Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Simplistic rubbish from Leyonhjelm

In his piece about metadata today, David Leyonhjelm makes this claim:
When governments get involved in regulating things they don't understand, things tend to go terribly wrong. Getting into the insulation business, for instance, resulted in installers dying and houses burning down. This proposal has the potential to have equally significant consequences.
Mmmm yes;  the politician most against government regulation of businesses now tries to make an example of a problem that occurred because of inadequate regulation, or enforcement thereof, in a business.

Shameless inconsistency by a gun stroking numbskull.

As for metadata:  if some ISPs are already storing it for a year or two (as the government has said), then who are libertarians to stop them running their business as they see fit? Sure, privacy concerns are raised by the practice, and that is conceded below. 

Common sense suggests that there is no reason to doubt that metadata could be very useful for some very serious criminal investigations and anti terrorist intelligence operations.

The issue with metadata should not be about storage per se, but about who, and the basis on which, access can be given.

If the argument was restricted to that, I don't see a problem.

But the argument that metadata should not be kept or accessible by anyone at all - that doesn't pass the common sense test.

Update:  I see from this Gizmodo article, that the intention of the government legislation is to actually reduce the number of authorities who can access it:
 Currently any authority or body that enforces a criminal law, a law imposing a pecuniary penalty or a law that protects the public revenue is an ‘enforcement agency’ under the TIA Act and can seek telecommunications data where that access complies with the requirements set out in Chapter 4 of the TIA Act. In 2012-2013 data was accessed by around 80 Commonwealth, State and Territory agencies with criminal law or revenue protection functions.

The Bill will require that bodies who are not a ‘criminal law enforcement agency’ for the purposes of the TIA Act must be declared by the Minister to be an ‘enforcement agency’ before they can authorise the disclosure of telecommunications data. These amendments will ensure that only authorities and bodies with a demonstrated need to have telecommunications information can authorise the disclosure of this information. These amendments are consistent with Recommendation 5 of the PJCIS Report that the number of agencies able to access telecommunications data be reduced.
 This is the type of detail that should be being discussed.


TimT said...

What? No, Leyonhjelm's clear implication is that government regulation will frequently be poorly constructed and badly targeted because governments simply cannot possess expertise in every area of human endeavour that they are representing (that is, every area of human endeavour). There's no contradiction here. It just comes down to the simple principle: humans are imperfect, and therefore their attempts to regulate will quite often reflect those imperfections and be imperfect themselves.

Steve said...

Tim, is he suggesting that there should have been stronger regulation of the insulation scheme, or not?

Is he arguing that if it had been up to businesses to self regulate, they would have done a better job? If so, how does that gel with what happened?

If he is going to whinge about regulations when he thinks there should be none, why raise a issue in which the problem was inadequate regulation and no regulation at all would likely have been even worse.

And in the case of the metadata laws, the government "regulation" of it already exists (to the extent of that authorities are allowed to access it) and companies are free to retain it and do for a time. The proposed changes to the law may actually result in less access to it than presently exists, and as a law maker, DL would be better placed seeing that the access provisions are as tight as he can achieve, rather than making simplistic "I hate regulation - it always goes bad" libertarian motherhood statements.