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Sharp increase in authorities accessing private data - The Age

Discussion in 'The Pub' at netrider.net.au started by Sir Ride Alot, Dec 1, 2012.

  1. Sharp increase in authorities accessing private data

    Date December 1, 2012 Philip Dorling

    AUSTRALIAN law enforcement and government agencies have sharply increased their access without warrant to vast quantities of private telephone and internet data, prompting new calls for tighter controls on surveillance powers.

    Government agencies accessed private telecommunications data and internet logs more than 300,000 times during criminal and revenue investigations in 2011-12, a 20 per cent increase on the level of surveillance activity in the year before.

    Figures from the federal Attorney-General’s Department show that on average, these agencies obtained private data from telecommunications and internet service providers 5800 times every week.

    The data available to government agencies under federal law includes phone and internet account information, outwards and inwards call details, phone and internet access location data, and details of Internet Protocol addresses visited (though not the actual content of communications).

    Data access is authorised by senior police officers or officials, rather than by a judicial warrant.

    New South Wales Police were the biggest users of telecommunications data, with 103,824 access authorisations in 2011-12. Victoria Police accessed data 67,173 times in the same period, while the Australian Federal Police did so 23,001 times.

    Victoria Police has said that the increased data access could be attributed to ‘‘investigator knowledge becom[ing] more widely known, technology changes and auto processing [that has] simplified the process’’.

    Federal government agencies using telecommunications data include the Australian Crime Commission, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, the Australian Tax Office, numerous government departments, Medicare, Centrelink and Australia Post.

    It is also used by all state police and anti-corruption bodies and a growing number of state government departments and agencies, including the Victorian Department of Primary Industries, the Victorian Taxi Directorate and WorkSafe Victoria.

    Data is also accessed by the RSPCA in Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania, and by local governments, including Wyndham City Council in Melbourne’s west. The RSPCA has investigative powers in respect of animal cruelty.

    ‘‘This is the personal data of hundreds of thousands, indeed millions of Australians, and it seems that just about anyone in government can get it,’’ said Australian Greens senator Scott Ludlam.

    He said the increase in access authorisations demonstrated the current data access regime was ‘‘out of control’’ and amounted to the framework for a ‘‘surveillance state’’.

    ‘‘There can’t be much in the way of working checks and balances if we have a 20 per cent surge in activity in one year, and more than 300,000 authorisations.’’

    Statistics for access by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation are security classified and not published.

    The federal government’s proposals for a further expansion of law enforcement access to telecommunications data, including a minimum two-year data retention standard for phone and internet providers, have generated public debate and controversy.

    However, Attorney-General Nicola Roxon did not issue any media release to accompany her department’s report, which was tabled in Parliament without debate on Thursday, the final parliamentary sitting day for the year.

    A spokesperson for Ms Roxon said ‘‘these new statistics show telephone interception and surveillance powers are playing an even greater role for police so they can successfully pursue kidnappers, murderers and organised criminals’’.

    ‘‘Parliament’s intelligence committee is currently reviewing telephone interception and surveillance powers to ensure police can stay one step in front of criminals, while also having have the right checks and balances to ensure that those who enforce our national security laws do so responsibly.’’ Senator Ludlam called for tighter controls on access to personal data, including a requirement for warrants to be issued by an independent authority.

    ‘‘It’s incumbent on the Parliament’s national security inquiry to recommend some form of warrant authorisation be introduced, and that there be a review and reduction of the government agencies that can access the personal communications data of millions of Australians.’’

    However, the latest statistics also show a 7.7per cent jump in the number of telecommunications interception warrants issued to law enforcement agencies, with 3755 phone taps being authorised in 2011-12.

    ■ Australian Crime Commission
    ■ Government departments including the Tax Office, Medicare, Centrelink, Australia Post
    ■ Statistics for access by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation are security classified and not published

    ■ State police and anti-corruption bodies
    ■ Government departments including the Victorian Taxi Directorate, Worksafe
    ■ RSPCA in Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania
    ■ Local governments including Wyndham City Council in Melbourne’s west


    Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/political-news/sharp-increase-in-authorities-accessing-private-data-20121130-2amsm.html#ixzz2Djgft3c2
  2. Pay your taxes and don't commit any crime and you've nothing to worry about. Obviously lots of people don't, and do!!
  3. If you want to keep something secret, for whatever reason, talking about it on a mobile phone, land line, or internet connection just isn't a smart move.

    If you need to discuss a secret with someone else, go out in the countryside and talk (quietly), not sitting in a car.

    After all, this would give you an excuse to go for a ride.

  5. You know, i should be entitled to be left alone, to not have an authority snoop in on what i do on a daily basis because if there's one thing I should be entitled to it's freedom do live my life without someone looking over my shoulder. This statement is offensive. If you genuinely believe this then you're not someone i want to share a planet with. And i mean that.

    The cops should have NO access to this data, unless there is a genuine reason - in that case they should be visiting a judge and asking permission (via a warrant). Outside of that, fark you.
  6. snuff said
  7. Hornet this can also apply to fundamental religious people of all persuasions. You being a fundamental preacher may have even come under investigation without your knowledge just as we teachers may have as we are part of a union, or even us here on netrider as we may come under investigation as motorcycle riders due to the anti gang laws. Where does it stop?
    Yes we have done no wrong and what not but does that give authorities the right to snoop on us under a whim rather than follow proper protocols, build up evidence and apply for warrants? If this were the USA the lawyers would be having a field day.
  8. Are you actively trolling or really just that naive? Below is an exerpt regarding the previously proposed internet filter blacklist.

    "But about half of the sites on the list are not related to child p0rn and include a slew of online poker sites, YouTube links, regular gay and straight p0rn sites, Wikipedia entries, euthanasia sites, websites of fringe religions such as satanic sites, fetish sites, Christian sites, the website of a tour operator and even a Queensland dentist.

    "It seems to me as if just about anything can potentially get on the list," Landfeldt said."

    Bjorn Landfeldt was an associate professor who worked at usyd before moving to Sweden. He was an expert consultant to the organisation looking into the feasibility of the filter and spoke before a parliamentary committee on the matter.
  9. Where'd I leave that tin-foil cap........?

    Oh no!..........they've already heard my plans of evading taxes this year!
  10. In that case, a lot of people in positions with powers of enforcement and authority should be very worried.
  11. Until they decide to make something illegal without you realising it's been made illegal.

    Lilley's mention of the blacklist filter is a good one since if that had gone through it would have made it illegal to access any of the sites on the list - as well as making it illegal to know what was on the list (which was also to be subject to constant change without public review). So a site you may have visited regularly suddenly gets made "illegal" without your knowledge, and evidence collected by intercepting data without a warrant gets used to arrest and convict you. This is exactly the sort of thing Orwell was warning of over 60 years ago.
  12. As said in the previous posts it is absolutely woeful to tap into people’s private information without a warrant especially when there are regular allegations of corruption against police.

    These bureaucracies work for us not the other way around. What the fcuk are our elected representatives doing here?
  13. #13 hornet, Dec 3, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2012
    I thought I made my position very clear; the claim that the intervention was 'without warrant' is denied by the phrase 'during criminal and revenue investigations'. THAT is the whole tenor of the article; people who are being investigated as criminals or at least suspected criminals are being observed. Nowhere is there a suggestion that Joe Public watching TV at home in Chirnside Park is being spied upon by some shadowy government organisation. Goodness me, they don't have the resources to investigate when a crime HAS been commited, as the many sad stories of Police inaction over stolen bikes here on Netrider clearly shows.......

    I might also suggest that people read the latest PC & Tech Authority article on "The Geography of Social Media Threats". With so many people exposing themselves on Facebook and other such sites, the job of the authorities, not to mention the villans, in getting hold of information about you is foolishly easy...
  14. Must be lovely on whatever planet you live on.
  15. It is; tinfoil is cheap and plentiful and the variety of hats on offer is amazing.....
  16. thanks for the giggle much appreciated :)
  17. Firstly, once you start the ball rolling of not needing a warrant - to actually justify breaking someone's privacy - you've opened the floodgates. Sure, it might not be happening this very second but how can you possibly feel comfortable with this???

    Secondly, your second point has absolutely nothing to do with this issue. People leaving their personal info around <> authorities delving into your private, non-disclosed/non-public-facing data. <insert straw man image>