Wednesday, 12 September 2012 08:22

Privacy laws a hot topic at Internet forum Featured

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The government’s controversial plan to force telcos and ISPs to monitor and store the web and telecommunications data of all Australians two years promises to be one of the most hotly debated issues at a major Internet conference next month.

The inaugural Australian Internet Governance Forum (auIGF) well be held in Canberra on 11 and 12 October. The government’s data retention plan is part of a swathe of potential reforms to national security legislation aimed at helping to fight cybercrime and terrorism. The proposed reforms are now being considered by The Joint Parliamentary Committee on Intelligence and Security, based upon a referral by the Attorney-General, Nicola Roxon.

More than 200 submissions, the majority of which express opposition to the proposed changes, have been sent to the inquiry committee. These include contributions from ISP iiNET, the Internet Society of Australia, Pirate Party Australia and the Australian Privacy Foundation.

In his submission, Victoria's Acting Privacy Commissioner, Dr Anthony Bendall, says the proposals are ''characteristic of a police state,'' arguing: ''Not only does this completely remove the presumption of innocence which all persons are afforded, it goes against one of the essential dimensions of human rights and privacy law.”

Chris Disspain, CEO of the .au Domain Administration (auDA) is also against the proposed legislation. “The massive industry and community response to proposed changes to security laws, shows just how strongly Australians feel about both Internet security and their right to privacy,” he said.

“Both are important issues. But they often polarise community opinion and decisions about them cannot be taken in the cloistered environs of parliamentary committee meeting rooms. That is precisely why it is important that we have a neutral and open debate about these and other Internet policy issues, and why we have organised the auIGF to provide a forum for that discussion.”

The auIGF conference will bring government, industry and community members together to discuss Internet-related policy issues, exchange ideas and best practices, and help shape the future of the Internet in Australia. It is jointly convened by auDA, the Internet Industry Association, the Australian chapter of the Internet Society (ISOC-AU), the Australian Communication Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) and the Asia-Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC).

It also has industry support from partners including Google, Facebook, iiNET, AusRegistry and Maddocks. In addition to security and privacy, the main themes of the auIGF include Internet accessibility and digital inclusion, openness and copyright, and the international Internet governance landscape.

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Graeme Philipson

Graeme Philipson is senior associate editor at iTWire. He is one of Australia’s longest serving and most experienced IT journalists. He is author of the only definitive history of the Australian IT industry, ‘A Vision Splendid: The History of Australian Computing.’

He has been in the high tech industry for more than 30 years, most of that time as a market researcher, analyst and journalist. He was founding editor of MIS magazine, and is a former editor of Computerworld Australia. He was a research director for Gartner Asia Pacific and research manager for the Yankee Group Australia. He was a long time weekly IT columnist in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, and is a recipient of the Kester Award for lifetime achievement in IT journalism.

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