it to some degree. His message is telling me to do some research on ways to protect my privacy because they do exist and not all of them are hard to do for the average user.

          Sure, I get that, but you have to see the "uselessness" of the cause? There are ways around it, he's telling everyone, so the logical conclusion is...why implement it, its flawed.

        The ISP will have a record you connected to Skype, which isn't very interesting. Then Skype is overseas, so hard to extract info from. If Skype can't be trusted, bad guys will use a different carrier.

        Basically. These rules will at best store the meta data of honest people. Terrorists won't be affected.

          Skype is owned by Microsoft who are a US company, so they'll just get the stuff from the NSA.

          I think they are really doing this so they potentially have stuff to trade with their Five Eyes Agreement buddies.

          Turnbull knows this, which is why he's saying things like this rather than telling people to set up a vpn with an endpoint in say switzerland or germany or hong kong or panama.

      I find personally that using simple logic to define the normal distribution in individual differences in intelligence and resourcefulness in the terrrist (or any other) populace that Mal's ideas might have some credence.

      Are you suggesting that only smart terrrists are capable of harming innocent people or even that they're the majority of the group of interest?

    So maybe deep down he doesn't want the service but Brandis and Abbott are pushing this terrible policy on him?

    If so, grow a pair of balls and use your voice to actually represent the people who nominated you.

      IIRC last year when they first tried to bring it in, the LDP senator basically said that turnbull was against it and even showed party room how easy it was to get around. lets not forget that this was thrown at him along with the piracy debate because of Brandis doesnt know his arse from his own face. remember turnbull is only reason we are still getting any part of the NBN. i swear that if turnbull wasnt in the party the NBN would of been 100% scrapped

      If he's removed from the cabinet he can't use his voice for much of anything at all. In power, he's at least able to do things like fight to keep some of the NBN (as @thyco pointed out above) or drop hints at how we can bypass metadata retention that wasn't his choice to introduce in the first place.

      Think of it this way: Turnbull has to do things he disagrees with in the ministership, but he does what he can to steer things in a better direction (eg. 'some NBN' vs 'no NBN', how to get around metadata retention). If he speaks out and is removed, LNP power brokers will just put someone else who is compliant in the ministership, and that person may be much less willing to take advantage of opportunities to steer things in a better direction.

      You may see that as cowardly but he can accomplish more for us by staying where he is than speaking out and being sent to the back bench.

      Last edited 26/03/15 4:47 pm

    'This will stop terrists and criminals... that is so simple to circumvent that my grandma can get around it without even trying'

      pics or it doesn't happen


    "then all that the telco can see is that my device has had a connection with the Skype server or the WhatsApp server"
    (sorry the quote button doesn't seem to be working for me today :( )

    Isn't this all the new data retention laws are supported to be recording anyway? My understanding was that they were only keeping metadata, not he entire packet. So it doesn't matter if your using an encrypted app or not.

    Last edited 26/03/15 10:31 am

      Sort of. With phone calls and texts, they can see that you have contacted a specific number. So while they don't know that you've been banging hookers and ended up with an STD, they can see that you've made 57 calls to a particular number known to be a brothel followed by several calls to the free clinic and then you were tagged on the pharmacy's free WiFi.

      Using Skype or whatever, all they see is that you've made a connection to the Skype server a bunch of times(supposedly).

        Ahh, of course. I was only thinking if ISP level metadata.

      The data retention law wants to know exactly who you connected to.
      Using any of the above mentioned services means no-one can know who you were talking/texting to.

    So how much tax-payer money will be spent for this easy-to-get-around anti terrorism bill that you pushing again?

    I get the feeling that Turnbull isn't on board with a lot of the policies he's been given to push. Look at his recent comments around FttP, he's been told to sell FttN as that's what Abbott promised at the election, he's resorting to using a cost benefit analysis prepared specifically for the purpose of arguing the case for, making sure that if (when?) he takes over it's just a small business case away from shifting back to FttP.

      It sure seems like Turnbull is more tech-savvy than the policies he's pushing would suggest.

        this policy is actually under brandis portfolio, but because he is so out of touch it benn given to turnbull to sell because he actually is the most tech savy person in the LNP

        Edit: i think yesterday there were also leaked reports of Albanese not being happy that shorten supported the bill as well

        Last edited 26/03/15 11:05 am

    Clearly this legislation has NOTHING to do with security and everything to do with tracking our internet usage when it comes to piracy, in order to facilitate the "three strikes" rules they're bringing in.

    I think the point he was trying to make was that you don't need to worry about the government reading your transcripts. Authorities will have what they need to commence an investigation on certain matters, and if it's terrorism related they have the luxury of presuming you guilty.

    Listening to this interview is painful. It's clear the Journalist has no clue.

    Clearly phone records are significantly different to say records of what web site you visited.

      To the reporters defence, this is Sky News. So they were always going to have no idea.

      Last edited 26/03/15 3:02 pm

    Not a silver bullet, not even a rusty bullet... maybe one of those old musket balls.... or atleast a sharp stone.

    SSL, Tor, Flight Mode on your phone. Done, you just bypassed pretty much everything.

    cough watchdogs cough.

    What a load of "bull"

    Between What's app, Skype and Viber, the group handles 100.01% of the voip and snmp


    What's app is free service (used to be $1 the app), Tango is free, Skype is free, Viber is free and the lunatics who believe that they are free are free (not in the asylum)

    to connect the dot (it's one dot really):

    Google is also free, so is gmail, and hotmail and yahoo and.

    Now your out of jail card is: replace free in the above with two way sponsored: one by the NSA and two by each and everyone of them picking on your data (not your meatadata) to either provide you with targeted ad or sell your info (oh but they can't they are not allowed!) to any and all ad or other interested agency.

    But google makes money from ads. Yes! you got that right, the google index alone is several hundred terabytes. Ok let me explain this a bit more:

    It all started in a library back in the 1980s where they had a few hundred books and the PC at the front needed to capture your input, look into the "data base" and tell you on which isle to find it. When the size of the database grew to a few Megabytes, sequential search algorithm became too slow, the database had to be sorted and indexed, still it could take a good half an hour to fin your social security ID in the national register. Now look at what is happening: you go to and do a search, and in a fraction of a second it gets back to you with 1,500,000 relevant results from an index that is the largest index in the world. The amount of software and hardware required to do is costs astronomical numbers and consumes a decent % of the US total energy consumption. $35 x 185 countries x 20,000 advertising companies in each country would not pay back the interest on the bill. Everybody is collecting your data and your metadata if you did not know that know it and move on.

    Cant wait for the first hack where an entire politicians life is hung out to dry by someone hacking the database.

    ....remember folks....
    Q. whats the difference between god and a sys-admin....?
    A. god doesn't think he's a sys-admin.

    Mass collection of every dirty little secret that every politician who voted for this in a torrent.......yep that would be interesting reading.

    All i wanna know is how does EVERYONE i know already know about this law and hwo to circumvent it but not one person knew about the change to motorbike lane filtering??


      Nearly everyone uses the net.

      Only a very small percentage of people ride motorcycles.

    I sincerely do not understand the reason behind this bill. What's really the point of implementing it, if people can bypass it?

      To piss off the ISP's and Telco's by forcing them to spend massive amounts of money to store all the shit they have to record, in turn driving up prices for consumers, and generally making life even more expensive for the average joe.
      Ok.. so that might not be the point, but that's all it's going to achieve!

        That makes much sense now, in the end its all about making money. Which is why I am considering encrypting my text messages and even my internet traffic.

    better tell someone to check there meta data to find out who is telling the auz people how to get around the new laws, or they will have troble tracking people

    Its just the beginning, remember its the government nothing is ever what they say it is

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    Turnbull and Brandis can kiss my fat ass! I cant wait for to hurry up and launch... won't even need a VPN any longer! Haha

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