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In Australia, Bosses May Get Power To Snoop On Emails

kdawson posted about 6 years ago | from the just-for-hunting-terrorists-we-promise dept.

Censorship 287

Numerous readers noted the proposal by the Australian government for legislation to allow employers to snoop on employees' email and IM conversations. This is being proposed in the name of protecting the infrastructure from terrorism. The attorney-general cited the Estonian cyber-attacks as a reason why such employer monitoring is necessary in Australia — never mind that the attacks were perpetrated by a lone 20-year-old and not by a foreign government or terrorist. The law permitting intelligence agencies to snoop on citizens without permission expires this June, leading to the government's urgency to extend and expand it. The chairman of Electronic Frontiers Australia said, "These new powers will facilitate fishing expeditions into employees' emails and computer use rather than being used to protect critical infrastructure. I'm talking about corporate eavesdropping and witch-hunts... If an employer wanted to [sack] someone, they could use these powers."

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287 comments

In Kiwi New Zealand (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23059290)

Snoopy gets the power to email your boss!

Re:In Kiwi New Zealand (3, Informative)

SHaFT7 (612918) | about 6 years ago | (#23059312)

can't you already do this in the states?

Re:In Kiwi New Zealand (3, Informative)

speedingant (1121329) | about 6 years ago | (#23059336)

Also in NZ. It makes complete sense! They have every right to see what is going on inside their own company, and what activity is going on inside their network.

Re:In Kiwi New Zealand (2, Interesting)

JustShootMe (122551) | about 6 years ago | (#23059384)

Funny story - where I work there is a very liberal network use policy - you can use it how you like as long as your manager is happy with your work and you don't shut the network down.

Someone shut the network down, I think with a P2P site.

The network guys sit right next to me. They were having a great time tracking down the culprit. And even funnier is people were coming out of the woodwork saying "my bad!" when it wasn't even them!

But I was very much OK with that. That person was saturating the network connection and stopping real work from getting done.

Technology will overtake this (3, Insightful)

countach (534280) | about 6 years ago | (#23059672)

Technology will overtake this. When everyone has an iPhone or like in their pocket, who is going to send potentially compromising emails through their employer?

Re:In Kiwi New Zealand (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23059562)

If you're using your employer's resources, they have the right to monitor anything on their systems that they damn well please.

What the heck would you expect?

If you're worried about it, don't use company resources for personal access. Is this really so hard to understand?

Sheesh. This liberal feeling of entitlement has gone way too far.

In reality, many employers don't care what you do, as long as it isn't illegal or interfering with the quality of work. However, they do retain the right to intervene if they feel it's necessary.

Re:In Kiwi New Zealand (5, Insightful)

Cassius Corodes (1084513) | about 6 years ago | (#23059588)

Its not so much the new rules that anger me, for employers have previously just asked you to sign an agreement giving them that right, its that way they are introduced as to "fight terrorism". If I was osama I would be laughing my head of every time a new law is introduced to fight terrorism. We are just handing them moral victory after victory and they are just sitting in a cave somewhere.

Re:In Kiwi New Zealand (4, Insightful)

MrNaz (730548) | about 6 years ago | (#23059844)

It's not about fighting terrorism. It never was. It's about power pooling into the hands of the few.

Re:In Kiwi New Zealand (1, Insightful)

Moridineas (213502) | about 6 years ago | (#23059982)

I was osama I would be laughing my head of every time a new law is introduced to fight terrorism. We are just handing them moral victory after victory and they are just sitting in a cave somewhere.
Please supply any evidence or even just reasoning that would explain why UBL cares one whit about civil liberties? Or how it could possibly be construed as a "moral victory"? Anything?

I don't get it--do you REALLY think UBL is cackling because bosses can read employee's emails now? I think the fact that that's how you are able to empathize with him and the al-Qaeda mindset is laughable, but in the end, very typical of many westerners.

Re:In Kiwi New Zealand (5, Insightful)

MrNaz (730548) | about 6 years ago | (#23059828)

As a small business owner in Australia, I would like to make it clear that I would never read my employees' emails even if I thought they were stealing from me. I consider privacy invasion to be wrong, and as the phrase goes, two wrongs don't make a right. Invading privacy to stop them stealing is as wrong as breaking into their house to steal back whatever they took.

It is not possible for employees, in the modern day and age, to sterilise themselves personally when they walk into the workplace. They still have friends they talk to, they still have families they think about, they still have pressing non-work issues they need to deal with. Expecting this to all disappear at 9am and reappear at 5:30pm is unreasonable, and as a business owner, I don't expect it of my staff, even though (assuming it's even possible which it isn't) it may increase productivity.

If I have an issue with a staff member stealing or doing something else that breaks the boundaries or law or morality, I don't want to deal with that issue by breaking the boundaries of law or morality. I can and will intervene to protect my business, but only if I don't violate their rights in the process. I have yet (in 8 years) to come across a scenario where I was not able to protect myself and still follow this principle. I don't believe I ever will. This experience affirms my belief that one does NOT have to trade freedom and/or morality for security and/or order.

Sheesh. This feeling of "anything goes" in the pursuit of security and law and order has gone way too far.

Re:In Kiwi New Zealand (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23059928)

can't you already do this in the states?
Yes you can. Where I work (national security stuff), they can also monitor your home e-mail. And snail mail. And phone calls. And show up and randomly polygraph you. I suppose that I could just encrypt everything, but that would just encourage additional scrutiny. I signed off on the access they granted me, so I don't feel like I can complain, but it's still a little emasculating.

It makes me feel very safe...

really? (2, Insightful)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | about 6 years ago | (#23059298)

I had no idea it was illegal now! Here in the US it's like if you don't own the computer cuz it's a work computer and you're on the work's connection, they can spy on you all you want. It seems completely logical to me and not even really an invasion of privacy cuz you should be ohhhh you know, DOING WORK lol.

Re:really? (5, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | about 6 years ago | (#23059390)

uz you should be ohhhh you know, DOING WORK lol.
Talking to your union rep is doing work.

Re:really? (5, Insightful)

JustShootMe (122551) | about 6 years ago | (#23059402)

Then don't do it on company resources.

In that situation, you should consider anything the company owns as being enemy territory - and consider it the same as talking to your union rep while the boss is in the room. Find some other way. There are plenty. Maybe take your laptop to a starbucks and send an email there.

Re:really? (1)

Falladir (1026636) | about 6 years ago | (#23059470)

you should consider anything the company owns as being enemy territory
That sounds like a crappy life. ...wait...actually, I already operate like that. But the enemy doesn't have the resources to surveil me. Hmmm.

Re:really? (3, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | about 6 years ago | (#23059480)

You have a right to talk to your union rep on company resources... in many companies the union rep is paid by the company.

Not everything in the world is the same as it is in the USA, kids.

Re:really? (1)

JustShootMe (122551) | about 6 years ago | (#23059492)

Then use the phone or meet with him/her in person. There's no way to tell when an email is "privileged" or not.

Re:really? (1)

compro01 (777531) | about 6 years ago | (#23059608)

IMO, any union communications should be privileged automatically.

Re:really? (1)

JustShootMe (122551) | about 6 years ago | (#23059622)

But there's no way to tell that until it's already read, and at that point the damage is done.

Re:really? (3, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | about 6 years ago | (#23059692)

Which is why employers shouldn't be permitted to read employee email.

Thanks for catching up with the rest of us.

Re:really? (3, Informative)

JustShootMe (122551) | about 6 years ago | (#23059702)

No, which is why you shouldn't send sensitive personal emails over a corporate network.

Thanks for being condescending.

Re:really? (-1, Flamebait)

QuantumG (50515) | about 6 years ago | (#23059714)

Communicating with your union rep isn't personal email....

are you fucking retarded? Seriously?

Re:really? (0)

JustShootMe (122551) | about 6 years ago | (#23059734)

You're right, it isn't personal email. It is, however, email that could get you retaliated against, and you're stupid if you send it over the network, even if snooping was illegal. Like unionbusters have ever let the law stop them before.

And in regards to that last sentence, I'm not going to dignify it with a response, considering it's nothing but an unwarranted insult.

Re:really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23060012)

You're appealing to sense, this is about a specific law.

Sense says, don't use employer resources to do anything you don't want your employer to know about.

However I cannot see any benefit in legitimizing the employers bad behavior.

I don't want my work place to be overly authoritarian and full of sharp edges. I'm aware that I grant them some authority by being employed, but at the same time I want that limited as much as possible.

Re:really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23059412)

Well technically its only illegal if you don't have clearly visible warnings, to users, that they may be monitored.

Re:really? (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | about 6 years ago | (#23059626)

IF it were well explained before i was hired that they did this i would be ok with it because i could get a different job if i felt it too draconian. Companies need warning labels "will read your personal emails" "will search through your blog and facebook accounts" "will ask you to cover up our incompetence" and that sort of thing.

Re:really? (3, Informative)

wvmarle (1070040) | about 6 years ago | (#23059820)

As an employer actually I consider it a right to know what my employees are doing. When using company resources (telephone, e-mail, Internet, whatever) then of course an employee has a right to use it for personal matters, but that should be limited to the necessary.
For example, if they have to call their bank, then it always always must be done during office hours. But calling their lover that can be done after office hours.
For e-mail: most people these days have an e-mail address already. Personal things they should send using that e-mail address. Work things are for the company provided address.
It would be scary for me to not be allowed to check on my employees, to see that they are doing what they are paid for. Scary to be never allowed to read their e-mails, when I deem necessary (hasn't happened yet but it's possible) - the most likely situation for me would occur when a customer says "I sent that to this employee", who happens to be on vacation then, upon which I'd start looking through their company mail box.
An employee should know that this is company resource, and the company also should have a right to check/limit the usage.

Re:really? (1)

Vellmont (569020) | about 6 years ago | (#23059932)


It seems completely logical to me and not even really an invasion of privacy cuz you should be ohhhh you know, DOING WORK

So if I take 5 minutes out of my day to make a doctors appointment, it should be totally cool for my employer to listen in on all the details because I should be "doing work"? I don't know where you work, but most workplaces outside of Taco Bell have a tolerance for short entries of your non-work life into the work day.

I'm not sure what the difference is if it involves a computer. It may even be legal for my employer to listen in on my calling for a doctors appt, but I wouldn't call it right or OK.

Oh where (1)

Sylos (1073710) | about 6 years ago | (#23059310)

Oh where can I find a place where my emails *won't* get snooped on?(barring of course, encryption).

Re:Oh where (2, Funny)

jobst (955157) | about 6 years ago | (#23059410)

make yourself a linux box not connected to the internet with two accounts, send an email from one account to the other ... make sure you close the blinds so no person can read your screen and keyboard.

Re:Oh where (2, Funny)

JustShootMe (122551) | about 6 years ago | (#23059442)

Oh, but it you're using a CRT, make sure you're in a faraday cage too. And I'm not sure what they can do as far as listening on LCD displays, but I'm sure there's something.

Re:Oh where (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | about 6 years ago | (#23059732)

And I'm not sure what they can do as far as listening on LCD displays

Not sure how accurate it is, but there's a lovely bit of discussion about hacking a laptop remotely via RF during the jail scene of Cryptonomicon. At least enough for me to wonder if it wouldn't work in the ideal circumstances described there.

I started thinking about that the first time I heard an AM radio tuned to an SDS 930's M register. I figured -- someday some spook would be able to parse that noise.

Sound stupid to me.... (1)

billy901 (1158761) | about 6 years ago | (#23059314)

Who's going to be a terrorist? The little frontline technician who works on the phone all day? Or the guy who doesn't do any work and receives money from his relatives in a strange country who make money by making bombs? If your employer has any reason to snoop in on you, they shouldn't have hired you or they should ask you in person.

Re:Sound stupid to me.... (1)

JustShootMe (122551) | about 6 years ago | (#23059348)

That's ridiculous. If your employer has any reason to snoop on you, they should just snoop on you. They may not have known about things when you were hired, and why should they be forced to ask you in person instead of finding the information on computers and network equipment that they own?

There is no entitlement when it comes to work equipment. If you don't like it, find a place that doesn't do it. And if every place does it, nothing stopping you from building your own corporation that doesn't. That's the beauty of free enterprise.

Re:Sound stupid to me.... (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | about 6 years ago | (#23059440)

I worked at one place where I was pretty sure that one of their standard practices was pointless. (Not bad, just useless.) I emailed a question about it to a friend with more specialized knowledge, but because I was doing it from work, I used my gmail account. Nothing on that subject when through the company's mail servers. Not that they were snooping, but they certainly could have if they'd wanted to, and it was the type of place where I'd expect it. (A corporate culture of micro-management and second-guessing tends to make me expect things like that.)

Re:Sound stupid to me.... (1)

JustShootMe (122551) | about 6 years ago | (#23059486)

They could have been monitoring the network too.

They likely were not as it's a lot of trouble, but don't assume that gmail is "safe".

I know where I work there is a packet capturing machine. I don't know what they're using it for, but I know it's there. And gmail is not safe from that.

Re:Sound stupid to me.... (3, Insightful)

DustyShadow (691635) | about 6 years ago | (#23059522)

You should use https://www.gmail.com [gmail.com] for a secure connection

Re:Sound stupid to me.... (1)

JustShootMe (122551) | about 6 years ago | (#23059534)

Ok. Doesn't stop keyloggers though.

Re:Sound stupid to me.... (2, Interesting)

CodeBuster (516420) | about 6 years ago | (#23059784)

Then you take out your trusty knoppix CD and boot the machine into a Linux session before connecting to your g-mail account. Unless they are monitoring the computer at the hardware level (unlikely) then you are secure in the knowledge that that particular communication will remain private.

Re:Sound stupid to me.... (1)

JustShootMe (122551) | about 6 years ago | (#23059822)

For the truly paranoid corporation, there are ways around that too. No, they can't capture your gmail session, but they can come around and try to figure out why the hell your system just went down. OR they could just be using a hardware keylogger... and when it boots back into windows it dumps everything it gathered while in linux...

We're admittedly getting into the realms of what a truly determined company could do and most are not truly determined. But I know in at least one company I worked at if I'd booted into Linux I would probably have gotten fired.

Re:Sound stupid to me.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23059896)

Use a different keyboard mapping. The hardware keylogger will look like it's spewing rubbish. Of course the last three steps are pretty much completely unnecessary when you can just use your own device and bypass company hardware entirely. (Smart phone, pda, laptop, etc.)

Blocked! Here's how to get around it. (1)

daBass (56811) | about 6 years ago | (#23059848)

Many companies are now blocking web-based email providers.

They usually block not only by known hostname or IP, there are some smart systems that can identify things like SquirrelMail. And an old favourite is also to block based on educated guesses, like "webmail.mydomain.com".

So the best way to get web-based email through is to run your own install, on a host/domain name that does not include "mail" and such. And use HTTPS, that way the proxy can't see you are using SquirrelMail or similar.

Re:Sound stupid to me.... (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | about 6 years ago | (#23059530)

If I'd been working for a company like that, I'd have waited until I went home and emailed from there. As it was, I've no reason to think there was any systematic snooping going on, it was just the corporate culture I mentioned above that made me want to be cautious. I didn't expect any packet sniffing, but snooping around the mail spool wouldn't have surprised me one bit.

Re:Sound stupid to me.... (1)

JustShootMe (122551) | about 6 years ago | (#23059554)

Even though I know that, I use gmail anyway. The policy is very loose, and I think it's there to aid in diagnosing or tracking down when something goes seriously out of whack. I'm not worried about it. But I know they *can*.

Re:Sound stupid to me.... (1)

billy901 (1158761) | about 6 years ago | (#23059372)

I Enjoy living in Canada for a reason. They don't do that here. My mother is a teacher and does not get this done to her. I fix computer and I have to send lots of emails, and my boss is not allowed to do this.

Re:Sound stupid to me.... (5, Insightful)

holophrastic (221104) | about 6 years ago | (#23059420)

Um, hi. My name is Bryan. I run a business in Canada. It's my business and I'm accountable for everything that it does -- as an officer of the corporation. And yeah, you'd better believe that I read my employees' e-mails. How on Earth would you expect me to be accountable for something that I don't know is occurring? There are plenty of ways to get an e-mail address. The one that I give to my employee is for business, it's a convenient tool.

And it's no different than the paper "inbox" on their desk -- which is, of course, also owned by me, both the box and the desk itself. And the fact that it's clean.

Re:Sound stupid to me.... (1)

billy901 (1158761) | about 6 years ago | (#23059450)

It's okay to be snooping in on certain emails. Email regarding business makes sense, but not email regarding personal issues. A lot of people use their business email as their personal email as well. But if people are sending emails to co-workers via the business address, and the boss is viewing these emails, it is a violation of their privacy. Plus when you're reading their emails, you start to look like a perverted freak.

Re:Sound stupid to me.... (3, Insightful)

JustShootMe (122551) | about 6 years ago | (#23059502)

Bah. You should not be sending personal emails through a business address for exactly this reason. It's not the fault of the business for snooping, but the fault of the employee for being stupid.

Eh. (3, Interesting)

JustShootMe (122551) | about 6 years ago | (#23059318)

If the company owns the machines and the network, then the company is able and allowed to watch everything you do - particularly if you signed an employment agreement consenting to it.

This is not news. Frankly sometimes I think privacy advocates overreact - and I think this is one of those times.

2 words (1)

Plazmid (1132467) | about 6 years ago | (#23059334)

2 words: use encryption.

Re:2 words (1)

JustShootMe (122551) | about 6 years ago | (#23059364)

Unless your workplace bans encryption that they do not have the keys to, which they have every right to do.

I think looking for privacy in the workplace is stupid. It's kind of like having sex in the middle of someone else's yard and getting mad at the owners for watching.

Yeah, they can already do that (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23059380)

Who said a business owner can't review the contents on their machines in the first place. They have computer forensics people looking for that all the time, all over the world. Now business people want to know what's up with IT. What's the problem. People abusing the machines they work on is common place. We as tech oriented individuals need to start working on teaching people what can and cannot be seen on a computer, so they don't make these mistakes at work.

198now (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23059392)

Australia has essentially become the England of 1984. No one except that government and corporations have any rights whatsoever, the only thing keeping them from putting cameras inside everyones home at this point is cost. And for what, who the hell hates Australia?

It doesn't seem to prevent crime either http://www.brisinst.org.au/past-issue-details.php?article_id=68. These retards are just spending money for no particular reason.

Farewell, 9-5 Slashdot... (1)

Thornae (53316) | about 6 years ago | (#23059398)

I guess this is the last time I'll be posting from my (Australian) work computer.

Re:Farewell, 9-5 Slashdot... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23059620)

I guess this is the last time I'll be posting from my (Australian) work computer.
It sure will!

~The Boss

Re:Farewell, 9-5 Slashdot... (1)

Thornae (53316) | about 6 years ago | (#23059688)

I guess this is the last time I'll be posting from my (Australian) work computer.

It sure will!

~The Boss


Given that I introduced my boss to Wikipedia less than a month ago, I don't think he's heard of /. yet...

Meet the new Federal Government (0, Flamebait)

Butthold (670362) | about 6 years ago | (#23059434)

Same as the old Federal Government

Re:Meet the new Federal Government (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23059922)

We already knew that. Anyone who thought otherwise is an idiot - the Coalition only got voted out because people were tired of Howard.
Labour new that too, which is why they were so careful to have exactly the same policies, but with no Howard.

Having worked in security in federal government... (1)

overbaud (964858) | about 6 years ago | (#23059436)

...the minimum is a police check to get a job. After that you have security clearances from Protected through to Top Secret and then breifings start eg. Alpha, Bravo etc. the higher level clearances pass through ASIO and they do background checks. If they didn't turn up anything about you being a terrorist going through the past 10+ years of your life, which you give them permission to do I don't know what they hope to find in your email. They look at club memberships, financial records, people you talk too and more. A dedicated, intelligent hacker is not going to try email a trojan and then give up, and you don't need to pour through emails to find binary attachments... and all this under a *labour* goverment! So much for the rights and protection of workers.

Re:Having worked in security in federal government (1)

JustShootMe (122551) | about 6 years ago | (#23059466)

Huh? What does what you have to go through to get a security clearance have to do with employers snooping through work emails?

Re:Having worked in security in federal government (1)

natslovR (530503) | about 6 years ago | (#23059552)

This is nothing to do with Australian Government security checks of staff - it is a beat up over nothing. Private enterprise will now be covered by law when they scan employee emails to reject attachments. They won't need a signed statement showing consent, they can just do it to protect their networks.

When I worked for a federal government department, my emails were blocked if they had any attachments or if it looked like it was unsuitable for work or if it was flagged as spam or chain mail. All employers should be permitted to do this to protect their networks.

I wish privacy advocates hadn't jump on this like they have, but I imagine it is more to do with the way the media framed the question.

"protecting" the nation infrastructure (1)

Adam1213 (1272548) | about 6 years ago | (#23059578)

Bosses reading employees' emails will not "protect the nation's critical infrastructure from a cyber attack" instead it will make it easier. If an employee receives an email which is able to exploits a vulnerability if opened it would likely only infected. However if bosses are allowed to read employees' emails and does the bosses computer will become infected.

The proposed powers claimed to address the "growing threat to national security" rather attempt to protect businesses from having employees spend time on things not related to work and malpractices that employees may do. The powers do not address "threats to national security" and it is likely that any gains to business would be outweighed by making it easier to take over computers used for more important tasks within a company such as on a bosses' computer.

Confused (1)

EdIII (1114411) | about 6 years ago | (#23059600)

Are we talking about a government or the corporations?

If it's the government then they need to FUCK OFF. There is no reason for government mandated spying of corporate infrastructures. Period. If that is what is happening, then I can understand the uproar.

It it's the corporations, then everybody needs to calm down and put things in perspective. Corporations have EVERY right to watch what you do at work. It is not even "spying". If I hire somebody to fix my toilet, then although it may annoy them, I can hover around the door and watch what they do. No different then if you are a full time employee of a large corporation. The "Boss" can hang around you all he/she wants. They can also read all correspondence you create, before and after, you send it. Using the company car? They can watch where you are going. Using the company email server? Well they ARE the postmaster too. So on every level they have the right to read your emails. Talking to your wife from work? The Boss can listen in to see if it's naughty.

I know some people may want to draw a line with just how much they can be monitored while at work, but they have to at least understand that they are at WORK.

Re:Confused (2, Informative)

_merlin (160982) | about 6 years ago | (#23059698)

Corporations have EVERY right to watch what you do at work.

No they don't. In fact, in most of the world, they aren't allowed to spy on you without your consent. The USA just has a pathetic lack of privacy laws. Judging from your post and others like it, they've also brainwashed the population into accepting it. I don't want my freedom eroded any more than it already has been.

Re:Confused (1)

mark-t (151149) | about 6 years ago | (#23059838)

No they don't. In fact, in most of the world, they aren't allowed to spy on you without your consent.
Why not? While they certainly shouldn't be allowed or permitted to spy on one in their own home or while they are on one's own time, if somebody is being paid to work, why should the employer have any less right to watch what they do than, to use the example the GP suggested, your own right to hover over the activities of the person you hired to fix your toilet? If a person isn't comfortable being watched by the people that are paying him to do the job, he is always free to quit and not be paid for it.

Re:Confused (2, Informative)

Asic Eng (193332) | about 6 years ago | (#23059942)

Spying on someone and watching someone are two distinct different concepts. When your boss watches you, you know that he's there doing that - when your boss is spying on you, you may not be aware of it. Using your concept of watching what the plumber is doing: in the first case you are standing around looking at his work - in the second you install a video camera to secretly observer him. People are very uncomfortable with the second scenario - they feel violated. That's why companies shouldn't be permitted to do it.

If a person isn't comfortable being watched by the people that are paying him to do the job, he is always free to quit and not be paid for it.

If a company doesn't like to observe a countries privacy laws - well too bad then, they have to do it anyway. Companies don't have rights, people do.

Re:Confused (1)

CodeBuster (516420) | about 6 years ago | (#23059854)

The USA just has a pathetic lack of privacy laws.

The founding fathers were loathe to add too many things which they considered to be obvious to our Constitution because they were afraid that if things were enumerated to explicitly they would eventually become the only rights guaranteed to the citizens. Hence the broad language and latitude on matters not considered absolutely essential (like the Bill of Rights and there were arguments about whether to include that as well for the same reason described above). The fourth amendment concerning unlawful searches and siezures and the right of the citizens to be "secure in their papers and possesions" indicates that the founding fathers valued privacy even though they did not enumerate it more explicitly as a specific right along with freedom of speech and the right to bear arms for example. Laws are not absolute in the United States and they can be challenged and declared "unconstitutional" and they very often are when bad laws, like the one in question in Australia, are passed by the legislature.

It is also true that Americans, being an independent and mostly anti-authoritarian lot with a healthy distrust of their federal government, frequently ignore, bend, or otherwise get around laws which they find to be inconvenient, stupid, or both. If you want privacy then take responsibility for it yourself. Use encryption and secure connections and register non-essential business relationships under manufactured identities and get yourself a mail drop to receive and send parcels under those aliases. If you don't care about privacy then don't do these things or trust the government to protect your privacy because we all know how much the people who violate your privacy, even in Europe where there are laws against it, care about rules and regulations...yeah right.

Re:Confused (1)

EdIII (1114411) | about 6 years ago | (#23059968)

That's right.... I'm brainwashed. I did not immediately put on my "tin foil" cap, or adjust it, and start frantically typing into the keyboard about how governments and corporations are evil, and how certain governments are pathetic and that my rights are eroding! my rights are eroding!

I'm just as fanatic about privacy, anonymity, and government corruption in this world. I just have a "brain" and I like to use it too.

Judging from YOUR post and OTHERS like it, you seem to have an unrealistic, unethical, fairyland sense of entitlement about your rights and privacy. Like I SAID, I am all FOR PRIVACY. Just when it is appropriate. See I can pigeonhole people too based on their comments into one group or another....

So let me ask you.... Should government workers be watched? Careful it's a trick question :)

I think you need to remember that when somebody is PAYING you to do something, then can, will, and should dictate the terms. If you don't like it, then go work for somebody else that "treats" their employees "better". Right there is your "rights". You get to choose where to work.

Re:Confused (1)

mabinogi (74033) | about 6 years ago | (#23059978)

I find it very disturbing that you believe a private company has more right to spy on you than the Government.
I'm not really comfortable with either doing it - particularly not for the reasons given. But at least the government is supposed to have your interests at heart - that's its reason for existing.
A private company only does things for its own interests.

So this new guy they elected (0, Flamebait)

iminplaya (723125) | about 6 years ago | (#23059612)

is pretty much the same as the old guy? Eh, so much for that...

Re:So this new guy they elected (1)

Cryacin (657549) | about 6 years ago | (#23059716)

Yes, yes. We switched from coke to pepsi.

On that note, most people are under the mistaken belief that Australia is under a democracy. Wrong. We are an Autocratic government.

What happened? (1, Redundant)

lelitsch (31136) | about 6 years ago | (#23059630)

I thought Australia voted John Howard out of office last year?

Re:What happened? (1)

NoobixCube (1133473) | about 6 years ago | (#23060006)

Other important offices haven't changed yet though. Attorney General, Governor General (though that's changing soon), and although I'm not sure, people like the heads of ASIO or the Federal Police probably haven't changed either. John Howard was a power-hungry prick, but now Parliament is feeling upward pressure from the other power-hungry pricks who've grown accustomed to the ability to breach our Constitution whenever they please.

Here's where it gets tricky (1)

e9th (652576) | about 6 years ago | (#23059664)

Your employer may require you to consent to monitoring, but not your correspondents outside the company. If they discover that their email is being monitored, lawsuits might ensue. The proposed law seems to cover the employer's ass here.

How dare you.... (1)

stox (131684) | about 6 years ago | (#23059684)

let facts get in the way of a politician's perfectly good diatribe. After all, they know more then you do, thanks to the taps they are already monitoring.

That count for MPs, too? (1)

whitehatlurker (867714) | about 6 years ago | (#23059724)

Since Parliament is subject to the will of the people, you too can now read your MPs email. Demand that and see what they say ...

Re:That count for MPs, too? (1)

tick-tock-atona (1145909) | about 6 years ago | (#23059792)

Very, very good point. Gillard is a public servant, employed by the australian taxpayer. I'd like her to set up a website which is a webmail mirror of her inbox/outbox/personal folders please!

Let my employer keep business-originating communic (1)

icepick72 (834363) | about 6 years ago | (#23059762)

If a corporation wants to sack someone they will find reasons besides snooping on email or IM -- that's just another tool in the arsenal but won't change anything. Should an employer have the right to read employee's conversations? I say yes, but only if the conversation has occurred using the business infrastructure like business email, IM from inside the business, etc. To draw lines, all that stuff should be available to the employer and the employee should be aware and use restraint. If an employee wants privacy during work time they can easily set up a remote connection to a home computer and do all their personal communication from their home machine.

Re:Let my employer keep business-originating commu (1)

Zorque (894011) | about 6 years ago | (#23059920)

I agree. While I don't really think an employee has to be busy doing work for every minute of the work day, they really shouldn't be using company time and resources to be doing a whole lot of personal business, especially any of the kind that would get them fired or arrested. The occasional e-mail or the nightly call home to the kids are fine as far as I'm concerned, but there's a point when it's too much.

Julia Gillard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23059776)

The minister for bad hair styles, Julia Gillard, probably hasn't heard about encryption. My employer is welcome to snoop my GPG encrypted email.

This same govt that wants mandatory porn filtering (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23059788)

This is the same government that intends to force ISPs to filter out porn, with customers needing to opt-out if they want to view the "offensive" material. Seems PM K.Rudd needs a lesson or two on digital privacy.

Employers can already legally snoop on emails (2, Interesting)

dropbearsrus (1197177) | about 6 years ago | (#23059826)

IANAL, but my understanding is that it is already legal for employers to monitor any and all use of employees emails, IM, etc. The company owns the computers so they can do what they want with them. There is no distinction between work-related and personal emails if they were sent or received using company resources.
The Attorney-General says otherwise which is a surprise to me, and also I'm sure to much of the business and legal community. The legal advice to several businesses I've worked at, is that they are well within rights to intercept employee emails.
Any Australian lawyers that can comment on this?

It's not about employer access to emails (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23059890)

Employer Access to Employee emails is normal in Australia and has been used to fire people for years.

What the proposed legislation will do is to allow uncontrolled access by government agencies to business email systems. No warrant's, reasonable cause, etc.

If you want to know how bad this is.
Check out how great our federal police are - look up the name "Haneef"

While we have a new government in Australia - we have the same old bureaucracy feeding the pollies with the same old BS.

The older I get the more I appreciate "Yes Minister "

Paranoia (1)

NoobixCube (1133473) | about 6 years ago | (#23059986)

Looks like there will be one positive thing to come of this: The number of "paranoid schizophrenia" diagnoses will sharply decrease, since it's not paranoia when you really are being watched.

In the US (1)

LS (57954) | about 6 years ago | (#23060002)

It's quite common for employees to have no expectation of privacy regarding corporate communication. Perhaps things should change in the US as well...

LS
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