Updated: The 18 months long deadline given to the ISPs and Telcos in Australia for planning the implementation of users’ metadata retention has come to an end. This translates into a nationwide doom of internet users’ privacy.
April 13, 2017: the ill-fated day when Australians will have to wave the final goodbye to their online privacy due to the new metadata retention law.
Back in October 2015, the Parliament passed a metadata retention bill in Australia according to which all the Telcos and ISPs in the country will be liable for storing users’ metadata for up to 2 years. The data would then be used by law enforcement agencies in Australia for investigations or court proceedings, etc.
The telecommunication companies and ISPs were given an 18 month period for formulating the implementation plan for the new law. Unfortunately, April 13, is the date that marks the expiry of that deadline and the beginning of the end of metadata privacy in Australia.
In response to the now-official metadata retention law, Digital Rights Watch, a renowned digital advocates group, declared the day as “National Get a VPN Day”.
Tim Singleton Norton, the chairperson of the digital advocate group, said in a statement, “It's important that we mark this date — and pause to remember that a detailed picture of the private lives of Australian citizens is being collected by telecommunication companies on behalf of the government,”
Australians’ Privacy Vs the Government – A Tug-O-War
The newly approved law is going to spell a never-ending nightmare for the general public of Australia. After all, the metadata of the users is reported to be monitored by 2500 appointed offices across 21 Australian agencies.
It means that there will be thousands of eyes keeping round-the-clock watch on users’ online activities and data which includes:
1. Account Holder Name and Address
2. Mobile Number (In most cases when mobile devices are used)
3. Date of any communication made (via social media, VoIP, Websites, Emails, Messengers)
4. Time of any communication made (via social media, VoIP, Websites, Emails, Messengers)
5. Location of the device (including Wi-Fi hotspots and Cell Towers)
6. Recipient of communications
7. Email details (not content), and more…
What this data means to the government…?
Although the government has approved the metadata retention act for improving criminal investigations and fighting crime, but there’s no telling what else they can use this information for.
Metadata of users won’t just lists down who the user is calling, from which location or what he’s browsing on the Internet, but it goes a step beyond. The data can give detailed insights into users’ personal life, his behavior and in fact his financial standing.
The Australian government can use the data to have an accurate profile of the user, which may tell:
1. Their likes and dislikes
2. Medical history
3. Financial situations
4. Relationship status
5. Political views
6. The list goes on and on!
How You Can Save Your Privacy from This Perdition
Virtual Private Network, aka VPN.
VPN is the only way to fight off this government-imposed threat and protect your online privacy for good.
When you subscribe to a VPN, you make your privacy completely hidden from the ISPs and Telcos. With a VPN, you can encrypt your home Internet connection, disabling the ISP from monitoring or gathering whatever activity you do online.
You can encrypt your emails and even online conversations to stop telcos from gathering your metadata.
All in all, a VPN will allow you to keep your online privacy intact even in this age of anti-privacy.
* * * * * * Update 28th Oct 2016 * * * * * *
The data retention revelry isn’t over, just five days before the Christmas, the Attorney-General's Department (AGD) has announced a review into mandatory data retention laws, asking members of the public to review on whether metadata should allowed to be accessed in civil lawsuits.
At first, these laws were mainly confined to terrorism incidents, and then authorities broaden the reach to capturing pedophiles & terrible criminals. Now, they want to expand it further by allowing civil courts using all that metadata in civil lawsuits.
According to Attorney Generals Dept, “Data is used in almost every serious criminal or national security investigation, including murder, counter-terrorism, counter-espionage, sexual assault and kidnapping cases.”
So if this new addition becomes successful then Aussies could be observing their data used in civil proceedings in even cases like piracy and child support, alarming a massive shift towards absolute data retention.
* * * * * * Update 12th Oct 2015 * * * * * *
The time has come. The Australian privacy nightmare has begun. The digital privacy of Australian internet users will no longer exist from October 13, 2015. Data retention laws will come into effect and under the provision of the law all ISPs and Telcos will be instructed to keep a set of user’s information for 24 months.
The best possible way to avoid the situation is to register for a VPN service like PureVPN. PureVPN services are recognized by Cnet Australia and rated among the best VPN service provider of 2015 by Choice Australia.
PureVPN encrypts your entire internet connection and provides you with an anonymous IP to protect your privacy and avoid metadata retention.
* * * * * * Update * * * * * *
PureVPN has added New Server in Australia to Offer Better Protection Against Metadata Retention.
* * * * * * * * * * *
Online privacy in this digital age is quickly becoming a luxury. Following in the footsteps of NSA, new data retention laws in Australia have been revealed, caging the rights to privacy of Australian internet users. Here, we are presenting complete facts and solutions to the pressing problem of metadata retention in Australia.
1. What are the ‘Data Retention Laws in Australia’ and what they mean?
2. What exactly is metadata?
3. Why metadata is so important to the Australian government?
4. How metadata retention in Australia can trouble Australian internet users?
5. If you have nothing to hide then why should you still worry?
6. PureVPN’s stand against metadata retention in Australia!
7. The cost of metadata retention and who will pay for it?
PureVPN Added Engineered
'Metadata Retention Security' feature in its VPN App
to Avoid Data Retention in Australia
What Exactly Is Metadata?
Metadata has no formal definition; but we can simply define it as machine generated data. Anything you do on your computer, smartphone or any online activity is recorded as metadata.
For example, when you make a phone call, what you say is the content. What the phone does, to let you say it, is recorded as metadata.
Similarly, when you browse a webpage, there’s a thin line between metadata and the content because it’s all machine generated information about web resources. Your IP address, date & time, physical location, device connected with, the name and addresses of both parties, it’s all metadata; alternatively it’s all content that gives an insight into your private life.
How Metadata Retention in Australia Can Trouble Australian Internet Users?
The proposed data laws retention in Australia will threaten every Australian’s fundamental right to privacy. After these laws are passed, every Australian will be living in a BIG BROTHER HOUSE with 1000s of cameras, monitoring and recording every individual’s activities. The Americans are already going through this digital hell, courtesy of the NSA!
Simon Frew, Pirate Party Australia’s Deputy President, said:
“Years of undermining privacy and other civil liberties have reached a climax. Everyone will live under the shadow of mass surveillance. This is the most shamelessly authoritarian legislation Australia has seen for a long time.”
Data Retention In Australia Is A Nightmare
Data Retention For Smartphone Users
Smartphone is used 3 times more than any other communication device. With the increase in smartphone use, metadata has become more easily available. Information available from emails sent, files downloaded, pictures uploaded, GPS tags, online check-ins and websites visited, can be easily used to gather metadata that can then be used to make pinpoint accurate profiles about internet users.
Recently, Owen Mundy, a Professor at Florida State University, has developed a website called I Know Where Your Cat Lives. This website uses uploaded pictures of cats (embedded with GPS tags) to figure out where the cat lives. The algorithm used to track the picture makes use of the metadata with an embedded code of the latitude and longitude coordinates.
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Metadata Retention For VoIP Users
If you are using VoIP services in Australia, will show session information showing VoIP IP one connected with VoIP IP two at X time for Y duration of time.
Plus, law-enforcement agencies can also obtain metadata stored on VoIP servers with a warrant and assistance from online police. However, using Skype in combination with a VPN service can avoid metadata retention that tracks your identity.
P2P File Sharing and Downloading Data Retention
According to Communications Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, the proposed laws for metadata retention in Australia are not aimed at people indulging in illegal torrent downloads.
However, according to the Australian Infringement Law, copyright holders can appeal in court to obtain data and sue individuals for copyright infringement. The Dallas Buyer Club is currently forcing iiNet and other ISPs to handover the data of those who illicitly downloaded its copyright data.
Beware, P2P file sharers and downloaders – you are going to be in trouble!
Metadata Retention For Social Media Users
Every time you perform an activity on Social Media such as posting an image or a comment, metadata is generated with information like the time/date you posted the update or image, the device you used to post the update and your location, among other things. However, the content of your conversations and your social media messages are not collected and cannot be accessed by officials at the moment.
Here’s a small example of a single tweet and its metadata.
Now out the details you are giving away with this tweet.
Same goes with Facebook, Google+, Instagram and other social networking channels.
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PureVPN's builtin 'Data Retention Security' Feature.
Data Retention For Journalists
Journalists and Australian Electronic Media protested the potential impacts on press freedom and journalists' privacy after these draconian data retention laws in Australia come into effect.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott later announced an exception for Journalists. This exception states that police and 2500 elected officers will require a special warrant before collecting and storing Journalists’ metadata. A Government-appointed "public interest advocate” will be appointed to oversee these warrants.
We believe this is the Australian government’s way of making a fool out of Journalists and impeding free journalism. Who knows if the process is really applied, and metadata is not being recorded? Can you take the government on its word?
Email Users Data Retention
Communications via email give out metadata containing information such as source and destination email addresses.
Malcolm Turnbull, Australia’s Communications Minister, who initiated the bill on Metadata Retention in Australia, favored Wickr for secure email messaging. Email through Wickr first goes to the main server and is then delivered to the recipients, once they login. Therefore, the metadata captured for both the receiver and sender shows that there was a communication on Wickr server instead of both parties’ destinations.
It’s hard to believe that the man who is proposing meta data retention laws in Australia is also educating Australians in how to avoid meta data retention. It looks like a trap!
If you are an Australian who likes to surf the internet all day long then you should seriously think about using data encryption tools to avoid meta data retention in Australia.
Just imagine you are being constantly watched while you visit adult websites, watch documentaries on war, riots, kidnapping, rape or terrorism. The next thing you know, you are a potential suspect with Special Forces breaking down your door and bringing you in as a suspect.
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If You Have Nothing To Hide Then Why Should You Still Worry?
Prime Minister Tony Abbott said:
“The collection of metadata is essential in fighting most major crimes”.
What about the right to privacy of 23 million Australian internet users? Everyone has the right to privacy. In other words, if you are the kind of person who would be absolutely fine having cameras sprinkled through your house, watching your private life like it’s on a cinema screen then you shouldn’t worry too much about meta data retention in Australia.
PureVPN’s Stand Against Metadata Retention In Australia!
Meta data retention in Australia can be beaten by using a powerful VPN – all the time!
Communications Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, use of VPN may avoid Data Retention. He further added, “VPNs will kill the ability of law enforcement to match up a user's IP address”
A VPN allows you to communicate privately and anonymously by simply connecting you with one of its servers. A VPN completely encrypts your communication and routes it through encrypted tunnels, keeping your data safe, secure and private from any spying eye.
When connected with a VPN, your ISP can see that you are online, that you are surfing the internet, but they won’t be able to tell the sites that you are visiting or the activity that you’re doing.
The proposed plan for meta data retention in Australia had already increased the demand for VPNs in the country. And, when it comes to internet privacy, security and anonymity VPN like PureVPN truly stands out over all others.
Carrying the motto of spreading online freedom across the world, PureVPN is the best VPN to counter the menace of meta data retention in Australia.
PureVPN offers its users access to 80,000+ IPs from 450+ servers in 100+ countries to hide their real identity and become completely anonymous on the internet. Plus, PureVPN provides 256-bit of military-grade encryption and a vast variety of protocols to encrypt data and secretly send it over the internet.
All this firepower is neatly and easily accessible using PureVPN’s easy-to-use Windows, Mac, Android & iOS applications with built-in ‘Data Retention Security’ feature!
To get started with PureVPN, follow these steps:
1. Get a PureVPN subscription, click here.
2. Download PureVPN’s application for your device Windows, Mac, iOS, Android and even your Chrome browser.
3. Connect to PureVPN usingData Retention Security’ purpose under ‘Purpose Selection’ drop down menu.
And you are done!
*Important Point: In PureVPN’s Windows and Mac dialer, encryption is ‘Disabled’ by default. To ‘Enable’ high level encryption, go to settings and select ‘High Security Mode’ from the drop down menu under ‘VPN Mode’.
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The Cost Of Meta Data Retention In Australia And Who Will Pay For It?
The estimated cost for the proposed meta data retention laws in Australia will be approximately $400 million. Plus, storing the data of millions of people for two years will require huge data warehouses. An estimated cost for setting up a warehouse, according to the iiNet, is $60 million, which will double after the first two years.
Who will pay for all these expenses? Apart from these costs, power costs, staff salaries, and other management costs will increase the overall budget of the project.
The government has decided to pay the expenses from tax payers’ income plus an additional $5 will be charged per internet user per month. The additional tax is labeled by many as the ‘SURVELLIANCE TAX’.
It is a shame that governments are turning to anti-privacy measures like these meta data retention laws, in the name of fighting terrorism and crime. Thankfully, the world has VPN services that help common internet users fight for their right to privacy.