‘Surveillance Internet tax’ forced upon Australians


It’s been referred to as the new “surveillance tax” by Steve Dalby. Dalby, the chief regulatory officer of internet provider, iiNet, has called on the government to explain their new plans of a phone and internet tax in Australia with transparency. Dalby argues that the costs passed on to consumers won’t be negligible, as Communications Minister, Malcolm Turnbull has suggested. The estimated rise is likely to be $5 to $10 extra a month.

The impending scheme which is slated for legislation in the coming months will enforce telcos in Australia to retain metadata about their customers for two years. The metadata will include IP addresses of sender and recipient, billing information, time, date and location, to allow law enforcement agencies, such as ASIO, to access it without a warrant.[1]


The submission of the pending legislation notates that “there is a strong likelihood that opponents will refer to the regime as an internet tax that will be passed on to consumers. This is not an internet tax.” [2]And though the submission is “silent on cost,” The Communications Alliance, representing telecommunications companies, estimates a $500 – $700 million bill to telcos for the implementation of the legislation.[3] One which Dalby of iiNet states they alone face $100 million in costs. “iiNet does not agree that it should accept the role proposed by those calling for an onerous data retention regime,” he said. “’If we are ultimately compelled by law to collect such data, the government must be responsible for its storage and protection.”

Former NSA chief legal advisor Stewart Baker believes there should be no limits on the data collected, stating that “an unholy alliance of business and privacy activists” prevented the combating of terrorism. Liberal Senator, Ian MacDonald went on record saying he would “rather be alive and lack privacy than dead with my privacy intact,” also citing terrorism as their reasoning behind the new secretive legislation.

The legislation is set to be introduced into parliament later this year. Turnbull has said the costs will be   “none and negligible” to customers and it is yet to be decided if the data stored will be kept onshore for authorities to access. [4]

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[1] Ben Grubb (7 August 2014) The Sydney Morning Herald. “George Brandis in ‘car crash’ interview over controversial data retention regime.” http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/digital-life-news/george-brandis-in-car-crash-interview-over-controversial-data-retention-regime-20140806-101849.html (Retrieved November 2014)

[2] James Massola, Political Correspondent. (30 October 2014) The Sydney Morning Herald. “Secret government briefing admits metadata law cost and warns of ‘internet tax’ campaign.” http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/secret-government-briefing-admits-metadata-law-cost-and-warns-of-internet-tax-campaign-20141030-11e1v8.html (Retrieved 1 November 2014)

[3] Matthew Knott (30 July 2014) The Sydney Morning Herald. “Internet ‘tax may fund new spy laws.” http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/internet-tax-may-fund-new-spy-laws-20140729-3cs4g.html (Retrieved 1 November 2014)

[4] Mitchell Bingemann, The Australian. (1 November 2014) “Malcolm Turnbull has no problem with storing metadata overseas.” http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/malcolm-turnbull-has-no-problem-with-storing-metadata-overseas/story-e6frg8zx-1227108901686 (Retrieved 1 November 2014)



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  1. I say that big corporations and mining magnates avoiding tax are terrorists and the same powers should be conferred on the ATO to sweep in the missing billions no holds barred. They do more harm to the economy through tax avoidance than terrorists do.

  2. Big brother sees everything. Prepare for 1984. 🙁 If you want to fight terrorism you have to be transparent and free. Lack of freedom encourages terrorism.


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