While I was distracted from the whole blogging thing, something did actually get me hacking at the keyboard on something that wasn't code. That was the metadata laws and the actions of the Labor party in allowing them to pass through with a few amendments that in the long run are going to be meaningless.
So I hacked out an email to my local federal member Stephen Jones (which I've included below).
I didn't actually receive a response from Stephen Jones until after the legislation passed through the Senate, and I have to say that I was seriously disappointed. I don't expect a lot from my representatives, but what I would like is something that actually addresses the points that I set out in the original email. What I got was the stock standard "we need to do this because [INSERT SOMETHING ABOUT TERRISMS HERE]".
Dear Stephen Jones,
I've always found you to be a decent person and someone who cares for his electorate. However I am deeply concerned at the fact that you and Labor seem to have allowed the governments Data Retention Legislation to pass without either looking at the amendments or in fact seriously considering whether it is needed at all.
Leaving aside the near Orwellian prospect of the entire nations communications being tracked for a rolling period of two years. There are a huge number of problems that seem to have been overlooked in the name of "national security".
- No warrants. There is no judicial oversight of the access to this data. I cannot believe that this is a thing that is supported. Why do we now think that it's not possible for police and other services to misuse their powers? Checks and balances exist for a reason and any move to water them down is dangerous.
- The actual data to be retained still has not been defined. In fact the legislation with amendments requires the ISP's to determine what "type" of communication it is, which means that the ISP will need to look at the content of the packet. This is not just "envelope" stuff, this is looking inside the envelope and working out what the letter you're mailing is about. This is bad.
- There doesn't appear to actually be a need for it. What problem does it solve that hasn't already been solved? The police and intelligence services seem to be operating quite well already, arresting those who would do us harm and relying on targetted communicates intercepts.
- The possibilities for abuse are through the roof. Not only for official abuse but you've just created a massive honeypot for every script kiddie and cracker around.
- What safeguards are there against using this information retrospectively? Say a new government comes into power and decides that something should be illegal and it should be illegal retrospectively? What's to stop them using this great store of data to start prosecuting people?
Labor and the government have both just told the Australian public that they are now suspect. That their every action needs to be tracked, just in case they may do something wrong. This is not something I am comfortable with, and frankly neither should you be.