back to article Come to Oz for sun, surf, ratting on co-workers and surveillance

Australia's deserved reputation as a nation whose government likes to pry into almost everything online has "improved" thanks to two new incidents. The first event saw Australia's government promulgate and then retrospectively made secret new social media rules for Australian Government employees. The rules, allegedly …

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  1. btrower

    The Terrorists are the ones in charge

    re: "backed warrantless data collection in the name of defending us from terrorists"

    The people breaking the law by spying on people without justification are the real terrorists here. They are destroying the civil liberties of the entire world. Terrorists as they define them might blow up a few cars. I can tell you that I have *never* had a fear of the people they are supposedly protecting us from but I definitely have a fear of them.

    There is no technical impediment to making it possible to retroactively inspect every single transaction to occur anywhere and at the same time make it impossible for these weasels to inspect things with out valid permission from somebody trustworthy.

    We record everything under a multiple key system and distribute the master keys to entities that are actually trustworthy. The more important the data the more keys required to inspect it. The bank, an insurance company, the local neighborhood association, the ACLU and local and federal law enforcement would all divulge keys necessary to trace and pinpoint a child predator or an actual terrorist about to trigger an atomic bomb. They would not all divulge keys for an illegal fishing expedition nor should they.

    The people in charge who are saying this current surveillance regime is necessary are either technologically illiterate or morally corrupt; likely both. In either case, they are the very last ones that should be in charge of privacy. They don't understand it, they don't like it and they don't want it. Give them jobs where they can't do so much harm.

  2. paleoflatus

    What's so special about "democracy"?

    The US and its friends keep banging on about "democracy", but I'm increasingly confused about what their "democracy" really is. I know that democracy originated in ancient Greece, where over half of the population were slaves who weren't given a vote. I know that British "democracy" gave inordinate power to the aristocracy and the wealthy and American "democracy excluded Negroes and now excludes many Latinos. I know that increasingly universal franchise has been accompanied by increasing secrecy, surveillance and the loss of free speech over more recent decades.

    I'm no longer sure that democracy (the number of political parties and the way government is chosen) is anywhere near as important as the big three:

    1. Transparency and honesty in government.

    2. Freedom of speech.

    3. Tolerance of alternative viewpoints.

    We Australians are/have losing/lost these and we're living in a very fragile glass-house, when we criticise other countries.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What's so special about "democracy"?

      Democracy is a neat method of making sure your leaders will later become ordinary citizens who will have to live with the laws that they passed.

      Also there's some fancy stuff about pretending to be just and free and stuff. Whatever.

      1. John G Imrie

        Re: What's so special about "democracy"?

        It means that when the current government looses power thy have a vested interest in not starting a civil war to re take it.

      2. Dagg
        Mushroom

        Re: What's so special about "democracy"?

        >Democracy is a neat method of making sure your leaders will later become ordinary citizens who will have to live with the laws that they passed.

        Not in Australia! Here they end up as extremely well off people with massive superannuation and special travel cards etc.

        They have no idea what an "ordinary" person is.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    professionalism and wisdom

    Most public servants have been in the job long enough to see multiple governments come and go. The job stays the same though, and pretty much everyone does their best to support whoever happens to be in government currently, regardless of personal opinions. It's a matter of pride and also of professionalism.

    A wise government will get the best results possible from the public service by treating hard-working public servants with the respect they deserve. A wise government will also realise that even after it has been voted out of office and relegated to opposition, those same hard-working public servants will still be in the same jobs working for the next government... which is another reason to maintain good relations.

  4. Chimp

    Greg Bear...

    ... to my mind demonstrates how to handle surveillance. Everything is collected and stored. Government agencies needing access to data have to apply to a citizen run oversight organisation for specific pieces of data.

  5. Winkypop Silver badge
    FAIL

    We don't have a Government at the moment

    We are being led by a neo conservative think tank.

    Look up: The Institute of Public Affairs. (IPA)

  6. Morrie Wyatt
    Stop

    To quote Benjamin Franklin

    "They who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I hate that quote

      It implies that there is a choice between Liberty and Safety.

      Safety means not getting beaten up.

      Liberty means not getting beaten up by the police.

      You can't choose between these two things.

      1. btrower

        Re: I hate that quote

        Thumbs up for you. I am mystified by the down votes. This is a hugely amusing post. It's funny because it's true.

        I personally like the quote in question, but that does not invalidate your entertaining post.

      2. Cpt Blue Bear

        Re: I hate that quote

        "Safety means not getting beaten up.

        Liberty means not getting beaten up by the police.

        You can't choose between these two things."

        You can indeed choose between those and that is the choice our are government(s) are currently offering. That there may be other choices does not suit their agenda so it fails to get mentioned. At least not in the mass media.

        I think your last line would be better phrased as "That's no choice at all"

  7. poopypants

    Every day most of us happily accept the risk of travel to and from work

    This despite the fact that in Australia there are over 1,000 road fatalities per year.

    The government does not record how fast we are travelling at any given moment, how much time we spend travelling, or where we go.

    Somehow, however, the mere possibility that terrorists may on some future occasion kill a handful of people is used as justification for the routine retention of meta-data, warrantless wiretapping, fingerprint and DNA collection and retention without conviction, restrictions on free association, etc.

    Welcome to the future.

    1. WraithCadmus
      Devil

      Re: Every day most of us happily accept the risk of travel to and from work

      The government does not record how fast we are travelling at any given moment, how much time we spend travelling, or where we go.

      Sssshhh, you're giving them ideas!

    2. Martin Budden Silver badge

      Re: Every day most of us happily accept the risk of travel to and from work

      The government does not record how fast we are travelling at any given moment, how much time we spend travelling, or where we go.

      Er, yeah, Australian governments already do that. Ever noticed those average speed cameras?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Every day most of us happily accept the risk of travel to and from work

      "warrantless wiretapping"

      Yep - it's possible this is what happened to a bloke I know. Mention the "t" word, and you can arrange anything these days.

      Simply voicing an opinion can get you labelled a terrorist these days. I know a few people who were called terrorists because they dared to provide proof to the government of a company failing to follow laws.

  8. John G Imrie

    Translation

    the more intelligence I read, the more conservative I become. The more deeply I come to comprehend the capacity of terrorists to evade surveillance, the more I want to be assured that where our agencies are constrained, the threat to civil liberty is real and not merely theoretical

    The more scary stuff the intelligence agencies feed me, the more I want to crawl under my desk and leave it all to them.

    1. Christoph

      Re: Translation

      Precisely. Security agencies always hype up the scare stories so they can be awarded more powers, and get forgiven when it's found they have been breaking the rules.

      Every time the true facts have emerged it's been found that the scare stories bear no resemblance to reality.

      Add together all the harm caused by all the terrorists combined, and it doesn't begin to approach the over a million deaths in Iraq due to the lies of the intelligence agencies.

    2. Cpt Blue Bear

      Re: Translation

      Regulatory capture, we call it.

      But the second sentence to me crosses a line from state sanctioned violence and oppression in the name of liberty to being an end in itself with liberty a constraint on its effectiveness. Anybody else in Oz find that a little scary?

  9. Faceless Man

    Can't Wait...

    ..for the first attempt to dismiss someone for being overly critical of the government on Twitter. I expect it will lead to a lengthy, and expensive, court case which will, with any luck, show the government up. (Let's be honest, in the current political climate, it could go either way, but we live in hope.)

    Of course, I should be safe here, since this isn't social media, I can say what I want...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Can't Wait...

      I'm tempted to be that person, believe me, I'm tempted!

  10. Doctor Evil

    He's a what?

    "[George Brandis] also reiterated his belief that Edward Snowden is not a whistle-blower, but a traitor."

    He's not a traitor; he's a bleedin' hero, you silly nong!

    1. Faceless Man

      Re: He's a what?

      "He's not a traitor; he's a bleedin' hero, you silly nong!"

      Do you mean Snowden or Brandis? Just want to be clear.

  11. AnonymousCoward94or96

    If at least they were spying for the same reason as they advance (combatting terrorism).

    But actually they only care about their own re-election and bullying other nation as seen with Timor-Leste Maritime border agreement

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/australiaandthepacific/australia/10675663/Australia-ordered-to-stop-spying-on-Timor-Leste.html

  12. Mr. Chuck

    Appalling

    People's Commissar for Law and Order George 'What a complete bastard' Brandis has things well under control here. The words 'slave' and 'lackey' spring to mind, also 'thug' and 'bully'.

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