Australian technology site Delimiter has done an excellent job of following up on the Australian government's planned #OzLog legislation. Under OzLog, everything Australians do online, every phone call, every email, every chat session, every browser address and action, will be stored for two years at our ISP, available on request to any Australian government agency (plus those in a slew of dodgy European countries)... and we will pay for it.
Does that seem right to you?
We've been lucky so far that guys like Delimiter, the EFA and Greens Senator Scott Ludlam have been willing to put a lot of time and energy into digging up OzLog info our government is patently unwilling to share with us. However, as with imposed "treaties" like ACTA, the facts don't look good. We get screwed, while big corporations and government gain enormous power over us.
I really don't get how supposedly democratic governments can get away with pushing copyright-enforcement and police-data-collecting work and costs onto local ISPs. If there are any small ISPs left (our regional ISP just went under), this will sink them.
If the justification is that anyone can become a criminal, then we need to factor into the severity and scope of surveillance the actual probability of that happening. 0.00001?
Unless our government plans to legislate against normal life in the future, OzLog bills us, and comprehensively invades our privacy, based on law-breaking we're overwhelmingly not doing. Why not address the actual causes of criminality, especially in communities where some decent social investment would have immediate and significant results?
Why assume a whole population intends to break the law, when we have a very low criminality index compared with other developed countries? Trust in government is a fundamental part of a successful democracy. How can we trust a government which invests huge amounts of our money into demonstrating how little it trusts us?
Basically, laws succeed when people agree with them. In general, nobody thinks it's OK to bash a grannie or hurt a child. We know it's stupid to drive on the wrong side of the road. We're not so sure about being blocked from buying ebooks, movies, TV shows or music. We're quite willing to buy them, so we don't understand why so much effort goes into stopping us. We don't accept that our privacy should be systematically invaded, just in case we decide to change a lifetime of behaviour and become criminals.
If YOU – the government – want community support for OzLog, you're going to have to convince us that we have adequate privacy protection, that our information is not going to be misused (or simply handed over on request to thinly-disguised European dictatorships like Azerbaijan), and that our lifetimes of responsible civilian behaviour add up to more than "Yeah, but you might do something".
Trust goes both ways. Let's see you earn some from us. Stop hiding things which affect us. Respect our skills and experience: really listen to what we say. Work with us to create responsible communities, rather than treating us as the enemy.
The U.S. may have 49 million people living in poverty, but we still have a functioning democracy. Use it.