To all our Australian readers, VPNCompare.co.uk would like to wish you a very Happy National VPN Day.
Now, before you think this is just another one of those ridiculous ‘days’ you read about on Twitter almost every week which are blatantly designed to sell a product or promote a service, there is a serious point behind this one.
Mandatory Data Retention
Back in March 2015, the Australian Parliament passed the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Bill. This was a hugely controversial law which, amongst many other things, required all Australian ISPs and telecommunications companies to store their customer's metadata.
This means that whenever any Australian goes online, whether using a fixed line connection, Wi-Fi, or a mobile connection, those companies are now required to keep a record of the date and time of their connection, their account name, and connection duration against the service they access.
They are also required to collect location data for each connection, and all of this data is required to be stored for at least two years. This means that every visit to a social media site, a file sharing site, and a porn site, is now on file for two years.
Realising that this would be a huge undertaking, the Australian Government gave IPS and telecoms companies until April 12th 2017 to implement the new legal requirement.
Today is the first day after that deadline, making it the first day that Online Privacy in Australia officially died. From today, Australian Law Enforcement agencies and other Government bodies can, with a warrant, request and receive access to that data.
The fightback is underway
Digital Rights Watch is an Australian campaign group which represents the interests of online users down under and they, along with other similar groups, have therefore declared today National Get a VPN Day.
As the Chair of Digital Rights Watch, Tim Singleton Norton, explained “It’s important that we mark this date – and pause to remember that a detailed picture of the private lives of Australian citizens is being collected by telecommunication companies on behalf of the Government. Many interactions we have in the digital world are being collected and stored by our communications providers, all without adequate safeguards.”
He went on to explain the purpose behind National Get a VPN Day. “We're calling upon Australian citizens to educate themselves about the scale of this surveillance and take precautions accordingly.”
Electronic Frontiers Australia is also behind the day. Their Executive Officer in Australia, Jon Lawrence, explained that “Virtual Private Networks provide an important element of privacy protection for users, and we, therefore, encourage all Australians to consider using a VPN service when accessing the Internet.”
A VPN is the solution
If you are living in Australia and are worried about the impact this law is going to have on your online privacy, a VPN offers the best solution.
A VPN will reroute all of your online traffic down an encrypted pathway to a secure external server. This process means that the only information your ISP can see about your internet activity is that you have connected to your VPN. Beyond that, all your online activity is hidden and unavailable to them.
There are lots of VPNs on the market and depending on your needs and requirements, some will be better than others. Take a look at our Best VPN for Australia for a detailed guide to the pick of the bunch for users down under.
Alternatively, have a read of the review of our Editor’s Choice pick for Australian users directly. Last year, it was IPVanish.