Last week, Edward Snowden tweeted that “surveillance is not about safety, it’s about power. It’s about control.” that many of us questioned as the metadata retention laws came into effect. Even before the introduction of this surveillance, throughout our explorations of the internet, every footstep we have taken has been recorded, the difference is back then we didn’t know by whom. Now, there is a face behind it, an intent and purpose as every click, enter or refresh is aggregated and stored. This data might never see the light of day, but the reality is as long as it is stored, it will always have the potential to be seen and controlled in a centralised database. No matter what the data is, it is far cheaper to gather it all than filter through it (Mitew, 2014).
The walls around the internet and our use of it are beginning to feel taller, and the world inside it is shrinking. I don’t mean it’s shrinking in size, I mean it is shrinking in where we can go and what we can do. Like one generation of children exploring their neighbourhood, their limitations were once when the street-lights came on, and their mother demanded they be home before nightfall. Now, there is a generation who have barely stepped out of their street without supervision.
Knowing there are these eyes on our backs, our internet world feels a lot smaller in terms of our freedom, and you wonder how these retention laws will benefit anybody when they have been abolished everywhere else and ruled unconstitutional. In some elements, perhaps this retention law is needed in order to expose and dismantle the actual targets, such as hacker organisations like LulzSec. How does a lack of data retention hamper investigations and prevented perpetrators from being brought to justice? Or is Australia’s intention simply as Edward Snowden puts forward, weighing control,power over safety, privacy and freedom?
References & Further Readings
Mitew, T 2014, Dark Fiber: Hackers, Botnets, Cyberwar [Part 1], Online Video, YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNRjkVVYOzE&list=PLiPp71qLKusXOU1bKxHVappCbRNN3-J-j&index=39
Arthur, C (2013) ‘LulSec: what they did, who they were and how they were caught’, The Guardian, http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/may/16/lulzsec-hacking-fbi-jail
Metadata retention: what is it and how might it impact whistleblowers in media and politics? http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-03-17/metadata-data-retention-what-is-it/6324962
Australian Government, Data Retention Frequently Asked Questions https://www.ag.gov.au/NationalSecurity/DataRetention/Pages/Frequentlyaskedquestions.aspx
5 Massive Problems With Australia’s Metadata Retention Regime, Bogle, A (2015) http://mashable.com/2015/10/12/australia-meta-data-problems/#.LAxpVPFjiqO