Internet storm erupts down under -

Australia might have started life as a UK penal colony but it seems that its government feels that more than 150 years on its population still needs watching.

Not only do the daft politicians want to censor the Internet so that citizens cannot see stuff your average nun would not like, it now emerges that they have ordered ISPs to monitor what citizens see online.

The press has discovered that the Aussie federal government is hiding controversial plans to force ISPs to store internet activity of all Australian internet users for coppers to look at.

Everyone's internet activity will be stored regardless of whether they have been suspected of wrongdoing .

Of course opponents of the idea have said it is "alarming" and accused the government of going "on a fishing expedition for as much data on the public as they can get".

One ISP described the plan as "a nanny state gone totally insane".

The Attorney-General's Department has been holding consultations with industry about implementing a "data retention regime". It says it is similar to that adopted by the European Union after terrorist attacks several years ago.

Attorney-General Robert McClelland denied web browsing histories would be stored, saying the government was only seeking to identify "parties to a communication", such as senders and receivers of emails and VoIP calls.

But he could be telling porkies because the government has demanded that all the negotiations are kept secret.

McClelland's spokesman said it was important to keep everything secret because "it would not be appropriate to disclose policy discussions which are the subject of consultations with the industry".

He said that consultations have involved identifying the parties to a communication, where and when that communication is made and the communication's duration.

It will not include the content of a communication such as people's conversations or contents of an internet banking session, for example.

But ZDNet.com.au, which originally reported that web browsing history would be logged, has stood by its original report, quoting sources yesterday as saying claims that URL history would not be retained were "not accurate". 

Still it seems that as far as the Aussies are concerned, once a convict, always a convict, at least until the 70th generation.