What made Jacob's talk so engaging for we Ozzies is the time he had put into understanding our history - particularly his fast retort to the "what harm has the monarchy done to us" jibe from the audience. But for me that was undone slightly when Jacob urged Australians to photograph and other things, presumably to prove the existence of government monitoring of telecommunications in Australia.
Australian is currently engaged in a huge project to replace the last mile of its telecoms infrastructure. Currently it is copper wires that were designed to carry 4 KHz analogue for about 5 kilometres max. It is being replaced with fibre currently running at 3 Gbps or so, which can run 15 kilometres. This will means our current telephone exchanges will become landfill, and all our analogue voice will become VOIP - SIP in fact. The exchanges are being replaced with something called a Point of Interconnect (POI), which is fancy name for a building containing a cluster of routers and switch terminating the fibre. If you want to look at it in a different way, whereas today the internet runs over infrastructure built for the telephone network, under the NBN the telephone network will run on top of infrastructure designed from the ground up to carry IP packets.
The relevance of all this is all of the 120 POI's will have a LEA (Law Enforcement Agency) rack. The LEA rack will be able to look at every bit flowing through the POI, should they so wish. Since just about all information Australian's send and receive will flow through the POI's, this means the LEA's will have access to everything Australian citizens do electronically. Clearly they won't need an ISP's permission or cooperation to tap all into any of it. In fact it will be unlikely anybody but the LEA's will even be aware of the extent of their taping.
No one runs about publicising this, but equally no great effort is made to hide it either. Certainly you don't need to take photographs to prove it is happening. Unlike the NSA / AT&T taps, it is common knowledge in certain circles in Australia. The reason it hasn't raised much comment is it just more of the same - most exchanges in Australia have LEA racks now. Every line serviceman knows it, because if a customer complains about line quality and they see what could be a LEA they have a procedure to follow which includes not telling the customer what the cause of their problems is. So the change the NBN brings isn't regulatory, its just technological.
Nonetheless that technological change is large. Whereas before when someone wanted to tap something a work order had to be raised for a far away location, now it just requires an instruction from a central location to flip a few bits. Whereas before it required some effort to get the resulting data from the interception point to the LEA, now it can just flow from relatively few connection points (the 120 POI's), and can be sent over internet trunks that connect them. In other words the effort needed to put in a tap will drop, the amount of data they can collect will go up, and the number of people who will be aware or what is going on will drop. And in all cases, the size of the change will be orders of magnitude.
Yes, the telecom's infrastructure Australia is currently going through a inflection point which means we Ozzie's will be afflicted with the effects of this before most. But given the rate of technological change everywhere, I can't imagine the rest of the world will be too many years behind. This isn't an Australia specific thing.
So the thing that disappointed me from Jacob's talk was for all the alarm it arose in some, the "get photographs" comment was indicative of Jacob missing the shear scale of the change in the level of surveillance that is about to engulf us. Taking photographs won't alter it, or slow it, or even reveal more information about it than we already have now. I find it a little alarming that one of more strident commentators we have on the subject seems to have underestimated the scope of what he is commenting on.