Telecommunications companies are leading the backlash against new federal legislation that would see governments given the discretion to request individuals’ data.
The proposed changes to the Telecommunications Act will force companies to increase protection to networks, and give the Federal Government the ability to intervene in the case of a perceived security risk.
The changes also allow for the Attorney-General to “give directions to a carrier or a carriage service provider in circumstances involving a risk to security,” essentially meaning that the Attorney-General can, without oversight, request action be taken against individuals.
Some organisations, including Telstra, have called the legislation heavy-handed, intrusive and an unprecedented attack on the privacy of consumers.
They also say it could contribute to higher costs for network subscribers.
Laurie Patton, CEO of Internet Australia, believes this will definitely be the case, as forcing Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to move to government-approved servers will directly impact on the amount of money people will pay.
“Many ISPs create their own so-called ‘white-boxes’ that perform the same function as far more expensive equipment from the big IT vendors,” Mr Patton told The Newsroom.
“Forcing them to move to government-approved vendors will therefore undoubtedly lead to increased costs being passed on to consumers.”
The laws would also make it an obligation for telcos to hand over any information or documents that the Attorney-General’s office would request for an unspecified amount of time.
Mr Patton also claimed that Australia’s internet community is losing trust in the Abbott Government and believes that people are turning against the control the government now has over the web.
“Apart from adding costs that will be passed on to consumers, there is a risk that people will lose trust in what is supposed to be an open and accessible internet if it appears that the government is now interfering and taking too much control,” Mr Patton said.
“We maintain that there is much more to agree about than to argue over when it comes to our future economic prosperity.” – Benjamin Potter
Top photo from Indigo Skies Photography’s Flickr photostream.