Aussie Data Plan Interferes with PrivacyAdded: Sunday, November 30th, 2014
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The plans of the Australian government to retain phone and Internet information for 2 years are criticized by bipartisan parliamentary human rights committee for having a “chilling effect” on journalists and unreasonably interfering with privacy.
According to the federal parliament’s human rights committee, they have found multiple concerns with the suggested bill and recommended that access to the data should be subject to a warrant system. They claim that such measures will allow to avoid “arbitrary interferences” in people’s private lives. Recently, the Australian government has introduced a proposal to retain Australians’ phone and web data for 2 years and allow police and other law enforcement agencies to access such data without a warrant.
However, the committee suggested some recommendations to the bill, as potential interferences with Australians’ right to privacy and freedom of expression were discovered. For example, they recommended to impose a warrant system before disclosing telecommunications data. The statistics showed that there were more than 500,000 disclosures made by telecom firms over the last 12 months, and no independent body had prior oversight to those disclosures.
The committee also recommended to impose a notification scheme. The Australian Federal Police has previously been asked whether telecom data was accessed by law enforcement agencies for different services of journalists. The police refused to comment on this issue, referring to the broad secrecy provisions in the telco interception regime. The problem is that the telecom access regime can be used to trace sources, because call and email records can be accessed with its help. In other words, the proposed scheme may have a “chilling” effect on people’s freedom and willingness to communicate and on journalists who are concerned about the protection of their sources.
The Greens claimed that the data retention law was too flawed to proceed with and must be abandoned. The legislation in question has already been referred to the joint parliamentary committee on intelligence and security of Australia, but it’s unknown whether there will be hearings before the end of the parliamentary sitting year.
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Sunday, November 30th, 2014No comments
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