Overnight, your phone and internet became legal tracking devices that will record your activity, movements, and correspondence.
This morning you woke up to a country where all that information, by law, will be kept on file for a mandatory period of two years. Where you woke up this morning? On file. Who you texted on the way to work? On file. How long you were on the phone trying to sort out Future Classic tickets for Vivid Live? On file.
Late yesterday the Parliament of Australia voted, and passed, contentious Mandatory Data Retention legislation that now compels telecommunications companies to retain the metadata of everyone. Literally, everyone.
The Abbott Government was joined by the opposing Labor Party, who caved in after negotiations spearheaded by Attorney-General George Brandis – one of the Government’s chief proponents of the legislation.
The laws were passed without the requests from the Greens, who remain concerned it will entrench “passive mass surveillance” into our country, and some of the Crossbench Senators who sought to have increased privacy provisions inserted into the laws, particularly for journalists and the media industry.
The laws were also passed despite wide ranging evidence from other countries who have similar data retention laws that it does not necessarily prevent terrorism in any great manner, nor does it reduce crime by any worthwhile amount. What it does do is present an extremely high new cost – the ultimate price tag of which the Government either does not know, or is refusing to outwardly state. There are great concerns that telecommunications companies will pass a significant portion of the added data costs onto consumers.
The Coalition and Labor senators voted in a block together, passing the legislation by a count of 43 votes to 16. The Greens, along with Seantors Lee Rhiannon, Jacqui Lambie, Ricky Muir, David Leyonhjelm, Nick Xenophon were among the few that voted against it.
In third reading speeches, those opposed slammed the Government and the Opposition for passing the bill. Senator Leyonhjelm outright condemned the laws, stating that he will take little pleasure in saying “I told you so” when the laws, by his estimation, inevitably wind up being abused.
Meanwhile Greens Senator Scott Ludlam further scolded the Government for passing the laws, “The majority of the Australian people are not satisfied with this Government’s lunge for power. The only people who [were] satisfied, were in the Australian Labor Party.”
Regardless, this is now the Australia that we have to live in, like it or not. An Australia were everything practically everything we say or do will be recorded and stored for the speculative sake of keeping the nation safer.
Unless catastrophic events are proved to be preventable, it’s hard to see a point where the ends will ever justify these means.
Photo: Ryan Pierse via Getty Images.
via ABC News.