The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (15:34): I rise today, as many members in this place do, to talk about an event I have recently attended. The event was my first CryptoParty. I suspect that I will be going to a few more. For those of you who, like me, have never heard of a CryptoParty, think of it as a global movement for people who want to teach their neighbours how to use cryptography to protect themselves from snoopers, especially from government surveillance. Think of it as a Tupperware party for learning crypto. It was actually kicked off by @Asher_Wolf, who is well known to Twitter followers with regard to her concerns of how to respond to the broad sweeping Australian internet surveillance bill which we have seen pass the federal parliament today.

We have seen people around the country, and indeed around the world, throwing CryptoParties. What is a CryptoParty and what did I learn? I certainly enjoyed the company of a packed house in a local Balmain pub with hosts Senator Scott Ludlam, Greens member for Balmain, Jamie Parker, the potential new member for Newtown, Jenny Leong, and local people who have skilled themselves up on how to protect their personal information from government snoops, sharing that information over a beer at a pub with the USBs, the laptops, the phones and the mobiles out.

They need to do so because, of course, we have seen legislation pass today in the federal parliament that I believe is quite a disgrace which will now see entities required to keep metadata of Australian citizens for up to two years and for that metadata to be able to be accessed without a warrant. It treats ordinary law-abiding Australian citizens as criminals, not the other way around. The bar should be that if the government wants to snoop on you it should get a warrant. Simply put, if you are not doing anything wrong you should not be afraid that the government is snooping on your information.

We have seen the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, give incorrect information about what metadata was to Channel 9 on the Today program last year and then have to correct that. We have also seen Attorney-General Brandis stumble his way through an ABC interview that was worthy of a sitcom. What we also see as worthy of a sitcom is the legislation itself, a little like the cone of silence in Get Smart. In fact, other than the CryptoParty, we have also seen journalists, such as Laura Tingle, hand out advice to people who might like to leak to journalists from hereon in about how to get around these new laws. She gives some advice and says:

For people wishing to leak to Fairfax journalists, you should know that our email addresses are now hosted on Gmail.

Because, of course, Gmail will not be subjected to the ability of an Australian jurisdiction to access that metadata. She goes on to say that she has a little trouble accessing her own Gmail, which indeed I do too with the new interface. But you can rest assured that if you are using Gmail you will be protected from the snoops of the Australian government. You can also use Facebook Messenger or Twitter direct, Senator Scott Ludlam advises. Indeed, if you use a provider that is based overseas, such as, say, Skype, which is based in Estonia, you will also escape these new Australian laws of super snooping.

The cone of silence did not work. Indeed, with a little education the Australian public and the Australian media will make sure that the snoops will not be able to access the Australian citizens' metadata that they seek to. The legislation is a joke but it is an expensive joke. It is a joke that will cost Australian businesses a vast amount of money for little gain. There have been arguments put up that this is to protect Australians against terrorism or to strengthen child protection, but what we have actually seen is that those claims are flawed. Indeed, I should suspect that both a paedophile and a terrorist would take themselves, not necessarily to a CryptoParty but certainly to educate themselves a little on how to protect themselves from the accessing of their metadata and take those very few steps to do so.

I think we should be partying like it is 1984 because today in the federal parliament it has been 1984. I will certainly be hosting some CryptoParties in South Australia, no Tupperware required. I would hope that members of the media will be joining me and I will also be inviting members of this parliament to ensure that their constituents are able to protect themselves against government snoops.

Stay Connected

Sign Up to news and updates from Tammy.