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Australian Data Retention laws now passed in Parliament

By chris@buzzageek.com.au

Is Australia becoming a policed state?

Telecommunications companies and Internet Service Providers are now required by law to store customer's meta-data for a two year period. This law was passed through with very little opposition. An amendment to the Telecommunications bill now forces these communications providers to store information such as mobile phone calls, text messages, emails, and information regarding which equipment was used to communicate with. Such data can be accessed by relevant government authorities without a warrant but such information has to be approved first. However the content of communications requires a warrant.

So what does this mean for the man on the street?

Privacy is a right for all Australian citizens. In this day and age where national security is a high priority this liberty may need to be relaxed in order to insure security for all Australians. The abuse by the N.S.A. recently in the United States cause a major up roar all around the globe. The Americans have been secretly spying on world leaders until they were caught out. They abused their power and the same could happen here in Australia. 

So therefore with this bill being passed in means all your communications whether it be by mobile phone, land line, or a simple email, will now be recorded by your service provider. This recording of meta-data will invariably hit the back pocket of consumers as this data needs to be stored in large data centers and that cost will be passed onto the consumer. So  therefore you can expect your mobile phone call costs and internet connection costs to rise.

So what is meta-data?

An article by the Sydney Morning Herald explains meta-data to be the following;

  1. Telephone numbers
  2. The time and length of phone calls
  3. The internet protocol addresses (IP addresses) of computers from which messages are received or sent
  4. Location of parties making phone calls
  5. To and from email addresses on emails
  6. Logs of visitors to chat rooms online
  7. Status of chat sites – whether they are active and how many people are participating
  8. Chat aliases or identifiers (the name a person uses in a chat room online)
  9. Start and finish times of internet sessions
  10. The location of an individual involved in communications
  11. The name of the application someone uses online and when, where and for how long used

Metadata is not:

  • The content of a communication such as a phone call or an email
  • The subject line of an email
  • The content of the discussion in a chat room online (what is said)
  • The content of a mobile phone text message (SMS)
  • Attachments to emails such as photos or videos
  • Web camera transmissions
  • Websites a person visits (i.e. browsing histories)
  • The name of a website a person visits
  • The substance of a person's social media posts

Who has access to this meta-data?

  • Federal, state, and territorial police
  • Medicare
  • The RSPCA
  • Tax Office
  • ASIO
  • and other agencies who perform criminal and financial investigations

So how do you avoid your meta-data being recorded?

There are various ways of hiding your meta-data and not have it recorded. The use of offshore VPN servers, over-the-top network applications like Gmail, and communication programs like Skype, all allow you to circumnavigate the meta-data recording law. The use of work arounds could easily make this meta-data retention law a 300 million AUD$ white elephant.

If you're concerned about computer network security then talk to our computer geeks today. Our PC and Mac geeks can help setup VPN connections, insure that your email is secure, and that your home/business network is safe from hackers.

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