Yesterday, Australia’s surveillance tax has passed the lower house in an arrogant display of opaqueness, both from the Government that proposed it, to our supposed centre left opposition. Thanks, Bill Shorten.
The good news is Labor was listening. From ABC’S PM programme last night:
NAOMI WOODLEY: The Federal Opposition didn’t support the gag motion to bring debate to an end, but it does now support the bill, after days of negotiations over amendments to the original plan.
Labor’s communications spokesman, Jason Clare, explains why they pressed for government agencies to require a warrant
Whew, what a relief. By requiring a warrant to access this surveillance data, the rule of law, and innocence until proven guilty has been maintained.
before accessing the metadata of journalists
Oh for Pete’s sake.
I reckon “protecting journalistic sources” will go down as the Red Herring of 2015 Australian politics. Cynicism about journalists covering themselves aside, why was the safety of journalists paraded above everyone else?
Fortunately, in our increasingly misnamed House of Representatives, independents and Greens asked the obvious.
ANDREW WILKIE: What’s so special about journalists that only they get protection but not lawyers, not doctors, not members of parliament, not priests perhaps?
MALCOLM TURNBULL: That privilege attaches to the content and the content is not dealt with here. We are literally only talking about the metadata which would indicate that person A or telephone A called telephone number B.
For the inventor of Australian internet to not be aware of the implications of this floors me. Or he and his cabinet does know, but they’re not telling us.
What we do know is Labor and the Coalition worked in cahoots to get this passed, with as little time for public scrutiny as possible. Or as one of the other voices of reason in the lower house put it:
ADAM BANDT: On an issue as serious as giving security agencies additional rights and powers over people’s smart phones and internet records – they’re saying just trust us because we did a deal last night. Even though we’ve been talking about that for weeks, even though the reports been out there for weeks, we wouldn’t deign to circulate these amendments to you so that you can form a view on them – just trust us.
In the words of George Carlin, “trust is not automatic. It’s earned, and based on performance”.
Either way, I’m predicting a bonanza for VPN providers. I’ve already spun up a VyOS instance overseas.