Thursday, August 23, 2012

Cybercrime amendment a shadow of “#Ozlog”

It’s like this: I don’t like it when people who consider themselves the “good guys” spread misinformation, apparently believing that it’s okay if it’s “for the cause”.

1.     The bill isn’t the same as the National Security Inquiry

Either because they’ve confused two government activities, or deliberately, some have conflated the Cybercrime Amendment Bill 2011 with the National Security Inquiry.

The NatSec Inquiry – which does include proposals for broad-scale data retention – never got as far as presenting even draft legislation: it’s reportedly been put on ice (although Nicola Roxon, Attorney-General, hasn't made a statement to that effect).

The Cybercrime Amendment Bill has, on the other hand, been in the pipeline since 2011.

2.     Why weren’t we consulted?

Some journalists and commentators have complained that there wasn’t a public consultation. There was: they’ve just forgotten it, because it took place in 2011 – or they took no notice of it anyhow.

3.     It’s not warrantless surveillance

Unlike whatever as-yet-undrafted proposals that may arise from the National Security Inquiry, the Cybercrime Amendment Bill doesn’t allow law enforcement to get information without a warrant.

The bill allows them to request storage, either covering someone’s communications for a single day, or communications for 30 days. Enforcement can only see the stored information if it gets a warrant – if it can’t get the warrant, the storage request expires and the data can no longer be held.

4.     If I’m defending the Act I must support it, right?


I like debates to work with the facts.

People who take misinformation into a political debate are fools, because they’re handing a get-out-of-jail-free card to their opponents. Someone – say, Nicola Roxon – gets to focus on correcting the misinformation, and doesn’t have to spend as much time explaining, justifying or defending the reality.

The National Security Inquiry will be revived. It will improve everybody’s debating position if they learn to work with facts rather than exaggerations and urban myths.

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