It’s getting to the end of the first week of #NET102. There’s so much reading (which is great) and fellow students have been posting such interesting information regarding the question we were asked by our tutors below. I can see this is going to be an enjoyable unit, but I must be disciplined!
“What controversies have you come across involving the Internet and its applications, for instance, issues in the way a service is provided or the terms of agreement, crime, privacy, and so forth? Discuss the political and economic dimensions as well as the impact of community and identity formations in your examples.”
Gosh! So many examples!
The biggest controversy that leapt to my mind when reading this question was the proposed (now enacted) legislation surrounding national security and data retention. I think the National Security Amendments Bill (the first of many, according to our Attorney-General, George Brandis) permits more surveillance, increased penalities on the press (for merely performing as journalists should), and an increasingly ignorant electorate.
The amendments included:
- a provision that ASIO can spy on an undetermined number of computers, potentially the whole internet, with a single search warrant
- provisions that enable Australia’s spy agencies to collaborate with one another more (breaches of privacy can be shared with others with ease)
- greater penalties for those who reveal ASIO officer identities or release secret documents
This was the first in a series of Bills set to be altered in the name of National Security to give Government, law enforcement and spy agencies more power to spy, surveil and collect information effortlessly and without obstruction. For people accessing the internet from home, privacy shouldn’t be an expectation.
In late October, another bill, trying to tackle mandatory data retention (another contentious piece of proposed legislation) has been introduced to the federal parliament as well.
These bills are pernicious in nature (in my humble opinion). They affect freedom of speech, the right to know and can potentially violate one’s privacy. Some have argued that we’re getting closer to the existence of “a police state” because of such legislation. As for the financial cost to the community, that information has yet to be openly divulged in the Senate Estimates (as far as I’m aware).
Personally, it raises more concerns about my online identity and how I act on the internet. I see another layer of self-censorship being added to my online practices – not because I have anything to fear per se, but because there are some things that I do that could be taken the wrong way in a variety of contexts. For example, my father was Egyptian and my mother, Chilean. My name is Arabic, my father was a Muslim and my mother escaped Pinochet’s coup in Chile in 1973. I have left-wing tendencies, having attended marxist and socialist political and philosophical discussions in the past. Could these laws target me at some stage for having revolutionary, insurgent or suspicious tendencies in the eyes of ASIO and the government? Judging from world history, I don’t think that Australia is immune to these possibilities with such laws in place. (I’ll probably pay for expressing this one day too.)
Griffiths, E. (2014). Federal Government introduces legislation for controversial data retention plan. Retrieved from http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-10-30/turnbull-introduces-data-retention-bill-to-parliament/5853156