what’s going on?

[Post migrated from LiveJournal]

I attended this IT briefing for my company on Friday morning… out at the Como, Sth Yarra…. One other participant was quite interesting to listen to: the IT Manager for the Parliament of Victoria. Apparently, to work for the Parliament you must be interested in politics BUT cannot get involved with it in any shape or form. The sensitivity of such work and avoidance of favouritism goes to the extent of not being able to touch those “How to Vote” cards… Victorian Parliament as an organisational entity is quite unique – it has 138 “branches” or electoral offices. Each Member of Parliament is treated equally… and referred to by first names ONLY. Use of family names has political connotations! So, you have Steve, Member for Williamstown (aka the Premier).

One topic of discussion was the US Patriot Act. While I’m not familiar with the details, apparently the enforcement of the Act by the Bush Administration makes it more challenging for businesses to deal with US-based companies… The purpose of the Act is:

To deter and punish terrorist acts in the United States and around the world, to enhance law enforcement investigatory tools, and for other purposes. (Referenced from http://www.epic.org/privacy/terrorism/hr3162.html)

The law enforcement investigatory tools around the world is the concern. So far, there has been no legal precedents where a nation has challenged the legality of the US Patriot Act. The concern I guess stems from the scenario where Company A, based in Country B, engages the services of Company C (which is US-based) for the provision of database/storage services. In the world of IT, almost any vendor in the market of database/hardware storage services is US based… HP, IBM, Oracle, etc… Under the Patriot Act, there lies the theoretical possibility that the US Government can gain access to the data of Company A. Company A could be anyone – private or government! O_o

I would love to hear from someone with a legal understanding!?!

Nic =)