Less than a month ago our government finally passed a scheme called Mandatory Data Retention. This has been a long time coming, but I was honestly surprised to see it make it through for some reason.
Australia is not the first place they tried to do something like this, but it is the first place it succeeded in, as a far as I know.
What do you mean by data retention?
When we say data retention, in this specific case, it means to store the data for an extended period. There is not much to it; it is as it sounds.
Because of the data retention scheme, all of our metadata will be captured and stored by telecommunication companies for up to two years.
Metadata refers to a piece of data that refers or informs about another set of data. In our specific case, it will be your computer's IP address, date, time and the location from which you accessed a website or a service over the internet, and the period for which you used it, among other things.
All of this data will now be saved for two years at minimum, and in that timeframe, some government agencies can access it whenever they feel like it, without even having to go through the proper procedure, ask for a warrant or permission from anyone.
It will be like, anyone working within those agencies will be able to see all of your browsing histories up to the smallest detail.
And this is not limited to the law enforcement wing of the government only.
Who can access the data?
Currently, the following agencies have warrantless access to your private data:
1. Federal, state and territory police
2. Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO)
3. Australian Crime Commission (ACC)
4. Australian Border Force.
5. Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).
6. Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
Is it time to get a VPN?
I believe there has never been a better time to go for a VPN service provider than now.
As of a few weeks ago, all of your online activities have been recorded and can be viewed at any time by any one of the agencies mentioned above.
Now that is a scary thought for me personally, as I wouldn’t want anyone cyber stalking me every time I started my computer.
This is where a VPN comes in. Once you subscribe to your chosen VPN service provider, you can download its client and use your details to log in.
Once that is done, no one will be able to see what you are doing, not even your internet service provider.
By rerouting all of your data through a server of their own, they can eliminate the giant (virtual) eye in the sky and its effects.
All anyone will see is that you are connected to a VPN server. With it, you can also access restricted content like the recently blocked Pirate Bay.