The exceptionally broad new surveillance bill lets the government do nearly unlimited warrantless mass surveillance, even of lawyer-client privileged communications, and bans warrant canaries, making it an offense to "disclose information about the existence or non-existence" of a warrant to spy on journalists. Read the rest
An ad on the Gumtree notice-board site offers up "Simon Hackett's Internode Death Ray" -- a TV ad prop -- free to a good home in South Australia. Read the rest
Michael writes, "The Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Future Tense hosted a panel discussion on post-USA/NSA controlled Internet possibilities. The United States has signalled its willingness to give up its unofficial stewardship role of the Internet. Who should take over, and who will?" Read the rest
Tony Abbot's given a speech warning Australians that the police state is inevitable, saying there would be "more restrictions on some so that there can be more protections for others." Read the rest
BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the UK public broadcaster, has told an Australian government proceeding that people who use VPNs a lot should be assumed to be engaged in piracy, that ISPs should surveil their users, that websites should be censored by Chinese-style national firewalls, and that the families of people accused of watching TV the wrong way should be disconnected from the Internet. Read the rest
The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation wants the power to break into any computer on the Internet and to spy on any person in the world: Liberal MP Philip Ruddock says "We are now looking at how you find out what people are thinking about even before they do it." Read the rest
Michael writes, "Watching Australia's Attorney-General try to explain why tracking Australians' web histories is not such a big deal resembles listening to a dirty joke told by a ten-year-old, i.e. it leaves one with the distinct impression the speaker is trying to seem like they understand something they've only heard about secondhand." Read the rest
The bill was introduced on Wednesday by Attorney General George Brandis, and it gives the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation the power to imprison leakers (including reporters) for five years, with ten year sentences for anything regarding "special intelligence operations" (illegal spy operations conducted under promise of immunity). Read the rest
Juha writes, "Christopher Pyne, education minister for the ruling right-wing Coalition in Australia, calls the leader of the centre-left Labor, Bill Shorten, a "cunt." In Parliament. Pyne gets away with it too, as the Speaker doesn't intervene. Further audio here in case Youtube pulls the video." Read the rest
Australia's far-right crybaby government is so terrified of civil servants criticizing its policies that it has ordered government employees to snitch on any colleagues who breathe an unhappy word about the politicians of the day online, even if the criticism is anonymous, because it is "unprofessional." Civil servants are also banned from editing Wikipedia in ways that make politicians and their policies look bad. Read the rest
Censorship invites abuse. In China, the widespread practice of Internet censorship means that lots of people are authorized to hand down censorship orders and lots more people naturally turn to censorship when something on the Internet bugs them. This week, Chinese authorities prosecuted an "Internet policeman" who took payments from companies in return for censoring unfavorable remarks about them on social media. He's accused of censoring more than 2,500 posts in return for over $300K in payments. He also collaborated with another official to censor critical remarks about government officials. It seems unlikely that Gu, the Internet policeman who was arrested, and Liu, his collaborator, were the only two censors-for-hire in the Chinese system.
Lest you think that this problem is uniquely Chinese, consider that when Wikileaks leaked the Great Firewall of Australia's blacklist, we learned that more the half the sites on the list didn't meet the censorship criteria. And when the Danish and Swedish blacklists were analyzed, it emerged that more than 98 percent of the sites blocked did not meet the official criteria for censorship. And in the UK, the national firewall once blocked all of Wikipedia.
The Australian attorney general has mooted a proposal to require service providers to compromise their cryptographic security in order to assist in wiretaps. The proposal is given passing mention in a senate submission from the AG's office, where it is referenced as "intelligibility orders" that would allow "law enforcement, anti-corruption and national security agencies" to secure orders under which providers like Google, Facebook and Yahoo would have to escrow their cryptographic keys with the state in order to facilitate mass surveillance.
Edward Snowden referenced this possibility in his SXSW remarks, pointing out that any communications that are decrypted by service providers are vulnerable to government surveillance, because governments can order providers to reveal their keys. This is why Snowden recommended the use of "end-to-end" security, where only the parties in the discussion -- and not the software vendor -- have the ability to spy on users.
The "intelligibility order" is the same kind of order that led to the shutdown of Lavabit, the secure email provider used by Snowden, whose creator shut the service down rather than compromising his users' security. Read the rest