Sometimes it feels as if leaders — or at least the courts — of free democracies are waking up and backing off demands that citizens give up more and more of their privacy. And then you hear what’s going on in Australia.
“Large amounts of telecommunications metadata must now be kept for two years by Australian telecommunications companies, under a new law which came into effect on Tuesday,” the BBC reported.
The goal of the new law is to make sure the government has much quicker access to this data. The United States’ National Security Agency, as revealed in the Snowden leaks, took this sort of surveillance a step further and did the “bulk collection” of data itself. The USA Freedom Act has mandated a system that is pretty similar to what just went into effect in Oz.
At least, Australia is being transparent about this mass data capture, making the classic argument that metadata is just like the information on the outside of the letter and not actual content. This is true — but there is certainly a lot of information that can be gleaned about your life through metadata.
The biggest irony of this development is that this legislation was backed by current Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull earlier this year when he was Communications Secretary. He argues it’s necessary to prevent domestic terrorism.
But Turnbull also understands the value of encryption. In March he admitted that he uses encrypted apps to communicate because he cares about his privacy.
Protecting your private data is essential — even when you don’t have institution that possesses a monopoly on state power possibly able to call up your metadata at will. Using a VPN that encrypts your data is good online security and privacy hygiene regardless of the laws in your country. Our Freedome app also gives you the ability to block trackers and prevent geo-blocking.
But you should be like Prime Minister Turnbull and not expect others to protect your privacy. Encrypt everything.
[Image by ITU Pictures | Flickr]
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February 28, 2018