Diffusion Science radio: Tasmanian Tiger bosses spy syphilis

Tasmanian Tiger bosses spy syphilis

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Tasmanian Tigers on the mainland by Chris Rehberg,
Syphilis dose 2 by John August,
Policing at work and school by Ian Woolf,
News by Victoria Bond
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- fertilisation fighting malaria,
Presented and Produced by Ian Woolf

Policing at Work by Ian Woolf

So Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced that companies need to be able to read employee's email whenever they want, in order to prevent emails being used to commit massive crimes like breaking essential services. This means repealing the Telecommunications (Interception) Act, 1997 which says that only ASIO can intercept emails, and only if they have a warrant from the Attorney-General. In this they went further than other liberal democracies where a warrant from a judge is required, instead of just a government minister.

Since companies are fictional people, who are the bosses that will have greater powers than ASIO? What will separate the police from the policed? Will it be managing one employee? Managing five? There will be national outcry that bosses shouldn't be doing this, and bosses will say they need police to do this. Does it make sense for managers to have more policing powers than ASIO? So the government can back off and just give ASIO and the Federal Police these powers to wiretap without a warrant, and the public will feel they've been saved from the evil spying bosses. Certainly if a MacDonalds supervisor can read our emails, then ineveitably ASIO and the Federal Police will have equal powers.

At present if ASIO makes a horrible mistake using its email interception powers, the responsibility lies with the minister who granted the warrant. If this law is changed, then the government has no responsibility for anything that goes wrong.

Of course if you were to read your boss's email and blow the whistle on criminal plans, then you would be the one to go to gaol.

Technically there are two ways that bosses could read your email. Either they set up a system where they hire people to read all incoming and outgoing emails, in the same way as a country at war. This means a special internal police force. This slows down email traffic and costs a lot of money. Its not going to happen.

The other is to give bosses the power to search your inbox and sent mail folders whenever they want. They will inevitably use Outlook which by default automatically executes macros embedded in emails and automatically opens attachments. This is how viruses are spread. The bosses will spread more viruses this way. It would be simpler to have software anonymously filter emails for attachments before they reach the employee - without anyone reading them.

We are told we need to protect essential services that are in private hands from electronic attack. The only known case of an essential service going down due to abuse of a private network is the rolling black-outs caused in california. However the criminals were not the employees, but the executives of Enron. The executives criminally caused blackouts to generate a fake demand for electricity that allowed them to justify increasing the cost of power. Giving email reading power to the executives is like giving the keys to the henhouse to the fox.

Perhaps emails could be sent to or by employees using code. If so, it would require ASIO or Federal POlice to crack the code, not bosses. When the dust settles, we may be expected to welcome ASIO and the Federal Police being given these overkill powers over email, just to stop the bosses from getting them.

In reality, an electronic attack on a company is more likely to come from a Denial Of Service Attack. This is usally done by saturating the computer with so many requests for service, whether that be a web page or a credit card authentication, that the computer has no time left over to service legitimate requests. The email equivalent is spam. So is the Deputy Prime Minister proposing to classify email spam as a terror crime?

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April 24, 2008

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