It should be clear by now that the Rudd government is not a government full of civil libertarians.
Sure, there's less to the government's intention to force internet service providers to retain users' browsing history than was first reported. A spokesman for the Attorney General told The Age the reality of the proposal is more benign. Instead, they're thinking of introducing something like the European Union's data retention directive.
The EU scheme requires internet service providers to record enough information to identify the originator and recipient of emails, and the time they were sent, and the time, duration and date of phone calls. They are not required to record the content of those emails, or everybody's browsing history.
Nevertheless, that's a pretty extensive database itself, and it's still a rather substantial invasion of the privacy of every person with a phone and internet connection in Australia.
More than one person has pointed out the government's hypocrisy - going after Google for doing accidentally what they now apparently plan to do with bureaucratic enthusiasm.
But there's a bigger story here than government hypocrisy.
The head of internet service provider Exetel described the idea as "the nanny state gone totally insane".
A potent combination of enthusiasm for regulation, an obsession with security, an aging health and welfare system, and unlimited political faith in technological solutions to public policy problems are undermining privacy and eroding civil liberties.
You need only look at Britain to see what happens when this trend is left unchecked. A decade of New Labour has left the UK with a vast array of limitations on individual liberty.
One prominent British civil liberties organization, the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, has dubbed the UK as "the Database State", for the extraordinary number of databases operated by the public sector which breach privacy, are questionably effective at fulfilling their basic functions, and have big security problems. And of the 46 government databases the Trust surveyed, as many as a quarter were illegal under British data protection or human rights law.
Take one of the most controversial databases, ContactPoint. On paper, this seems like a good idea - a national database of all British children, shared between government agencies, to identify those children who are vulnerable or otherwise at risk.
The potential problems should be obvious. ContactPoint gives at least 390,000 British public servants access to the name, birthdate, address, parents, gender, school, doctor, and the details of government services they may be using, of every child in the country.
It's easy to see how collating all this data into one widely accessible, central location could put children at risk, rather than protect them. There have been at least 70,000 incidents of "inappropriate" access to this information honey-pot - public servants stickybeaking into the database for their own gratification.
The new government has sensibly decided to scrap ContactPoint.
Then there's the National DNA Database. This holds the DNA profiles of nearly four million people, taken from crime scenes, from suspects, and, controversially, from people who are only witnesses to crimes. The civil libertarian group Big Brother Watch estimates up to one third of everybody added to the DNA database is never found guilty of a crime. The government keeps their DNA profiles anyway. Just in case.
Add to this the four million plus CCTV cameras dotted around Britain, the 1,043 separate laws which give bureaucrats the power to forcibly enter private property, and an amazing list of kooky nanny state regulations. (One Manchester council is now fining dog owners for leashes which are "too long".)
Australia is not in as bad shape as the United Kingdom.
But when Kevin Rudd won the 2007 federal election, there was much speculation about what a Labor government would look like in the 21st century.
The proposal to monitor all internet communication seems to indicate that, as the Rudd government ages, it could very easily become an authoritarian one in the British style. The UK is a vision of where we definitely don't want to be.
After all, Tony Blair had a pretty nonthreatening first few years as Prime Minister. Yet by 2006 Blair was saying he could see no reason why his government should not keep DNA profiles of absolutely every British citizen, regardless of whether they had ever committed a crime, been near a crime, had heard about a crime, or were aware that there is such thing as "crime".
At the moment, many Australian government ministers would rightly think Blair's attitude is creepily Orwellian. But remember: we're just about to get a rather draconian internet filter, and now the government is thinking of recording the details of every email we send and phone call we make.
We could be much further down the British path than we realise.