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Tag Archives: Patriot Act

Mandatory data retention not in our interest or the national interest

Following the aftermath of the attacks on the World Trade Centre in 2001, the Western world reacted impulsively and in the very way we were told we shouldn’t have responded. We started stripping away our personal freedoms and rights.

In Australia, the Howard Government was one of the most ferocious of the Western world.

Despite the limited threat of terrorist attack on Australian soil, Australian people or Australian interests abroad, our Government at that time introduced some of the most regressive anti-terrorism laws. They went even further in eroding our personal freedoms and rights in many respects than the US Patriot Act, which is often considered to be a so-called egregious attack on US citizens’ privacy and personal liberties.

The problem with the laws as they have been proposed is that they don’t demonstrate how existing laws are insufficient. (Though it has to be noted that there are no details and the manner in which they were announced left a lot of information to be filled in). Worst still the current Government has not made the case for why these new laws are needed. The effort to link the tragedy of MH17 with the new laws was transparent and entirely weak; and tasteless to say the least amidst all the uncertainty and misinformation. Even the attempts to use the current tragedies in the Middle East as reasons for their introduction don’t provide the needed impetus of urgency. It appears the only urgency for these laws is because Australian law enforcement and intelligence agencies believe current legal requirements, like the need to get a warrant, restrict them too much; makes it ‘too difficult’ to secure prosecutions.

Sadly the Australian Government, without any real reasons, is proposing to introduce a mandatory, society-wide data retention regime. This is about the right to determine for yourself, what you decide to keep private and what you’re happy to share. And it’s about dumping a fundamental principle of our legal system; the presumption of innocence.

Neither the Attorney General nor the Prime Minister understand the laws they’re proposing to introduce; or what the laws ultimately do other than appease the wants of the law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

These agencies already have broad powers to request that information about the communications of specified individuals be retained to support their investigations.

What they want now is for that information to be retained for two years for ALL Australians, even if you’re not being investigated or considered a person of interest. The mandatory data regime represents a massive invasion of the privacy of all Australians, while subverting the principle of presumption of innocence by treating all of us as potential suspects.

There’s no justification to dump the presumption of innocence just to make it ‘easier’; without the necessary judicial oversight.

And we the public will get the privilege of paying for the Government’s mandatory, society-wide data retention regime as telcos pass the costs of implementing the regime onto customers. It will also mean the creation of massive databases, which will become prime targets for crackers; thereby increasing the costs further as telcos invest in more expensive security options.

But since the Attorney General and Prime Minister have done such a terrible job in telling Australians why laws for a mandatory society-wide data retention regime are necessary, we have an opportunity to make sure they’re dumped before they get to Parliament.

It’s up to people like you and me who want to be treated like citizens, not suspects to stand up and demand our Government drop its plans to massively invade the privacy of all Australians. There is no reason for it and Australian law enforcement and intelligence agencies already have the powers they need to access the data they need for their investigations.

The answer is simple. If our law enforcement and intelligence agencies need our metadata then they can seek a warrant.

Join me and thousands of other Australians and call on the Government to drop its proposed mandatory, society-wide data retention regime:

Check out these great articles about why the Government’s mandatory society-wide data retention regime is bad for us and the nation.

Nine reasons you don’t have “nothing to hide”

Hacking the Grapevine: Data Retention & Protecting Consumer Privacy

No justification for society-wide mandatory data retention scheme

Note: I am a member and Board Director of Electronic Frontiers Australia, which is spearheading the campaign against the Government’s mandatory, society-wide data retention regime.

This was originally published on Alex Schlotzer’s personal blog.

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