As if proposed mandatory censorship laws weren’t bad enough and unpopular enough, now the Federal Government is considering a proposal to require all ISPs to keep a detailed log of every site their customers visit. Yes, that’s every bit as unpleasant as it sounds.
Ben Grubb at ZDNet received confirmation from the Attorney-General’s department that it was in the early stages of considering a mandatory data retention policy, modelled on similar schemes in Europe. However, while the European approach only logs basic connection times, ISPs briefed on the scheme have suggested it could include a detailed log of all activity, including individual URLs.
Before someone starts banging the “if you’ve done nothing wrong, you’ve got nothing to fear” drum, there’s already ample provision in Australian law to intercept Internet usage if criminal activity is suspected. As EFA Chair Colin Jacobs pointed out to ZDNet:
You can’t treat everybody like a criminal. That would be like tapping people’s phones before they are suspected of doing any crime.
Many people on Twitter have observed that there’s something astonishingly self-serving and contradictory about a government being willing to attack Google for collecting unencrypted Wi-Fi data while taking Street View photographs, while simultaneously planning a much more comprehensive invasion of every Australian Internet user’s privacy.
The collection of that data would also be a potential goldmine for movie studios to track down BitTorrent users, something the iiNet case made it very clear they’d like to do despite losing out in court. All things considered, looks like it’s time to make your feelings known to your local member once again.