Förderverein Informationstechnik und Gesellschaft

Vom Austritt Australiens aus der zivilisierten Welt?,1294,32853,00.html

Orwellian Nightmare Down Under?

by Stewart Taggart

3:00 a.m. 4.Dec.1999 PST

SYDNEY, Australia -- Any data seem different on your computer today?

If you're in Australia, the government has the ability to modify your files. Its cyber spooks have been given legal power not only to monitor private computers around the country, but to change the data they contain.

The new powers are contained in a bill passed by Australia's parliament late last month (the Australian Security Intelligence Organization Legislation Amendment 1999). They now await only the largely ceremonial assent of Australia's governor general before becoming law.

"These are really untested waters," says Chris Connolly, a vocal Australian privacy advocate. "I don't think there's any example anywhere else in the world that's comparable."

Under the new law, Australia's attorney general can authorize legal hacking into private computer systems, as well as copying or altering data, as long as he has reasonable cause to believe it's relevant to a "security matter."

The keyboard spies will come from the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO), Australia's equivalent of the Central Intelligence Agency. Catherine Fitzpatrick, spokeswoman for Attorney General Daryl Williams, said the law merely "modernizes" an existing 1979 statute that previously governed ASIO, and sorely needed updating.

"This just brings ASIO's powers in line with new technologies," she said. "It doesn't give them increased powers at all."


A GIANT data warehouse containing the personal and financial details of almost every Australian is being constructed by a United States company and will be operational by Christmas.