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Aussie Tax Office Wants Phone Tapping, Data Retention

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the should-five-percent-appear-too-small-be-thankful-i-don't-take-it-all dept.

Australia 46

schliz writes "The Australian Taxation Office has called for phone-tapping powers while backing a controversial proposal to force telcos to store web traffic and subscriber data for up to two years. It said such data may be crucial to investigations, with the Commissioner of Taxation previously explaining that the connection between criminals and their finances made them 'especially vulnerable to revenue collection agencies, because of the ability to identify the discrepancy between their wealthy lifestyle and modest tax declarations.' The Tax Office's statements come after this week's passage of new legislation that will allow law enforcement agencies to force internet service providers to store data on subscribers while an official warrant is sought."

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Wire tapping (3, Interesting)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 2 years ago | (#41111699)

A little here, a little there... Pretty soon it becomes a real issue. If the cops can't get you, there's always the department of internal revenue to take up the slack.

Re:Wire tapping (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41112321)

Hence: bitcoin...

Re:Wire tapping (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41112965)

Bitcoin is not anonymous. Thinking it is means you are delusional, or too naiive to read on the technology.

What does Bitcoin give you? Good luck finding someone who will convert to and from a currency that people actually take, and a place that does will tack an insane premium like 10-20%.

BitCoin served one purpose... to allow the people who entered on early to mine coins while the mining was good, then to just sit back as the availability diminishes, or just sell out and go somewhere else. Great scheme.

Re:Wire tapping (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41113365)

Gee, you're a polite motherfucker...

Bitcoin is anonymous if you care to make it so - it's quite do-able.

Bitcoin just bought me a new car. So I guess you're "too naiive to read on the technology." I certainly haven't had any difficulty with the technology. And I exchange at MtGox: including what they charge and what my bank charges for ACH transfers, I pay about $42/1000, or 4.2%. Not 10-20%. And I can do that in any currency they handle, sent to any bank in the world (often for less than 4%). Out, damned moneychangers! ...and not too bright, either.

Too late to the party, hmmm?

Re:Wire tapping (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41116439)

Bitcoin is pseudonymous, not anonymous. If you don't know the difference and how it can't bite you, please go ahead.

Re:Wire tapping (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41119111)

Pseudonymous out of the box, yes. But as I said, anonymous "if you care to make it so". Pay attention, hmmm?

Re:Wire tapping (2)

JaneTheIgnorantSlut (1265300) | about 2 years ago | (#41112343)

Just ask Al Capone.

Re:Wire tapping (1)

quenda (644621) | more than 2 years ago | (#41119869)

I'd prefer getting wiretaps on the ATO to find out why they are not persuing the blatent tax-dodging of large corporations like Microsoft, Google and Ikea, who report almost no profit in Australia, and massive profits in obscure tax havens.

Re:Wire tapping (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#41112527)

As my friends would say, "Why are you so bitter? They are just trying to Do their job and they don't need you making it harder for them by criticizing their decisions! They are doing the best to protect us from threats." NOTE: I do not agree with my friends. I think cops need to stop spying on me, just waiting to arrest me if I download a naked 17 year old photo (which isn't even illegal but they still arrest people anyway).

Re:Wire tapping (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41113089)

NOTE: I do not agree with my friends.

With all the bitching and moaning we hear regarding your "friends", why are you friends with them?

Re:Wire tapping (1)

mk1004 (2488060) | about 2 years ago | (#41116113)

I agree, downloading a photo that's 17 years old is not illegal.

The power to tax includes (5, Insightful)

Compaqt (1758360) | about 2 years ago | (#41111791)

the power to destroy [google.com]

Each governmental agency thinks it's an entity unto itself. Everything depends on this one agency. Every right and freedom must be subjugated to meeting the agency's goal.

Whether it's taxation, "homeland" security, child protection, consumer protection, cops, military, unions or any number of other things, everybody wants their agency to figure first in citizen's lives.

It's time for people to stand up for the principle that government may only exercise those powers expressly granted to it. All other powers are reserved to the people.

Re:The power to tax includes (3, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about 2 years ago | (#41111839)

It's time for people to stand up for the principle that government may only exercise those powers expressly granted to it. All other powers are reserved to the people.

Not everybody's Constitution (or equivalent) says the same thing.

That's not actually true everywhere. And, for practical purposes, it's not true anywhere any more.

Re:The power to tax includes (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about 2 years ago | (#41112109)

The purpose of a constitution is to expressly grant certain powers to the government and to deny it any powers not so granted. I fully understand that politicians have been working for years to suppress such an understanding among the general public. The existence of such a constitution is what distinguishes between whether the people are citizens or subjects (I am currently unaware of any countries where the people are not subjects).

Re:The power to tax includes (3, Interesting)

gstoddart (321705) | about 2 years ago | (#41112237)

I fully understand that politicians have been working for years to suppress such an understanding among the general public.

they don't even need to suppress the understanding, they just need the courts to back them on some of these things.

In America, there's Free Speech Zones, the Fourth Amendment is apparently optional in many states, warrant-less wiretapping. All sorts of crap.

Pretty much wherever you go, copyright law trumps everything (and is part of the push for the data retention), "think of the children" gives people reason to bypass all sorts of laws, and terrorism bypasses pretty much anything else.

These things are being eroded fairly constantly. This is just another example of an organization trying to say why their needs should trump any other considerations.

I'm just not sure anymore how much getting the citizenry pissed off would actually accomplish. Overall, we're becoming less free over time. Unless they take away TV, I can't imagine enough people getting angry enough to do something about it.

Copyright takes away TV (1)

tepples (727027) | about 2 years ago | (#41112311)

Pretty much wherever you go, copyright law trumps everything [...] Unless they take away TV, I can't imagine enough people getting angry enough

Then we have to somehow make the public understand that copyright law gives copyright owners the power to take away TV.

Re:The power to tax includes (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about 2 years ago | (#41113209)

However, those things happened because people accepted the idea that the government can do these things. Actually, they more than accepted it, they came to expect it. We see it on here on many issues. Take network neutrality. Tell people that the FCC does not have the statutory authority to implement it and they respond, "They're the Federal Communication Commission. If they don't have the authority to regulate that, who does?" It never occurs to them that Administrative bodies only have the authority that Congress delegated to them, let alone that there might be powers that the government does not/should not have. As I said parenthetically at the end of my comment, the U.S. population have become subjects, they are no longer truly citizens.

Re:The power to tax includes (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 2 years ago | (#41114961)

Actually, they more than accepted it, they came to expect it.

They demand it. It is very easy to tickle the g-spot of fascism in all of us. The psychology of the mob is a well understood science. And it is a science, as it is easily reproducible, in and out of the lab.

Re:The power to tax includes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41119425)

I can't speak of the US but, in Canada, the courts factor public opinion and values into decisions. A populace protesting in the streets can significantly influence a verdict.

Re:The power to tax includes (1)

quenda (644621) | more than 2 years ago | (#41119887)

The purpose of a constitution is to expressly grant certain powers to the government and to deny it any powers not so granted.

No! The purpose of the constitution is to expressly grant certain powers to the federal government, and leave others to the states and the Crown.
Which country did you think we were talking about here?

Re:The power to tax includes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41112155)

It's time for people to stand up for the principle that government may only exercise those powers expressly granted to it. All other powers are reserved to the people.

That might be true in Australia, but here in the US, we handed all powers over to our government. It was all for our protection you know.

Re:The power to tax includes (0, Flamebait)

roman_mir (125474) | about 2 years ago | (#41112347)

Each governmental agency thinks it's an entity unto itself.

- yes, and another wrong belief that many hold is that government is productive, that it can create something. It cannot. If government could create, it wouldn't need taxes to be extracted from the people. It is the people, the individuals that create, government takes it and does something with it, most often it ends up using the stolen resources to destroy.

Wars are ran by governments, don't forget that. Wars destroy. Governments run wars and kill people. They kill millions of people. No private entity ever killed anywhere near close to any number of people that governments kill. Governments murder people and steal their property, that's the point. That is why governments must be understood to be inherently evil in nature. Governments are concentration of power and the power that concentrated is not used for anything good, it's always used for evil. Governments are inherently evil.

Now, it's possible to argue that people must have government and use that inherent evil in order to make sure that it is the evil that is controlled. The controlled evil. There is one thing that people really need governments to do - make sure that they are there, so that a more evil thing does not become the government.

Government must have authority to do something and it must not be allowed to take a single step beyond that authority. If you do not explicitly state that the government has any other authority, it must not be allowed to do whatever it is it just wants to do.

The evil that inherent in government power wants to be unleashed. There are many people who want to go be part of a government so that they can unleash that evil. If you let them do it, you will all be subjugated to the people who will hold that power over you.

Re:The power to tax includes (2)

Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) | about 2 years ago | (#41112399)

Each governmental agency thinks it's an entity unto itself.

- yes, and another wrong belief that many hold is that government is productive, that it can create something. It cannot...

Remind me to thank the magical gnomes who created the interstate highway system in the U.S. It sure does make getting around easier.

Re:The power to tax includes (0)

roman_mir (125474) | about 2 years ago | (#41112455)

You are blind to the obvious, which is that so much was destroyed and stolen in order to create that system of subsidised and controlled interstate highways, a system that is not built in order maximise efficiencies in the market. The rail that was maximising the efficiencies in the market was destroyed by the government, while it used the stolen resources to buy the tools, products and knowledge necessary from the individuals to put together that interstate highway system.

Interstate highway system in USA includes H1 (Hawaii), exactly what is 'interstate' about it? Nothing, it's not about communications, it's not about efficiencies, it's about control, subjugation of the individual freedoms by controlling those freedoms with this hammer that is hanging over the heads of the people.

How much was stolen from the people, what projects did not take place, what business was crowded out by all that credit and money that government extracted from the economy to put together this system of control over the individuals?

What happened to the environment, as the people used this supposedly 'free' resource and how did it play into the urban sprawl, that makes US living standard non-viable once the subsidies are gone? What about the pollution created by all these subsidised highways and thus all that traffic? The impossibility of having a profitable private mass transit system in such an environment is obvious.

How much productivity is stolen from the economy every year to run this monstrosity that was built as a giant make work project?

Nothing that is worth doing is worth doing by stealing.

Re:The power to tax includes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41112627)

Interstate highway system in USA includes H1 (Hawaii), exactly what is 'interstate' about it?

The "system" part.

Re:The power to tax includes (1)

greggem (1044620) | more than 2 years ago | (#41136373)

Remind me to thank the magical gnomes who created the interstate highway system in the U.S. It sure does make getting around easier.

Don't forget to thank the magical gnomes who created the interstate highway syste... Wait a second! Those gnomes were paid by their leprechaun overseers with gold mined by hardworking dwarves like me. They show up, take our gold by force, hire some gnomes on our dime and that's productive? That's (drum-roll, please) highway robbery!

Re:The power to tax includes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41114401)

Are you an anarchist?

I'm confused by what you expect government to do. I, personally, like roads and sewers.

Of course, taxes were required to build those.

Rather than a polemic-filled rant about "good and evil", perhaps you could define exactly where you expect these services to begin and end.

I gather you have a bit of an issue in very vague understanding of exactly the services provided that you value and where they come from. An enormous majority of the comfort of your life comes from having a good government.

It's also a uniquely American view. One of the primary mottos of commonwealth countries such as New Zealand, Australia and Canada, for example is "peace, order and good government".

These are really, at the heart, what people want in their lives.

Plus, your post is full of silly fallacious phrases that mean nothing other than having emotional trigger words in them. Standing there and emoting all over the place doesn't prove any points.

If government could create, it wouldn't need taxes to be extracted from the people.

If businesses could create, they wouldn't need to charge money. Eh?

Governments are concentration of power and the power that concentrated is not used for anything good

Corporations are a concentration of power.

Partnerships are a concentration of power.

City councils are a concentration of power.

Tribunals are a concentration of power.

Military hierarchies are a concentration of power.

You seriously think we would get around to doing anything other than banging each other over the head with coconuts if we don't have some sort of structure in place? I'm sorry, observe what happens to countries after a disaster of other government collapse. Massive starvation, disease, poverty, recession.

Government is not the answer for everything, but this post is INSANE.

Re:The power to tax includes (-1, Troll)

roman_mir (125474) | about 2 years ago | (#41115023)

I'm confused by what you expect government to do. I, personally, like roads and sewers.

- roads and sewers must not be under government's purview, they are none of government's business. They are purely a function of a market supply/demand for the purposes of increasing efficiency.

Gov't must exist to ensure that a worse one does not take its place, that's the role that must be allocated to the government. Gov't must exist to protect individual freedoms, and when I say 'protect freedoms', I do mean protect freedoms of individuals from government stealing those freedoms.
Gov't does have a role in national defence, that must be its only real authorised role.

An enormous majority of the comfort of your life comes from having a good government

- pointing out things that exist because money was stolen is easy, pointing out that the money was stolen and because of it many things do not exist is hard. The comforts in my life have nothing to do with having 'good government', first of all if you want to be personal about it - I was born in the former USSR, the government was the biggest obstacle people had to their lives there. But today this unfortunate trend is spread around the world like a wildfire.

These are really, at the heart, what people want in their lives.

- what people want is meaning, and no meaning comes out of government, people get their meaning when they find something they are good at. Today people have much less ability to find what they are good at, since they are prevented from even trying early on with all the government that exists.

If businesses could create, they wouldn't need to charge money. Eh?

- businesses do create money, they make money, it's the only real money that is created - money that is created as a result of production.

You are talking about currency, just a form of exchange of money between trading partners. All trade is done for things, not for paper cash. All fiat currencies that ever existed and will ever exist have failed and will fail, the only real money is production and the only stable medium of exchange, store of value and unit of account is gold.

Corporations are a concentration of power.

- that's a meaningless statement, corporations do not have the type of power that governments do over people. Corporations are businesses that you can choose to deal with or to deal with their competitors or not at all.

Partnerships are a concentration of power.

- same thing as other forms of business, partnership does not have power over you, you are dealing with it voluntarily.

Government has legislative means that companies do not, since you don't understand that simple concept, I don't think I can help you much.

Mod parent up insightful (1)

CuteSteveJobs (1343851) | more than 2 years ago | (#41118569)

Whoever tagged the above post flamebait needs their mod privs revoked *bad*.

Re:The power to tax includes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41118241)

I think just about everybody thinks that, unfortunately our government has made it clear that either you obey, or they use violence on you. So the elephant in the room is that our government and its executive branch is abusive, illegal, and not worthy of trust, but its business as usual because the weaker minded people or paid shills will police you into compliance.

There you go. I summed it up. Too many new vehicles in driveways and quarter million dollar mortgages for property you don't truly own for anything to change.

Grab you popcorn and watch it all go to shit, we're just passing through anyway.

Phone-Tapping the Tax Office? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41111807)

Not having RTFA, or even RTFS, is he saying that we should be phone-tapping the Australian Tax Office and enforcing Data Retention on everything their employees and managers do? After all, "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?"

If not, maybe it should! The phrase "You first" applies in droves.

Time for democracy? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41112159)

These controversial types of things would never happen if Australia was actually a democratic country with enlightened and informed citizens rather than a totalitarian police state that has become corrupt beyond any imagination and full of people who simply do not care about what's going on.

Reasonable? (1)

symes (835608) | about 2 years ago | (#41112205)

The Tax Office's statements come after this week's passage of new legislation that will allow law enforcement agencies to force internet service providers to store data on subscribers while an official warrant is sought

This seems reasonable, so long as there is some transparency and judicial oversight. They also want to bring in powers similar to those already in Europe where data is held for two years. Again, so long as these data are not subject to data mining to catch crooks and would-be crooks, plus with judicial oversight to insure that data requests are reasonable, this again seems fairly reasonable. If there are reasonable grounds to believe someone is acting illegally then I have no problem with authorities keeping a close eye on them. I just don't get the real time monitoring bit - are they suggesting that they should have access to real time data without any oversight? Privacy issues to one side, how could they even hope to monitor that volume of data effectively?

Re:Reasonable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41113029)

Privacy issues to one side, how could they even hope to monitor that volume of data effectively?

By increasing tax revenue?

Re:Reasonable? (1)

Snappyolyness (2713751) | about 2 years ago | (#41116399)

How is giving the government more power and more information a good thing? They have enough as it is! I don't want to ever, under any circumstances, give them access to this vast wealth of information just because you want to catch some "bad guys." Any judicial oversight will likely just be a rubber stamp, and looking at the actions of governments throughout history, even storing this data is a terrible idea.

Re:Reasonable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41116521)

Where exactly is the "ideal" level of power for a government and exactly why? Can't answer without hand waving? Then discuss the issue at hand. Or go campaign for the elimination of search warrants, as they clearly grant The Government more power and should be first in line to not let the police search the room that your blood trail leads to. But no, you'll just bitch going from status quo, fucking conservative nitwits and your fucking status quo worship.

Re:Reasonable? (1)

Snappyolyness (2713751) | about 2 years ago | (#41116927)

Where exactly is the "ideal" level of power for a government and exactly why?

Haha. Even you couldn't give an exact answer. As for me? I don't need an exact answer; I simply look at what the government is doing at the time and decide for myself.

Then discuss the issue at hand.

Which I am, and I've decided that I don't care for them forcing businesses to store this data.

Or go campaign for the elimination of search warrants

No. Straw man. The problem is that they're store vast wealths of information that could easily be abused by a corrupt government (or even a corrupt individual working for the government). It's much, much different than them simply sending someone out to search a specific location (which requires money and time, and that makes it difficult to do so). Honestly, I can't understand why people would want to give the government access to all that information under any circumstances. I'm saying that they have more than enough power as it is.

But no, you'll just bitch going from status quo, fucking conservative nitwits and your fucking status quo worship.

What are you even referring to?

Re:Reasonable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41118499)

It's not a strawman at all, if you have such a kneejerk reaction and make a claim that "Any judicial oversight will likely just be a rubber stamp" then fucking apply it to the real world (no more warrants, it's all just rubber stamp) or shut up and consider the case within the existing framework. Yes, I know, you claim to have considered, but you were actually talking in gross generalities that apply to just about everything.

Re:Reasonable? (1)

Snappyolyness (2713751) | more than 2 years ago | (#41118723)

if you have such a kneejerk reaction

There was no kneejerk reaction. Otherwise, anything dissent at all could be defined as one.

They all go hand in hand. It's because that's a dangerous amount of information for someone to have AND it's trivial to get once stored AND it'll probably just be rubber stamped anyway. Again, this is far, far different than just sending a cop over to search a specific location and hoping you find something.

If you don't understand what I'm saying, then I don't know what to say anymore.

Re:Reasonable? (1)

mpe (36238) | more than 2 years ago | (#41123443)

How is giving the government more power and more information a good thing?

Typically power both corrupts and attracts the corrupt (and easily corruptable)

They have enough as it is!

That probably should be ".. more than enough ..." Quite possibly less power and stronger oversight would result in a better job being done.

I don't want to ever, under any circumstances, give them access to this vast wealth of information just because you want to catch some "bad guys."

The claim of needing more powers to catch "bad guys" is made frequently. Typically without any evidence that it would actually help do this, even if used responsibly. (Also assuming that said "bad guys" are not on the "inside" in the first place. e.g. how do you keep criminals out of the police force?)

Any judicial oversight will likely just be a rubber stamp, and looking at the actions of governments throughout history, even storing this data is a terrible idea.

Lots of people appear to have short memories together with a huge amount of (typically completely unwarrented) faith in government officials.

canada called (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41114417)

its wants to send you vic toews so you can state anyone not wanting this stands with peadophiles vs oh maybe privacy....

trust the state (1)

fche (36607) | about 2 years ago | (#41115759)

But considering that people here would generally trust the state to provide essentials such as unemployment insurance, pensions, health care, etc. ... what's wrong with giving the state a little more information about yourself? Hm???

criminals? (1)

slashrio (2584709) | more than 2 years ago | (#41118211)

...with the Commissioner of Taxation previously explaining that the connection between criminals and their finances made them 'especially vulnerable to revenue collection agencies, because of the ability to identify the discrepancy between their wealthy lifestyle and modest tax declarations.'

Apparently the tax office has invented their own definition of 'criminals', as they will now go after each and everyone with a 'discrepancy between their wealthy lifestyle and modest tax declarations'.
So, first when I read the word 'criminals', I wanted to post: "And those criminals, that is you.
But later, when I read the remaining part of the sentence, I realized that he must have meant the corporations!

I don't trust these guys with our privacy (1)

CuteSteveJobs (1343851) | more than 2 years ago | (#41118617)

I love the way government bureaucrats paint the citizens as the bad guys who can't be trusted and need to be spied on.

Check this out: The Head of the Reserve Bank squirming uncomfortably over a bribe scandal he claims they knew nothing about ... until an embarrassing memo surfaced:

http://www.smh.com.au/business/still-in-the-dark-with-governor-on-the-defensive-20120824-24rr7.html [smh.com.au]

The government politicians won't do anything: "The Treasurer, Wayne Swan, whose three-years-and-counting response to this growing scandal has been to say nothing and do nothing. By not confronting the unpleasant questions about the RBA and other government agencies that flow from this scandal, the Gillard government is rapidly becoming part of the cover-up."

asio (1)

strack (1051390) | more than 2 years ago | (#41119583)

australias intelligence agency wanted that 2 year internet data retention as well recently, if i recall.
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