Rights and privacy: Part two

The issue of privacy has been on our minds recently as the Australian government seeks to encroach on of privacy even further, by making the telecommunications companies responsible for storing our personal data for up to two years.

The government are seeking these powers under the guise that the are a handful of military trained fighters in Syria that are heading back to Australian shores and the government and law enforcement wish to keep tabs on them.

So in the eyes of some, all Australian citizens are expected to hand over even more of our civil liberties simply because it is considered by a few to be the easiest solution.

Instead let us invest more funds and resources into law enforcement.

Let us invest resources into establishing a truly credible secret service that does not rely upon hit and miss tactics, but instead uses sophisticated intelligence gathering strategies to identify, seek out and monitor credible threats, not the entire nation.

“The needs of the many, far outweigh the needs of the few”, and the many do not wish for our rights to be eroded further.

Twice a year, the Australian secret service ASIO goes to the government and ask for ever increasing powers to spy upon the citizens of Australia, not just criminals and those under suspicion, but all Australians, because to ASIO all Australians are under suspicion.

However while ASIO are happy to infringe on our privacy and civil rights, they themselves seek to have their own privacy reinforced by proposing new laws that will jail journalists for revealing ASIO secrets.


Let us not forget that while a few journalists can provide us with mindless entertainment, the majority have integrity and are professionals. These hard working women and men seek out the truths that lurk in dark corners and uncover everything from criminal scams to government conspiracies. These rights, for our own sakes, must be protected.

However governments are not the only organisations that cover their own privacy while selling ours to the highest bidder.

It was revealed in a recent wiki that Google chairman Eric Schmidt does not believe individuals have privacy rights to protect our own data.

In what can only be described as a hypocritical move, he would fight for the right for Google to protect their private information on ‘competitive’ grounds, however individuals are not afforded that same right.

Individuals also have secrets that they do not want publicly revealed.

To those that use the ‘nothing to hide’ argument, I would ask “What do you not want the world, or even specific individuals to know?” Any individual, just like a corporation, can have secrets they do not want revealed in order to maintain or create a competitive advantage over others in a competitive labour market or to keep their self respect, or to maintain their standing in the community. To Schmidt, corporations are allowed this right but not individuals.

In another twist Schmidt did not have a favourable reaction to CNET publishing of his personal data.

As stated earlier in this article, the UK government have used emergency powers to push through draconian data surveillance laws where governments and law enforcement can monitor the data of civilians. The powers used to implement these laws are only supposed to be used in a time of ‘actual’ war, where the enemy is at the gate.


These laws are being forced upon the British people with no debate and with no consultation, laws that instead of being extended should now be repealed.

Australia is following blindly into the constitutional mind field, where ASIO are seeking powers to increase surveillance on the people when the country is not at war.

However the Australian government want to protect privacy on certain things

In recent move, parliament took steps to protect against the invasion of privacy by drones.


However what appears to be a noble act, is in fact a push from commercial business like ‘free range’ livestock suppliers, who are constantly plagued by animal protection activists.

Activists regularly survey the properties of ‘free range’ farmers by flying drones over their land to document infringements and provide proof that the ‘free range’ products, for which we pay a premium, are in some cases not compliant with the already lax government laws.

So where is the opposition government in all of this? Can we rely upon them to provide balance?

Unfortunately not, because this week’s opposition government is next weeks government, and they also want to have the power to carry out surveillance on the population. All it would take is for an incursion of some description to occur on Australian soil and any politician who had opposed these draconian measures would be finished.

Under the legislation introduced into the Australian Senate on Wednesday by federal Attorney-General George Brandis, spy agencies will be given the power to access a third party’s computer.

So this is not the computer of the criminal, this is any computer that they consider ‘linked’ to that computer, regardless of the activity of the machine or the individual who owns that machine.

This means that your PC, your laptop, your phone, your tablet will be open to surveillance.

Edward Snowden in a recent interview made a startling claim that a culture exists within the NSA in which, during surveillance, nude photographs picked up of people in “sexually compromising” situations are routinely passed around.

In the same interview he continued “If you think your HIV status is secret from GCHQ, forget it,” he said. “The tools are available to protect data and communications but only if you are important enough for your doctor or lawyer to care.”

We must have open and honest debate on this subject. We cannot have decisions made in fear or out of sheer laziness to find a more refined solution.

We must equally not shy away from the real dangers that exist in the world today and strive to find a legitimate solution to this 21st century problem.

However the only way for us to find an appropriate and effective solution is to collectively debate the issue and together, as a nation, make an informed decision.

This is the Australian Privacy Act: http://www.oaic.gov.au/privacy/privacy-act/the-privacy-act and these are the proposed changes: http://www.oaic.gov.au/privacy/privacy-act/privacy-law-reform

This is not the thin end of the wedge; this is the wedge.


~ by jeditopcat on 24 July, 2014.

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