Rather than talk about the FBI’s desire to patrol the Internet backbone, have your laptop searched without warrant or any particular reason when facing US Customs officers, or Microsoft’s Computer Online Forensic Evidence Extractor (COFEE), I want to quickly talk about the Australian government’s desire to give law enforcement and corporate IT the power to monitor and inspect any and all electronic employee communications. What is most concerning is that it continues an Australian trend to insert American attitudes into common-law.
Terrorism Down Under
I don’t want to come off seeming as though I think terrorism is a small or unimportant issue. It’s not – terrorism is a very real issue, and it has incredible financial and human costs. That said, whenever someone mentions either children or terrorism as a justification for a new piece of legislation that would dramatically extend the surveillance powers of public and private actors, I immediately want to know just how invasive those new powers might be. Whereas Australian law presently only allows security companies and those dealing with the government to survey communications without permission, after a four year fight to revise the Telecommunications Interceptions Act the government may be successful in extending those surveillance powers. If the amendments are passed, all corporate IT groups will be able to survey employees’ digital communciations. The government’s reason for extending the surveillance powers is that, by monitoring workers’ emails, it will be possible to stop/deploy coercion towards those who would;
attack to disable computer networks that sustained the financial system, stock exchange, electricity grid and transport system “[and would consequently] reap far greater economic damage than would be the case of a physical [terrorist] attack”. (Source)