Information Technology in a Global Society

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International Baccalaureate

Information Technology in a Global Society

Portfolio

Big Brother is watching: what are the impacts on society?
(Politics and Government)

June 2003

Student No. 1

XY International School

News Item:
Mackenzie, Kate 2002, Data-spying deal between police, ISPs, http://australianit.news.com.au/articles/0,7204,4180888%5E15306%5E%5Enbv%5E,00.html [May 2003] Presentation of the Issue
Whilst the Internet has become a valuable resource for much of the Australian community, it has also been misused, and has led to numerous Internet assisted crimes against families and businesses alike. Dubbed ‘The Telecommunications Interception Amendment Bill’, the new law will provide the Government with greater access to Internet surveillance through the cooperation between ISPs and Australian law enforcement agencies (Mackenzie 2003). Australian ISPs are now required to aid in the interception of sensitive data and are obliged to work openly with government departments, such as federal police and ASIO (Australian Security Intelligence Organisation).

The amendment bill proposes to counter the increasingly prevalent problem of electronic criminal activity by providing more practical, widespread and efficient surveillance over the Internet’s usage. By closely monitoring Internet usage, the Government aims to intercept criminal activity before damage can be dealt. Criminals will be found and brought to justice and as a consequence, Australia will become a more pleasant environment, less likely to be under attack by Internet assisted crime.

A study by NOIE (2002) shows “52 percent of Australian households are connected to the Internet”. The bill widely impacts over the Australian community – innocent and criminals alike. It impinges the right to use the Internet relaxedly and freely, without the psychological detrimental feeling that their every move is being monitored. Also the bill will negatively affect the ISPs and the Government through the monetary cost, the time, effort and human resources to set up and maintain the surveillance technology, which might be better spent on other criminal investigations. The issue is explained in paragraphs 2 and 3.

The IT Background of the Issue
The NSW Police (2002) claim that exploitations of the Internet have doubled from 1999. If such a trend continues the Internet will be too unsafe to be used without taking an unreasonable risk. As the Internet becomes more commonly used as a tool in criminal, terrorist and cyber terrorist activity governments around the world are beginning to re-evaluate their stance on its surveillance (Miller 2001,Kane 2002). Some trends but no developments.

The ISP, provider of direct access to the Internet backbone, is essential in the surveillance. All Australian use of the Internet will be continually monitored by automated ISP computer mainframes for specific security flags. Flags include sensitive key words such as bomb, virus, plane or Allah in particular combinations, or access to sensitive Internet pages. When a security flag is raised by an ISP server, an alarm is raised and the computer begins to record the user’s keystrokes and mouse clicks, for deeper police analysis of the possible security threat. Either the possible threat is dismissed or acted upon defensively by police, leading to a decrease in successful cyber crimes. IT concepts well described and some developments; not enough detail, particularly of developments for explanation, and certainly no analysis.

The Impact of the Issue
The legislature will increase the number of arrests and decrease the amount of crime that is committed through the Internet. Hackers, cyber terrorists and white-collar criminals will be under threat by the system as their every keystroke and mouse click is monitored for clues to their criminal activities. Such electronic criminals will now not be able to communicate and work freely without being caught by the surveillance...
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