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Fri Jul 13, 2012, 01:30 AM

Why has the Right gone missing on the surveillance state?

It took a while but Fairfax finally lumbered into action today on the remarkable proposals to dramatically expand government surveillance of Australians that are before the Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, editorialising that intelligence agencies needed to explain why they want to retain Australians’ internet data, after its security specialist Dylan Welch had covered the proposals yesterday.

Yesterday the ABC also provided some detailed coverage; every specialist IT outlet had already covered the proposals in detail on Tuesday and Wednesday, after Crikey broke the proposals on Monday afternoon. A quick reprise of the proposals: the government wants to undertake some sensible housekeeping amendments relating to ASIO, the establishing legislation for which is showing some definite whiskers. But the government has also put on the table, for consideration, proposals including:

•keeping all Australians’ telecommunications and internet data for 2 years;
•wiretapping Twitter, Facebook and other social media;
•allowing ASIO to plant material on people’s computers, and destroy material, and go through a third party’s computer to do so;
•criminalise refusing to cooperate with government decryption attempts, so you could go to gaol for refusing to surrender your password;
•freeing up ASIO agents to break the law if it helps them stay undercover; and
•enabling non-ASIO intelligence agencies to work with ASIO to spy on Australians.


As one reader put in the Comments section: "I'm more afraid of ASIO than I am of the Taliban".


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