The Government wants to access your smartphone

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Draft legislation released earlier this week will give the Government power to access your smartphone data.

The laws will compel tech entities such as Facebook, Google, Apple and Telstra to hand over sensitive data when requested or else face fines of up to $10 million.

Legislation will have to be approved by Federal Parliament, and if it does, your smartphone data is effectively up for grabs any time the Government sees fit.

The laws have been proposed as part of the Turnbull Government’s crackdown on terrorism and organised crime, which use encrypted services to conduct activities currently outside of Australian spy agency and law enforcement jurisdiction.

They will target telecommunication providers, device-makers and social media entities, forcing them to disclose encrypted information on devices and social media platforms. However, it will not force them to build in a ‘back door’ for the Government to freely access data.

Such access could weaken security protocols and give hackers easy access to sensitive data.

“It’s reassuring they’re not talking back doors,” Nigel Phair, director of the NSW Canberra Cyber told “That would not be good for society.”

However, there are concerns that, given the nature of the companies being subjected to the proposed laws, there is reason to believe that international laws may excuse them from handing over data.

“How well this plays out in terms of the three stages of compliance will be another factor altogether,” said Mr Phair.

“You can put a fine on it all you like, but if these companies are domiciled off in another country it will be very difficult to enforce their compliance.”

The Government precluding ‘back door’ protocols that would weaken cyber systems should soothe opponents of the law, but many tech pundits are calling for clarification on the technical details before giving the laws the nod.

“We believe encryption is absolutely crucial to protecting Australians. So, the legalisation explicitly excludes the potential for law enforcement to ask industry to create a weakness in their encryption systems,” Cyber Security Minister Angus Taylor told the ABC.

The new laws hope to give police improved powers to fight terrorism and other crime, but there are concerns of individual rights being exploited, especially considering that any software on your phone that connects to the internet could be seen as fair game.

“Any company that writes software that could get installed on a computer connected to a network will become a ‘designated communications provider’ if you were wondering how broad ‘this not-a-backdoor legislation’ is,” warned IT expert Justin Warren on Twitter.

But Mr Phair said there are already plenty of ways for law enforcement to track your online behaviour through data analysis, it’s the actual content of your messages that they’re now after.

“There’s lots of other ways to get data, we leave digital footprints about ourselves everywhere, there’s lots of metadata out there that’s easy to get. However, content is another thing and content is difficult to get,” he said.

Under the new law, companies could be asked to help locate a suspected criminal, or to install software or equipment to help authorities gather information.


Do you see this as a breach of privacy, even if you have nothing to hide? Or are you okay with the Government having access to your messages, posts and emails? Would it be fair for the Government to access your phone if it was suspicious of you cheating the Age Pension? How far can it go before it goes too far?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca is a voracious reader who loves words. You'll often find him spending time in galleries, writing, designing, painting, drawing, or photographing and documenting street art. He has a publishing and graphic design background and loves movies and music, but then, who doesn’t?



Total Comments: 29
  1. 0

    I have a sneaking suspicion that crooked governments will use new laws to track down ANYBODY who speaks against it. We have already seen the start of this when the current bunch have talked about ‘bringing harm to the government’ and ‘bringing harm to the country’.
    The ideology appears to be to shut down any and all dissent. To do this they are harnessing fear of terrorism, etc. to masquerade their true intention.
    For those who believe ‘she’ll be right’ they may want to think carefully about this one. It will be a totally different Australia if all dissent, including media, are gagged. That’s how the start a dictatorship.

  2. 0

    Only use your smartphone for phone calls

    • 0

      No V1K1 you are already tracked by Google et al even if you attempt to turn it off in the phone systems!

      Don’t have a smartphone if you don’t want to be tracked! Use a dumb phone instead one that can only make calls and nothing else.

    • 0

      Back to the sheet of notepaper, an envelope and a stamp.

  3. 0

    India already has bully boy access to my home phone. You mean Australia wants it too?
    But Australia already did it last election with their prerecorded political messages.

    Oh you mean they want to listen in…I don’t have those kind of conversations anymore.

  4. 0

    Never give your phone number to any government request, I tell them I have no phone and or internet access, right now police are actively collecting phone numbers for their system, which tells them all your friends and location, thats why they are successful with motorcycle gangs.

  5. 0

    It doesn’t matter if it’s Turdbull and his cohort or Shorten and his, they are both puppets of the yanks

  6. 0

    If more information means that more criminals and terrorists are caught then I applaud the move. Unlike some who seem to fear additional scrutiny, I have nothing to hide.

    • 0

      Ditto Old Man, the only people to fear this proposal are those who have a need to act beyond the law, be it criminal or terror related. If I had a smartphone I personally have no objection. I see the media companies (ie Google , Apple et al) who make the claim it is infringing civil liberties are more interested in their commercial objectives rather than defeating crime or terrorism. Do we have to wait until a murderous terror attack kills dozens or hundreds of innocent people, only to find out later that if the media companies had given up the encryption secrets to law enforcement or anti-terror the attack could have been thwarted. It is almost as if these media companies choose to aid and abet crime and terror.

    • 0

      It’s a problem if they change the goal posts to label mere dissenters as criminals and/or terrorists.

    • 0

      @Edy “Do we have to wait until a murderous terror attack kills dozens or hundreds of innocent people”

      No – simply encourage all the Muslims here to leave, and don’t let any more in.

    • 0

      OM – you are echoing the propaganda from the government.
      We are not at risk of terrorism and you might want to look at the road toll and compare it with the number of Australians by terrorists. Maybe do the same with domestic violence deaths.

      I repeat what I said above: what you are repeating is scare mongering to convince people to give away their privacy so that they can be monitored. THIS IS DICTATORSHIP TERRITORY and we all need to think carefully before signing away our lives, especially to a government of any kind. For the record I don’t believe Labor is for this. Just the Coalition.
      I’m sure you are fully aware that this is all about control.

    • 0

      What an odious little man you are MICK.

    • 0

      I don’t know him, but odious or not he is speaking truth

    • 0

      roy – reading your stuff for a couple of years has made it clear you are one of the coalition stooges. If you have something of substance to say then by all means say it. If all you have is anti Labor spew then save it for party HQ. Not appreciated.

  7. 0

    I do not have the internet enabled on my smartphone. I use it for phone calls, texts, and taking photos. That way I figure I minimise the risk of being hacked, phished, and targeting by nosy government departments. If I need to do stuff on the internet, I use my laptop, which is heavily protected. Although a good hacker could always get in I guess

  8. 0

    Trust these Lieberal Big Brother bastards to do this! Solution: Just use your phone to talk to people.

    • 0

      That’s all I do Knows-a-lot but perhaps in the future if this law gets up I’ll be visited by the police to issue me with a writ for something I may have said. Who knows. The issue is that this law is BS. Suppressing citizens and the Press is how dictatorships begin. Ask Erdogen in Turkey.

  9. 0

    We often hear on this site that government isn’t doing enough to track down scammers and terrorists, the minute they try to do something everyone seems to be up in arms, you need to make up your minds, I recognise that there are some on this site that whinge constantly about the current government, and that’s their right, but how about a bit of credit we’re credit is due, I don’t ever hear any alternatives from the moaners, such is life I suppose.

  10. 0

    Government needs to be able to access data especially from suspected terrorist cells

    • 0

      control corrupts, and absolute controls corrupts absolutely, we are moving into an area where we will be very sorry, as everyone, and I mean EVERYONE will be effected if these laws go through

    • 0

      So lasaboy, what would you suggest we do to try and keep ourselves secure from those that we want to do us harm, if you can come up with a better solution I am sure there are many that will listen.

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