I realise I blog a lot of stuff most people either disagree with or think is useless info. however, I made a promise to myself I would ensure I did 2 things. First I would keep my blogs verifiable, and easily proven as factual, and Second I was going to keep as many people informed as I could, we are in a situation Australia has not encountered since the end of WWII, we are under attack by a Communist regime, after WWII the Communist Party was closed down in Australia before it could cause havoc. Now it is the worst case scenario, now they are in Government because too many people did believe this was a serious threat. I only hope their eyes are wide open now, for we are heading for a crossroads for Australia’s future.
All of this was started 41 years ago when Gough Whitlam and his entourage of Australian Labor Party officials and colleagues touched down in Beijing, and so one of the greatest political gambles in our history was on the table.
Just 15 years after Labor was trounced at the polls in the face of a red-baiting campaign over links to the old Soviet Union and when the ALP’s commitment to the United States was being tested in Vietnam, it was a brave western political party which set out to forge links with the sleeping giant of communism.
Whitlam, along with party president, Queensland’s Tom Burns, and ALP secretary Mick Young saw in China a potential economic and regional powerhouse but at first they were portrayed as ingénues in diplomacy, selling out Australia’s interest.
What they didn’t know was that five days after they touched down and just as they were exiting China US president Richard Nixon sent his secretary of state Henry Kissinger to Peking (now Beijing) to pave the way for American recognition of the world’s most populous nation.
On the 13th July in Beijing Deputy Prime Minister Wayne Swan hosted a dinner to mark this anniversary after meeting three of China’s most powerful political and economic leaders.
And this day he met National Development Reform Council chairman Zhang Ping and People’s Bank of China governor Zhou Xiaochuan the former pulls the levers on the economy increasing and slowing the flow of capital spending while the latter has the job of controlling that economy which runs between simmering and boiling.
However, it was Swan’s meeting late on 12th July which was more significant in terms of the near future. Vice-Premier Li Keqiang is set to be named as the new Chinese Premier No.2 in the power structure in October, taking over from Wen Jaiboa and the meeting with Swan this week was the fourth for the pair.
Australia’s relations with China have been marked by some strong personal ties, first between Whitlam and the original modern but cautious reformer in Beijing Deng Xiaoping and in the 1980s between Bob Hawke and Hu Yaobang. Swan and Li have a similar close bond as was seen by the warmth of the greetings in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People.
There is no doubt Labor’s far Left have been learning from China, and due to the mix of Communism and Capitalism that is controlled and given to Party members in China, it is apparent why this approach is attracting ALP attention.
Australia’s Labor government is now pushing for unprecedented powers to intercept all Internet communications in much the same way that China is operating, and in line with similar measures in the United States and Europe. Under the proposals, everything that Australians do on-line, from Skype calls to Twitter and Facebook posts, would be stored for up to two years so that the security agencies could explore the data.
This massive extension of government spying will be the greatest expansion of the powers of the security apparatus since the barrage of “anti-terrorism” laws introduced by the previous Liberal government, with Labor’s backing, in the wake of the 2001 terror attacks in the US.
Australian residents are already subjected to intensive monitoring of their telecommunications. In 2010-11, according to official data, the intelligence and law enforcement agencies were granted nearly a quarter of a million data intercept requests under the existing legislation.
This is nearly twice the rate per person of the US, where cell phone companies last week reported that government bodies, including federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and courts, made at least 1.3 million demands for subscriber information in 2011 (see: “Massive expansion of domestic spying under Obama”).
Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s government this week released a discussion paper by the Attorney-General’s Department outlining more than 40 proposals to be reviewed by a parliamentary committee.
Internet service providers would be forced to retain all on-line data for up to 24 months. This parallels a European Union directive that its member states require data storage for between 6 and 24 months, and with provisions proposed in the US (see: “Obama administration presses for law on Internet data retention”).
The current tapping of phones, including mobile and smart phones, would be extended to VOIP (Internet phone) services, including Skype, and to all social media. People could be forced to hand over their passwords, and it would be an offence for an Internet user, a service provider or a company to refuse to assist in the decryption of communications.
A ban would be lifted on the security services tampering with a targeted computer in a way that interferes with its lawful use. The intelligence agencies would also be shielded from all criminal or civil liability when conducting so-called authorised operations.
The intelligence and police services, whose interception activities are presently legally restricted to investigations relating to “serious offences” defined as punishable by seven years’ imprisonment, would have that penalty limit lowered, possibly to offences carrying three years’ jail. The attorney-general could also authorise intercepts of a person who “is, or likely to be, involved in intelligence or counter-intelligence activities.”
That vague definition could apply to political dissidents and investigative journalists, as well as Julian Assange, the Australian-born WikiLeaks editor, who has published documents on US war crimes and secret intrigues committed by the US and its allies, including the Australian Labor government.
Attorney-General Nicola Roxon claimed that the government was still only considering the plans, and claimed that, unlike the previous Howard Liberal government, “the Gillard government wants to give the public a say in the development of new laws, which is why I’m asking the committee to conduct public hearings.”
The truth is that the package is being rammed through as quickly as possible. Members of the public have been given less than four weeks to make submissions to the Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security. The government has also specified that the parliamentary committee should conduct “in camera and classified hearings”, as well as public ones.
Interception warrants are currently available to 17 federal, state and territory agencies, notably the police services, the domestic spy agency, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), and its overseas partner, the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS). There is also the military’s electronic surveillance arm, the Defence Signals Directorate.
Many other government organisations have access to stored data, including the Border Protection Service, the tax office and Centrelink, the federal government’s welfare agency. This permits the creation of giant data bases on the movement, activities and transactions of millions of people.
The proposals are the latest in a series of steps by the Labor government to boost its secret surveillance powers. These include amendments to the Telecommunications Interception and Access Act, and changes to the Intelligence Services Act (dubbed the “WikiLeaks amendment”) to extend spying to anyone regarded as a threat to Australia’s foreign relations (see: “Australian government expands spy agency’s powers”).
The Labor government has entrenched all the police state-style powers imposed in the supposed “war on terrorism”—already broad enough to cover many forms of political dissent and social unrest—and widened them even further. The discussion paper speaks sweepingly of combating “threats to our well-being”, “agents of espionage” and “other emerging threats”.
The Gillard government is acutely aware of the politically destabilising impact of the global financial crisis and the potential for major struggles by workers and young people. Evidence has already come to light of the government asking ASIO and the Australian Federal Police (AFP) to monitor political protests, and of Gillard speaking to the AFP chief about preparing for riots like those that erupted in Britain last year (see: “Australian government steps up secret surveillance of protests”).
Senator Scott Ludlam, the Greens communications spokesman, voiced concerns that the latest proposals would erode privacy and “the very freedoms that our security agencies were intended to protect.” He told the media it was critical for the parliamentary committee to ensure that someone was “watching the watchers”. Ludlam called for a “healthy balance” to be struck between privacy concerns and “genuine security”.
As Ludlam’s comments make clear, the Greens completely accept the existence of the security agencies and the inroads being made into democratic rights. Their expressions of “concern” are simply aimed at defusing broader public distrust and opposition over the widening of the powers of the security apparatus. Its purpose is not to protect “freedoms” but the interests of the ruling elites.
The Greens have played the same role throughout the past decade. Most recently, the Greens did not oppose the removal of a ban on extraditions for “political offences”, thus allowing Assange or any other Australian citizen to be handed over to the US to face espionage or other politically-motivated charges. Ludlam’s latest comments are in keeping with the Greens’ de facto coalition with the minority Labor government, supplying it with the parliamentary votes it needs to survive.
BEIJING — New regulations that require bars, restaurants, hotels and bookstores to install costly Web monitoring software are prompting many businesses to cut Internet access and sending a chill through the capital’s game-playing, Web-grazing literati who have come to expect free Wi-Fi with their lattes and green tea.
The software, which costs businesses about $3,100, provides public security officials the identities of those logging on to the wireless service of a restaurant, cafe or private school and monitors their Web activity. Those who ignore the regulation and provide unfettered access face a $2,300 fine and the possible revocation of their business license.
“From the point of view of the common people, this policy is unfair,” said Wang Bo, the owner of L’Infusion, a cafe that features crepes, waffles and the companionship of several dozing cats. “It’s just an effort to control the flow of information.”
It is unclear whether the new measures will be strictly enforced or applied beyond the area of central Beijing where they are already in effect. But they suggest that public security officials, unnerved by turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa partly enabled by the Internet, are undaunted in their efforts to increase controls.
China already has some of the world’s most far-reaching online restrictions. Last year, the government blocked more than a million Web sites, many of them pornographic, but also Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Evite. Recent regulations make it difficult for individuals unaffiliated with a company to create personal Web sites.
Bahrain enforces an effective news blackout using an array of repressive measures, including keeping the international media away, harassing human rights activists, arresting bloggers and other online activists (one of whom died in detention), prosecuting free speech activists, and disrupting communications, especially during major demonstrations.
Belarus listed as selective in the political, social, conflict/security and Internet tools areas by ONI in November 2010. Listed as an Internet enemy by RWB in 2012. The Internet in Belarus, as a space used for circulating information and mobilizing protests, has been hard hit as the authorities increased the list of blocked websites and partially blocked the Internet during protests. As a way to limit coverage of demonstrations some Internet users and bloggers have been arrested and others have been invited to “preventive conversations” with the police. Law No. 317-3, which took effect on 6 January 2012, reinforced Internet surveillance and control measures.
South Korea is a world leader in Internet and broadband penetration, but its citizens do not have access to a free and unfiltered Internet. South Korea’s government maintains a wide-ranging approach toward the regulation of specific online content and imposes a substantial level of censorship on elections-related discourse and on a large number of Web sites that the government deems subversive or socially harmful. The policies are particularly strong toward suppressing anonymity in the Korean internet.
Syria has banned websites for political reasons and arrested people accessing them. In addition to filtering a wide range of Web content, the Syrian government monitors Internet use very closely and has detained citizens “for expressing their opinions or reporting information online.” Vague and broadly worded laws invite government abuse and have prompted Internet users to engage in self-censoring and self-monitoring to avoid the state’s ambiguous grounds for arrest.
The United Arab Emirates forcibly censors the Internet using Secure Computing solution. The nation’s ISPs Etisalat and du (telco) ban pornography, politically sensitive material, all Israeli domains, and anything against the perceived moral values of the UAE. All or most VoIP services are blocked. The Emirates Discussion Forum or simply uaehewar.net, has been subjected to multiple censorship actions by UAE authorities.
Vietnam Yemen censors pornography, nudity, gay and lesbian content, escort and dating services, sites displaying provocative attire, Web sites which present critical reviews of Islam and/or attempt to convert Muslims to other religions, or content related to alcohol, gambling, and drugs. Yemen’s Ministry of Information declared in April 2008 that the penal code will be used to prosecute writers who publish Internet content that “incites hatred” or “harms national interests”. Yemen’s two ISPs, YemenNet and TeleYemen, block access to gambling, adult, sex education, and some religious content. The ISP TeleYemen (aka Y.Net) prohibits “sending any message which is offensive on moral, religious, communal, or political grounds” and will report “any use or attempted use of the Y.Net service which contravenes any applicable Law of the Republic of Yemen”. TeleYemen reserves the right to control access to data stored in its system “in any manner deemed appropriate by TeleYemen.
Malaysia have had mixed messages and confusion regarding Internet censorship in Malaysia. Internet content is officially uncensored, and civil liberties assured, though on numerous occasions the government has been accused of filtering politically sensitive sites. Any act that curbs internet freedom is theoretically contrary to the Multimedia Act signed by the government of Malaysia in the 1990s. However, pervasive state controls on traditional media spill over to the Internet at times, leading to self-censorship and reports that the state investigates and harasses bloggers and cyber-dissidents
Reporters Without Borders
In 2006, Reporters without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF), a Paris-based international non-governmental organization that advocates freedom of the press, started publishing a list of “Enemies of the Internet”. The organization classifies a country as an enemy of the internet because “all of these countries mark themselves out not just for their capacity to censor news and information online but also for their almost systematic repression of Internet users.” In 2007 a second list of countries “Under Surveillance”(originally “Under Watch”) was added, these countries have been making sustained attempts to restrict the media and censor Internet use.. Both lists are updated annually.
Enemies of the Internet
Bahrain, Belarus, Burma, China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam
Countries under Surveillance
Australia, Egypt, Eritrea, France, India, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Russia, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates
This is what Australia has been dragged towards, our consideration as a free and democratic society is under serious threat, we are being looked at overseas as a country who may well be under serious threat of media and political censorship, ensuring that when a Government makes the monumental mistakes this current regime has made we are unable to voice our ……………