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Mar 17, 2015

Coalition wedged on media as Brandis sneaks away from protections

The media revolt on data retention forced the government and opposition to cave in on protecting journalists -- while George Brandis tried to sneak through a get-out clause for agencies.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

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9 comments

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9 thoughts on “Coalition wedged on media as Brandis sneaks away from protections

  1. John

    The journalist’s metadata is protected but not that of the whistle-blower. In other words, whilst (for example) Fairfax email servers metadata will be protected from warrant-less searches, the whistle-blower’s email server won’t be protected. There are always two sides to a conversation and given the all-seeing enormity of the data retention, the government will always have access to one side of the conversation: that of the whistle-blower.

    If an email was sent from a whistle-blower using an iiNet or government email server to a journalist at Fairfax, all that is required is a government search of its huge trove of metadata for emails addressed to the Fairfax recipient in logs from the originating server. By sorting through these, a list of potential whistle-blowers could be identified. Then, by seeking access to their email accounts, the government could obtain access to all outgoing (sent) and incoming (from the journalist) communication. All of this without touching journalist email server metadata.

    The same goes for phone calls. There are lists of incoming and outgoing calls kept for both the caller and the receiver. Sure you can protect metadata from the journalist (receiver) but it should be easy once again to search the massive metadata database and identify all whistle-blowers based on their own (unprotected) outgoing call metadata.

    I struggle to understand how protection of metadata for a group of individuals can be achieved on a technical basis. It seems very difficult/costly and full of flaws.

  2. Graeski

    All this brouhaha and we haven’t – unless I’ve missed it – defined exactly what “metadata” is yet! Ie, the really solid matter hasn’t even hit the fan …

    What a bunch of clowns. They appear to have no understanding at all of the concept of “democracy”.

  3. Neutral

    You haven’t missed it Graeski. Originally it was going to be defined by regulation at the whim of Brandis. However JSIC requested it be defined in the legislation. So after nearly a decade, the AGD are still trying to figure it out. Don’t hold your breath.

  4. Hugh (Charlie) McColl

    Graeski, just curious but what do you understand of the concept of democracy? You don’t mean that it’s all around us do you?

  5. Marion Wilson

    Brandis is adamant that journalists are not being targeted – maybe not but are they or we going to be collateral damage in the wild flailing about of our “security forces”. Personal and political vendetta would have opportunities unrestricted by transparency.

  6. JayDee

    Where there’s a will there is a way. How did whistle blowers impart the information before the invention of the Internet and mobile phones? Watergate occurred before the invention of both. Wherever and whenever freedom of speech is stifled people get creative and find a way.

  7. AR

    Where do you get the bizarre idea “… if media companies are able to contest the issuing of warrants, that will provide for a stronger protection…” that a targetted company or individual (if there is still such a thing as a free lance journalist these drear days)would know before implementation in order to argue?
    Not as if the Praetoria Guard needs to come clumping into the meeja offices – the metadata is with the telcos.

  8. MAC TEZ

    It seems Crikey is happy to reduce its readership/subscriber base via over moderation of comments, your call Crikey but hardly a sustainable business model.

  9. Venise Alstergren

    “I had a dream” Ha! If the present government-and its hacks-want to give Australians a pleasant shock they will come out with the unthinkable. Something which will actually benefit the electorate, as opposed to giving the bum’s rush to anything which appeals to the ‘gotcha hoons’ in the community.

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