The Australian Government is committed to providing law enforcement and security agencies with the tools they need by requiring the telecommunications industry to retain a limited set of your personal metadata for two years.
What does this mean for Australian internet users?
This means multiple Australian Government security agencies can and will track your internet usage for no less than two years. They do this by requiring your internet service provider (ISP) to store the internet sites you visit for a two year period.
This means your ISP (i.e. Telstra, Optus, TPG, iiNet, iPrimus etc) are obligated by law to track and hand over your internet usage to secretive government agencies.
This means everything you do online is being tracked.
This means everywhere you go with your internet enabled mobile phone is also being tracked.
How can I protect my privacy from the government and the abuse of my metadata?
Fortunately, it is quite simple to protect your privacy from your ISP and therefore from the Australian Government. You will also protect yourself from foreign governments who have more malevolent intentions in tracking your internet habits.
Don’t forget if you use Facebook, it tracks and stores with your profile visits to any webpage that has a Facebook “like” button using cookies (whether or not you actually press like) which may then be accessed by United States government intelligence agencies and contractors.
This isn’t a far fetch conspiracy theory; it is now accepted fact where governments have now shifted from denying the allegations to defending their spying activities as necessary.
The simplest way to protect yourself is to always use a virtual private network (VPN). You should at least use a VPN when undertaking any activities that your government (or an unfriendly foreign government) may consider questionable or against its sponsor’s interests.
A VPN works by encrypting your internet data and tunnelling it through a special server. This way your ISP can only track that all your data goes to this server but cannot see what that data is or where you might visit at the other end. VPN service providers that value your privacy do not keep any logs so have nothing to hand over to government spy agencies should they come knocking.
Where can I get a VPN?
You can easily sign up for a VPN service online. They do cost money but only a few dollars a month. There are some free VPNs available but they will slow down your broadband internet which is just not worth it (i.e. why pay for fast broadband by slowing it down through a free VPN server). Paid VPN services have high speed servers.
UPDATE: check my other post on choosing a VPN provider by clicking here.
I use privateinternetaccess.com which has has easy apps for Windows, Mac and Android and simple instructions for for iOS and other platforms. You can sign up for privateinternetaccess.com by clicking here (currently less than US$5 per month).
If you want to try a different VPN provider then check out IPvanish or overplay.net. Overplay also has a package deal that includes both a smart DNS (for unblocking Netflix and other streaming video services) and VPN (protecting your privacy and downloads). Just click here to check out overplay.net.
Don’t take your privacy for granted; your government doesn’t!