by Nicholas West
The most expansive set of surveillance powers since the attacks of 2001 are set to be rolled out in Australia unless there is overwhelming public resistance.
The new proposals are being issued by the intelligence community itself, and involve collecting data on every Australian’s telephone conversations and Internet usage, then storing it for two years.
In tandem with data collection and storage, Australia’s intelligence community wants more access to social media in a sweeping overhaul to current restrictions that is reminiscent of America’s move under its own comprehensive media monitoring initiative.
The subject of data retention is being hotly debated by governments around the world as the respective intelligence agencies are claiming that they need the freedom to keep up with the latest technologies such as cloud computing, social media applications, and Internet communications apps. (Source)
There are currently at least 10 locations around the world that have proposed data collection and retention initiatives, while Germany, Italy, Denmark, UK, Slovakia, and Serbia have officially implemented programs that include, but are not limited to:
- tracing and identifying the source, destination, and duration of communication
- identifying the type of communication
- identifying the communication device
- identifying the location of mobile communication equipment
- retaining collected data for 6 months to 2 years
- voluntary retention by ISP’s, land line, and mobile phone providers
- storing subscriber details
- storing customer account numbers
- recording content
- identifying location of a mobile phone
- remotely activating built-in microphone systems
- retaining e-mail data and web activity
- retaining physical mail, including online tracking of postal items – even special delivery items.
- retaining banking data for an extended period of time
- recording vehicle movement data with license plate recognition cameras
Government infiltration or cooperation with private companies forms the very definition of fascism, which has civil liberties advocates rightly concerned. Furthermore, many of these initiatives include proposals to force private companies to retain data for later inspection, thus fitting the definition of full-blown tyranny.
Even though, just as in the United States and elsewhere, some companies already have been voluntarily storing and sharing information with their own government, as well as colluding with authoritarian regimes in places like Belarus, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Georgia and Kazakhstan. (Source)
These corporate mercenaries have become available to the highest bidder; yet it is far worse for supposed leaders of the free Western world to overwrite their very own laws and permit such blatant privacy invasions. Entrenched constitutional protections have been scrapped across the world in the wake of Sept. 11th and all subsequent fearmongering false flags and threats of potential terror.
Australia has six intelligence agencies which are thus far legally divided, with only 1 agency (ASIO) permitted to collect information on Australians. The new proposals will see this dramatically change, as cited by Dylan Welch, a National Security Correspondent writing for The Age:
under a proposed change, officers from Australia’s foreign intelligence services, ASIS and the DSD, would be allowed to monitor Australian citizens overseas if an ASIO officer was not available.
ASIO, whose main role is to monitor people in Australia – mainly citizens – who may present a security threat, has a specific legislative framework which was created to protect people’s rights. Australians monitored by ASIS or DSD would presumably not have access to similar protections. (Source)
In much the same way as U.S. civil libertarians are concerned about the NSA’s massive new spy center, and the revelation by three former NSA employees that a massive illegal data collection and retention program is already underway, Australians are under threat to wake up to a new reality where all that is said on any type of electronic gadget is open for examination by their government whether they agree to it or not.
In much the same way as the American CIA had its role changed by Congress from foreign intelligence gathering to operations on U.S. soil, Australians might find themselves to be no different than the citizens of the supposedly evil regimes that the West is fighting against.
In the words of an anonymous government source quoted by Welch:
Once people get their head around this stuff it will be very interesting to see what their reaction will be.
And it will be doubly interesting to see what the reaction of authoritarian Western governments will be if people ever stand up en masse and demand a return to the full protections guaranteed to them before the events of September 11th, 2001.