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Twitter hosted a storm, well a flash flood (#ozlog), yesterday when ZDNet published a story about the Australian Governments supposed discussions with various ISP's and industry bodies about 'data retention' as breaking news. I want to make a few things very clear here;

  • I'm against filtering the internet or tracking peoples activity of any kind*
  • I was a Director of the Internet Industry Association(IIA) for six years (2004-2010)
  • I'm not speaking on behalf of the IIA or anyone else, these are my thoughts
  • I firmly believe that all industry parties involved in this have 'done the right thing'
  • This is not breaking news if you've been paying attention to privacy issues on the net.

To many in the industry this is far from breaking news, in fact discussions of this type can be seen back as far as 2003, maybe earlier. The current Labour govenment doesn't have a monopoly on internet filtering and tracking.

To quote a colleague, "Google is your friend", go do the research and find out for yourself. As an example the IIA put out a news release in July 2003 'IIA Releases Draft Cybercrime Code of Practice' which talked about 'rights and responsibilities of Internet Service Providers in meeting their enforcement co-operation obligations, while preserving, to the full extent the law, the sanctity of their customers' personal information'. IIA CEO Peter Coroneos was quoted "we have been at pains to strike what we are convinced is a reasonable balance".

In the ZDNet article even Electronic Frontier Australia (EFA) chair Colin Jacobs said "At some point data retention laws can be reasonable, .." So whilst to some of those following me or the #ozlog hashtag on Twitter yesterday it may have sounded like I was defending policy like this, I wasn't, it's shit policy. But I was slightly annoyed that uninformed commentators were blowing up like this actually was news. Part of this annoyance came from the fact that we, that is the people that have been fighting this for years, could have done with some support well before now.

What I'd say to anyone pitching in on this debate is to do the research first, sure read online 'news' about this, but please go ahead and do some proper research before you start contributing online otherwise you're just making more uninformed noise. So in summary it's not noise or poorly researched news we need, it's organised communities online and offline that governments will listen to.

So what should you do? Join the EFA, IIA or your preferred industry body, get involved and make a difference, don't just blow up today and blow away tomorrow, your privacy needs you.

Published: June 12th 2010 at 10:12am

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