Sitting in an office in the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation’s Soviet-style building, which mirrors the Orwellian bunker one might imagine, Australia’s most experienced spy master, David Irvine, has a lot on his mind as he gazes over Lake Burley Griffin.
Irvine, the director-general of ASIO, knows Australian business and the government are engaged in a new, and irreversible, “cold cyberwar”, which the Americans have designated as the fifth and most uncertain defence domain.
Great intro – good points made throughout the whole piece too. But … I am not entirely convinced. We read
The Chinese were fingered in the hacking of Barack Obama’s and John McCain’s computers in the 2008 US presidential election campaign. In 2011 they allegedly penetrated the parliamentary email systems of 10 Australian federal ministers, including Prime Minister Julia Gillard, and compromised emails belonging to the European Union President and his advisers.
Okay – that is very naughty and I expect the appropriate authorities to deal with that. What do ASIO want?
To protect business, ASIO supports Parliament introducing national security legislation making changes to four laws which would require telephone companies and internet service providers to store for at least two years basic information, such as the type, time, duration and identifiers of messages. ASIO’s concern is that the data, which is the minimum it says it needs to investigate threats, is being discarded by smaller telecommunication companies.
Civil libertarians argue the changes would be an unjustified invasion of privacy and raise the spectre of a security state.
Really? So storing Australian phone details will stop the Chinese from hacking the Prime Minister’s email? How does that work? A foreign power poses a credible threat to national security (I can accept that proposition) and in response the authorities want to spy on their own citizens (that’s the bit I’m struggling with).