Australian IT

Snooping laws pass lower house

DECEMBER 09, 2004

POLICE will be able to access stored voice mail, email and mobile phone
text messages under new laws passed by federal parliament today.

The laws recognise voice mail, email and SMS messages should fall outside
telecommunication interception laws originally designed to stop law
enforcement agencies from intercepting phone calls.

 Police and other law enforcement officers will still need a search warrant
or a right of access to communications or storage equipment to access voice
mail, email and SMS under the changes.

 "These amendments make it easier for our law enforcement and regulatory
agencies to access stored communications that could provide evidence of
criminal activity," Attorney-General Philip Ruddock said.

 "They will also assist in securing information systems by allowing network
administrators to review stored communications for viruses and other
inappropriate content."

 Labor referred the proposed law to a Senate committee three times before
agreeing to it today.

 Opposition homeland security spokesman Robert McClelland said there needed
to be a distinction between stored messages and live telephone

 "There have been concerns expressed about privacy and there always has
been a distinction between an eavesdropper and the reader of other people's
correspondence," he said.

 "But written documents have always been susceptible to legal process, to

 "Everyone that creates a document does so knowing that that document can
be read by others and can be subject to legal process.

 "I don't think anything turns on the fact the document is written on a
computer and sent by email as opposed to being written in long hand and
popped in the letter box."

 The laws are a temporary measure and will cease to have effect after 12
months when a review of the measures will be undertaken.

R. A. Hettinga <mailto: [EMAIL PROTECTED]>
The Internet Bearer Underwriting Corporation <http://www.ibuc.com/>
44 Farquhar Street, Boston, MA 02131 USA
"... however it may deserve respect for its usefulness and antiquity,
[predicting the end of the world] has not been found agreeable to
experience." -- Edward Gibbon, 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire'

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