Australia: Where Big Brother hasn’t simply returned to television

With each day that passes, our freedoms are being stripped from us in silent back rooms by powerful and wealthy men (and possibly women with a smattering of glass in their hair).

Last month, the Attorney General set up a Parliamentary Inquiry into potential reforms of national security legislation. The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security has prepared a Discussion Paper which is available on their website.

The proposed reforms seek to force ISPs and phone companies to keep a record of every article you’ve read online, every item you’ve bought online and every email or text message you’ve sent for a period of two years, which is to be provided to the Government at its request.

The recurring argument of “if you have nothing to hide, it shouldn’t matter” is redundant.

If you knew that someone could use every bored or curious, late night internet browse, and every drunk, angry or joke text message that you’ve sent over the past two years to support any claims of terrorist activity, would it change the way in which you used these devices?

As someone who sometimes has difficulty sleeping and spends a lot of time watching serial killer/conspiracy/secret organisation documentaries, it certainly makes me pause. Used out of context, my entire internet and text message history would be damning.

When I read Orwell’s 1984 as a young teenager, the prospect of a world such as that horrified me. That sense of horror has never left me. The torture of being locked out of your mind lest you be reported for committing a thought-crime kept me awake many nights throughout that book, and in the days that have followed.

Personal phone and internet use has always been an extension of thought, whether it be blogging such as this, or seeking answers to the myriad questions we constantly have in our minds.

I don’t have anything to hide, I haven’t committed a crime and nor do I intend to, but the mere knowledge that the fact that I downloaded a book on the Order of Skull and Bones whilst watching a documentary on 9/11 conspiracies could possibly, one day be used against me to substantiate terrorism claims feels rather akin to being placed under surveillance by thinkpol, to me.

I don’t think I’m important enough to ever be in that situation but you never know what the future holds.

It is certainly true that laws need to be updated to reflect the gargantuan leaps technology has made, but that should not include mandatory data retention of internet/phone usage of every single Australian citizen on the off chance that one of them is a terrorist.

The risk of these powers being abused either by a Government (ours or otherwise) who wishes to silence someone, or by a criminal wishing to use the information for their own nefarious purposes are far too great to allow these legislative reforms to be passed.

On Monday 20th August (yes, this coming Monday), submissions regarding this inquiry close.

The Australian Greens have set up a submission form, pre-populated with a suggested letter which can be overwritten should you choose to do so.

Alternatively, the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Intelligence and Security website has information on how to prepare a submission as well as accepted formats.

I strongly urge you to enter a submission. Your very life and identity could be the casualty of complacency.

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3 thoughts on “Australia: Where Big Brother hasn’t simply returned to television

  1. Certainly worth remembering that lots of what we say and do on the phone and net, might come back to haunt us. A simple, public example occurs on Facebook when potential employers check on potential employees. Personally, I wouldn’t be surprised if these records are already being used in this way and now the powers that be want to make it official; and possibly less open to abuse. Maybe some of those low life haters on Facebook can be nailed for abusive stuff on sites you mentioned in your other post. On the plus side, some of that information, a bit like DNA, might very well clear a person wrongly accused.. Just a thought. Bruce

    • I can certainly see that there are positives to this regarding wrongly accused, however, it’s the collective loss of so many of our freedoms that has me terrified as well as the potential for this to be used to actually wrongly accuse someone.

      I think that this should have been a bigger issue in the media than it was – and that fact alone is what makes me so nervous.

      It feels like a total intrusion into my private thoughts.
      I believe that what I write in a public forum becomes public property, however, I don’t believe that my private emails, text messages or browsing history are anybody’s business besides myself and the other person(s) involved and I think it is completely Orwellian and a total abolition of freedom that our private lives be recorded in this way.

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