What The Data Retention Bill Means For Users

Welcome to the ever growing surveillance state. With Australia in line to push forward the data retention bill it’s not only telcos and ISPs that take the hit for increased costs but consumer’s who stand to lose. Tim Morris’s comment at the Tech Leaders conference in NSW Blue Mountains, “Those with nothing to hide you have nothing to fear” is a sour justification for upping the ante on surveillance under the guise of national security concerns.

The mandatory retainment of phone, email and internet meta-data by telcos and ISPs for a minimum of two years means meanwhile adding costs on both sides to consumers and providers but with minimal subsidies. Whilst larger telcos and ISPs have long been able to retain data on consumers given these guidelines, the bill passes as another costing byline in that providers could expect triple the $300 to $400 million quoted by government for infrastructure and labour to maintain servers and ports. Stored metadata also leaves a greater gap for external stealth of personal information requiring significant improvements on security upgrades by providers. At a three to five year trial period for integrating the new system where small server providers in particular operating through traditionally more ports will need to reconfigure the network that’s more work and more costs. With only a 50 per cent subsidy in a provider-government cost share arrangement, additional costs can be anticipated to spill over to consumers who will no doubt see that increase in future quarterly statements.

Making the job easier for federal forensic technicians, is also one step closer to adopting a surveillance mentality so avidly opposed by frontier technologists, privacy advocates, academics and the Greens. With the uproar in 2013 following Wikileaks documents shedding light on unjustified practices of a U.S. surveillance state, consumers would expect Australia take heed on another Bill piggybacking on the shadow of state terror alerts. Not only adding to a communication stronghold by federal and state government, consumers are looking at a transparency system with increased government babysitting adding costs on all sides that have a blatant disregard for privacy concerns and essentially goes against basic free market policy. Mirroring America’s unnecessary expenditure of tax payer dollars for a greater surveillance state in support of our national security agencies, should consumers really be expected to pay the extra costs for a beta system that is less secure?

Ironically, in the face of greater security concerns the end cost is dumped back on us with more bugs, higher costs, less security and greater potential for theft of data.

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Hoi Sze Lam

Hoi Sze Lam is an autodidact of all things digital marketing, and is a privacy advocate with a keen interest in cyber affairs. Given the time she reads, breathes and follows good food, wood fires, travel and technology from down under.

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