Framing our response to Data Retention

TL;DR: I think we need to reframe the way we think about and talk about security to everyone around us, including the media, by embracing the word “cyber”. Importantly:

  • That Data Retention is making us vulnerable to cyber attackers by creating honeypots. If the media can understand the word “honeypot” then we can win the argument.
  • That Data Retention is making the country less safe against cyber terrorism and cyber warfare, including from China.
  • That Tor is a security tool to protect us against cyber attack.

There’s more in the video, but basically I hope we embrace this way of communicating the message so that people understand that their safety is at stake and Abbott & Brandis are making it worse.

EDIT: Specifically, we haven’t mentioned any of these issues in our first media release. I hope we can start talking about them in more depth as we go forwards.


A couple of unrelated thoughts I do not believe I have seen elsewhere regarding the current hot-topic of “metadata”:

  1. When one reads of ethical studies involving real-life data sources much is made of “anonymising” the base data. How? By removing the metadata of course! What does that say about the traceability of said quantities?
  2. Has it occurred to anyone that the routing data one feeds to a modern “smart” missile (e.g. GPS coordinates) just happens to be the “metadata” attached to (say) a JPEG image? Give me access to two years of a person’s metadata and I can probably give you a pretty good firing solution on the mouse living in their kitchen wall…

Sarcasm aside, of course,

We kill people based on Metadata

  • General Michael Hayden, former director of the NSA and the CIA

Well, here is a copy of my own personal letter to my local representative:

Dear Philip Ruddock,

I am writing to you as one of your local constituents, because I have been viewing, with some alarm, the plans that have been loosely described for data retention in Australia.

There are so many things wrong with this approach, that it is hard to know where to start and I don’t really expect you are going to read this, but I am going to try anyway.

I hear ASIO and Police representatives saying things like “I’m amazed that people so easily give away their private details for a better deal with some private business, but object when we want to do the same to save their lives.” I’m paraphrasing a bit, but that is the usual gist.

There is a very clear answer to that and you really need to understand it.
It’s about power and intentions.

Private businesses have limited power over us as citizens, we expect them to be subject to limitations imposed by law and their intentions are clear. They want to sell us stuff.

Governments on the other hand, have absolute power over us, write their own laws and have armed forces at their disposal. Their intentions are rarely clear and they have a long history of lying, secrecy and corruption.

These are significant differences, but how about we do a deal.
First make all meta-data on all of the communications of all of the politicians available online to all of the citizens of this country for a year or two and see how it goes. That should be fine, because surely, you have nothing to hide.
If that works out, then maybe I’ll feel happier with my metadata being captured also.

Yours sincerely,
Andrew Downing
(Australian Citizen and Voter).