Australian government will soon have the power to monitor the entire Australian Internet with just one warrant, journalists and bloggers will face up to 10 years’ jail for disclosing classified information.
This also gives ASIO immunity for criminal and civil liability in certain circumstances. Many, including lawyers and academics, have said they fear the agency will abuse this power.
New Australian Internet Laws Could Put You In Jail
Laws and legislation around computer security are often evolving in order to protect individual and national security. This article will look at recently updated Australian laws and regulations and provide an overview of their impact on the general Internet user. This information was sourced from official government sites, news media sites and the information pages of Internet security companies like Your Digital File.
National Security Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2014
This bill amends legislation around national security, including:
– Increased protection for law enforcement officers who break the law in the course of major intelligence operations
– An increase to maximum jail terms (up to 10 years) for anyone – agents, blogger, journalist or otherwise – who shares details of secret operations
– Providing security agencies with increased access to computers, computer systems and computer networks, and
– Increased collaboration between Australia’s intelligence and security organisations
Generally, the majority of amendments in this bill will only affect personnel directly involved in security and intelligence organisations. There is the concern that amendments relating to the second point could be used to punish journalists and media outlets that publish stories relating to Australia’ security activities, limiting news media’s ability to undertake investigative reporting.
The major concern for the general Internet user is around point three. The legislation gives the authorities the right to access an individual or business’s computer, network or system – the email server, for example – if they believe it could be used to gain access to a person of interest. This raises many legitimate concerns about data security and integrity, and is a very real reminder that online activities are never guaranteed to be private.
The general public should also be aware that two further amendments are planned which would cover:
– Greater scrutiny of Australian citizens that travel to countries deemed to have high levels of terror-related activity (e.g. Syria and Iraq), and
– The storage of user’s personal information, billing data and other information by Internet service providers (ISPs).
iCode – Internet Industry Code of Practice
The Internet Service Providers Voluntary Code Of Practice For Industry Self-Regulation In The Area Of Cyber Security (or iCode for short) is a set of industry regulations that sets standards for how ISPs inform, educate and protect consumers in relation to cyber security risks. iCode has been around since 2010, but was updated in August 2014 to recognise the increase in botnets.
– Botnets are malware-infected computers that form networks over the Internet. These computers work together to distribute spam and malware, host phishing sites and coordinate denial of service attacks, often without the knowledge of the computer’s owner or user.
iCode now provides ISPs with a uniform approach to recognising computers that are part of botnets. There is also a new standard for providing information to affected users on how to remove the threat. This coordinated approach by ISPs provides Internet users with greater confidence in the general health of their online environment.
However, the general public should also be aware that under the changed regulations, ISPs have committed to providing the State or Federal Police with the information of any customers they believe are using their infrastructure for criminal activity.
The legislative and regulatory environment around the Internet is constantly evolving. The everyday Internet user should always be aware that while improvements are being made to the overall environment, the increase in security often come at the cost of individual privacy.
As I always say on Women Love Tech’s blog and social media, be smart, play by the rules with the Internet and don’t ignore the law.