A new Fairfax report just announced that 2500 police officers are going to get unfettered access to all your digital biz. Thanks to the Labor Party failing to live up to their title as Opposition in place of being Tone’s best friends, the government has passed their data retention laws, which require ISP’s to store all your metadata for two years. Now if, for some reason, you didn’t want 2500 cops being able to see who you emailed, when, how many attachments were in your email, what time you sent it and from where or who you called, when, how long for and where, there are a few handy ways to get around these suckers.
But before we all freak out, grab our black hats, V for Vendetta masks and head out to the streets, there is some good news. They won’t be retaining your web browsing history, what you wrote in messages or what you actually said in conversations digital or otherwise. They can’t see the actual files in your email or track you live via your mobile phone. All that stuff is still illegal. So no need for complete panic yet.
More good news: if you use third party software for your messaging services or for your email you should be pretty sweet. The laws only apply to Australian based companies, so if you have a Gmail account for example, or message using Whatsapp or Facebook messenger, all the security agencies will be able to see is that your phone made contact with the Whatsapp server with no information about who you sent it to, or what was contained in the message.
If you have a Bigpond or Iinet email account, I’d drop it like it’s hot.
Start using Tor. Tor is an internet browser that functions by pinging their information off servers worldwide. Meaning it’s exceptionally difficult for a third party to get an IP address. Probably the best browser to use to preserve your security.
The final thing you can do is pretty geeky. But if you value your privacy touching up on your tech skillz is going to be the only way to go. Get yourself a VPN. A Virtual Private Network or VPN is essentially a middleman between your computer and the internet. Each website you request is sent through your VPN, who then send an encrypted request for it and collect the data on your behalf. Meaning there is no way to trace the data back to you – it gets to the VPN and stops.
The other cool thing about VPN’s are they are based all around the world, so if you set one up correctly you’ll have access to the US Netflix, BBC Online, HBO you name it.
A word to the wise on VPN’s. Don’t be a cheapskate. If you’re going to get amongst them, don’t go for a free one. I know, I know – everyone’s broke, dude. But, if you go for a free service it’s more than likely that they don’t destroy their data and more over that it will seriously slow down your internet speeds. Which is the worst. Do your research, make sure you find a VPN that does not store your data, that has servers in Australia and preferably around the world as well.
If you are unsure about which VPN to go with here is a handy-dany list that lays it out in order of best privacy for you here. Some of them also allow up to five devices to be connected, which wont help out on the phone calls front, but will protect your browsing, so that’s a bit of a win as well.
If you have any other great ways around these new laws, let us know.
Written by Patrick Cullen. Photo by Berge.