With the internet having become critical national and international infrastructure a whole range of privacy and issues have come to the fore in relation to the digital economy and the digital society.
Some of these issues are in relation to national and international security and tens of billions are spent by governments using the internet as a surveillance tool. This has led to a frenzy of activity by governments to, on the one hand, protect their sovereignty and, on the other, use the internet for their own security activities.
Separate to this are the commercial issues. With internet services becoming pervasive it can be argued, rightly or wrongly, that there are some services that people simply have to have. This is exploited by the companies involved, with requests for a range of highly private data in exchange for the free use of these applications and services.
In 2017 the Australian Federal Court narrowed the definition of “personal information”. Australia’s data privacy laws only protect personal information, which is defined by whether a person is identified or identifiable from data.
Another issue relates to the free flow of information over the internet. In countries with little infrastructure- based competition there is a threat that these providers will use commercial arrangements to favour some over the rest. This is known as the net neutrality issue and, while this issue is mainly of concern to the USA, other countries are also keeping a close eye on possible monopolistic misuse.
On top of that is the issue of international governance of the internet and its basic infrastructure. However, with widely diverging interests from countries such as China, Russia, Iran, North Korea on one side and Europe and North America on the other, there is a long way to go before any consensus can be reached, if ever.
Number of pages 24
Last updated 17 Jul 2017
Analyst: Paul Budde
Paul has been a relentless advocate and tireless activist for making the world a more connected place.
His passion for broadband and his firm belief in its transformational impact on societies across the globe is unrivalled.
I am honoured to call Paul a friend and I trust he will keep up the fight for better broadband and better access to broadband for all people, wherever they live and whatever their background, into the future.
Senator Stephen Conroy, former Communications Minister and Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate
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