Saturday, January 21, 2012

Australian law enforcement agencies were issued 243,631 warrants to obtain telecommunications logs in the period from July 2010 to June 2011. According to Greens' Senator Scott Ludlam, that vastly overshadowed the 3500-odd legal intercepts of communications and makes us part of what privacy activist Jacob Appelbaum calls the "surveillance planet".

The data is from the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 Annual Report for the year ending 30 June 2011, which reports on the usage and effectiveness of the three categories of warrants to conduct surveillance.

To obtain a warrant to conduct an intercept — that is, to record the contents of communications — law enforcement agencies must believe that the target is involved in a serious crime for which they could be jailed for seven years or more.

However there's a much lower threshold to obtain so-called telecommunications data, which is everything except the content of the communication itself — for example, the source's internet protocol (IP) address, the addressee, and the latitude and longitude of the location a phone call was made from...