To the Australian Government’s credit, it has called for public submissions and an inquiry before implementing changes to existing national security legislation. Through that process, it has found few supporters, except for the government authorities seeking more powers through the changes.
Others, including Greens Senator Scott Ludlam and Simon Frew from the Pirate Party, have deep concerns about the extent of this review, which discusses keeping telecommunications data for two years, offering access to broader sets of data from a single warrant, allowing ministerial approval for investigations and making it an offence for failing to assist in the decryption of communications.
Despite the extent of the proposed changes, there’s a fair chance most of it will soon be passed as legislation. Dr Gavin Smith, a senior lecturer in Sociology at the Australian National University in Canberra, believes that people accept surveillance as an everyday aspect of their lives.
Just as we give away more of ourselves to Facebook, perhaps we’ll happily succumb to more snooping by authorities. In fact, the Australian Tax Office wants the powers to extend further than the inquiry suggests — two years of historic data isn’t enough to satisfy their thirst for information.
I wonder what George Orwell would make of it all?