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Australia Spying On Its Own

timothy posted more than 12 years ago | from the he-ain't-heavy-he's-big-brother dept.

News 474

AVIDLY INTERESTED writes: "Well well, the Australian government has been caught out spying on its own citizens, despite denying for years that they do this type of thing. This story at The Age shows that the Defence Signals Directorate listens to just about every bit of communications in Australia. The interesting thing about this story is the background to it. In this case the govt spied because they were trying to win an election, and needed evidence to demonise a ship that was docking in Australia carrying a bunch of refugees. National security be damned, this is echelon for political gain. Is it happening anywhere else?"

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474 comments

Fist Sport! (-1)

ringbarer (545020) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993046)

They're all a load of crims anyway.

And then people complain... (-1)

ringbarer (545020) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993226)

... that Government DOESN'T accurately reflect the needs and opinion of the populace?

Communication interception is the ultimate in Vox Populi, and should be encouraged to ensure fair representation by our elected officials.

Fuck it (-1)

October_30th (531777) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993241)

Oh fuck it!

I'm sick and tired of this invasion of privacy stuff. I'm too tired to start even fighting the hordes of soccer moms who want to turn the world into something where you are "free" to do anything else than things that MIGHT hurt someone else or yourself.

I give up.

Bring on the world government already! After all, we already have (or will soon have) the Pax Americana:

"What kind of peace do I mean? What kind of peace do we seek? Not a Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war. Not the peace of the grave or the security of the slave. I am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living, the kind that enables men and nations to grow and to hope and to build a better life for their children-- not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women-- not merely peace in our time, but peace for all time." -J.F. Kennedy, 1963

Is it happning anywhere else?? (-1, Offtopic)

DataSquid (33187) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993050)

Yeah, it's just we FORGOT TO SUBMIT THE STORY TO SLASHDOT. You see, the Olympics are on, and we've been terribly distracted....

"Is it happening anywhere else" (0, Troll)

linzeal (197905) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993051)

You would have to be pretty niave to not think so. 200 years or so in the good old usa has created a power structure so entrenched, vile and corrupt that it will take a revolution to root them out.

Re:"Is it happening anywhere else" (0, Funny)

Klerck (213193) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993056)

Good one, terrorist.I'd suggest you destroy all documents pertaining to any planned revolutions since I just reported you to the FBI.

Doing the sums... (-1)

ringbarer (545020) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993070)

Rounding up to the nearest whole percent:

Israel 268/961 = 28% fatalities
Palestine 982/17406 = 6% fatalities

Clearly the Palestinians are more murderous than the Israelis. Go Sharon! Wipe their foul subhuman species out!

Re:"Is it happening anywhere else" (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2993074)

If everyone in the world used words like bomb and president a few times in there sentences via phone and email maybe we all could bog these systems down. :P

But refugees ARE demons! (-1)

ringbarer (545020) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993053)

All asylum seekers should be exterminated, as they only bring crime and violence with them.

Think about it. These animals are the meanest, the nastiest, the cruellest examples of their foul species. How else did they fight their way onto the boat?

Does ANYONE want them in their country. Mugging our grandmothers. Raping our daughters?

Re:But refugees ARE demons! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2993094)

I say intercept the rust buckets out at sea and report them as "sank in a storm". Fuck those filthy wogs. Let them die in Davy Jones's locker.

Damn right! (-1)

ringbarer (545020) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993101)

Get them before they join all their ships together and hook them up with an old aircraft carrier.

Re:Damn right! (-1)

ReluctantBadger (550830) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993129)

It's a shame that Raven didn't keep his nuke with him. 'twould have been a better ending had it gone off while the carrier was out at sea and eliminated all the scum.However, I suppose he was too busy boning little girls...

Six degrees of Neal Stephenson (-1)

ringbarer (545020) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993143)

Is this the Slashdot equivalent of Godwin's Law? Any conversation becomes null and void should an allusion to one of his books be made.

Re:Six degrees of Neal Stephenson (-1)

L.Torvalds (548450) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993231)

You would have porked a hot 13-year old skateboard chick as well. Do not deny it.

As a token of goodwill, Here is some Italic Text

Awwwww (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2993054)

Isn't that cute, they are spying all on their own without the help of mommy, awwwwwwwwww.

Well yes... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2993057)

"Is it happening anywhere else?"

I think it's happening in U.S.A and in all major country in the world ready to spend money on this kind of project.

Hmm... (0, Troll)

BJH (11355) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993058)

GOVERNMENT ABUSES POWERS - Film at 11!

Ho hum, another day, another government to topple...

Re:Hmm... (2)

mpe (36238) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993105)

GOVERNMENT ABUSES POWERS - Film at 11!

But getting caught at it looks like carelessness...

Australia: The new France? (3, Insightful)

wackybrit (321117) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993062)

Back in the old days, France used to be much like this. The government would be all high and mighty, and yet the peasants would actually be quite carefree and an open minded people.

Australia in recent years seems to have taken a turn for the worst. I'm a libertarian, but I can definitely say that Australia stinks of 'Liberalism' right now. Is the country run by a bunch of soccer moms who are scared their kids are going to be raped if everyone in the country isn't kept under constant surveillance? Probably.

Australia is advocating a 'no-privacy' state.. and I can't help but think that that stance will put off a lot of companies from doing business there.

OT: Why do all my posts get a score of 2 now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2993082)

Excuse me for being stupid, but I've gone through whatever docs I can find on this site, and even tried to find a forum where I can ask Slashdot related questions.. but nada. So I'm asking here.. how comes my posts now all have a score of 2 even after they're just posted? I notice it's not a Slashdot wide thing cuz other people still start with 1.

Re:OT: Why do all my posts get a score of 2 now? (1)

BJH (11355) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993086)

When you post, turn on the "No Score +1 Bonus" checkbox...

Moderators! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2993090)

I think wackybrit complains about having too much karma. You know what to do...

Re:Australia: The new France? (2)

Paleolithic (148678) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993085)


Do some research and you will see that Australia is run by the right -- Conservatives not liberals.

Re:Australia: The new France? (2, Informative)

orin (113079) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993127)

Posted by Paleolithic on Tuesday February 12,

>Do some research and you will see that Australia is run by the right -- Conservatives not liberals.

Just to be more confusing - the Conservatives are called the Liberals. http://liberal.org.au [liberal.org.au]

Re:Australia: The new France? (0)

cb0y (311811) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993091)

You think companies care? Companies dealt with hitler in the 30'40s. BMW used jew slaves to make cars in the 40s.

No corporate on earth cares, they are WORSE than any corrupt politician. The mafia probably have more morals than corporates.

ECHELON (1)

inKubus (199753) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993102)

This [humanunderground.com] might be of some interest...Of course every transmission made is monitored.. Power is inherently fragile; knowing the moves of your enemy in advance is a key to protecting your power. Make your own conclusions, obviously.

who did this surprise? (0, Redundant)

sirPaul (119432) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993063)

Really. Who honestly thinks their government, for right or wrong, doesn't spy on it's own people?

Compare and contrast... (0)

yatest5 (455123) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993064)

that the Defence Signals Directorate listens to just about every bit of communications in Australia.

Transcripts of phone conversations between the International Transport Federation, Maritime Union of Australia and the crew of the MV Tampa were used by the government to formulate a political response after the ship rescued 438 boat people near Christmas Island last year, The Daily Telegraph reported today.

I think there is a *small* difference between 'spying' on all your citizens and this. Unless the rest of them are just a real quiet bunch, and this is all the communication there is. Well, the rest is like

"Put another sossie on the barbie bruce"
"Get me another tinnie, Sheila"

Re:Compare and contrast... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2993083)

"Put another sossie on the barbie bruce"

Nice try, but it would more likely be, "chuck another snag on the barbie, Bruce". Definitely not "sossie".

Offcourse (2, Interesting)

selderrr (523988) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993066)

offcourse this happens in other places too. Probably even on a larger scale and with creepier purposes.

Whenever power is in reach or at stake, people will use every possible trick to grab or hold it. Including spy technologies.

See also : Darwinism, survival of the fittest.

Note : I don't approve of it, it's just that I don't pretend to be flabbergasted by the discovery that politicians are corrupt crooks.

Of course it's happening elsewhere (5, Insightful)

corebreech (469871) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993073)

When has power over others ever gone unused?

Or Even Worse (5, Insightful)

inKubus (199753) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993119)

"At the same time, that capability [ECHELON] at any time could be turned around on the American people and no American would have any privacy left, such [is] the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn't matter. There would be no place to hide. If this government ever became a tyranny, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back, because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know. Such is the capability of this technology...
I don't want to see this country ever go across the bridge. I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision, so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return." -- Senator Frank Church

The question is whether it's too late to go back.

If you aren't doing anything wrong... (0, Troll)

inf0stud (313976) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993078)

Why are you worried about privacy? It just what
is wrong changes. The ancient Romans didn't like Christians. Perhaps in the modern world people won't like Muslims or /. posters?

Re:If you aren't doing anything wrong... (0)

cb0y (311811) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993100)

Clueless dude.

Inocent people always get wrapped up in WIDE SWEEPS of POWER GUNG HO.

No Muslim is "innocent" (-1)

ringbarer (545020) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993106)

When they pick up the Koran, they pick up a legacy of hatred, child abuse, sexism, murder and terrorism, stretching back millenia.

Every Mosque is a terrorist recruitment centre. FACT.

My prediction. Mecca in ruins before the decade is out.

Gosh darn it! I hate Negroes. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2993079)

I hate original recipe and Sand Jemimas too.

A government represents its voters (3, Interesting)

duvel2 (558047) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993081)

I would be somewhat surprised if the Australian people would make a big deal out of this

Surely the Australian government will have its bases covered on the jurisdictional side of things. After all a government can make its own laws, so they're the best placed to know any and all loopholes to make this kind of 'spying' perfectly legal. There's no doubt that this government will have a perfect explanation ready as to why their actions were legitimate.

On top of that, an elected government represents its voters. There is a slow but undeniable tendency in Australia for the last ten years towards more hostility against immigrants. Is this xenophobic and therefore perhaps loathable? Perhaps (even probable). But it's there, so as more and more voters don't really want any more foreigners to live in Australia, those people will have more and more representation in government. Those people may object to having their own phones tapped, but they probably have a the-end-justifies-the-means-attitude towards phonetapping potential immigrants.

I'm not saying that's a good thing. After all even Hitler was at first elected in normal elections, but that's the way a democracy works (or should work): if enough voters want something bad enough, the government will make it happen.

Re:A government represents its voters (0)

cb0y (311811) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993107)

Dickhead.

Yeah like Sherrifs and US Police forces say, "Howdy partner welcome in" to all illegal mexicans comming across the LA/Texan borders. What would usa do with 500 Cubans landing in florida on a boat? Give em $10000 each and say, welcome?

Btw OZ still imports about 80000 immigrants of all types yearly. Its USA thats the hardest place on earth to ENTER not only as an immigrant but even as a tourist.

Dont forget those white americans that hated blacks not long ago... and some still act like it today. Australia didnt have a KKK.

Re:A government represents its voters (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2993120)

Oz (and citizenry) *never* treated their black folks bad? Really?

Re:A government represents its voters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2993155)

Nice try, they are called "black fellas"

Re:A government represents its voters (1)

InfinIT (557535) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993148)

I am not sure that you are correct about what you wrotew when you said that most Australians would ignore this. According to the supporting article on News.com.au [news.com.au]:
Australia's leading expert on electronic spying, Professor Des Ball, described the DSD revelations as an "outrage" and called for an immediate independent inquiry into the allegations. "This should never be allowed to happen," Professor Ball said. "The privacy of all Australians is under threat and defence should not be involved."
Maybe there will be some outcry afterall!! As for government comment: (From the same article)
A spokesman for Prime Minister John Howard said also it was not the sort of issue the Government would comment on.
So the government refuses to comment on things that respected members of the community are asking questions about - this smacks of a typical politician (or typical political process)!! Democracy in school is very much like democracy in government in most countries - the more popular you are, the more votes you get and when you are in power... In South Africa (as an example), the majority of people are looking for things like AIDS drugs, the death penalty, and the like, however, the government says "stuff you - we are in charge, and we will do what we like" My 2c worth...

Get it right! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2993210)

Australians have only become more hostile towards ILLEGAL immigrants, not immigrants generally. That's just plain bullshit.

Re:A government represents its voters (1)

westyx (95706) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993243)

And i'm sure the us government had all *their* bases covered over the Iran-Contra issue. Or Watergate. Or Enron.

Puhlease.

As for There is a slow but undeniable tendency in Australia for the last ten years towards more hostility against immigrants

Huh. Then we get After all even Hitler was at first elected in normal elections, but that's the way a democracy works (or should work): if enough voters want something bad enough, the government will make it happen.

Wow. Godwin would have a tear in his eye if he read this.

Little Johnny Sucks (0, Interesting)

Cackmobile (182667) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993084)

Just to let you know we are not all rascist f$&ks down here. and we are working to boot the government out. I like the comment below about oz being run by soccer mums. its true.

Re:Little Johnny Sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2993132)

He was voted in overwhelmingly for a third term with an increased majority for his policy on illegal immigrants. Most Australians are behind him. When you say "we" you must be talking about you are your school friends, not the Australian public.

Another beat-up (1)

kimba (12893) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993088)

AVIDLY INTERESTED will never get a job as a reporter. Allegations were made, and were reported as such in the media as just that - allegations. The Slashdot story submitter seems to have turned this into indisputable fact.


So does the submitter know something we don't, or is he a lefty troll?

Redundant Statement (-1)

ringbarer (545020) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993092)

All leftists are trolls, as they always have an unrealistically skewed agenda to push.

More info... (5, Funny)

arsaspe (539022) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993089)

can be found here [news.com.au]

personally, I think that spying on citizens is like masturbation. Everyone does it, no one admits it, and in the end it gets you nowhere.

Re:More info... (0)

yatest5 (455123) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993121)

personally, I think that spying on citizens is like masturbation. Everyone does it, no one admits it, and in the end it gets you nowhere.


I do it! There, that screws your theory...

Nothing wrong with this! (-1)

ReluctantBadger (550830) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993095)

There is absolutely nothing wrong with spying on your own people. Especially if you can prevent a bunch of thieving parasites from making their way into your country to leech off of social security and healthcare systems. Look at Britain! We send millions of pounds abroad to educate people who are stupid enough to continue to live next to an active volcano, yet there is never enough money to provide decent healthcare and police protection for the hard working TAX PAYING citizens. For a laugh, why not pop down to Maidstone in Kent. It's FULL of thieving, stinking, undereducated foreign skanks who are only in the UK to claim unemployment and disability benefits and sue us for breaching their human rights when we hold them in custody while checking their paperwork. Well done Australia! Keep up the good work and protect your tax payers. Fuck those immigrant scum. I say torpedo the boat they are on and then film them drowning. It'd be a blockbusting hit over here in the UK and in Australia.

I hope they spy in this message (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2993096)

The Australian Liberal government SUX. They have screwed up broadband in our country and are clueless with IT. I hope they spy on these packets of data. You JERKS SUCK BIG TIME.

Re:I hope they spy in this message (0)

cb0y (311811) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993128)

Now we know why telstra has a 3gig limit, any higher and it would overload their SNIFFER systems.

------tel$tra-sucking-10%-of-gdp------

Re:I hope they spy in this message (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2993154)

What has the government got to do with broadband? The telco industry was deregulated in 1997, so anyone can go and run a broadband network if they want.

Yes, Telstra is 51% government owned, but the government has no say in how it is run. It is independently managed.

If broadband is sucky, it is because businesses are sucky providing services - not because the government has "screwed up broadband". There is nothing stopping you from starting up a business and doing it better.

What a beat-up (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2993098)

The Government had deployed the damn SAS
to the ship. Of *course* they'd intercept
civilian communications of they had troops
in there. They'd be negligent not to.

Nice to see Desmond Ball dragged out again.
Any time the press wants a nice grab from
someone who is reliably anti- the security
and intelligence forces, they trundle out
old Des.

Give this one a miss, guys. You're being
lied to.

Uh, shouldn't it be "where isn't it happening"? (5, Interesting)

Nice2Cats (557310) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993103)

As an American who grew up in Germany during the Cold War, I've stopped even thinking about who is reading my snailmail or email, who is bugging my phone, going thru my trash, or who, every time I flush, starts filtering my - well, you get the point.

From the German government's Lauschangriff to Echelon to the NSA to my provider [Hi, guys! Keep up the good work!] to some company that routes my data to people I haven't even heard of, I would just assume that anybody who can listen in will listen in. Germany does have a constitutional Right to Privacy that the U.S. Bill of Rights doesn't, but I don't think that is going to impress too many of those people - what am I going to do, sue the people who run Echelon?

My suggestion: Live with it and use crypto where you can.

Re:Uh, shouldn't it be "where isn't it happening"? (3, Interesting)

Lewisham (239493) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993145)

My suggestion: Live with it and use crypto where you can.

Unless you live in the UK where our then Home Secretary managed to push through a bill (which sounds astonishingly like the one in Enemy of the State) that allows the government and the police to do all the snooping they like. It's not like it wasn't happening anyway, but this made it legal.

The real kicker though, is that anyone who encrypts their data has to decrypt it if the police say so. If you don't, then you get locked up. The problem is, the law makes no distinction about refusing to decrypt, and not being able to decrypt. If you lose your keys, then you can get banged up. The government were planning a national database of encryption keys where you had to submit your own. I don't know where that is ATM.

Moral of the story: If you live in the UK, don't bother encrypting either. They'll just get their grubby hands on it if they want to.

Re:Uh, shouldn't it be "where isn't it happening"? (-1)

ReluctantBadger (550830) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993163)

"Home Secretary managed to push through a bill (which sounds astonishingly like the one in Enemy of the State) that allows the government and the police to do all the snooping they like." Would you like to post some links to that? And at the same time, would you also provide a reference to IOCA (1985) where it states quite clearly that a warrant is required. Thank you.

Re:Uh, shouldn't it be "where isn't it happening"? (2)

palmersperry (242842) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993192)

> Moral of the story: If you live in the UK, don't bother encrypting either.
> They'll just get their grubby hands on it if they want to.

Actually, speaking as another .uk resident, I'd say encrypt *everything* you can think of - that way the stuff that needs to be encrypted won't stand out so much against the background noise ...

Is it happening anywhere else?" (1)

danielpavel (243201) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993104)

For what's worth, it's probably happening everywhere else... Scale and incidental public exposure are the most likely to vary, but that's about all that varies.

Give a man a hammer, he'll start seeing nails all around him... Give a goverment means to spy on it's citizens, it'll start seeing enemies all around the place...

--
And on the seventh day, God was arrested for tresspassing.

I'm an Australian, and I don't mind... (4, Insightful)

doug363 (256267) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993109)

I'm an Australian, and I really don't think that what they did was wrong. However, I do think that the article has quite a bit of political bias (I'd expect to see this sort of bias on k5 more than here). Let's look at the story:

Well well, the Australian government has been caught out spying on its own citizens, despite denying for years that they do this type of thing.
They were spying on phone conversations to a ship which was boarded by SAS troops! From the article: The Defence Signals Directorate (DSD) at Geraldton in Western Australia intercepted the phone calls after the ship was boarded by SAS troops. Whether or not you agree with the government's actions regarding the ship is irrelevant; this ain't no ordinary civilian phone conversation they listened in on.

This story at The Age shows that the Defence Signals Directorate listens to just about every bit of communications in Australia.

Funny, when I read the story, I didn't see that stated. I read a number of statements saying that the DSD's intelligence gathering was within Australian laws and supervised by the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security. The DSD also reports to the cabinet and (I think) a committee on intelligence. I read that the Opposition Leader, Simon Crean, asked for an inquiry and I read that the opposition said that they now generally don't trust the DSD, but no actual facts. (Aside: Does anyone else dislike the term "unAustralian" (or whatever nationality you please)? Simon Crean used the term and it really ticks me off.)

The interesting thing about this story is the background to it. In this case the govt spied because they were trying to win an election, and needed evidence to demonise a ship that was docking in Australia carrying a bunch of refugees.

Well, the government still has the same policy after the election. The main people saying that the government is using this for political gain are the people who don't like the government's actions, or who dislike the government generally. For all you Australians who think the government is doing this for political gain: Phillip Ruddock (immigration minister, primarily responsible for refugee decisions) is a member of Amnesty International, and has been for a long time. John Howard (Prime Minister) has demonstrated that he doesn't mind taking unpopular decisions every now and then, especially when quite a long way from an election. Have you ever considered that these two, and the rest of the government, might (a) know more about the situation than you (and their info isn't full of media bias); and (b) may have a different value system to you??? (Shock horror!)

What was said is the following: Transcripts of phone conversations between the International Transport Federation, Maritime Union of Australia and the crew of the MV Tampa were used by the government to formulate a political response... One wonders why the phone conversations were useful. I assume that if the political response was simply lies, lies, and more lies, then the actual facts probably wouldn't be that useful. I'd be interested to know exactly how the phone conversations were used, although that probably is classified information that we won't find out for another 50 years.

Re:I'm an Australian, and I don't mind... (1)

orin (113079) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993160)

I'm also annoyed by the term "Un-Australian" though I think it comes out of the mouth of both sides of politics - The Prime Minister of Australia (John Howard) used the term fairly often in the last federal election. It has been used generally in Australian debate since the rise of Hansonism after the 1996 Federal Election.

There is a wider issue of whether or not these transcripts should be forwarded to cabinet. I have no problem with military stuff being forwarded to the military - but transcripts shouldn't be forwarded to cabinet - only to (at most) the Minister for Defence and the PM.

Re:I'm an Australian, and I don't mind... (1)

doug363 (256267) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993174)

Re: "UnAustralian": Certainly - I didn't mean to imply that one side of politics is any more or less guilty than the other ;).

Re:I'm an Australian, and I don't mind... (1)

Hektor_Troy (262592) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993167)

Does anyone else dislike the term "unAustralian" (or whatever nationality you please)?

Other than the annoyance, that it doesn't have a good "feel" to it, I don't see a problem with it. What I do see a problem with, is when people say something like "[insert country] is un[insert other country]n". First time I heard/saw it used, was (I believe) when the former president Bush said something like "Iraq is un-american" ... well - duh! What next? Squares are un-round? Used in the wrong context, anything can sound stupid.

Re:I'm an Australian, and I don't mind... (4, Interesting)

DarkZero (516460) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993179)

Have you ever considered that these two, and the rest of the government, might (a) know more about the situation than you...

I have to admit, I stop reading an article whenever I see a quote like this, and I see it all too often. Should government figures be invulnerable to criticism simply because they're part of the government, and because, at least under your reasoning, they must have not only better information, but better judgement than the rest of us? A quote like that smacks of thoughtless nationalistic bias.

Congratulations, you fit the profile for almost every negative Australian stereotype out there. Get violently drunk off your ass and you'll be the perfect poster boy for everything the world thinks is wrong with your country.

I'm an Australian, and I *do* mind... (5, Interesting)

cthugha (185672) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993191)

They were spying on phone conversations to a ship which was boarded by SAS troops!

So the SAS troops in and of themseleves weren't sufficient to neutralizae any security threate posed by the Tampa?

This story at The Age shows that the Defence Signals Directorate listens to just about every bit of communications in Australia.

Funny, when I read the story, I didn't see that stated. I read a number of statements saying that the DSD's intelligence gathering was within Australian laws and supervised by the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security.

Not everything printed in the newspaper is true. Conversely, not everything that isn't printed isn't true. The DSD can and does intercept anything and everything it can, but according to whatever rule book it follows: any intercepted communication where one or more parties to the communicationa are Australian and the communication is not related to a serious criminal matter or one of national security is supposed to be deleted. Of course, we trust them to do this implicitly.

What was said is the following: Transcripts of phone conversations between the International Transport Federation, Maritime Union of Australia and the crew of the MV Tampa were used by the government to formulate a political response... One wonders why the phone conversations were useful.

In addition, conversations between the captain of the Tampa and both the compnay that owned her and the Norwegian government (under whose flag the Tampa is registered) were passed on, all while the government was trying to negotiate a solution that served its own best interest. Needless to say, the edge this would have given the government in such negotiations could have been considerable.

The main point is that intelligence is not supposed to be used for the advantage of any Australian political party (under section 2A of the Intelligence Services Act, IIRC). The idea of spooks interfering in the political process by giving one side an advantage over another (either by the simple supply of information or by engineering a certain outcome to a politically sensitive situation through the supply of information) is quite frightening.

A trend because of immigration and 9/11 (5, Interesting)

Paleolithic (148678) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993116)

Of course, government monitoring of its citizens has been going on for as long as there have been governments. However, 9/11 has excellerated this trend considerably. Australia has had a massive backlash against what many there consider excessive immigration. Australians feel they are in danger of being overrun by immigrants and they also fear terrorism. I think they -- like a number of other countries -- feel that these two issues are closely linked.

The backlash against immigration started well before 9/11 but the terrorist attack intensified this backlash. I think that this is happening -- though to a lesser extent so far -- in both the U.S. and in Europe. Surveillance has increased dramatically and will continue to increase.

I think that this is going to lead to massive investment in surveillance by many countries all over the world not just in the West. Governments across the globe will engage in surveillance at levels way, way above anything we have ever seen in history.

Paleolithic

Maybe Its Pointless (1)

xtstrike (538546) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993117)

This is maybe why so many governments have opposed any kind of encryption standard, they hate 3DES, they hate Blowfish, they hate PGP, etc... simply because their programs that they use simply havent got the power to track all activity AND to spend a very long time decrypting encrypted data. Id personally agree with what other people have said here about this tracking activity being pointless, since anyone with data they even remotely care about protecting from prying eyes will have it encypted several times before it goes anywhere near the internet. The only kind of data they are going to intercept is some guy having an affair with his wife...

Re:Maybe Its Pointless (0, Funny)

ReluctantBadger (550830) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993136)

"The only kind of data they are going to intercept is some guy having an affair with his wife..." Erm, what?

So? Just Stop Communicating (5, Funny)

guttentag (313541) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993133)

...the Defence Signals Directorate listens to just about every bit of communications in Australia
Geez, every time some government does something like this we run around screaming about restrictions on our freedom. No one's restricting your freedom -- you still have to freedom to not communicate. I mean, that's what I do... aside from Slashdot, that is. I just got tired of all the PGP, SSL, and Cocoa Crunchies Decoder Wheels and stopped communicating altogether. Problem solved.

No one's forcing you to communicate with other people, just like no one's forcing you to use Windows...

(If you can't detect the sarcasm in the above statements, you really shouldn't be roaming the Web without a guardian)

Control of power (3, Insightful)

zeno4ever (323855) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993139)

Some thougts:

Under normal circumtances (at least here in Holland) a judge has to aprove a tap to prevent abuse of these powers. Was this tap cleared by a judge? This would it make much worse since the control mechanism that SHOULD contol abuse. If not than it's clear that the people who caried out this tap doesn't care for a clearancy.

I don't know what more damaging. A mislead judge or some people that tap into private conversations without a warrent!

Re:Control of power (2)

leuk_he (194174) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993193)

But did you know that we have far more official taps per habitant than in america? And that is for th official taps.

There are story's (ettienne U. ) of unofficial taps & phones lying next to to the phone so the police by accidenct could listen in to homes.

No officially we are not doing this in holland. 8)

Re:Control of power (1)

LeftOfCentre (539344) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993196)

I read an article a few years ago. It implied that warrants to initiate phone surveillance is given to the Swedish secret service (SÄPO [police.se]) almost routinely when they ask for it. The reason stated was that courts simply think it's so exciting to assist in national security issues and don't think much about whether it's justified or not.

Re:Control of power (2)

sql*kitten (1359) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993222)

Was this tap cleared by a judge?

Near as I can tell from the article, the "tap" was part of a military operation, involving foreign nationals. Not quite the same thing as eavesdropping on everyday telephone calls.

Australia's Not That Powerful... Hmmm... (2)

DarkZero (516460) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993146)

Australia's not that powerful a nation. I don't mean to badmouth Australia, but really, it isn't up there with the larger powers of the world that can fund entire South American dictatorships with their spare change, or nuke this planet and possibly the moon out of existence with only half of its nuclear arsenal. So this makes me wonder... what are countries like the United States, Britain, Russia, or the combined force of the European Union doing with THEIR resources?

With the power and money of the United States, I'm starting to wonder if this whole "Middle East" area is really just a set of Hollywood sound stages. And if they aren't, then Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden are most certainly super-advanced molecular AI programs that have been created using a combination of Martian and Plutonian alien technologies.

Or if their aims are closer to the ones that the Australians chose (political gain), then these "homosexuals" and "fetuses" are most certainly a right wing fabrication that has reached a global scale through the use of flamboyantly dressed male holograms and "sonogram" machines that are actually just downloading black-and-white video images from the global satellite network code named "Holy Satellite System of Wonder, Goodness, and Jesus".

Instead of "It's a joke. Laugh.", I think I should use, "It's a joke. Calm down. Please."

Re:Australia's Not That Powerful... Hmmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2993219)

Well I think the US and UK solve the problem by spying on each others citizens. Gets round all sorts of problems that way. All Australia needed to do was get the US, UK, New Zealand or Canada to do the spying and there wouldn't be a problem.

It's a kind of governmental sickness. (3, Interesting)

Futurepower(tm) (228467) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993152)


What is happening in Australia is a kind of sickness, a governmental sickness. There are people who like to sneak around, rather than have a real connection with others. If they can attach themselves to a government that believes in, or accepts, secrecy, they find that they have endless money, and they can do whatever they like. Given the nature of secrecy, and the nature of bureacracy, there is never true accountability in a secret bureacracy.

Angry people often like to cause trouble if they can avoid being held accountable. Secret troublemaking by government is a dream job for these people.

Secret agencies in the U.S. are much bigger troublemakers than those in Australia. The article, What should be the Response to Violence? [hevanet.com], has links to about 600 pages from major news sources that tell the story. For example, there is a section about a secret agency of the U.S. government that trained Arabs to be terrorists. Also see the sections, To understand the present conflict, consider the past, and Understanding the CIA.

History Lesson time? (0, Redundant)

WheelDweller (108946) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993153)

Uh...Australia started out as a penal colony, as I recall...an island of prisoners a'la Escape From New York.

Did anyone tell the government that this is no longer the case? :)

Re:History Lesson time? (1)

keithdowsett (260998) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993194)

While we're on the subject of history, aren't 90% of the Australian population descended from immigrants. The only difference is the the Abos didn't have the ability to force the Europeans back into international waters when they arrived with shiploads of surplus population.

Re:History Lesson time? (1)

bovril (260284) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993207)

You are soooo wrong. It was nothing like Escape from New York. But it was, like, totally, like, y'know like a cross between Blue Lagoon and Mad Max 2.

=P

Re:History Lesson time? (1)

lohen (122373) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993236)

And America started out as a nation of invaders from an entirely different continent who slaughtered or at least supplanted the native peoples to set up shop themselves (to begin with as part of the general European Imperialist Colonisation method, before being continued with equal zeal after splitting off for tax purposes). And the Statue of Liberty may ask for 'your poor, your needy' etc but take a look at the Mexican border - we europeans came and stayed, and don't want too many poor people coming in and upsetting our rich and lazy lives.

On the plus side, there are many, many ways in which the USA is less f*cked-up than much of the rest of the world, but that's not saying a great deal. And besides, the West (America included) did a whole lot of the f*cking-up of the rest of the world and continues to do so. We owe the world a huge debt, much of it in blood, and yet they are paying us crippling rates of interest on loans made long ago.

The funny thing is, I don't hate America or Americans. I don't hate the West in general. It all comes down to one thing, the thing which above all else in this world I love and fear. People. And all they are doing is being human.

40,000 people die every day of easily preventable or curable diseases (according to Unicef). This is a tragedy which we are only too happy to ignore. The twin towers was a drop in the ocean by comparison - it would have to happen ~6 times a day, every day to keep up. AIDS is spreading throughout the third world, targetting primarily people of working age, so that those not subjected to a slow and lingering death are left even more destitute. In Rwanda, millions of people were killed in a war of genocide the West ignored completely, because there was no money in intervention. Unlike, say, Iraq, where the sanctions which GWB wishes to toughen up
are killing children every day through starvation and lack of medical supplies, and have killed (acc. to Amnesty International) more than a million already. That's the Twin Towers >150 times over, to be conservative with the figures.

The West needs to straighten up, and be honest about where our money and our privileges come from. We need to heal the world now, as fast as we can reasonably manage. We need to do what we can, be it ethical consumerism (choosing fair trade products; boycotting unethical companies), political action, giving donations to people who need them to survive or at the very least investing it ethically, aid work and/or ethical employment. (Question: How many times can I repeat the word ethics? As many as it takes).

Peace, but this world's in a mess. We have the potential today and the resources to really and clearly help, so why not start today?

Privacy icon would be better (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2993166)

The privacy [slashdot.org] icon would be better for this story.

Maybe the someone is doing it in US already. (1)

Guysdrinkingbeer (207045) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993170)

According to the story that was on Slashdot on Monday, Comacast is intercepting packets and reselling it to marketers. "This allows them to not only log all http requests, but to also log the response." Lets see if they are logging the requests and the response, maybe somebody other then marketers might want that info.
Here is the story.
http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=02/02/12/0135 23 6

AU Liberal party actually deeply conservative (5, Informative)

LarsWestergren (9033) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993180)

It has been mentioned in subthreads above, so this might be modded down as redundant. However, since several posters are arguing that freedoms are being taken away by the Evil Liberal Soccer Moms of Australia, I'll risk it by saying that John Howards Liberal party in Australia is actually deeply conservative. Their main opposition is the Labor party which are more social-democrat/liberal in the European sense.

As for you libertarians who seem to think liberals are the greatest threat to freedom, who are the ones currently taking away US freedoms in the old excuse of national security? It ain't the liberals anyway.

Actually (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2993187)

They we're supposedly listening in on the communication between that Norwegian carrying the 400 Afghani refugees and the Norwegian government also. These refugees would have drowned had they not been picked up - and the Norwegian ship had a crew of 15 and was not designed to carry 400 people out to the open sea...

Currently I'm living in Australia - nice people. But they're experts when it comes to ratting on each others. They've got posters around encouraging you to "dob in" who ever you see do anything "illegal". Can't even ride a bike without a d@#n helmet here.

Nah.... our gov doesn't do such things ;) (0)

pepper_pusher (452533) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993189)

replace "our" with your.

* Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not after you *

What is /. doing? (1)

Zealous_Apathy (558315) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993198)

Slashdot: News for nerds, stuff that matters... What on Earth does this story have to do with the above? It's kinda outside the scope of the site wouldn't you say? I read the first few lines, expecting a link to some device that was purportedly used, somehow relating to computers or even just cool gadgets. I found nothing of the sort. So why run this story? The only conclusion is that /. is jumping onto the "Australia is naughty" bandwagon. I'm an Australian, and damn proud of it, and whatever the world has to say about my country won't really bother me... except when it begins to become a popular way of thinking. There have been articles in American newspapers that went close, but didn't quite come to, calling Australia racist. That's an incredible insult to every Australian, and is indicative of the current international opinion of Australia. Kind of ungrateful to one of the Western nations that gave unconditional support to the USA's "War on Terrorism" in the wake of September 11. 5 months on and it's time to pile shit on Australia. And the point of that little rant is that it is so pervasive an attitude that now even /. has been tainted by it. Honestly guys, pull your head in! I know it's a shitty situation, don't worry, our govt is in a lot of trouble over it. The majority of Australians are just as concerned by what's happening as the rest of the world is. But perpetuating anti-Australian propaganda isn't helping my country solve it's problems, and it's only tarnishing Slashdot's good reputation. Dave

Re:What is /. doing? (1)

SimonKeogh (181327) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993242)


As an Australian I'm just sick of seeing "Australia" this and "Australia" that in every other slashdot article. Please just forget about us, we're not even on you're half of the earth.

Downer == Shaved Monkey (2, Funny)

McCarrum (446375) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993200)

I love the statement our foreign minister Downer said in a press conference, "... there has been no SIGNIFICANT breech of protocol ..."

Oh, and I apologise to the shaved monkeys.

Re:Downer == Shaved Monkey (1)

AntipodesTroll (552543) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993254)

Oh, didnt you hear?
Its another one of John Howard's "NON-CORE" promises!

(For non-Australians, non-core promises are the promises the current retards in power call the election commitments they break after they are brought (back) into power. Yes, "non-core" is a direct quote of John Howard. :^)

This is called sarcasm btw, but you never know when moderators are gonna smoke the crack.

Australian history (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2993213)

Eavesdropping's effects on Australian politics has a long history. The American NSA had a secret installation which eavesdropped on Asia which began to come to light under Gough Whitlam's left wing government. The government was actually thrown out of office by John Kerr, who had been on the CIA's payroll. American spy Christopher Boyce, who was stationed at a TRW location that received CIA, said that the CIA helped throw out, or overthrow, the Whitlam government. Not a big deal in the states, except to Christopher Boyce who's still sitting in prison in Kansas, but certainly a significant event in Australia [theage.com.au]

Never let the facts... (2, Interesting)

waimate (147056) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993214)

Spying on its own people ???

Puhleease !!

Spying on a foreign registry vessel in international waters which had been directed not to enter Australian territory, but which then did enter in some sort of Norwegian Invasion. If comm intercept ability does not exist for occasions such as this, then why does it exist at all?

Oh, BTW, of course this happens everywhere, but moreso. Especially in the US where people are "told" they are "free" and don't have the education system to question the fact. Try making a few phone calls or sending a few emails about how you're gonna sh**t the pr*s*dent, and see who comes knocking at your door. And that's without the external threat of a Norwegian ship invading your sovereign territory under duress from a bunch of Iraqi queue-jumpers with designer luggage stuffed full of cash (no exageration).

Re:Never let the facts... (0)

Cackmobile (182667) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993244)

Firstly they are not queue jumpers. Australia has no diplomatic presence in Iran, Iraq or Afghanistan. Therefore they can not apply to be refugees and can not form an orderly queue. wake up to your self and do not believe the rascist lies the Howard government preaches. Secondly the other end of the line was an Australian citizen. That is illegal, plain and simple. Thirdly the law can only be used for threats to national interest. Refugees are not. Fourth 2 wrongs do not make a right. I couldn't care less if it happens in America.

Sovereignty (1, Flamebait)

AntipodesTroll (552543) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993227)

Ofcourse, what people forget is that Australia witholds the right to let in, or not let in, who we please.

So the government used its own intelligence-gathering arm to get as much information on the situation as possible, before making decisions. And this is bad, uh, how? Its well founded that it was spying and intelligence that helped prevent the cold war turning into WWIII. The Cuban missile crisis proved how invaluable intelligence is in a crisis.

Personally, I think my tax dollars are well spent, thanks anyway.

Re:Sovereignty (0)

Cackmobile (182667) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993235)

Firstly please try to be less bigotted. Spying on other countries is one thing but your own citizens is totally wrong. Don't u see the difference. and spying etc pretty much caused the cold war. tht and the men in charges egos.

Having grown up in Menwith Hill... (1)

D3r1v3D (526854) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993247)

... I can say first-hand that the US government isn't making sig-int out as a large conspiracy. As my parents were stationed at Menwith Hill, I remember seeing English protestors outside the front gate moved away by armed guards from time to time. Granted, this was not an every-day occurence. But, every now and then, you'd see the occasional group of loons camped out in a nearby field calling for "American spies to leave England." Now, keep in mind, these signal-interceptors that NSA utilized for project Echelon weren't in some bunker buried in tall groves of trees surrounded by miles of razor wire. They were giant "golf ball" radar towers that were visible for miles around. This makes you wonder what else the US government has up it's sleeves if it keeps its' sigint relays out in plain view, eh?

Bound to happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2993248)

I'd like to posit an argument that follows the same lines government officials use to keep encryption away from the public. Government fears that someone who turns rogue might do damage with something like encryption.

How is this any different than letting something like echelon fall into the hands of a rogue government official? If that were to happen, such a person would use that tool to maximize his personal position, be damned the harm it does to anyone else.

But there doesn't seem to be much concern at all about what sort of tools are being laid in the laps of our government bretheren. Their assumption is they are trustyworthy people who would not abuse the powers they assign to themselves, so they fail to incorporate the neccessary checks and balances that are needed for things that are ripe for abuse.

Cameras, echelon, and a whole host of other unchecked powers are being deluged on govt officials and they are starting to abuse those powers before the ink is even dry on the laws.

The proper approach to rulemaking is to carefully guard against the inevitable situations where there is mass incompetence in government. Documents like the US Constituion didn't come about from lofty think tanks that lay far from reality but from bitter and terrible experience.

I seriouly suggest people start opening their eyes. If not to learn and perhaps change things for the better, than to simply watch how quickly the world can change.

Champion (0)

Cackmobile (182667) | more than 12 years ago | (#2993255)

Who ever wrote this. You are a champion. In NSW a state of OZ (don't know if u are Oz) police can now randomly use dogs to sniff for drugs on you. Also the government is making a jailtime for whistle blowers. Its shit. We gotta fight back as u say.
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