Updated October 9th, 2015
The Moment You’ve Been Dreading Is Here
Australia’s mandatory data retention scheme takes effect on Tuesday, October 13th. That’s when telcos and ISPs like Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone will start keeping data about your Internet and phone use for two years so they can grant government agencies warrantless access to your information.
The Australian government has allocated $131 million over the next three years to help service providers implement the scheme, although it’s not clear how these funds will be divvied up among service providers.
To add to the chaos, the cost of implementing the data retention plan could put smaller ISPs out of business. And the $131 million set aside probably won’t go very far to finance compliance across the entire industry.
The data retention regime is here, but don’t lose hope. We’re here to help. Protect your data privacy with a VPN and this kickass guide from the Pirate Party.
Hide Your IP with a VPN. Take Back Your Privacy NOW.
We believe that everyone has the right to online privacy. We don’t think that your ISP should spy on, tamper with, or give away information about what you do while you’re online.
Therefore, the mandatory metadata legislation goes against everything we believe in. It robs you of the right to decide what information you don’t mind sharing and what information you’d prefer to keep private.
But all is not lost.
Using a VPN makes it more difficult for your ISP to gather and/or share data about you.
A VPN stops your ISP from tracking, spying on, or interfering with your Internet use by:
- encrypting your traffic, so that outsiders cannot see what’s inside;
- securing your traffic, so outsiders can’t modify your traffic and
- anonymizing your traffic, so that outsiders cannot see who you’re communicating with.
If you’re not already using a VPN, the fact that your ISP may be helping your government or private corporations to spy on you should inspire you to start using one today.
While we’ve got your attention, why not sign this petition, Citizens, Not Suspects, calling for the federal government to drop the mandatory metadata retention scheme?
Everyone Hates the Data Retention Laws
We know you guys don’t like the data retention laws because you told us back in July.
We hear you loud and clear, friends. And we agree with you. We believe everyone has the right to go online privately, securely, and with freedom.
Your Rights as an Internet User Are Under Threat.
Originally posted April 27th, 2015
Last month’s mandatory metadata retention legislation is a direct threat to the online privacy rights of Australians.
The legislation requires Australian Internet service providers (ISPs) and telcos to keep data about your Internet and phone use for two years, and grants government agencies access to all this data without a warrant.
But… Isn’t It Only Metadata? Isn’t Metadata Harmless?
Metadata is information about the interactions you have with other people and organizations (i.e., websites) as you communicate with them using technology. Metadata is not the actual content of your interactions, but the information about the content.
These bits of information sound innocuous, but when you gather a lot of this data over time and cross-reference it with each other, it can paint a scarily accurate profile of you.
Examples of Metadata
- Who did you call on the phone, and when?
- Who did you email, and when?
- Which websites did you visit from which computer, and when?
- Where and when did you use your credit card?
For more information about metadata, you can read our blog post about why you should care about metadata.
Recent events in Australia have only reinforced our view that mass collection of metadata is a potentially dangerous thing.
Because while you catch up on Twitter, read your favorite blogs, stream the football finals, or chat with your granny on the telephone, your ISP and telco are collecting and storing information that can be used to build a profile about you, which can then, potentially, be used against you.
Third Parties Can Also Access Your Metadata.
But it doesn’t stop there. Around the world, many ISPs and telcos give away your metadata so third parties can spy on you, too.
For years, Verizon Wireless in the US has been altering people’s Internet traffic by injecting a Unique Identifier Header, or UIDH, into all HTTP (web) requests. This UIDH allows advertisers to tie browsing habits to unique customers as they browse unencrypted websites.
Advertisers and other big corporations aren’t the only ones taking your metadata. Government spy agencies collect metadata as part of mass surveillance programs worldwide, and often share it with spy agencies in other countries.
This unfettered access to your metadata gives ISPs, telcos, third parties, and government agencies power that we don’t believe they deserve.
Because how do you know a spy agency might not target you based on a profile they’ve created about you from metadata they’ve gathered from you without your consent?
You don’t. This is the stuff of nightmares.
- Why we should all be paying attention to metadata surveillance (ExpressVPN)
- Internet Privacy Guides (ExpressVPN)
- Mandatory metadata retention becomes law as Coalition and Labor combine (Daniel Hurst, The Guardian)
- A chilling step closer to Australian secret police (Jonathan Holmes, The Age)
- Citizens, not suspects – petition (GetUp!)