TelstraSaturn sees no conflict between the Telecommunications Privacy Code being drafted by the Privacy Commissioner’s office and the declaration of subsidiary ParadiseNet that it is entitled to monitor its users’ internet activity.
Such monitoring is not conducted at random, says TelstraSaturn spokesman Quentin Bright. It may be done when traffic patterns become evident from particular customers that may compromise the network or its use by other users, or when possibly illegal activity is brought to Paradise’s or TelstraSaturn’s notice by an outside party, he says.
This might, for example, be the Department of Internal Affairs pursuing objectionable material under censorship law, or a web surfer who notices possible misuse of copyrighted material on a Paradise-hosted website.
Access to individuals’ communications “necessary for the purpose of avoiding prejudice to the maintenance of the law” is permitted under the code, as it is under the Privacy Act. Interception for technical purposes such as traffic monitoring is permitted under the Telecommunications Act, Bright says.
TelstraSaturn has some points of concern with the code, such as the lack of clarity on the acceptability of copying information into a browser cache, he says; but deliberation on the code has far from finished. “It’s early days yet.” The first suggestions for the code were made in 1997.
TelstraSaturn has its own specialists working on the code, Bright says. Clear Communications is co-ordinating the activities of itself, TelstraSaturn and Vodafone, but has no control over what submissions go forward from the other companies.
Clear spokesman Grant Forsyth said in Computerworld’s previous story that the Paradise provisions read at face value could be “problematical” in the light of the code.