Private data no more

News has broken this morning that an alleged Canadian spy sold classified Australian intelligence documents to Russian agents.

The scale of the illegal disclosure is vast. Comparisons have been made to the huge numbers of military documents US Army Private Bradley Manning allegedly handed over to WikiLeaks.

This obviously raises serious concerns about the Australian government’s ability to keep important data secure.

And it’s not the first time the government has had major issues with confidential information.

A 2006 study into Centrelink found 800 cases of illegal snooping by 100 staff.

Over the three year period from 2008-2010 1000 Medicare employees were investigated for spying on personal information.

And there are probably many cases of government misuse and mismanagement of private information that are simply never reported.

But even in the face of examples like these the Attorney General’s department still thinks it’s a good idea to make ISPs effective wards of the state: forcing them to log every site we visit, every Facebook and Twitter message we send and receive.

There are already a number of reasons why we should be suspicious of the government’s proposed data retention regime. The numerous cases of bureaucrats mishandling our private data should make us even more sceptical of these draconian internet surveillance proposals.

We simply can’t trust them with our private data.


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