After a very short consultation period, the Attorney-General's Department is soliciting comments on its exposure draft of 'computer network protection' amendments to the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 (Cth).

EFA's submission addresses our key concern that the proposed legislation provides a very broad exception to the prohibition on interception of network communications for the purposes of ensuring that a network is 'appropriately used'. This is a very broad category that means that all network operators in Australia will be able to monitor the substance of communications that pass over their network for compliance with their Acceptable Use Policies - the terms of which could include nearly anything. The AGD suggests that this is necessary to increase security, but have not shown any convincing justification why the contents of communications need to be examined nor why the scheme should extend beyond corporate networks to all Australian networks - including consumer ISPs.

This proposed changed threatens to radically alter the ability of network operators to intercept, store, and disclose information passing over their networks. There are no safeguards to prevent disclosure to law enforcement agencies or third parties. It is entirely possible for these new provisions to be used to examine P2P filesharing data for copyright violations, for example, and to disclose any captured information to copyright owners.

EFA contends that this exposure draft is far too broad and unjustifiably infringes the privacy of Australian internet users. We call upon the Attorney-General's Department to critically examine the proposed legislation and tighten the exceptions to the broad prohibition on interception to a clear set of defined purposes and parties.

13 comments

  1. Wow. Yet another attempt at legislation highlighting the Rudd government's complete and utter failure to understand how the internet works.

    Excellent submission, especially considering the time constraints placed on commenters.

    Comment by MattR on 8 August 2009 at 03:47
  2. Nic, thanks for your effort on this issue. I wish I was aware of the good work that EFA do earlier.

    The proposed amendments have some very serious ramifications for Australians.

    Comment by Cameron Watt on 8 August 2009 at 04:16
  3. Sigh, the fight for freedom is never ending..... especially with a constitution like ours that isn't worth the paper its printed on.

    Comment by Daniel on 10 August 2009 at 08:20
  4. Our government completely fails to understand how the internet works, I 100% agree with you MattR!

    Oh well i'll just run all my internet through a VPN which i'm about to get one lined up for me and a few mates. Hahahahha I'll take a punt that conroy has no idea what a VPN is, until he hears they completely bypass all filtering.

    I wish it was a little more like America here actually, as much as we all LOVE America here (sarcasm) I mean with their Constitution and how everyone takes it very seriously, I think it might be worth Australia adapting a new attitude.

    "
    * Amendment 1 - Freedom of Religion, Press, Expression
    * Amendment 2 - Right to Bear Arms
    * Amendment 3 - Quartering of Soldiers
    * Amendment 4 - Search and Seizure
    "

    How come in Australia we seldom talk about our constitution?

    I must also ask this question as well, Why can't they spend money on something which will BENEFIT SOCIETY as a whole? i.e maybe focus on the NBN instead of how they want to filter our internet, monitor our internet, censor just about everything which can be censored.
    You know I think we might just be turning into China, And that is very worrying.

    Comment by John on 12 August 2009 at 21:04
  5. It just show how much more Brudder 747 is leaning towards China model of state, spying on its own citizens.
    Welcome to Australia where you have no rights.

    Comment by Rastko on 14 August 2009 at 06:56
  6. Yet another frontal assault on the internet from the Rudd government. This is really starting to become an international embarrassment. Never before have I so deeply regretted voting for a party.

    Comment by Stuart on 14 August 2009 at 10:09
  7. Well done Nic - we have borrowed from your submission for our (late) one which will be up soon on the Australian Privacy Foundation Website at http://www.privacy.org.au There is no excuse for this radical change being so rushed - they have known about the 'problem' for years.

    Comment by Nigel on 14 August 2009 at 19:38
  8. There are some interesting parallels between the situation in the UK where the government is more concerned with security issues than copyright infringers.

    Consultation closed in July on upcoming legislation (Interception Modernisation Programme) which proposes, amongst other things, interception and storing of traffic by ISPs.

    This has provoked a number of well considered responses from bodies such as:

    * Information Commisioner's Office. See http://www.ico.gov.uk/upload/documents/pressrelea...

    * London Internet Exchange (LINX) which represents the majority of UK ISPs. See http://publicaffairs.linx.net/public/uk/RIPA/LINX...

    * London School of Economics Briefing on the Interception Modernisation Programme. See http://www.lse.ac.uk/collections/informationSyste...

    Quite a bit here which should help inform debate on the forthcoming Australian legislation.

    Comment by Brian on 15 August 2009 at 12:52
  9. Filtering is not the right solution - education would potentially be more effective.

    Just drop the whole idea. Aust Govt can say they gave it good consideration but will not proceed.

    The sceptic in me is concerned the government will be more concerned with losing face that any technical outcome. But that's just my opinion.

    Comment by Jonno on 3 September 2009 at 21:00
  10. IT just shows that Rudd government is totalitarian, showing every sign of despotism....
    Slowly but surely grows to be like Chinese or Iranian controlling government... If this goes trough democracy in this country is dead not that we have any

    Comment by Rastko on 4 September 2009 at 05:47
  11. Add this nonsense to the Vic Police & State government's nifty new full time license plate scanning initiative and we have both Federal and State levels clearly illustrating that this is government 'Of the government, By the government, For the government'

    Quite totalitarian really ..... and all done under the same BS flag of 'security'. From *what* ? China eat your heart out .... (maybe that's why Rudd is so linguistically sino-savvy .... he's a plant !

    - Dean

    Comment by Dean on 8 September 2009 at 23:05
  12. Rastko's comment is of interest since all Socialist governments, including that bunch of Union dropouts led by Rudd the Dud, are totalitarian and generally have little or no idea about anything.....not just the internet. Socialist dogma depends upon one thing - coercion and Rudd's stupid policies follow that ideology completely. Democracy is a farce anyway but moreso under a group of Socialist idiots such as is attempting to subvert Australia today. Add to that the total corruption of State and Federal politicians and we have a true picture of just where this country is headed.
    BTW Rudd cannot be mistaken for a Chinese. He is not tall enough - having to look upward to be face-to-face with one and his intelligence is as limited as his stature. Add to that his not speaking nor understanding English so I am sure he cannot possibly understand Chinese!

    Comment by Robert H Mercer on 10 September 2009 at 02:42
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