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Tech Talk Radio Show 24 of 2010
Transmission date: June 14, 2010
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Ep 24 of 2010
June 14, 2010

According to The Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Senator Stephen Conroy, Google committed the crime of the century when it's camera cars sniffed and recorded wifi traffic of unsuspecting citizens in the moments it car passed any unprotected wifi network in Australia or around the world. According to the Attourney Generals department, Companies who provide customers with a connection to the internet may soon have to retain subscriber's private web browsing history for law enforcement to examine when requested, a move which has been widely criticised by industry insiders.

It should be noted that Telstra currently records and stores SMS traffic sent over its network for the same reason. The contents of the SMS are only stored for a short term, but like phone calls, the details of the A and B parties are recorded and stored for years. Even with cost effective data storage of today, it's still impossible to record all content, but this seems like it will change with ISPs.

In rather disturbing news this week reported on ZDnet Australia, The Attorney-General's Department said that it had been in discussions with industry on implementing a data retention regime in Australia. Such a regime would require companies providing internet access to log and retain customer's private web browsing history for a certain period of time for law enforcement to access when needed.

hands on keyyboard

Currently, companies that provide customers with a connection to the internet don't retain or log subscriber's private web browsing history unless they are given an interception warrant by law enforcement, usually approved by a judge. It is only then that companies can legally begin tapping a customer's internet connection.

They said the regime being considered by the Australian Government could see data held for much longer than EU Directive time of 24 months — it would be more like five or ten years.

Internet Industry Association (IIA) chief executive officer (CEO) Peter Coroneos also confirmed that the industry was having discussions with the Attorney-General's Department. He said there has been some preliminary discussions with the Attorney-General's Department about a proposal for a data retention regime in Australia, but thinks those discussions are at a very early stage and hadn't seen any firm proposals yet from the government.

Electronic Frontier Australia (EFA) chair Colin Jacobs said the regime was "a step too far". In February, the senate passed a Bill allowing ISPs to intercept traffic as part of "network protection activities" but the question needs to be asked how far will it go. No other free country is pushing the privacy envelope as much as the Australian government is or has. The US government has voiced it's concerns ofver Conroy's proposed internet filter, as has Google, drawing parralells to China and it's internet censorship.

All things aside, the question needs to be asked, Are you happy for the government or ISPs for that matter to have a list of all the URLs you've typed into your web browser or contents of your email? What's next? Maybe the postie gets to open you snail mail. Has Australia become so paranoid that its citizens will revolt? Maybe this is the straw that will break the camels back.

This week on TTR

  • Apple releases Safari 5 for Mac and Windows      
  • ACMA launches a new spam SMS reporting tool 
  • Windows 7 SP1 beta scheduled for July
  • Google posts Chrome security fixes and
  • Optus mulls lawsuit over Telstra coverage maps