Jun 18th 2015
from the and-then-what? dept
As Techdirt has reported, data retention laws are being introduced around the world. One of the less obvious but most pernicious effects of this development is the banalization of surveillance it brings with it. People begin to find it normal that they are spied on by their government whatever they are doing, and accept without a murmur that the police can do so without a warrant. A good example of what this can lead to has surfaced in the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW), where the police are pushing for new powers:
The NSW Police Force would no longer require a judge’s sign-off to gain access to the bank statements of people they suspect are engaging in criminal conduct under a police proposal before the NSW government.
The proposal would change the status quo, which requires a magistrate or registrar of a court to sign off on a “notice to produce” before police can force banking institutions to hand over documentation, such as a suspected criminal’s bank statements.
What’s significant is that in the article quoted above, which appears in The Sydney Morning Herald, Australia’s new data retention laws are explicitly cited as a justification for the move:
[The head of NSW Police’s Fraud and Cyber Crime Squad] likened the proposal to the way telecommunications metadata — such as the time a call was made, to whom, and for how long — is sought from telcos, which requires only the sign-off a senior officer before companies, such as Telstra or Optus, divulge such information.
Although the request from the police has not been granted — so far, at least — it’s a sign of where things are going. It’s also a great demonstration of the slippery slope: once you agree that warrantless access to personal data is acceptable in one sphere, it’s much harder to argue against it in other situations.