Modern Woman

I feel much sympathy for the 5000 people who received a threatening text message on Monday.

I've recently had my Twitter account phished and Google apparently stopped someone in Pakistan from accessing my email account.

Both were irritating, a bit alarming and apparently fixed by changing my password.

But in no way do I want any government agency, including ASIO or ASIS to have the right to go through my electronic data.

Not for any reason, absolutely not, never, no way (queue Angels' song).

But, under current proposed changes to legislation by security agencies the Federal Government, of whatever persuasion, would require all telephone and internet data kept by telecommunications companies for two years and give security agencies much greater access to every citizen's every social media pages.

I'm not a big fan of conspiracy theories - except when I'm in need of making myself feel I'm less barking mad than the next person, in which case, 'Hello Clive Palmer, what have you said about the CIA lately' and 'Thank you, internet'.

I think people using social media should understand that everything you write, post or comment on is public (I think of writing on the net as I do when writing this column: everything I put out there could be judged by my community - or ignored).

The government's idea to force telecommunications companies to keep logs of every citizen's electronic communications for two years is the most frightening idea since Orwell's notion of Big Brother - and that includes all the episodes and the manically kinetic promotions of the television show that bastardised the name.

Whistle-blowing, fraud, government corruption, government ineptitude - there are many reasons why people might need to contact someone outside the government - like a journalist - and why the government should not have automatic access to private citizens' data.

It is really difficult for a citizen to get a proper answer from a politician these days - and almost as hard for journalists, who increasingly have to negotiate a forward pack of media advisors to actually speak directly with a politician, who is then extremely unlikely to say anything that hasn't been pre-authorised by those higher up. So while governments are making it more difficult for citizens and journalists to scrutinise their behaviour and decisions, they simultaneously want much greater power to spy on those same people, their own electorate.

This is a principle about privacy and our right to not have the government interfere in our home lives - it's a minefield and open to abuse from all sorts of different avenues.

There's a massive difference between choosing to answer questions on the Census and everything you ever write, look at, upload, download, speak on your private computer or phone at home.

I happily give my data up for one - and I demand the right to keep my privacy for the others.


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