Showing posts with label telecommunications. Show all posts
Showing posts with label telecommunications. Show all posts

Monday, 15 April 2019

Another federal Coalition Government ‘epic fail’

Seems whatever our neigbour to the west, the National Party’s Barnaby Joyce, touches turns to dross……

A phone tower that Barnaby Joyce fought for ended up on the northern NSW property of long-time friend and mining baron Gina Rinehart, who gets an annual fee to host the tower. Locals are baffled why the tower was put there over another location, as it's plagued with reception problems.

The Northern Daily Leader reports that Kingstown's community in Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce's New England electorate campaigned hard for the tower, switched on two weeks ago, to be co-located with a police and emergency services tower at the highest point in the district.

But it was built instead at Sundown Valley Pastoral Company, bought by Ms Rinehart's pastoral arm Hancock Prospecting in August last year. Landowners are paid a yearly fee by telecommunications companies to have towers placed on their property.

Kingstown resident Jeff Condren led the charge for a tower to be funded by the federal government's Mobile Blackspot Program and called it an "epic fail".

"Now that the tower has been in operation for several weeks it's evident the community concerns relating to the location and the service was well-justified," he said.

"Service levels drop to nothing just a couple of kilometres in any direction.....

Friday, 24 August 2018

Australian Attorney-General releases a draft bill which will allow the gaoling of Australian citizens for 10 years if they refuse to reveal passwords or encryption codes

According to on 15 August 2018:

In addition to its village idiot approach to undermining end-to-end encryption in new surveillance laws, the government is also seeking a blunt-force trauma approach: it wants to jail people for a decade if they refuse to give up the password to their devices.

Under the draft Assistance and Access Bill 2018 unveiled yesterday, the government is giving police, spy agencies and regulators like the ATO the power to demand that tech companies help them plant malware on computers and phones to help it defeat end-to-end encryption.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Oi, Malcolm! Where's our NBN?

With only three years of borrowed money left to complete roll out of the National Broadband Network (NBN) and still not yet at the halfway mark, serious questions about this increasingly sub-standard telecommunications infrastructure are being asked.

Australian Medical Association, media release, 17 January 2017:

Better Access to High Speed Broadband for Rural and Remote Health Care - 2016
10 Jan 2017

1.  Introduction

Approximately 30 per cent of Australia’s population lives outside the major metropolitan areas[1]. Regional, rural and remote Australians often struggle to access health services that urban Australians would see as a basic right. These inequalities mean that they have lower life expectancy, worse outcomes on leading indicators of health, and poorer access to care compared to people in major cities.

In 2016 the AMA conducted a Rural Health Issues Survey, which sought input from rural doctors across Australia to identify key solutions to improving regional, rural and remote health care. The survey identified access to high-speed broadband for medical practices as a key priority.

This result reflects not only the increasing reliance by medical practices on the internet for their day to day operations, but also the increasing opportunities for the provision of healthcare services to rural and remote communities via eHealth and telemedicine. For the full potential of these opportunities to be realised, good quality, affordable, and reliable high-speed internet access is essential.

The AMA recognises that technology-based patient consultations and other telehealth initiatives can improve access to care and can enhance efficiency in medical practice, but the need for better access to high speed broadband goes beyond supporting rural and remote health. In today’s world, it is a critical factor to support communities in their daily activities, education, and business, and has the potential to drive innovation and boost the rural economy.

This position statement outlines the importance of better access to high speed broadband for medical practices, other healthcare providers and institutions, and patients, to improve regional, rural and remote health care in Australia, and highlights key solutions for achieving this.

2. Internet access in regional rural and remote Australia

Despite its tremendous growth, internet access is not distributed equally within Australia, and internet use by country people has yet to reach the level of use in capital cities, for a wide range of reasons.

In many country areas the internet connection is still very poor.[2] In 2015, 80 percent of non-urban Australians had an internet connection at home compared with 89 percent of those in capital cities[3]. Internet use via mobile phone was much lower in non-urban areas, at 37 percent, compared to 60 percent for capital cities[4]. This reflects the patchy, unreliable or absent mobile coverage in many rural and remote areas. While mobile broadband use was highest in non-urban areas, at 29 percent, compared to 25 percent in capital cities, mobile broadband is currently not a good solution for business or eHealth, due to the relatively small amounts of data on the relatively costly plans available.

Internet services, particularly in more isolated areas, only make available relatively small download allowances and these come at a much higher cost and slower speed than those services available in metropolitan areas.

3. Supporting regional rural and remote health

3.1   The need for better access for health services
The health sector needs telecommunications connectivity for health service delivery and management, doing business with Government and complying with Government requirements, continuing professional development, online education, mentoring, and clinical decision and other support.

Health was identified in the Regional Telecommunications Review report[5] as one of the particular segments of the community requiring special consideration. To effectively leverage telecommunications technology to deliver better health outcomes at lower cost in regional, rural and remote areas and to implement new models of health care, both mobile and broadband technology must be reliable, affordable, and supply adequate capacity.

However, the utilisation of telehealth and telemedicine in rural and remote Australia remains patchy and is not used to full potential, because of no, or inadequate internet access. As noted in the Regional Telecommunications Review report[6], the ability of hospitals and clinics to support remotely located clinicians and patients via video conferencing and remote monitoring could be severely limited in areas serviced by satellite, which may not be able to consistently and reliably deliver the necessary capacity and technical capability.

The AMA Rural Health Issues Survey received many comments from rural doctors on the problems encountered with poor internet access. For example:

  • High-speed broadband [is the] single most critical issue to run practices now, many areas not getting the best from NBN.
  • Internet services by satellite are slow and time consuming. Reliable internet services at reasonable speed and reliability is critical.
  • Internet services are a critical area [of concern]. The NBN has been deficient in providing a comprehensive coverage even in areas that are under 25km from a major regional centre i.e. Orange and Dubbo. 
As mainstream healthcare provision becomes increasingly technology based and requires more and faster broadband services to operate, there is a real risk that regional, rural and remote areas of Australia will be left further and further behind in their ability to provide quality health services.

3.2. The benefits of high speed broadband for rural and remote health care
High-speed affordable broadband connectivity to the Internet has become essential to modern society, and offers widely recognised economic and social benefits, with numerous studies showing a strong link between broadband growth and rapid economic development[7]. Affordable and reliable broadband access can support the development of new content, applications and services that allow people to work in new ways, changing business processes in ways that stimulate productivity and potentially increase labour-force participation[8].

3.2.1  Economic benefits
It has been estimated that in New Zealand, the benefits from broadband-enabled health care could reach around $6 billion over a 20-year period[9]. These benefits come from reduced hospital, travel and drug costs and improvements in care. A case study by Deloitte Access Economics shows savings to a single older Australian of $7,400 per year, with savings to the Government, through reduced health and service provision costs, of over $14,500[10].

3.2.2 Driving greater efficiency and reducing costs
Telehealth practice will be one of the most important online services in the broadband future, enabling significant changes to work practices to drive greater efficiency and reduce costs[11].

If sufficiently supported, telehealth services, such as video-conferencing, could become more effective in complementing local health services. They could be used to expand specialty care to patients in areas with shortages of health care providers as well as extend primary care to remote areas, reducing the need to travel, and increasing the frequency of patient and primary care provider interactions. By providing timely access to services and specialists, telehealth could improve the ability to identify developing conditions, and thereby reduce the need for more costly treatments and hospitalisations in the future. Telehealth could also help to educate, train and support remote healthcare workers on location and support people with chronic conditions to manage their health.[12]

A CSIRO report on home monitoring of chronic disease[13], for example, shows that a modest investment in home monitoring technology, allied to risk stratification tools and remote monitoring, could save the healthcare system up to $3 billion a year in avoidable admissions to hospital, reduced length of stay and fewer demands on primary care.

3.2.3 Supporting eHealth solutions now and into the future
eHealth encompasses patient access to doctors via online consultation, remote patient monitoring, online tools and resources for patients and doctors, clinical communications between healthcare providers, and professional’s access to information databases and electronic health record systems. If sufficiently supported with affordable, high-speed broadband services, eHealth has potential to improve health outcomes at all levels, from preventative health, specialist and acute care and self-management of chronic conditions, through to home monitoring for people living with disabilities[14].

Advances in information technology will act as a catalyst for the development of a range of potential eHealth solutions to some of the challenges faced by rural and remote communities. If available and accessible, improved connectivity will facilitate new and emerging best practice models of health care, such as those which incorporate high definition video conferences, data exchange and high resolution image transfer[15].

Technological advancements in health care that could become the way of the future, if affordable and sufficient access to broadband services becomes available, include better point of care diagnostics, resulting in faster, cohesive patient care; biosensors and trackers to allow real time monitoring; 3D printed medical technology products; virtual reality environments that could accelerate behavioural change in patients; and social media platforms to improve patient experience and track population trends[16].

3.2.4 Supporting education and training
The internet also plays a big part in the lives of doctors and their families, assisting with education and social cohesion. It enables rural doctors to learn from the most current resources, explore treatment options, watch demonstrations of procedures and attend live discussions with experts.
Access to high speed broadband has the potential to change the way medical education, training and supervision is delivered in rural and remote areas [17]. As pressure on access to prevocational and vocational training places increases, harnessing this technology to support training is a viable strategy to create additional training places in rural and remote locations and ultimately improve access to specialist services for rural and remote patients.

The use of telehealth and telesupervision as an adjunct to face-to-face teaching will allow doctors in training to remain in rural and remote settings to complete their training, and enhance the likelihood that they will choose to work long term in a rural areas. Improved information and communications technology will enhance the learning experiences for trainees at rural sites and during rural rotations, provide exposure to innovative models of care, and improve supervisor capacity by allowing supervisors to transfer knowledge, supervise and mentor trainees remotely. 

Improved telehealth and communication technology infrastructure to support teaching and training at rural sites will also enhance professional collaboration between rural and remote medical generalist practitioners and other specialists in the provision of shared care, skills transfer and education.

The requirement for doctors to maintain their skills is a fundamental component of medical registration. It is important that processes mandated by the Medical Board of Australia, including in revalidation proposals, do not discriminate against medical practitioners working in rural and remote Australia. Access to high speed broadband is an essential support for rural and remote practitioners who must comply with these requirements.

4. What can be done to improve broadband access for country Australians?

The AMA is of the view that high-speed broadband should be available to the same standard and at the same cost to all communities, businesses and services across the whole of Australia. The platforms used must be able to accommodate future developments in information and communications technologies and provide connectivity through suitable combinations of fibre, mobile phone, wireless, and satellite technologies. For rural practices, in order to be incorporated routinely in everyday practice (clinical, educational and administrative), network connectivity must be sufficient, reliable, ubiquitous and dependable.

The Government must ensure that broadband services are affordable in regional, rural and remote Australia. Lack of affordability is regarded as one of the most important barriers to good internet access for country people whose incomes, on average, are 15 per cent lower than those of city people[18].

Government policies play a tremendous role in bringing internet access to underserved groups and regions. Unless issues around equitable and affordable access to telecommunications in regional, rural and remote Australia are addressed, the potential benefits of the digital economy for non-urban Australians will go unrealised.

The AMA urges the Government to consider the following actions:

·       Fully consider the recommendations of the 2015 Regional Telecommunications Review, and, in particular, adopt Recommendations 8, 9, and 12, to:
o    Develop a new Consumer Communication Standard for voice and data which would provide technology neutral standards in terms of availability, accessibility, affordability, performance and reliability.
o    Establish a new funding mechanism, the Consumer Communication Fund to replace the existing telecommunications industry levy and underwrite over the longer term, necessary loss-making infrastructure and services in regional Australia.
o    Collect benchmark data on availability and affordability of broadband data and voice services (including mobile services), to be reported annually, in order to improve the understanding of the changing circumstances of regional telecommunications.
·       Extend the boundaries of the NBN’s fibre cable and fixed wireless footprints and mobile coverage wherever possible.
·       Begin an incremental process of terrestrial network expansion over the longer term to address increase in usage over time.
·       Develop measures to prioritise or optimise the broadband capacity available by satellite for hospitals and medical practices, such as exempting or allocating higher data allowance quotas, or providing a separate data allowance (as is the case with distance education[19]).
·       Create universal unmetered online access to government, hospital and health services for people and businesses in rural and remote areas.[20]
·       Establish an innovation budget for development of local infrastructure solutions for rural and remote areas.[21]
·       Engage with state and local government and related stakeholders who wish to co-invest or coordinate planning to achieve the optimum overall infrastructure outcome for their area. This could involve public-private partnerships or the leveraging of philanthropic infrastructure funding through, for example, tax concessions.

[1] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) (2015), Australia’s Welfare 2015
[3] Australian Communications and Media Authority (2016), Regional Australians Online
[4] Ibid
[5] Australian Government Regional Telecommunications Review (2015)
[6] Ibid.
[7] Alcatel-Lucent (2012), Building the Benefits of Broadband. How New Zealand can increase the social & economic impacts of high-speed broadband
[8] Centre for Energy-efficient Telecommunications (CEET)(2015), Economic Benefit of the National Broadband Network
[9] Alcatel-Lucent (2012), op.cit.
[10] Deloitte Access Economics (2013), Benefits of High-Speed Broadband for Australian Households. Commissioned by the Australian Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy
[11] CEET (2015), op.cit.
[12] National Rural Health Alliance (2013), eHealth and telehealth in rural and remote Australia. Accessed October 2016
[13] Prof. Branko Celler et al (2016), Home Monitoring of Chronic Disease for Aged Care, CSIRO Australian e-Health Research Centre.
[14] National Rural Health Alliance (2013) op. cit.
[15] National Rural Health Alliance (2016), website accessed October 2016
[16] Deloitte (2016), Design, service and infrastructure plan for Victoria’s rural and regional health system discussion paper, commissioned by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services.
[17] Wearne S M (2013), Using telehealth infrastructure for remote supervision could create medical training places where they are needed. Medical Journal of Australia, 198 (11): 633-634. 17 June 2013.
[18] AIHW (2016), Are things different outside the major cities? Accessed October 2016.
[19] Australian Government (2016), Australian Government Response to the Regional Telecommunications Independent Review Committee Report: Regional Telecommunications Review 2015.
[20]Broadband for the Bush Alliance (2016), Broadband for the Bush Forum V: Digital Journeys Communiqué
[21]Broadband for the Bush Alliance (2014), Broadband for the Bush Forum III: Building a Better Digital Future Communiqué

Related document (Public): 

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Have an Optus, Vodaphone or Telstra mobile phone account? Your personal details may be on sale in Mumbai

The Sydney Morning Herald, 16 November 2016:

Corrupt insiders at offshore call centres are offering the private details of Australian customers of Optus, Telstra and Vodafone for sale to anyone prepared to pay.

A Fairfax Media investigation can reveal Mumbai-based security firm AI Solutions is asking between $350 and $1000 in exchange for the private information, but even more if the target is an Australian "VIP, politician, police, [or] celebrity".

AI Solutions is just one of potentially several private companies selling phone records, home addresses and other private details of Australian telecommunication company customers. They in turn have received the information from employees of the call centres used widely by Australian businesses.

Security industry sources said the practice has been long-standing. AI Solutions has told customers it has sold people's personal data for several years.

Optus has called in the federal police to investigate the data breach after it was contacted by Fairfax Media.

Optus, Telstra - which is holding an investor briefing in Sydney on Thursday - and Vodafone have stressed they are aware of the problem and have invested heavily in security procedures to counter it.

The revelation underscores the risks facing Australian consumers and businesses as a vast amount of personal or private data is collected and often stored offshore by service providers, financial institutions and government agencies.

It also raises fresh concerns about risks faced in using offshore call centres, where it may be more difficult to ensure data security.

AI Solutions actively markets its services to prospective Australian clients via an Indian businessman who uses the name Imran Khan. It is unclear if this is a false name.

But Fairfax Media has confirmed that AI Solutions has previously, and on numerous occasions, sold Australians' personal data to third parties.

It recently wrote to a Melbourne corporate intelligence and security company, boasting that it has a "long list" of Australian clients buying data from the offshore call centres.

"There are … 3 major telecom numbers details I can provide you. Telstra, Vodafone and Optus," the Indian company's representative wrote in a text message to a prospective client seen by Fairfax Media.

The company charges $350 to provide a person's home address and charges $1000 for a "full extract". This includes a person's home address, date of birth, alternative phone numbers and "more than 1 years billing statements" and "calling data history".

"And for VIP, politician, police, celebrity, charges are different," one message said.

While the data being illegally sold will not contain the actual content of text messages or what has been said during phone calls, it does contain information about who a person has called, the location at which a call is made and other sensitive data and metadata.

This information could be of use to companies engaged in corporate spying or intelligence gathering, private investigators, marketing firms and organised criminals seeking to engage in identity fraud, or to locate people. It is possible that foreign intelligence services could also use the data theft service.

The Indian firm requests payment via Western Union or Money Gram remittance services……

The Australian Federal Police said it had spoken with Optus and Vodafone and had subsequently provided information to Indian authorities.

Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, media release, 17 November 2016:

Statement by the Australian Information and Privacy Commissioner, Timothy Pilgrim, on personal information of Australian telecommunication customers

17 November 2016

I am concerned about allegations that personal information of Australian telecommunication customers is being offered for sale online. My office is making enquiries with Optus, Telstra and Vodafone to determine what further action I may take in this matter.

These allegations, and the community response they have generated, are a reminder that Australian customers expect businesses to handle their personal information in line with Australian law no matter where they operate. 

If anyone has privacy concerns about this incident they can contact my office on 1300 363 992 or

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Australian's don't expect Turnbull's version of the National Broadband Network to last the distance

An Essential Research online poll released on 4 October  2016 found that 88% of respondents agreed that access to the Internet is becoming an essential service – like access to water and electricity.

That same poll demonstrated that the majority of Australians probably do not believe that the National Broadband Network (NBN) is fit for the future:

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Metadata Retention: in which the Prime Minister of Australia says any old thing which pops into his head

The Sydney Morning Herald on 19 February 2015 reported assertions made by Prime Minister Tony Abbott concerning his government's plan to introduce mass telecommunications and information technology surveillance of the Australian population:

The Abbott government's controversial data retention scheme will cost an estimated $300 million to set up, with telecommunications consumers expected to foot almost half the total cost through higher bills.
The government wants legislation passed by March requiring telecommunications companies to store customer metadata for at least two years.
Under the government's proposal, phone and internet firms would be forced to store details such as the time and place of phone calls, and the origin and destination of emails. It does not include the content of communications.
Responding to calls to release the cost of the scheme, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on Wednesday that it would cost less than one per cent of the estimated $40 billion value of the telecommunications sector to establish.
Mr Abbott said that the price of not storing electronic communication records is "incalculable" and would lead to an "explosion in unsolved crime".
Fairfax Media understands the government's calculations for setting up the scheme are approximately $300 million, based on an industry analysis by professional services group PwC. [my red bolding]

There will be an explosion of unsolved come across the country if Abbott & Co are not allowed to introduce universal surveillance of Australian citizens? 

Surveillance that stores raw digital data about the daily lives of all citizens. Data which federal government security agencies, police and every revenue raising state or federal government agency or statutory authority can access without a warrant.

So if persons committing criminal offences have had the upper hand because there is no mass surveillance to date, why is it that crime has not spiralled out of control before now?

If police need these additional mass surveillance powers to do their job effectively, why do NSW Police currently solve a high percentage of homicides and why was the NSW prison population in 2014 rising without these powers?

If landlines, mobile phones and the Internet are so vital to the commission of major crimes, how is it that I live in an area with a relatively high rate of Internet connection in the home (58% with public access points also available) but stable to lower recorded major criminal offences trends and, New South Wales as a whole showed no significant recorded major offences upward trend in the September Quarter 2014.

If there was thought to be a direct correlation between no mass surveillance and unsolved crime, I suspect the fact that around 62 percent of individuals before NSW local courts already plead guilty in the absence of such surveillance might call that assumption into question.

As would the fact that the number and percentage of criminal convictions are increasing in NSW lower and higher courts without continuous two-year metadata retention being available to police without a warrant.

This may be a somewhat simplistic yardstick used to measure the veracity of the federal government position, but it does indicate the likelihood that Tony Abbott was spouting arrant nonsense for the benefit of the camera.

Prime Minister Abbott also made a National Security Statement on 23 February which included this sentence:

The government's Data Retention Bill – currently being reviewed by the Parliament – is the vital next step in giving our agencies the tools they need to keep Australia safe.

However, access to metadata without a warrant apparently would not have stopped the violent Martin Place siege or kept the seventeen hostages safe during their 16 hour ordeal.  

the perpetrator of this fatal siege was known to national security and police agencies for most of the eighteen years he lived in Australia;
his Internet and social media presence was being monitored and assessed;
there were at least 18 calls from members of the public to the National Security Hotline between 9 -12 December 2014 concerning the offensive nature of the content on his public Facebook page; and
with the exception of the suspension of a website and certain criminal charges before the courts, relevant authorities did not act to contain the perpetrator based on the information in their possession before 15 December 2014 because he was not considered a threat to national security.

This example places into doubt this second reason Tony Abbott recently gave for the need to implement a mass surveillance scheme.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

DATA RETENTION. Abbott v Shorten. Fascism versus the rights of the citizen?

Fascism versus the rights of the citizen? Take the time to read up on the many concerns expressed about the Abbott Government's legislation, TELECOMMUNICATIONS (INTERCEPTION AND ACCESS) AMENDMENT (DATA RETENTION) BILL 2014, which will allow it to spy on Australian citizens regardless or whether or not they are suspected of committing a crime. Then you decide whether this is a huge step too far.

Australian Prime Minster Tony Abbott's attempt to place pressure on the Opposition and the Opposition's response:

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Abbott's 'snoopers' charter continues to cause concern

Liberty Victoria has a history of campaigning for civil liberties and human rights for more than 70 years. Officially known as the Victorian Council of Civil Liberties Inc, its lineage extends back to the Australian Council for Civil Liberties (ACCL).

This is its 22 January 2015 media release:

The human rights group Liberty Victoria today called on the Federal Government to use its review of security laws to introduce a much higher threshold for access to telecommunications data and limit access to agencies directly responsible for national security and the investigation of serious crime.
 Liberty warned that the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act, which gives government agencies access to this data, is open to abuse because information can be obtained without a warrant or any independent oversight. “A full-scale campaign has been launched against similar laws in Britain, targeting the `snoopers’ charter,’ as it is known.”

The Abbott government’s proposed data retention bill, which will amend the Act, will make things worse, enabling retrospective surveillance of the private lives of ordinary Australians throughout the two year data retention period.

“The Abbott government is trying to justify this bill as a necessary tool for security agencies and the police in the fight against terrorism and serious crime. The legislation goes much further than is necessary for this purpose, however, allowing access to telecommunications data, even if the investigation only aims at non payment of a fine or a tax.

“The law now allows Australian Post, the tax office and a municipal council, among many others agencies, access to an individual’s telecommunications data. And there is no sanction if information is accessed unlawfully by authorised officers working in these agencies.”

Liberty said that in spite of  statements to the contrary by the Federal Government, the proposed data retention bill will not necessarily limit the number of agencies that have access to telecommunications data and nothing in the bill will set a higher threshold for access to such data.

Liberty echoed the view of Alistair MacDonald, QC, chairman of the English Bar Council, that one of the aims of extremists, who are willing to commit barbaric crimes in support of purportedly religious or political ends, is that the hard-won liberties of the civil population should be curtailed and a wedge driven between those in society with different views about the degree to which personal freedom should be sacrificed for public safety.
Right now the Government is proposing to introduce a mandatory, society-wide regime for the retention of communications data (‘metadata’) for two years. In the latest public hearing into the Government’s proposed legislation a number of important matters were revealed by the Attorney-General and Australia’s law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

If you weren’t paying attention to the workings of Parliament in the lead up to the festive season then you may have missed a crucial public hearing by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS), held on 17th December. This hearing delved into the Government’s proposed mandatory, society-wide data retention regime. It was a crucial hearing because from it we learned five things.

1. There remains no final definition for the data set and what exactly will or won’t be retained. In fact the hearing revealed continuing confusion about what the Government and the law enforcement and intelligence communities consider to be relevant data.

2. The Government doesn’t know how much it will cost to implement the Government’s mandatory, society-wide data retention regime, and they won’t be able to make meaningful estimates until they’ve finished defining the data set. What we do have are estimates about the costs to telcos and ISPs for implementing the regime, which the industry has already admitted will be passed on to consumers. So, you’ll end up paying more through higher connectivity charges, through your taxes, or probably both.

3. The Government and the Australian Federal Police cannot say how many times existing surveillance laws and the subsequent data collected have contributed to intercepting criminal activity or successfully prosecuting suspects.

4. There were no new details provided about the circumstances under which access to data is granted or what it will be used for. This is particularly interesting given the recent passage of laws enabling the AFP and ASIO to delete, add or change data on computers of people who are not ‘persons of interest’.

5. It was confirmed that the mandatory, society-wide data retention regime could be utilised to pursue civil legal actions, particularly copyright infringement actions, and admitted that the regime represented a security risk as personal user data would be centrally stored for two years; offering a tempting target for crackers to steal data.

For some, the public hearing confirmed our worst fears about the mandatory, society-wide data retention regime…..

What they want now is for that information to be retained for two years for ALL Australians, even if you’re not being investigated or considered a person of interest. The regime represents a massive invasion of the privacy of all Australians, while subverting a fundamental principle of our legal system – the presumption of innocence – by treating all of us as suspects.

And we the public will get the privilege of paying for it all as telcos and ISPs will pass on the costs of implementing the regime to customers. While the telcos and ISPs have been measuring the possible cost of this poor policy, the Government has yet to work out how much it will cost taxpayers to implement it.

In addition, it was confirmed during the PJCIS public hearing that the laws pave the way for the pursuit of civil legal actions, especially related to copyright infringement, but also potentially unfair dismissal and in many other contexts. This means a new threat to the public who aren’t persons of interest as ordinary Australians get caught up in civil actions because they downloaded some movies from the net….

CNet 29 January 2015:

Both Australia's largest telco and a leading digital privacy organisation have warned that mandatory data retention could create a "honeypot" of personal information that could be compromised by hackers and criminals.

The warning came at a Parliamentary Committee hearing on proposed Data Retention legislation, which is hearing from telecommunications providers, security experts and privacy advocates in Canberra today and tomorrow.

Both Telstra and digital civil liberties group Electronic Frontiers Australia have warned that requiring telecommunications providers and ISPs to store metadata on every Australian for a period of two years would create a massive cache of personal information that would need to be protected with extra security to prevent hacks.

To highlight how much more data could be retained under a mandatory scheme compared to current practices, Telstra Director of Government Relations James Shaw said that, at peak times such as New Years Eve, some data is only retained by the telco for a few hours before it is overwritten -- significantly less than the two-year period that would be required under proposed legislation…

Telstra Chief Information Security Officer Michael Burgess warned that keeping two years' worth of metadata could pique the interest of people aside from law enforcement and security agencies, and that the company "would need to take further steps" to ensure security.

"The internet is a very busy place for people that choose to do harm," he said. "We would have to put extra measures in make sure that data was safe from those that should not have access to it."

Furthermore, Burgess warned that the data retention scheme would require "new functionality" to be rolled out across Telstra's network to ensure the proper storage of the correct information. Compared to current storage methods, he argued that a new centralised system could provide an easier access point for hackers…..