Oz gov suggests world's worst copyright protection scheme

Desperate to retain internet villain of the year title


After taking the prize of internet villain of the year for worst internet blocking proposal on the planet, the Australian Government appears determined to do the double, with what has already been described as the world’s worst comms interception scheme.

This time, the issue is copyright protection, as the government touts proposals to get all Australian ISP’s to spy on their citizens in order to monitor for copyright compliance.

The Attorney-General’s Department has just closed its request for comments on its draft of "computer network protection" amendments to the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979.

In their submission, Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) have expressed concern that "the proposed legislation provides a very broad exception to the prohibition on interception of network communications for the purposes of ensuring that a network is "appropriately used"".

They claim that this is a very broad category, and means that "all network operators in Australia will be able to monitor the substance of communications that pass over their network for compliance with their Acceptable Use Policies – the terms of which could include nearly anything".

The motivation behind this proposal appears to arise from a recent piracy trial, in which ISP iiNet defended itself in the NSW Federal Court against allegations that it breached intellectual property rights of 34 major music and movie companies.

iiNet have argued quite simply that they have no idea who is downloading what over their network – and further, that under existing Australian law, they have no justification for probing further.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has already created a stir by using a CommsDay Summit in May of this year to publicly describe this stance as "stunning" and "a classic".

However, iiNet may yet cause further embarrassment for the government by summoning the Australian state censors into court to provide evidence that, as the law stands, their interpretation of it is correct.

This is why, according to file-sharing portal, ZeroPaid, Australia is now mulling the concept of "boldly going where no other country has gone before in terms of mass communication interception".

They argue that the proposed new law would place Australia in a category more extreme, from the perspective of copyright protection than even the US or France, with its continuing proposals for a three-strikes law.

They add: "One wonders if the government has any idea what kind of task it would be to force ISPs to patrol their own networks on a packet-by-packet basis."

This law is to be debated in the Australian parliament in December of this year – so there is still plenty of time for anyone opposed to it to make their opposition public. ®

Broader topics

Narrower topics


Other stories you might like

  • Experts: AI should be recognized as inventors in patent law
    Plus: Police release deepfake of murdered teen in cold case, and more

    In-brief Governments around the world should pass intellectual property laws that grant rights to AI systems, two academics at the University of New South Wales in Australia argued.

    Alexandra George, and Toby Walsh, professors of law and AI, respectively, believe failing to recognize machines as inventors could have long-lasting impacts on economies and societies. 

    "If courts and governments decide that AI-made inventions cannot be patented, the implications could be huge," they wrote in a comment article published in Nature. "Funders and businesses would be less incentivized to pursue useful research using AI inventors when a return on their investment could be limited. Society could miss out on the development of worthwhile and life-saving inventions."

    Continue reading
  • Declassified and released: More secret files on US govt's emergency doomsday powers
    Nuke incoming? Quick break out the plans for rationing, censorship, property seizures, and more

    More papers describing the orders and messages the US President can issue in the event of apocalyptic crises, such as a devastating nuclear attack, have been declassified and released for all to see.

    These government files are part of a larger collection of records that discuss the nature, reach, and use of secret Presidential Emergency Action Documents: these are executive orders, announcements, and statements to Congress that are all ready to sign and send out as soon as a doomsday scenario occurs. PEADs are supposed to give America's commander-in-chief immediate extraordinary powers to overcome extraordinary events.

    PEADs have never been declassified or revealed before. They remain hush-hush, and their exact details are not publicly known.

    Continue reading
  • Stolen university credentials up for sale by Russian crooks, FBI warns
    Forget dark-web souks, thousands of these are already being traded on public bazaars

    Russian crooks are selling network credentials and virtual private network access for a "multitude" of US universities and colleges on criminal marketplaces, according to the FBI.

    According to a warning issued on Thursday, these stolen credentials sell for thousands of dollars on both dark web and public internet forums, and could lead to subsequent cyberattacks against individual employees or the schools themselves.

    "The exposure of usernames and passwords can lead to brute force credential stuffing computer network attacks, whereby attackers attempt logins across various internet sites or exploit them for subsequent cyber attacks as criminal actors take advantage of users recycling the same credentials across multiple accounts, internet sites, and services," the Feds' alert [PDF] said.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022