Sunday, May 29, 2005

A rare small victory

This is rather an old story (three weeks these days seems to be old news). On the fifth of May the state in which I live, New South Wales, the state government passed some anti "big brother" legislation which seems to be rare in this age of biometric passports, security cameras,retina scans, e-mail sniffing software and the like.

The NSW state government actually making it illegal for your employer snoop on your e-mail without a court order. Unfortunately the legislation will not be able to deal with other agencies, governments and interested parties who fall outside the "employer" scope.

EMPLOYERS that read workers' private emails may soon risk criminal charges with legal safeguards being introduced today by the NSW government.

NSW will be the first Australian state to outlaw unauthorised spying of employees using technologies including video cameras, email and tracking devices with the introduction of the Workplace Surveillance Bill 2005 to state parliament today.

I notice stateside that six states and 400 communities are not accepting the most insidious piece of Western hemisphere legislation since Germany's Ermächtigungsgesetz (Enabling Act) ie. the Patriot Act. And there are pricks in Washington who think that this top seekret stuff needs a review and are going behind closed doors to draft Patriot Act II and extend the use by dates..

Open and accountable government? I doubt it.

Coincidentally e-mail snooping was mentioned by a few senators and we have been assured that it's all Hokey Dorey, I suppose these Senators in this closed sitting haven't heard of Echelon (which would not be known about if it hadn't been for the New Zealand government blowing the lid on it) or Carnivore which was the FBI's information weapon of choice.


  • It's good to hear about the e-mail snooping thing. Although, my boss still snoops on my e-mail in other "subtle" ways - his desk is directly behind mine and sometimes he gets up to "stretch" (i.e. blatantly look over at what i'm doing, for over 30 secs at a time).

    I still don't get why employers would want to look at their employees' e-mails though?

    By Blogger Misha, at 11:05 am  

  • I think it's mainly to discourage pornography which is one of those icky subjects which companies have zero tolerance for. Not from a moral perspective but from the "possibility of liability" perspective. By educating and informing the workforce of a "zero tolerance" policy, the blame and thus liability is shifted from the corporation to the individual.

    Morality and ethics are pretty thin on the ground with most large companies, although they like to think they have bucketloads to spare and even advertise this spin.

    Usually when there is talk of this nature, they've either been stung with a lawsuit or another company has.

    That's my impression of it anyway.

    By Blogger Johnno, at 11:40 am  

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