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Encryption Security

Oz Government to Become "Biggest Hacker in Town" 186

Posted by Nathan
Wired is running a story with further information about the Australian Government authorising legalised hacking of private computer systems by its internal security organisation, ASIO.
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Oz Government to Become "Biggest Hacker in Town"

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  • Is the[re] any difference ... except the govt will be doing it better and to more people?

    Yes, the government is, at least in principle, accountable to the Australian people, whereas the kid is not.

    I realise that many people, on /. in particular but by no means exclusively, have little or no faith in this accountability. There is a general feeling of mistrust in the government and national agencies.

    A lot of this mistrust is entirely understandable. But it is, I think, important to make a point of the principle, namely that the issue is not that the govenment has more power than the individual but that they are not (sufficiently) accountable for the exercise of this power.

    This is to me the real issue. You do not trust government. But listen: you are the only people who can fix this. You elect these people (I can't vote for any national parliament so I deny all responsibility :-)). Don't just complain and then stay at home on polling day. (How many people in the USA vote? 20%?)

    Seriously: if we have zero trust in govenrment then civilization falls. Think about it: some form of government is needed for large scale human organisation. With the population of this planet seemingly ever-groving, the case could be made that we need more government, not less. Of course, it should a government that is truely accountable to the people.

  • What's far more depressing is that it's not even hand coded or running on a decent server. Adobe Pagemill generated the page, and Microsoft IIS served it up. That has to be the most expensive chunk of HTML that I've ever seen. :) I have my doubts about the technical (also ethical) prowess of a government security agency that runs an insecure server OS and can't hand-code a "test page". Perhaps they're just a bunch of 5kR!P7 K1Dd13Z? At least I'm safe.... the machine I connected with was running Win98, and can't possibly stay up for long enough between reboots for them to do anything. :)
  • There is one minor oversight in that post that I should correct. It is nearly impossible to change a democracy from the outside in any large industrialized country. If buisness owners see you as a threat, their employees (a large percentage of the populace) will consider you a danger to their continued livelyhood. Nobody is going to support changes in government that might cost them their jobs.

    I realize that quite a few democracies have failed under external pressure in sparsely populated agrarian countries, but this is usually because there is no popular force to help keep the government in place outside of the governments army. External attempts to change large industrial democracies like the U.S. or Australia are doomed to failure before they even start.
  • by SEE (7681) on Saturday December 04, 1999 @11:42PM (#1479547) Homepage
    It's been said a few times. Being a History/Government Geek, I was actually quoting Wendell Phillips, who in a 1852 speech at Harvard said,
    Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty; power is ever stealing from the many to the few. The manna of popular liberty must be gathered each day or it is rotten. The living sap of today outgrows the dead rind of yesterday. The hand entrusted with power becomes, either from human depravity or
    esprit de corps, the necessary enemy of the people. Only by continued oversight can the democrat in office be prevented from hardening into a despot; only by unintermitted agitation can a people be sufficiently awake to principle not to let liberty be smothered in material prosperity.
  • So when doing things to aid a business, one should feel a moral responsibility towards the employees of its competetors?

    Or is this just only in the case when a business is being given an unfair advantage? In that case, it's OK to hurt these people when playing by a certain set of rules? Then how do you choose these rules?
  • For criminals I believe they do look at the contents of the computer... Remember the uni-bomber? Well, not a computer but a typwriter. They were able to find out he wrote the letters that way. Didn't they go in the shooter's computers after the incident-of-shooting-in-colorado (avoiding any hot words that may be moderated down by the script :P)? See, I think that for criminals, yeah, great idea. But they're treating everyone as a criminal, guilty until proven innocent and screw it you're STILL guilty, and that is bad.

    If you think you know what the hell is going on you're probably full of shit.
  • If a seat goes to preferences then votes are distributed according to the preferences _you_ list, not according to your first preference's directions. That's why you have to number _all_ the boxes. When parties hand out how to vote cards on election day they're merely that party's suggestions about how they would like you to vote, not a hard and fast set of rules you have to follow.

    Also, it's really very rare (at least in federal politics) for a seat to go uncontested, and it's almost as rare in state politics.

    Please, if you're going to whine about our political system, make sure you get your facts right. There's enough crap here on /. about Australia without even more being piled on.

    himi
  • by tal (20116)
    Does this mean that we are also allowed to crack their sites?
  • That would be close to ASIO's normal operating procedures. They have a history of performing unauthorized phone taps and then using the information gathered this way to gain authorization.
    The other fun thing they do is when a persons files are released under the 30 year rule they can censor them to their hearts content and claim a National Security proviso with no appeal from the affected party.
    It's just typical of how governments claim "protecting democracy" as an excuse to remove more freedom and democracy.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    After working for a company for over 15 years, I got an offer to work for our competition. I was torn between the many friends I had gotten to know over the years, and the tempting offer they made me. After pondering the offer for many months, I finally took the job.

    I am now in a position to access marketing reports, detailed sales figures, and inventory records. I took a few of the reports and ROT-13ed them and added the text to a meaningless GIF file.

    I opened up a web page on the many free sites on the net(under false demographic info), and put This GIF file (a little animated bullet thingie) on the site with all the other info about under-water-basket-weaving, or some such nonsence.

    Now, once a month, the president of the company (where I had worked for 15 years) gets an anonymous email with a web link pointing to this little GIF.

    Sometimes the best place to hide your data is in a place where everybody is looking, but nobody knows to look.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Well what do you expect from a nation of convicts and societal rejects ;)
  • by Bostik (92589) on Saturday December 04, 1999 @02:01PM (#1479558)

    This is exactly the aspect that made me worried as well. According to the article, authorities can get a permit to break in and check the data. There is absolutely nothing preventing them from cracking their way in prior to the search and PLANTING the evidence they then find when the court order/permit allows.

    As they sure as h*ll will modify the data on the computer during both processes, there is no way the victim (er, the owner of the computer) can point to what would have been changed without his knowlegde or consent. In effect, he has no ability to prove that the evidence wasn't there in the first place. ("Of course the files have been modified! How else would the police have managed to access everything on the computer?")

    This may set an unwanted precedence and a disasterous example. Orwellian police states may no longer be mere horror speculations, but the standard in the 3rd millenium. I expect with utmost terror as to what countries follow the Australian Way.

  • or murder you ? would you feel happy then ?

    I hope that when this exile is over I will feel very happy. But maybe I will just feel, well, dead?

    Seriously: there is nothing wrong with murder (!) all you need is a good reason. Law enforcement and war are typical "good" reasons, but there are others (and better). Even Christian law (normally very anti-killing) acknowledges the need for a little killing every now and then.

    Maybe it is not true in the States, but here in Europe the police seems to use their weapons sensibly. I don't have a problem with them carrying guns. I do not normally have a problem when they use them. They are accountable.

  • Technically a trojan isnt a virus, so they could legaly just back orriface a computer.

    Im australian, i certainly dont intend to vote for the current government in the foreseable future, they obviously have no clues on technology. (count the ways)

    Ill be voting Democrats next time.
  • I doubt that most countries have a legal procedure for planting fabricated evidence.

    Here in the US, police have been known to plant guns on people they've shot to death in order to justify the homicide. (Yes, LAPD, I am talking to you.) No doubt, they rationalize this behavior by claiming that this improves their "security". But it's still illegal, and when they get caught, they get busted.

    The Australian law gives the authorities a license to cook the bits on anyone's computer and serve up the results in the courtroom.

    As noted in the article, this provides an avenue to challenge any digital evidence presented by the police. It only makes it harder for honest policemen to do their jobs.

  • What icon would be appropriate? The Southern Cross? A marsupial? A shrimp on a barbie?
  • There is *no* compulsory voting in India, though I do desparately long for such a system. The preferential voting system is restricted to only a few seats for reserved groups, like teachers, etc....
  • The problem with this is that the government need merely to pass a law making it illegal for you to defend your computer against their attacks. If done right they would, in fact, make that the worst crime possible you could do with a computer.
    Thankfully, just because they have the "legal" right to crack your computer doesn't mean they "can" crack your computer. We will just have to keep beefing up security until they don't have a chance in hell of ever getting in!
  • by pb (1020)
    Wouldn't that be legalized *cracking*?

    Someone teach the Australian gov't how to hack, so they can play nice with everyone again...
    ---
    pb Reply or e-mail rather than vaguely moderate [152.7.41.11].
  • Hasn't the US Government's NSA been doing the same thing for years? Just not without official sanction. And I think you guys ought to edit the story a bit so that it reads *cracking*, not *hacking* lest the Hacker Anti-Defamation League start raising hell over it. And this from a site by hackers and for hackers!
  • by Money__ (87045)
    What's interesting is:

    Under the new law, Australia's attorney general can authorize legal hacking into private computer systems, as well as copying or altering data, as long as he has reasonable cause to believe it's relevant to a "security matter."

  • On a slightly unrelated note, shouldn't we have "Australia" icons on the slashdot main page! Surely there's enough articles for a seperate section ;)

    I suggest using a gun. Because whenever a thread on Australia starts, it degenerates into a flamefest because some American finds out he can blame any problem in Aus on their gun gontrol. :-P

  • Here's what is going to happen in Australia within the next 12 months: Cryptography Licencing!

    Any use of encryption with a greater than X strength (40 bits, maybe), will require a government licence and registration. Illegal possession and/or distribution of said cyrptography will get you a stiff jail term.

    Any bets?

  • by Money__ (87045)
    ...as long as he has reasonable cause to believe it's relevant to a "security matter.

    So if I have a co-worker I hate, I can ROT-13 his entire hard drive, call the police, and get him turned in? And he has to turn over all his public keys?

  • by Captain Teflon (15632) on Sunday December 05, 1999 @08:46AM (#1479573)
    You are correct, Australia has no real enemies at the moment. The other poster's comment about Fiji was snide and uninformed. Our relationship with Indonesia is rather rocky at present, after the East Timor referendum, and our subsequent major push behind and membership of a peace keeping force. Someone else talked about our "occupation of Indonesia", but the circumstances of East Timor's annexation makes it debatable whether it ever actually was Indonesian territory.

    A friend of mine works in military intelligence (show you have some and spare us the "army intelligence" jokes) and while of course he did not speak directly about his work, he did say that Indonesia was a prime interest of his unit.

    IMHO most of our real concerns are related to internal terrorism, of which there is not a lot but what there is has occasionally been sensational. Some nutters tried to blow up a Commonwealth Heads of Govenment meeting in Sydney in the 1970's, and there are plenty of screwball individuals and organisations around.

    We basically have four parties here. The Liberal/National Coalition are currently in power. The Labor party are contenders and held government through most of the '80s and early 90's. The Democrats are a small party who at present hold the balance of power in the Senate and have the balance of power when the major parties disagree on an issue, usually resulting in intense negotiation with the government. In the recent past, a few independents have had an unjustifiably huge say in political decisions.

    The harshness Internet Censorship legislation was to a significant degree a result of the Liberals' desire to get an independent with a strong anti-porn stance to vote for their tax legislation, a move which backfired in any case.

    In that case, the Labor party did not oppose the legislation - no one wants to be seen as an advocate of kiddie porn. The democrats put up some resistance to their credit, but without Labore opposing the legislation theirs were token efforts at best. The same thing seems to have happened here.

    WE do have another party, One Nation, a populist right wing organsation whose platform seems to be bashing our indigenous people and blaming the country's problems on single parents, the unemployed, etc., headed by a former female fish and chip shop owner with the nastiest pair of eyes I've ever seen. They'd be a real worry poitically were it not for their staggering level of ineptitude and internal bickering. I doubt they'd ever come up with a coherent policy on communications or the internet.

  • This simply says that national security officers can break into peoples computesr and do things if their reason for doing so is to protect national security. This is NOT much different from most other countries, the only difference being that in the US, there is probably no 'explicity' rule about breaking into computers. Gimme a break.. In the USA, the authorities can do *anything* in the name of national security... and get away with it.
  • Oh please. Why don't you read some of the posts here about how the Oz political system works? We all have to vote. We do, politicians still get in.

    Short of armed revolution (the "cures" of which have historically often turned out to be worse than the disease) what do you suggest?
  • by JohnG (93975) on Saturday December 04, 1999 @01:09PM (#1479576)
    This is really just causing criminals to create a new way to commit an old crime. Think about it. the IRS here in the US has for all of it's life, been able to look into the books of companies. But that didn't stop them from fixing the books. Now the Australian criminals will just have to put up decoy info on the server and keep the pertinet stuff some where else. Like say for example a LAN. The bad guys (errr Australian gov.) would have to be in the room with the computers to hack a network with no outside connection.
    Beside, who keeps info that could breach national security on a public server anyhow?

  • So you advocate international terrorism (shooting down satellites) against an elected government, and throw out the baby with the bathwater by taking action which will affect the average citizen and not the politicians?

    And YOU call US stupid?

  • by cybaea (79975)

    This seems to me to be largely a non-issue. The article states that

    Under the new law, Australia's attorney general can authorize legal hacking into private computer systems, as well as copying or altering data...

    The only issue to me seems to be that this is under the control of the attorney general rather than the courts. In moust countries the police or security forces have this sort of power with a court order over other information sources, e.g. letters. Why should electronic information be different?

  • Law Givers

    Dr. Moureau reference?

  • I think anything that doesn't harm (too much) and spreads knowledge and information is good . . . as long as they all play nice, it will help the computer world a lot - we'll all learn a little about security.
  • This should simply have been included as part of the "dumb laws" article (posted just two stories back), where it would fit perfectly.

    Sreeram.
  • Might not the Indonesians be a tad annoyed with y'all? Last I checked, the US was being rather reluctant to be involved on-site, and t'was the Aussies who had troops there despite our reluctance...

    Hmm. So, aside from the electronic front, what's the general gist of Australian policy re: law enforcement? Do y'all have such things as no-knock warrants, a history of government infiltrators/agent provocateurs in even remotely potentially subversive organizations, leaders whose operatives break into the files of psychiatrists who treat their enemies...

    ...or is your government more respectful of privacy when it does not involve a computer?
  • by cybaea (79975)
    I doubt that most countries have a legal procedure for planting fabricated evidence.

    Indeed I doubt so too. But they do have a legal procedure for, say, tapping your 'phone, and I was reading the article in the same vein. You need to be able to install bugs in the telephone and, similarly, in the computer. That means altering what is there.

    [T]his provides an avenue to challenge any digital evidence presented by the police. It only makes it harder for honest policemen to do their jobs.

    I read this as well, but I'm not sure I understand the issue fully. How does it work today with non-electronic evidence? If the police have previously searched your home and the later find evidence there, how do they prove they did not plant it?

    It seems to me that the tracking and logging of what is being done sould be easier in the electronic world. Obviously you need proper controls in place, but you need that anyway for non-electronic information, police access and evidence.

    If you trust the police for non-electronic evidence (and I relize that this is a big, big if for many slashdotters), then why not for electronic information?

  • I know, it sucks. We all think it sucks. And we'd all like to think the Australian government cares about what the geek masses think.

    Well I can assure you they do not, and this will be a complete law in practice soon.

    So what can I do to stop people getting into my computer? And don't tell me to run linux, because I'm a designer for a living and hence can't live without photoshop.
  • by Woko (112284) on Saturday December 04, 1999 @02:33PM (#1479587)
    Unfortunatly the major parties have managed to literally fix the voting system into a position where they cannot lose.

    The combination of compulsory voting (fines imposed if you dont) with a preferential system means that while you vote for a conservative party, if your candidate has no chance of winning, your vote is passed onto that parties next preference.

    This is an extremely effective mechanism of freezing out any alternative that the two major parties both dislike enough to exchange preferences over. So while a voter may tick that Liberal box, the vote may end up counting towards the Labor count.

    In many electorates, where one side's pollsters feel its not worth spending the money to put up a candidate, no candidate is put up. Independants generally lose their seat after a term, after whatever issue pushed them into parliment has faded from public memory.

    In fact in Victoria we have three independants committing to voting with the government, which really bends the definition of independant past breaking point.

    And as for the federal senate with its broken proportional representation, leading to situations where one religous nut, who got a fraction of the votes needed in a larger state can dictate tax and censorship issues to a government with the backbone of a limp squid....

    There's a good reason most Australian's distrust politians, have more respect for lawyers, and expect more honesty for real estate agents. In the vote on the referendum, (lost mainly because of a scare campaign over "the politican's republic") we had government ministers on TV saying dont vote for this republic, it gives too much power to politicians (a lie), and I'm a politican, and you cant trust us.
  • So what can I do to stop people getting into my computer?

    Don't ever connect it to the internet. Keep it with you always.

    Then you should be fine. They can still see what you are doing, but they'll have a hard time getting in to it without you knowing, which was what you asked for.

  • They're supposed to limit it to:

    * Hiding traces of surveillance, and
    * Anything that's "reasonably incidental"

    Dunno 'bout the judges down there, but "reasonably incidental" o'er here usually wouldn't be interpreted as "massive falsification of evidence"; more like the disruption caused by the electronic B&E method itself.
  • First, barbecued prawns (or shrimp as you call them) is an dish invented for TV ads. Here in Sydney, if we barbecue seafood, it's typically Salmon cutlets, or octopus in a chili sauce (yum yum).

    The best icon would be the southern cross, as expressed on the Eureka flag:

    http://www.ausflag.com.au/flags/eureka.html
  • Assuming you want to take the risk of becoming a bad guy yourself:-)

    Maybe we should sick prorams like this onto the tralls of abusive corporate CEOS (read: sweatshop kings) and corrupt politicians themselves, once we have sufficient [shrug] reason to suspect them. Imagine exposing their corruption to the law and the masses simultaneously once it becomes so obviously visible that it is impossible to deny...what a way for geeks to engineer social change!

  • According to NetCraft [netcraft.com], the 'asio.gov.au' runs IIS 4.0 on Windows NT... There is only a simple test page up on their website, built with Pagemill 2.0 on a Mac.

    It isn't a reliable indication of the level of skill present there, but it does make me wonder...

    bBob

  • Somehow, Australia needs to get democracy and some kind of Bill of Rights/Constitution going to cut back on these abuses in the future. The Vote, Free Speech, and some written guarantees to the people go a long way.

    Australia is a democracy. We have a constitution - not a Bill of Rights. Voting is compulsory. We end up with inept politicians. You, living in a country which elected both Reagan and Clinton for two terms each, should know all about that.

    Not all our politicians just swallow and smile. There are and continue to be voices of dissent in Parliament. This was a bad decision, but I'm not sure it was arrived at undemocratically.

    Do they have any Universities or Law schools down there? Maybe if someone went to a quality law school, and was also a citizen of Australia, they could file a suit against the government just like they do in the "First World" Western countries.

    We have good universities and law schools here, and very good lawyers, for example Geoffrey Robertson, who unfortunately for Australian techno weenies seems to selfishly regard international human rights abuses as more important than ASIO's shenanigans and the government's ineptitude.

    You can more or less buy a qualification in Australia (though not from the better universities), but it's by no means as easy as it is in the US.

    The US has more lawyers and litigation than anywhere else, and I can't see how that has improved things, more the reverse.

  • I know this quote has been used a lot, and apologies in advance for not being able to remember who said it:

    "Those who are willing to give up freedom for security deserve neither."

    Warning: Quote most likely mangled.


    -RickHunter
    --"We are gray. We stand between the candle and the star."
    --Gray council, Babylon 5.
  • Thankfully, though, I wasn't advocating per se, merely observing :)
  • A powerful and fact filled article, How COINTELPRO helped destroy the movements of the 60's, is here:
    http://mediafilter.org/mff/usdomcovops1.html
    Read it and weep.

  • But not for the House of Reps. In an election for a seat in the House of Reps you have to number all the candidates in order of your preferences. That's why it's called a preferential voting system.
    Sure, senate ballot papers can get ridiculous, and that's why they introduced party votes (that may not be the correct term for them, but they do work as you've said) - at some point it got so that the number of invalid votes in the senate was becoming disproportionate due to people making mistakes, so they had to simplify it.
    But the two systems are _completely_seperate_. Just because you can vote by party for the Senate doesn't mean you can for the House of Reps, and the mere fact that it's possible in the Senate doesn't mean that you have to.

    As for our Constitution . . . You do realise that the Constitution _purposely_ says nothing about "the people of Australian"? When they were writing the thing they were trying to create a federation of states, and the constitution reflects that - it's all about how powers are divided up between the states and the federal government.
    What you have to realise also is that when they wrote that constitution they were expecting to have it reviewed (a la the Constituional Convention) on a regular basis (like every ten or twenty years). Part of the reason why our Constitution is the way that it is is because we haven't changed it as we've changed over time.
    The other reason it's the way it is stems from the fact that our constitution is only really relevant to political power distribution - since it's so irrelevant to just about everything else, we've made a point of making everything else up as we go along. All our personal rights and obligations and so forth are founded either in laws made by various parliaments or in common law as laid down by the courts. And you know what? That works. It works a damn sight better (for most things) than the US system of making all their rights stem from the constitution - which they then don't change any more often than we do. If you think our constitution is almost irrelevant to the real world we live in, you might try considering a constitution that actually enshrines people's `right' to bear arms, just in case they need to overthrow their democratically elected government! If that isn't stupid, I don't know what is.
    Sure, the US constitution also does things like define rights to privacy and so forth, but whoopdedoo! Do they have such a wonderful society, merely because they happen to have their `fundamental democratic rights' written down on some pieces of paper somewhere? No. Australia is, in many, many ways a far better place to live than the US, and part of the reason is because we _don't_ get our rights from a piece of paper someone wrote two hundred years ago. Our rights are constantly being redefined, according to what _we_the_Australian_people_ agree is important. That's Democracy at work. If you don't like it, then you can bugger off to some tinpot little dictatorship where you can have fun writing a constitution for the revolutionaries. Have a go at it and see if you can do a better job!

    himi
  • Please don't send your e-business to Au!

    We don't want it.

    In fact, we don't want any type of commercial internet business at all!

    That's because commerce is destroying the net.

    It was better when it was a bunch of hackers who could only type a line at a time.

  • can be found at www.2600.com/~asio/
  • by jdub! (24149) on Saturday December 04, 1999 @02:40PM (#1479602) Homepage
    Please! A "shrimp" on the barbie!

    Funnily enough, I think this would be rather symbolic of the Australia-related stories on Slashdot. We don't even say shrimp - we say prawn... The shrimp on the barbie icon would be an ironic play on the fact that we are so misrepresented overseas - and our government only exacerbates the situation.

    I don't know a single person who agrees with any of our recent technology legislation. That includes people who don't have a huge understanding of the ramifications of the changes made. Most of it was put through for the benefit of other bills - mostly related to the current conservative government's tax scheme.

    Sadly, most of the media focus on government decisions in the previous few months has been focussed on the republic issue. Even then we were caught with our pants down.

    There is only on party in Australia who have any idea of the importance of our technology sector: the Australian Democrats. At the last election, they were essentially given control of senate decisions on partisan issues.

    There is hope...
  • by Qrygg (122468)
    That's not bad, that's funny.
    The Australian government better keep it's tentacles down under, because if I catch them reaching across the water to my machine, I will have to create an international incident.

    --Nimbus Qrygg, The One True Qrygg
    OS > Religion;
  • Orwellian might describe the way the article was written. A fine and shining example of newspeak, implying that the Australian government was going to hack into everyones computers and that any day now Aussies everywhere might find that important files had been altered. But let's read a little more carefully, shall we? The limitations imposed on these powers state that the use of the government hackers in altering data is only to conceal surveillance. Furthermore, there must reasonable cause to assume that it is a matter of security. Think of it like an electronic warrant. Warrants and sub-poenas are served with due cause, when it is believed that issuing such will produce evidence. We trust (i know i am speaking optimistically) that judges and those who issue warrants and sub-poenas do so with due cause, because they believe that information will be brought to light that will aid a case or provide evidence. Generally we assume that most government agencies would act on a similar principle. i.e. they aren't breaking into just anyones files for the hell of it. So I gues it all boils down to "Do you trust your government?" or "Do we have reason to believe that these measures would be abused?"
  • Well, I don't care HOW unlikely it is. I think that it is a major breach of privacy and should not be done. Or allowed. Unfortunatly the system of checks and balances (dunno about Aussi law, they may not HAVE one) seems to be out of whack. I am so glad I don't live there right now, but feel very bad for those who do. There is a way around this of course: close off all your incoming ports. That way they can't FTP, HTTP, SSH, TELNET, whatever to your computer. The only port on my computer that is open I think is the printer... and if anyone can crack into my computer via the printer deserves being in my computer.

    If you think you know what the hell is going on you're probably full of shit.
  • Physical evidence usually leaves a trail. For instance, it would be dodgy for police to visit my apartment, plant a stolen handgun, and then claim that I'd used it to rob a store; they would need to coerce witnesses who could place me there, they may need to forge recordings from security cameras, and they would need to pick a time where I had no strong alibi. It'd be even more difficult to claim that I discharged a firearm, due to the powder traces that normally leaves on the shooter.

    On the other hand, it would not be that difficult -- given time -- to, say, install a variety of cracking tools and documents, and reams of stolen information in my personal computer.

    There are already my prints on the keyboard, and obviously I use it; thus, it would be difficult to prove that I did *not* install that, barring extenuating circumstances like the fact that my connection is neither fast nor always-on -- and thus they would have to take care to choose a time when I *was* dialed in, and to not go overboard with the data that I supposedly downloaded. If they set it up to allow incoming connections, they wouldn't even necessarily have to prove that I was in my apartment, since they could argue that I accessed it remotely.
  • I kindly disagree with you. There is a little thing called the Constitution that does tend to get in their way once and a while. Believe me, we should all love our Constitution, even if we don't give a shit about laws and so forth, as it is really just about the only thing holding back the Nazi hordes that would love to control us.

  • by seaportcasino (121045) on Saturday December 04, 1999 @02:52PM (#1479610) Homepage
    Thankfully, just because they have the "legal" right to crack your computer doesn't mean they "can" crack your computer. We will just have to keep beefing up security until they don't have a chance in hell of ever getting in!

    Me wonders how many copies of OpenBSD this story is going to sell???

  • The whole idea behind a democracy is that the power stems from the people.

    As I see it (and I'm not a political theorist, but I think my ideas are valid), the basis of a democracy is that everyone in the democracy has equal power, and no one can deprive anyone else of their power. That's the fundamental basis, everything else stems from it. (That may not be what the political theorists say, but it's what I've observed from living in a democracy and watching other democracies in action)

    Governments only come into democracies because having power distributed so completely is not very efficient for running countries (and countries do need to be run - they need police, they need infrastructure, they even need armed forces, generally). So, what happens is people agree to delegate their power to some group of people who then use it to do the stuff that can only be done for the nation as a whole. Voila! We have a Government.

    The point to note is this: _all_ the power that the government wields (in a true democracy) is power delegated to it by the people. This is important, because it implies that if the people decide they don't like what their government is doing, they can take their delegated power back, and thus remove power from the government.
    That's why governments get freaked out by elections - they know that they are at risk of losing their power, if the people decide to delegate their power to someone else.

    The upshot of this is that in a democracy the only threat to the nation is going to be external - since everyone has the same amount of power and can't take power away from anyone else, and since the government is entirely reliant on the people for it's power, the only thing you have to do to retain you `liberty' is to make sure you vote. Make sure you participate in choosing where your power goes.
    I suppose you could say that's a form of `eternal vigilance', but it's from an entirely different viewpoint to the one that you're espousing. Your argument seems to be that you have to keep on watching that all powerful government to make sure that it doesn't try to take away your liberty (though if the government really is all powerful, how are you going to stop it?). Whereas my argument is more one of good housekeeping - make sure you help decide who gets your power for this term of office, because if you don't the idiot down the road will . . .

    Note that I'm not saying anything about external threats to a nation - that's why I said democracies often need armed forces. Also, it is possible for the people of a nation to choose to give up their power en masse - that's pretty much what happened in Germany before WWII. Interestingly, though, that's also pretty much what the British population decided to do during the war - they handed their power over to Churchill's War Cabinet for the duration. The difference between Germany and Britain there was that the Germans gave their power to an insane megalomaniac, whereas the British gave their power to a farily responsible group. Also, the Germans don't seem to have reserved the right to take their power back - they gave it up wholly to one man, rather than to the people who just happened to be leading their country. The British, on the other hand, gave their power to the Government, rather than to Churchill, so that the power remained with the nation rather than an individual.

    In any case, my argument is basically that governments in a democracy are not something to be feared - the people of the democracy can take power away from the government without needing to fight them. The case of the US War of Independance was an _external_ threat - another nation imposing it's will. You can't extrapolate from that case to the case of a democratically elected government.

    himi
    I may not have been a political theorist before, but I'm perilously close now . . .

  • In most countries, they would deny having done such actions and in some they'd just kill you for suspecting a national security breach.

    At least the Aussies admit to being willing to investigate you to no end if you have enough evidence stacked against you.

    The US is a bit Mickey Mouse with a H&K MP5 behind his back. :)
  • Sounds like an effective protest would to put a *.au domain check in as many systems as possible. (Unix of course.) Then they would at least have to pay for AOL accounts like all the other script kiddies.


    In school I was taught that australia was founded by criminals. I am glad to see they are keeping the tradition alive.
  • come on so few people keep any thing that the goverment really needs on the computer all that they are going to do is fuck over the any trust that there citizens once had of their lousey asses come on plz aren't we a little past this big brother thing i know that i would feel violated if some one was prying through my pc looking through all my source code and varoius other privite things or saying huh this person in my opinion is a fucking idiot and i think they have a plot against the goverment, then they have just condemmed every citizen, cause every body at one time or anothe have had huge amounts of hatred twoards the feds
  • In school I was taught that australia (sic)was founded by criminals.

    Australia was used initially as a dumping ground for the less than desirables by the British. Discovered by Cpt James Cook [pacificcoast.net] (b27 October 1728 in Marton, England - d14-Nov-1799, Hawaii), Australia was also settled [virtualaustralia.com.au] by free settlers concurrently.... the link goes on to explain...(my emphasis)
    • Captain Cook's account of his discovery aroused much interest in England but Britain did not try to colonise Australia until its American colonies achieved independence. On 13 May 1787, the first fleet of 11 ships sailed from England under the command of Capt. Arthur Phillip. They reached Botany Bay on 18 January 1788 with 1530 people, 736 of them convicts.
    So it was not until the Boston Tea Party that the Brit's deceided to look for another dumping ground for their criminals. Another site, Convicts of Australia [murdoch.edu.au] goes on to say....
    • 1718-1783 About 50,000 British criminals were transported to colonies in America.
      1775-1783 AMERICAN WAR OF INDEPENDENCE - hostilities with Britain brought transportation to a halt.
      1783-1787 British prisons and hulks began to over-flow.
    Australian convicts just happened to put to good use as a good source of cheap labour, building infrastructure, harvesting crops and rum. Though branded criminals, a lot of poor old souls got a life ticket to Van Deimans Land (Tasmania [tas.gov.au]) for crimes such as stealing bread, forging, etc... and anything else convenient the British could think of. That and the fact that the prison ships moored off the British coast had filled to capacity.

    For those with a history bent that above urls above are a great read. For the writer above, surely you where aware of these facts, so dont bother.
  • by ndfa (71139)
    legalized *cracking*

    They can change information according to when the feel neccessary!! thats kinda strange! I am not sure if that would even be cracking in hte normal sense of the words!! or maybe i am just on too little sleep!!!!!

    So the govt. could make changes to say a mafia persons records and then bust them for ...hmmmmm
    tax evasion ? ? ?

  • The point is, it's not okay for burglars to break into your company and steal or alter your private data, but it's somehow okay for the government to do it (now). I'd say it should also be legal, then, for non-government people and companies to break into government computers and steal or alter the data. What's good for the goose...
  • The article is missing the key detail of local vs. remote.

    A local hack would imply that the police enter your premise and sit down at your computer. A remote hack implies that the police connect to your computer while you're surfing on the Internet.

    I can see this rankling a lot of Slashdotters who fear Big Brother, but remote access is really not different than what anybody anywhere on the world can do. I mean, you system is either vulnerable or hardened against intrusion. On Linux, if you simply remove all unnecessary network services in inetd.conf and install simple packet filters like ipchains [rustcorp.com], then there isn't much the police are going to be able to do. Similarly, on Windows you can install Network ICE [networkice.com] which will not only block them, but also alert you to exactly what [networkice.com] they are trying to do.

    I mean, anybody who runs such countermeasures regularly sees attempts against their machines. Why get into a tizzy over the government doing what Russian hackers/crackers are doing to you anyway? Indeed, the Russian hackers are likely to be much more intelligent than government drones.

    In any event, I've got countermeasures on my system. This means that the most likey outcome is that bungling investigators would tip me off to the investigation, not compromise my machine.

    (I guess my reaction is atypical: my geek distaste for l-users who can't configure their system outweighs my geek distrust of authority :-)

  • I'll agree with the system of checks and balances being out of whack. But I still think there should be some providence for the government legally accessing information if they think there is a security breach or a gross breach of conduct or a crime being committed....strong evidence that it has occured, I mean. I don't think that governements should spuriously hack into a system without justification. Thus, the question: How much do we trust our government? Perhaps the law could stand if it was better regulated? What would be a good way to regulate such a law?
  • Hmn. I thought of this when I saw this message.

    I know that Slashdotters don't take this kind of post seriously. We know that people who write this stuff all over the net are just mainly a bunch of script kiddies (or not even that) who talk big.

    However, I don't know, are the mass number of computer users scared of this type of person, making them willing to let their governments pass anti-privacy laws? Not that there aren't skilled crackers, but there are a lot more people who go around CLAIMING they can compromize your system than can actually do it.

    So I'm thinking, people acting like big shot crackers might actually be helping these laws come to be, because people are willing to give up their online privacy so that their governments can track down these "dangerous computer criminals."

    Just a thought. ^_^

  • by craw (6958) on Saturday December 04, 1999 @03:01PM (#1479627) Homepage
    You know, there has to been a time when some government 1st authorized wiretaps on telephones. There has to be a time when the physical planting of recording devices was approved. Reading mail, I not sure about this one. Technology advances, and laws naturally adjust. But what remains the same (I hope) are the basic fundamentals that control the rights of the citizens and the role of the government.

    The key question is does this new law infringe on the constitution (or whatever they call their basic national laws) of Australia? If it does, then it is wrong and will hopefully be ruled unconstitutional. If it does not, then okay. If the ppl don't like it, then they need to change their constitution.

    The same holds true in the US. Remember all the brouhaha over COPA? Ultimately, the high courts started telling Congress that they passed unconstitutional laws.

    Some ppl have stated that the gov is doing the same thing as script kiddies. Well, here in the US, law enforcement agencies have been given court approval to break into private property to play listening devices; for instance, this was used in the 80's against New England organized crime. Additionally, wiretapping by the gov is okay if its has court approval. Private wiretapping (like secretly recording telephone conversations) is illegal in many states. Linda Tripp is learning this lesson right now.

  • I think this article was placed wrongly... clearly it should have been an appendix to the the "Dumb Laws" article posted 2 hours prior to this one. :)
  • Do we have reason to believe that these measures would be abused?

    Well, yes, we do. When one is speaking about governments or large corporations, there is a modified Murphy's Law in effect. If the potential for abuse exists, someone will do it, eventually. And the higher the person with the potential to abuse is in the power structure, the less likely it is that the abuse will ever be stopped once it begins. Accept this as fact now, and you'll save yourself a lot of headaches.
  • by vinyl1 (121744) on Saturday December 04, 1999 @05:11PM (#1479632)
    The US government has a similar type of surveillance program, although it does require a court order. They use a Trojan called 'DIRT', which is not detected by anit-virus software (I believe they have a deal with the anti-virus companies). Rather than break through or break in, they monitor the evildoer's email, and use social engineering to get him to install their Trojan. Most targets of this program are not guys like us, but dumb criminals using Windows 98. Typically, they have a mix of encrypted and plaintext email.

    This apparently works well against drug dealers and such. Encryption passwords are captured and reported back to Washington, and then they break into the encrypted email. If they can't get the target to install the Trojan, they get access to his computer somehow and pop it in. Would Netice help in a case like this? I would think you'd want to use something like ZoneAlarm. But these guys are so unsophisticated, they think the Internet is magic and they're invisible once they install PGP or something.

  • I suppose this is true... if they are hacking into your box and you frequently crash it could make it harder for them to get at that crucial data in your Explorer Cache....

    The feature Windows really needs is a /dev/null file.
  • .
    I agree that this is not *too* interesting. After all..

    "This just brings ASIO's powers in line with new technologies," she said. "It doesn't give them increased powers at all."

    And I think this is a direct result of Echelon. Remember, Australia just outed the U.S and Britain for their own activities in citizen monitoring. I doubt they are still getting the and same info they were a few months (years?) ago? So basically they took it upon themselves. The same end result, I guess...

    Like the sig says says, monitoring ALL the information would not be a happy task. Just don't act conspicuouly, you scientologists, libertarians, and illuminati, SLASHDOTTERS UNITE!!!

    (err, whatever. I could tell you about the real-time demographic information that is available based on the sound of your name and your zip code, this is private corporations monitoring your info, and my guess is they have more money to spend on it than the government does, more quantity than quality tho, and the government has access to this info but not vice-versa.)
  • The right to speak includes the ability to not speak, the right to vote should operate the same way.

    You have to turn up. You can vote informally. You're in fact free to right "You can all go to hell" on your ballot paper.

  • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Saturday December 04, 1999 @05:25PM (#1479637)
    Do you really think the NSA doesn't do this, too? What are the checks and balances there?

    If the NSA is doing this, they are in rather deep trouble. It is illegal for the NSA to gather information on US Citizens. The ECPA (Electronic Communications and Privacy Act) also contains a lot of restrictions on what sorts of things can be intercepted, by who, and how. If the NSA has been intercepting stuff like email and reading the content without obtaining court orgers they can be hit by some pretty stiff penalties under the ECPA too.

    Congress as well as civil liberties organizations are really putting some heat on the NSA right now. EPIC is suing because of disclosure requirements that the NSA has not met under our FOIA - goverment agencies are required to disclose internal documents when requested unless they can prove that there are some sound reasons like national security not to. Congress also has an investigation going which the NSA has refused to provide testimony for - Congress' response was to cut funding for the NSA legal department by 33%. This is the ultimate check and balance that Congress holds over the executive branch in the US.

    There were some incidents like this in the 60's with the CIA which is also forbidden to gather intelligence within the US. The results were not pleasant for those guilty of this.

    The FBI has the right to gather information of US citizens - but the FBI does not have black budgets, and they are generally required to be much more open about their activities than the NSA or CIA. Ultimately any information that the FBI can present in a court in the US has to pass a variety of tests under the Unreasonable Search and Seizure provisions in the Constitution, too.

  • [PyrexD::Say]

    Ever since the dingo ate that baby,
    Australiahas hoovered
    maximally.
    Australia could suck the chihuahua hair off a dropped chalupa.
  • by Millennium (2451) on Saturday December 04, 1999 @03:22PM (#1479650) Homepage
    That's exactly what it is. Plain and simple. Yet another step towards Big Brother. You know the Australian government seems to have been taking a lot of them recently; even the US government doesn't have the audacity to proceed at this pace.

    Frankly, this solidified my decision: I won't ever move to Australia. I'll grant, I don't like the US government. But at least they pay lip service to the rights of the citizens (and occasionally respect them); this law simply stomps all over Australians' rights without even a shred of subterfuge. Same with all the censorship laws there, many of which go into effect in less than a month. And then there's the other Net-related fiascos going on there...

    By the way, earlier in this thread someone noticed that ASIO's Website had a "test page." This poster feared that ASIO was using it as a tool in their Big Brother scheme. I read it a bit differently (seeing as there was nothing in the page source that indicated the possibility of sending data).

    I don't even think they have a proper Website. All that page was missing was that inane yellow diamond with the animated digging man inside it and it would have exactly mirrored the perpetually in-progress page of a typical technologically-illiterate person. I honestly think they're that clueless about technology; even more so than the US government (which is itself pretty damn bad). They fear it, fear it with such intensity that they'd do anything to crush it.

    Oh, one last point: isn't this getting dangerously close to becoming a human rights violation? The situation there seems to be getting out of control; someone needs to bring them back into line and remind them who really runs the show.
  • by Roundeye (16278)
    And he has to turn over all his public keys?

    Want my public keys?... I think you meant "private".

  • by Dacta (24628) on Saturday December 04, 1999 @03:59PM (#1479659)

    Look, our (I'm Australian) govenment has done some pretty bad stuff lately, but I don't think this one is too bad.

    So, they made a law that lets them (basically) monitor your computer use if they get a court order.

    What's wrong with that? Sure, I don't like EACELON (sp) but this is totally different. That is indiscrminate wire tapping. This is focused on people who are breaking the law.

    I don't like the idea of someone searching my computer, or my house. However I dislike even more the idea that the govement that is supposed to protect us cannot because the law forbids it from searching a criminals house (or computer)

    At least, now, it is out in the open, and not against the law. Where there is law, there are proceedures, and appeals, and checks & balances.

    Do you really think the NSA doesn't do this, too? What are the checks and balances there?

  • With the same argument I guess that since the police carry guns we can no longer critizise violent murderers? This is just plain silly and pathetic.

    No. Since the police carry guns we can no longer criticize citizens who carry guns.

    Or, more accurately: If the police were allowed to kill people without cause (in the name of "the people," of course), then, yes, we would be kind of out of order if we criticized other murderers.

    The state deliberately has wider powers than the individual to ensure order and civilization.

    The state's only legitimate power derives from the consent of the governed. How many governed are going to consent to this kind of madness?

    I, for one, am going to start boycotting Australia. These things are happening everywhere to some degree, but they are completely out of hand Down Under.


    Interested in XFMail? New XFMail home page [slappy.org].

  • Okay.. I was wrong.

    That will teach me to skim read & post.

  • There is the NUL: device that I remember from DOS days; I think it'd still be there. It's just that in WinDOS, everything is not necessarily a file, so you can't necessarily use NUL: like /dev/null in all cases. Especially without symbolic links... :-)


    Interested in XFMail? New XFMail home page [slappy.org].
  • It raises government power, and sadly political focus (at least in the US) is largely centered around the wielding of power.

    Trust me: the focus of all politics everywhere has always been on the wielding of power. (With the "categorical declarations are subject to a small but trivial degree of error" caveat.)

    Bribery and corruption has always been a second-order effect that is often mistaken for the problem. People who primarily want money instead of power will not go into government unless the government has expanded itself to the point that you cannot make money outside of government.

    People who want to do good and benefit the people are no exception -- they either aren't involved in politics, or they need to accumulate power to impose their vision of the good of the people. In fact, they can be even more tyrranical about it -- because they know they are doing the Right Thing.

    Politics and government is entirely about power, always has been (everywhere), and always will be (everywhere). Which is why eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.
  • by debrain (29228) on Saturday December 04, 1999 @01:14PM (#1479670) Journal
    Ok -- I clicked on the ASIO web page and it came up:
    ASIO test page
    And I come to the realization that I connected to the web page of a national intelligence agency and it was pleasantly informed that they were testing something. Why does this worry me? In the back of my mind, I can't help but think that when I get up tomorrow my computer will have "missing time" ... and it'll be runnig asio.d
  • This is an interesting issue because it draws numerous issues of technology, government, and privacy together. The descision touches on governmental rights and restrictions with regard to its citizens, privacy issues, security, permissible protection, etc. In many ways technology is only bringing to light how invasive our governments have been in the past. It seems conceded by both sides of the issue (its hard to tell which argument it supports) that this merely extends previously held powers to "modern technology". Maybe technology is merely raising public awereness of just how invasive our governments have or could have been (legally)... By way of example, in Australia, the Philippines, and I'm sure other nations, the governemnt is allowed to "root through" private mail upon mere suspicion of criminal behavior. But because this mail was *centrally controlled* it was unclear when this occurred. I'm sure many other people have gotten packages and messages that have been opened by "somebody". > The new powers are contained in a bill passed by > Australia's parliament late last month (the > Australian Security Intelligence Organization > Legislation Amendment 1999). This raises the issue of technologist awareness. I'm not really sure that *any* civilian groups would really be driving this bill. In fact this sounds like something governments like to sneak quietly through w/o raising fuss. Why? It raises government power, and sadly political focus (at least in the US) is largely centered around the wielding of power. ** ITS HARDER TO DEAL WITH THESE THINGS ONCE THEY ARE PASSED ** Of course another approach to combatting this is to fight back. Internet technology has been kind enough to oblige knowledegable users with "close to professional" (or as good) security tools. Use PGP even when you don't *really* need it. It just gets more encrypted mail out there, which certainely complicates the job of a centralized monitoring system. -nullity- "Honesty is the best policy, but insanity is the best defence"
  • by nullity (115966) on Saturday December 04, 1999 @01:15PM (#1479672) Homepage
    This is an interesting issue because it draws numerous issues of technology, government, and privacy together. The descision touches on governmental rights and restrictions with regard to its citizens, privacy issues, security, permissible protection, etc.

    In many ways technology is only bringing to light how invasive our governments have been in the past. It seems conceded by both sides of the issue (its hard to tell which argument it supports) that this merely extends previously held powers to "modern technology". Maybe technology is merely raising public awereness of just how invasive our governments have or could have been (legally)...

    By way of example, in Australia, the Philippines, and I'm sure other nations, the governemnt is allowed to "root through" private mail upon mere suspicion of criminal behavior. But because this mail was *centrally controlled* it was unclear when this occurred. I'm sure many other people have gotten packages and messages that have been opened by "somebody".

    > The new powers are contained in a bill passed by
    > Australia's parliament late last month (the
    > Australian Security Intelligence Organization
    > Legislation Amendment 1999).

    This raises the issue of technologist awareness. I'm not really sure that *any* civilian groups would really be driving this bill. In fact this sounds like something governments like to sneak quietly through w/o raising fuss. Why? It raises government power, and sadly political focus (at least in the US) is largely centered around the wielding of power.

    ** ITS HARDER TO DEAL WITH THESE THINGS ONCE THEY ARE PASSED **

    Of course another approach to combatting this is to fight back. Internet technology has been kind enough to oblige knowledegable users with "close to professional" (or as good) security tools. Use PGP even when you don't *really* need it. It just gets more encrypted mail out there, which certainely complicates the job of a centralized monitoring system.

    -nullity-

    "Honesty is the best policy, but insanity is the best defence"
  • Is more Democracy.

    --Al Smith
    Govener of New York In the '20s I think.

    HE was refering to things like sweatshops that were covering new york at that time.

    So lets stop bitching about this and do something. I know both parties are having trouble getting people to run for office. So how about some folks consider running for your State Leg or Congress. Even if you don't win you might get stuff taked about.

  • it was a joke... not to be taken seriously

    damn, that's all I need a yank with a sense of humour :P
  • No, the problem is not that they can access information. The problem is that they can modify the information. That's what's scary, because there's nothing that would prevent a Australian authority from changing your files so that it becomes "evidence" against you.

    Play nice? In an ideal world, yes... but remember, human beings are inherently corruptible. Given enough power, the temptation to abuse will always be there. And quite frequently, that step is taken.

  • by cybaea (79975)

    This article really p*sses me off.

    "If the government is allowed to be the biggest hacker in town, it really undermines computer security rather than enhances it," he [Paul Budde, a Sydney-based independent telecommunications analyst] said. "How can they now criticize 16-year-old kids who break into computer systems for fun if the government's doing it, too?"

    With the same argument I guess that since the police carry guns we can no longer critizise violent murderers? This is just plain silly and pathetic.

    The state deliberately has wider powers than the individual to ensure order and civilization. It is right to watch the way the state uses those powers carefully, but this article is just paranoid. There are (apparently) issues with the new law, but the journalists seems to have largely missed them.

    To suggest that the police are cracking computer systems "for fun" is childish.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I agree with you mostly. Although, a few slashdotter would be irked if the gov. started spamming. These intrusions are more noise you have to deal with before you can get any real work done. More people cracking at my box = more time making sure it's secure and less doing something productive like daytrading to make money for an orphanage.

    Others will be annoyed at the concept the government can plant evidence on an unsecure system and then legally destroy the evidence of planting it. Rather irksome. Rather hard to prove.

    GOV - "Yes we have records showing that we broke into the system and changed data, but all we did was change some access logs, etc. All that kiddie porn on his system was there before, and those 12 copies of Office2K and those 20 gigs of MP3s. All were located on the system in question"

    ATRNY - Then how do you explain that this computer was a kiosk in a Burger King? With no keyboard or mouse?

    GOV - Obviously Burger King is involved in a kiddie porn/warez/mp3 ring and must be stopped.
  • Really. Look at the source to the test page. What do you get?

    &ltMETA NAME="GENERATOR" CONTENT="Adobe PageMill 2.0 Mac"&gt

    Come on. Some supposedly-advanced computer intelligence agency had to use Pagemill to get something that said "ASIO - Test page" in a big font? Oooh, I'm scared of them now!
  • Unfortunatly the major parties have managed to literally fix the voting system into a position where they cannot lose.
    The combination of compulsory voting (fines imposed if you dont) with a preferential system means that while you vote for a conservative party...

    I have vaguely heard of this before. Doesn't India have something similar? Compulsory voting, anyway. The right to speak includes the ability to not speak, the right to vote should operate the same way.
    I'm curious, though. What is the state of the Australian Constitution? Do you even have one, or do you have something more similar to the British system of laws upon laws upon laws, back to the Magna Carta or so? Does the premise of judicial review exist Down Under? Could an appeal of some kind to the court system get this law ousted (the parties obviously aren't going to do it, legislatively)? An independant judicial system seems to be one of the few saving graces in America right now.
  • It is the prospect of the Australian government cracking into your system, without notfiying you and covering their tracks, coupled with the lack of public oversight that makes this so troubling. While it is true that the american IRS has been able to see a companies books, they could not do so without your knowledge. This will be especially bad for international trade and e-commerce, as this will permit economic spying ; this is the natural inference.
  • by CesiumFrog (41314) on Saturday December 04, 1999 @01:27PM (#1479705)
    Australia never really had direct enemies, except when Japan almost took a shot at us in WWII (Bombing Darwin and sending subs into Sydney harbour, tsck tsck..). The reason is that Australia just isn't worth invading. It's big, and mostly not worth inhabiting. The effort of transporting troops across some ocean, then through the middle of a desert just to pick a fight with an army prepared for the climate?

    Also, Australian gov't likes to send lots of it's troops to help out whoever it thinks are it's friends. Whenever the US finds a cause, Australia backs it. Sure, our army is quite insignificant by comparison, but it's assumed that alliances with the US and Britain would be of some use if we were attacked.


    On a slightly unrelated note, shouldn't we have "Australia" icons on the slashdot main page! Surely there's enough articles for a seperate section ;)

  • by Money__ (87045) on Saturday December 04, 1999 @01:27PM (#1479706)
    Sometimes people break into computers.

    Sometimes people break into computers and break the law.

    Sometimes people break into computer and they ARE the law.

    Which would you prefer?

  • The Australian Government is not hiding unethical activities, they're doing it out in the open where it can be challenged. Who knows what the United States government has been up to? We certainly can't change anything if we don't know whats going on. Cheers to the Australian government!
  • Not only do I doubt they can do it... with the aforementioned brain drain, how will they keep any good hackers in a low-paying government job?

    And if they do manage it a few hacks, the rest of the world will just firewall off Australia, as the RBL would do if the government legalized SPAM.

    Clueless.
  • by BrianH (13460) on Saturday December 04, 1999 @10:52PM (#1479721)
    That's simply not true. A democracy is always supported by the majority of the people, and the simple fact that it continues to exist implies that the so-called "silent majority" continues to back it. Therefore, the best way to change (or overthrow) a democracy is from within. Attacking it from the outside will simply undermine popular support and set the majority of the people against you.

    A textbook example of this is Adolph Hitler (hey, I don't like the guy, but he makes a good example here). In 1923 he decided that the democratic German government was corrupt and traitorous, and attempted an armed revolution to overthrow it. Can you guess what happened? The people wouldn't support him. Like most people in a democracy, they wanted the government changed, not eliminated. Hitler was caught and imprisoned for treason after the revolution was crushed by German police forces.

    After Hitler's release from prison, he again went to work on changing the government, but from the inside. He ran for office himself, and set up many of his supporters to run for various other offices. He used the democratic system to put himself and his supporters in positions of power, and then eliminated the system to keep himself there. By 1933 he had achieved through legislation and propoganda what had failed so miserably when attempted by force. While the Nazi reign was horrible, it does provide a great example of the power of working within the system.

    So I agree with the original poster. If you really want to change the system, you need to put some effort into it. Sometimes that means voting, sometimes that means participating in the campaigns of people you support, and sometimes that means running yourself. Our (U.S.) system was designed to put a large amount of power in the hand of the people, but if the people aren't willing to use that power, it's worthless.
  • And I thought there were no cool jobs in the public sector anymore!
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